Sunday, November 12, 2023

“Your Son Will Live” [Matt's Messages]

“Your Son Will Live”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
November 12, 2023 :: John 4:43-54 

Why do you believe in Jesus?

It’s good, from time to time, to take a look again at why you put your faith in Jesus Christ in the first place. If you believe in Jesus, and I assume that most of us here do, why do you?

What led you to put your faith in Jesus Christ?
What reasons do you have for trusting in Him?

There doesn’t have to be just one reason. In fact, there are probably many for most of us. But it’s good to take stock from time to time and ask our hearts why they believe.

Because there are some really good reasons out there and there are also some bad reasons to believe. Reasons that are built on false assumptions or faulty foundations. And if those reasons were found to be weak, then our faith might be shaken or even fall away.

In today’s story, Jesus warns the people He’s talking to about how they might be building their faith [in Him!] on the wrong foundation. And I think that we can really learn from it for our lives today. Let’s take a closer look. Starting in verse 43.

“After the two days he left for Galilee.”

And she had believed in Him. And more than that, she had told her neighbors, her fellow Samaritan villagers about Him, and they had believed in Him! And they had invited Jesus to stay with them for two days, and He did!

What a miracle! Jews and Samaritans living together in harmony with the Messiah among them. They had come to believe for themselves (v.42) that Jesus “is the Savior of the world!” Not just for Jews. But for half-breed Samaritans, as well. And more than that, even for the Gentiles.

So those two days are over now and Jesus continues on His journey. Remember in this Gospel the story started up in Galilee in the region where Jesus had grown up. And then He had gone down south and visited Jerusalem and cleaned out the temple and met with Nicodemus. Now He’s headed up north again. He had to go through Samaria. But now He’s headed back towards his home town.

And He does not expect it to go all that well. V.44

“(Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.)”

Jesus knows how this works. Local boys are often not taken seriously, especially if they have a negative evaluation of their hometown. It’s one thing to come back home and praise your town, but if you act like a prophet upon your return and tell your hometown everything that they need to change, it’s easy to get discounted right away. Jesus said on multiple occasions that a prophet has no honor in his own country. And, yet, He still goes there.

But what’s really strange is what it says in verse 45. 

“When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there.”

Isn’t it interesting to read verse 44 and then verse 45? You might have expected from what Jesus said in verse 44 that they were going to kick Jesus out not “welcome him!”

But John thinks that verse 45 fits perfectly with verse 44, and I’m sure he’s right. Because, look at how they welcomed Him by why they welcomed Him. “They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there.”

They had their eyes on the power of Jesus. Word was getting around that Jesus could do things. These Galileans had seen it for themselves. Jesus was powerful, and they welcomed Him.

They believed. They had faith, of a sort, because of what they saw.

And that’s kind of dangerous. We’ve seen a faith like this already in the Gospel of John. Remember the end of chapter 2? Verse 23.

“...while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man” (Jn. 2:23-25 NIVO). Remember that?

There is a kind of superficial “faith” in Jesus that is not always lasting faith because it’s built on the wrong things. And Jesus always knows. He knows that this “welcome” is not necessarily a good thing. Because they aren’t really trusting in Him, they are just eyeing His power. And thinking about what that power could do for them.

That’s what’s on Jesus’ mind when this royal official shows up on the scene. Look at verse 46.

“Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official 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.”

Got the story in your mind?

Where is Jesus? He’s in Cana in Galilee. That’s the same place where He did that first quiet miracle we read about in chapter 2. Jesus turned the water into wine and saved the wedding and brought them all joy. And His disciples saw it and believed. It was a sign. Remember that it was sign? Like a signpost? Like my sign with the Welsh Dragon that says, “I {Heart} Wales” on it? 

That miracle was a sign, for the limited group who saw it, that Jesus is the Messiah.

