The Nobleman’s Son: John 4:43-54
I love the Word of God. As John has told us, this name also applies to the Lord Jesus. In the beginning, John writes, was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He tells us later, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God the Son became flesh, His glory was encapsulated in a body prepared for Him. Like the tent in the wilderness, the Glory of God which once dwelt in the tabernacle in the wilderness, now dwelt in the earthly tent of a human body. I love the Lord Jesus, the Word who became flesh. Who loved me and gave Himself for me.
I also love the printed Word of God. The longer I study it, the more I love it, the more I learn. It is hard to explain the wonder of it all, try as I might. When I teach from any of the books of the Bible, I hear the voice of God and see the Lord Jesus on every page. But when we turn to the Gospels, we are able to read the very words from the Lord’s lips to our ears. I always visualize Him in the setting which the writer, quite often an eyewitness. describes. In this lesson we will learn the all-important four steps to faith which begins with hearing the Word of God.
Jesus would stay two more days in Sychar in Samaria as a revival swept through the city. He then returned to Galilee and once more visited Cana in Galilee where He had performed the miracle of the wine at the wedding. Now follow the story as recorded in verses 46-54.
“And there was a certain royal official (nobleman, KJV) whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.” The word, nobleman, used in the KJV, was by its very meaning, ‘a king’s man.’ The king probably meaning King Herod. This royal official was a rich, powerful man, an authority figure who was used to giving orders and having them obeyed.
Now there is obviously an audience surrounding Jesus. Jesus answers the man, but his answer is for the audience also: “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe. “ The nobleman says, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” You can hear the desperation in his voice, you can see the tears in his eyes and we can empathize with his situation. It is almost as if Jesus is blunt with him.
“Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on his way, his servants met him with the news that his son was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour. (1:00pm) Then the father realized that this was the exact time Jesus had said to him, “your son lives.” So he and all his household believed. This was the second miraculous sign Jesus performed having come out of Judea.”
This is a story about genuine faith. Do you realize what faith is in heaven? It is the currency of exchange. Jesus told the two blind men in Matthew 9, “according to your faith will it be done to you.” We exchange our faith for doubt. We exchange our faith for hope, when we are hopeless. We exchange our faith for sight and certainty, when we cannot see and are uncertain. Faith exists in the area of the unseen, the unrealized and unknown. This is where faith is most valuable. It is the currency of heaven. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places; our faith is how we draw from this account. And even the faith with which we believe is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV) “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” KJV. The word substance refers to the title deed with which one claims his/her inheritance. Notice also the word which starts this verse: NOW- faith is in the present tense. This is why Jesus told us not to worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Don’t go out into the future to borrow some more. His grace is always sufficient.
OBSTACLES TO FAITH
Obviously, we want to possess a strong faith. But what is even more important is we have a strong faith which possesses us. Here are the obstacles to faith. And remember from the very first sin which occurred in the Garden, the enemy wants you to doubt God’s Word. The Word of God which is the incorruptible seed by which we are saved. So let’s look at the obstacles:
- Obstacle #1: Second hand faith. The nobleman had heard about Jesus. He came to get Jesus to take him back home with him in the hope he could save his dying child. He was desperate. He had a major, major crisis in his life. A matter of life and death. Salvation is always a matter of life and death. Often God has to allow us to come to desperate crisis situations in our lives so we can get our priorities in life in order. Jesus replies to this man and the people about him, “unless you people see signs and wonders you will never believe.” The nobleman is not there for a theological debate. He says to Jesus, “Sir Come down before my child dies.” Jesus replied, “You may go, your son will live.” This man has come with 2nd hand faith, borrowed faith from other’s testimony about this man Jesus. But you see, your mother and daddy’s faith will not save you, it must be personal. Jesus asks his disciples one day, “Whom, do men say that I am? “ And the disciples told Jesus what others believed who he was. Jesus then asked them, “Whom do you say I am?” This was personal belief, personal faith. Peter answered, “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” ( Matthew 16) It does not matter who others says Jesus is – it only matters who you believe He is. This is why we must know who Jesus is, what He offers and how to receive it. Jesus is saying you demand a sign, a miracle, and a wonder in order to believe. They are not hungry for God, they are hungry for the miracles of God. Jesus said in John 6, the day after feeding the 5000, “you seek me because you ate the bread and were filled.” In fact when we demand a sign we dishonor God. We are saying to God, we do not take you at your word, you must prove yourself with a miracle. I need proof you are a God who keeps his word.
- Obstacle #2. This one is a big one. Our faith is self-centered. We realize this nobleman was interested in Jesus for just one reason- he has a dying son he wanted to live. He came to Jesus in desperation as his last hope of having any chance of saving his son. You may ask is it wrong to pray for your loved one’s sickness, or any other problems we have? No, we are encouraged by God to call on Him. But what was the nobleman’s priority? He wanted Jesus for what Jesus could do for his son, his family. He wanted his will to be done not God’s will. “Without faith it is impossible to please God and those who come to Him must believe that He is and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, (not what they can get from Him.) Hebrews 11: 6. Jesus told us not to worry about our life, about food and clothing for life was much more than that. He knows this is what the pagans seek after, and He knows you have need of those things also. But seek you first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added. ( Matthew 6) We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. We are to seek His will, His rule and reign first. We can then love our families best when we love Him first and foremost. He has promised to supply our needs. Will you take Him as His Word? Or do you demand He do what you ask Him to do, when you want him to do it and how to do it? This man was a loving father who wanted to give his son, something he could not give him. He wanted to see him healed and with a future. He loved his son and wanted to give him good gifts. Jesus said if you earthly fathers, being wicked, know how to give good gifts, how much more would your Heavenly Father give you. ( Matthew 7) Now do not leave this section thinking, does this mean I cannot ask God for things for myself and my family, especially if there is a crisis. No, whatever concerns you, concerns God. But this man’s problem is he has yet to bow down at the feet of Jesus and worship Him. So many people today, including Christians, are concerned only about our health, our welfare, our children, our families, and our future- but not about the kingdom of Jesus. Our priority is not glorifying God and maintaining a right relationship with Him. Jesus told us: “The seed that fell among the thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go their way they are choked out by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature “(Luke 8) Do we add ‘not my will, but thy will, Father to the end or lists of wants and needs we bring to Him? Do we mean it or is it an empty vow? Are you disappointed when God does not answer your prayer the way you want Him to answer it? To be honest, we usually are, but then later on we often see His wisdom and His Ways which are higher than ours. But whether we see it or not- we believe His ways are best.
- Obstacle #3 – A strong-willed faith. This is often the type of faith which grows out of a self-centered faith. It relies on personal strengths and disciplines. This nobleman was a man who had been successful in life. He was disciplined. He was a hard worker. He was intelligent. He could by his own power control things about him. He would tell this Jesus what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Peter was a man of great physical strength, who depended on his physical strength to get things done. Paul wanted a thorn in his flesh removed so he could operate at full strength. Until the Lord refused to remove the thorn, telling Paul His grace was sufficient and His strength is made perfect in weakness. This is a lesson we all have to learn. Faith is not so much receiving from God the things you want. But is accepting the things God gives. But what you will soon find out as this nobleman did, is the Lord is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than you can ask or imagine. This man wanted something very important to him and his family to happen, he wanted his son to live. What he and his family got was so much more. Jesus gave him and life and life abundantly. Eternal life. Now we have not been told anything about his man that he was sinful or mistaken in coming to the Lord Jesus. He was in the right place, pleading with the right person for help.
THE STEPS OF FAITH
- “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” The nobleman was standing in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, the incarnate Word of God. He had asked Jesus to come, Jesus told him to go. If you want to believe, you have to have something to believe in. And what we have is the Word of God, the incorruptible seed. The Word which is alive and powerful. It is life giving, life sustaining and life transforming. I spent a 14 year period in my life without hearing the Word of God, by choice. I had been raised in a Christian home, went to church all my years growing up, but when I went off to college at 17, I decided to live life my way, not my parents’ way nor God’s way. I had a second hand faith. Like Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman and this nobleman, I had heard about Jesus. But I did not know Him personally, until He allowed me to come to a life or death crisis. Then on September 16, 1977, I came to know Him personally. We began a life journey together, a personal relationship. It began just like with these people. It began with a conversation. I took Him at His Word. He gave me a promise I could stand on, which allowed me to endure temptation without giving in to it. He saved my life. The nobleman in his desperation had a conversation with Jesus and believed what He told him. He took Him at His Word. Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God.
- Believing the Word. His believed the word of Jesus. He believed His promise. He did not have to perform a miracle for him to believe. He did not have to have proof that He could be trusted.
- He obeyed the Word of God. Jesus said, “go your son will live.” He went. He obeyed.
- He rested in the Word. He rested in the word. You can imagine the man had experienced sleepless nights with his son’s critical illness. When he arrived in Cana he had probably not slept a wink the night before. Capernaum is about 20 miles from Cana. A 7-8 hour journey by foot, probably half that by chariot, which he probably had. He had arrived in Cana to see Jesus at 1:00pm. Leaving shortly after his conversation with Jesus, he could have been home before dark that night. He was exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. He stops on his journey and spent the night. He went to sleep that night, laid his head down on the pillow of the Promises of the Lord Jesus and slept the best night of sleep he had had in days.*Realize this man has not yet seen his son, but he has believed. Jesus said if you believe you will see. When he was still on his way home the next day, his servants came to give him the news of his son’s miraculous recovery. The nobleman asked at what hour it had occurred, and they told him the 7th hour- the same hour Jesus had said his son would live. He and his household believed. They were all saved. They had received not just life but life abundant.
“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. Rest in the Lord. Commit your way to Him. (Psalm 37)
APPLICATION: Jesus has now gone back to heaven in his resurrected body. He cannot come to the hospital to visit your loved one. Remember Mary said to Jesus when Lazarus died, “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus was on earth, he could not be in two places at once. But He is showing us He does not have to be. John refers to these miracles as signs, meaning there is something Jesus wants to teach us. He is showing us He is Lord over space, over time, over nature.
He has sent His Holy Spirit to indwell me and never leave me. Jesus has shown He could heal this man’s son without being present. I have all of Jesus, He is my ever- present help. I have the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. God speaks to me through His word. When we find a promise in the Word of God He has for us for such times in our lives the Spirit will bring it home to our heart and we can stand on the promise. We can rest in the Lord and wait on Him. Wait, I say on the Lord, wait.
So our greatest need is assurance in the place of doubt. We need assurance of His presence. God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. So we say with CONFIDENCE, the Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? “(Hebrews 13) “I have put my hope in your word.” (Psalm 119: 81) *Hear the Word. *Believe the Word. *Obey the Word.* Rest in the Word.
“I pray to have a conscious awareness of God AT ALL TIMES.” Johnye Elizabeth Fortner. My mother.
While preparing this lesson, I had the distinct impression, to go by my old church, Woodland Baptist Church, and give a copy of my book to Len Kennedy, the minister of music. I told him Woodland had been on my heart and in my prayers. It was such an important place and time to me in my life and the lives of others. I loved this church and what it had been to me and my family. Tears came up in Len’s eyes as he shared with me, how encouraged he was by former members reaching out to him.
He then shared this verse with me, a verse which Gina and I have claimed many a time: “I would have lost heart, unless, I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say on the Lord. (Psalm 27)
I do not know what circumstances you are in today or what you are waiting on the Lord to do. I do know the word unless is a word of faith, which is the very currency we exchange in heaven for encouragement, hope and strengthened hearts.
Are you in God’s waiting room today? Then first of all you are in the right place, His Waiting Room. We have all been there, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, even the Lord Jesus said, “My hour has not yet come.”
“I waited patiently for the Lord: And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of a horrible pit. Out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock. He established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth- Praise to our God, many will see it and fear and will trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40)
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He leads me….. The two most powerful words which have changed the world, which were spoken by our Lord, are: FOLLOW ME.