So Jesus is back at that location, and He gets a visitor from a town about 20 miles away, Capernaum. And this visitor is a royal official. We don’t know his name. He was probably a Gentile and a member of the household of Herod Antipas who ruled that area. He was probably rich and powerful.

He could have bought anything he wanted, but all of his money could not buy the life of his son.

His son was sick.
His son was dying.
His son was, in fact, almost dead.

Can you imagine how he felt?

Some of you don’t have to imagine. You have had your children be very sick. Some of you have had your children die. Heather and I had a daughter who died in utero. We never got to dedicate her on a Sunday morning. We’ve rushed children to the hospital. Some of you were children who were very sick. Some of you may have been very close to death. It’s not hard to imagine this man’s desperation.

He’s not just a royal official. He is a dad. A scared dad. And he’s come to Jesus because he’s heard that Jesus is powerful. 

So that makes what Jesus says in verse 48 feel so harsh. This is what He says:

“‘Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,’ Jesus told him, ‘you will never believe.’”

That’s a rebuke. That’s a clapback. This man comes begging Jesus for help, and Jesus responds with these strong words, “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe.”

For Jesus to talk this way, there must be something more important to Jesus than saving the life of this child. And that is calling these people to genuine saving faith in Him. 

Notice that this rebuke is not just for this man. The “you” in verse 48 is plural. That’s why the NIV has “you people.” He’s rebuking all of the folks in the crowd who are just there for the miracles. They are just there for healings. They are just there for the power. They have their focus in the wrong place. 

They are focused only on what they can “see.” 

I’ve got two points this morning summarize the truth of this story, and here’s the first one:


We normally saying, “Seeing is believing.” Or, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Jesus rebukes these people from having to see miracles to believe in Him. He says that they won’t believe unless they see. And He’s intimating that that approach is faulty. It’s going to lead them astray.  They are focused on the wrong thing. They are seeing Jesus as some kind of a magician or like a vending machine. If you do the right thing, then the power will come out.

They are focused on the spectacle. They are focused on the miracle. They are demanding that that see first and then they will believe.

But Jesus knows that seeing is not necessarily believing. 

You can see these miracles and not put your faith and trust in Him. We’re going to see that again and again the Gospel of John. People are going to be healed by Jesus and instead of believing in Jesus, some people are going to hate Him more. 

When Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead[!], the Jewish religious leaders are going to start scheming up how to kill Lazarus again and to kill Jesus, too. And they do! Seeing does not always lead to believing.

Sometimes it does, and there is nothing wrong with seeing.

These miracles are signs. They are signposts. You are supposed to see them and believe. But you don’t put all of your focus on the sign. You don’t keep staring at the sign, but at what the sign is pointing to.

If the sign says, “Bridge Out Ahead,” you don’t keep saying, “What a beautiful sign” as you drive on by focusing on the sign. “I really like how PennDOT designs those signs!” No, you put on the brakes!!!

And you also don’t say, “Unless the sign says the bridge is out, then I will just drive wherever I want. No matter if the bridge is gone. I demand a sign or I will just drive!” That’s what Jesus is saying. These folks are demanding a sign or they will not believe. And Jesus says that they are too focused on what they have seen and what they can see. They are too focused on the power of Jesus and are missing the Person of Jesus. And that’s more important than even our life and health.

So I ask you again: Why Do You Believe In Jesus? What are the reasons you put your faith in Him?

I think a lot of people “believe” in Jesus because of what He can do for them.

Jesus can cure my cancer.
Jesus can put my family back together.
Jesus can get me a better job.
Jesus can lift my depression.
Jesus can save my business.
Jesus can heal my child.

Yes, Jesus can.

But what if Jesus doesn’t? Some people have taught that Jesus will do all of those things if you just believe. And if they don’t happen, then you must not have had enough faith. That’s called the “Prosperity Gospel,” and it is poison.

I have seen a lot of people walk away from Christianity because bad things happened to them or to their family, and they are “mad at God” or “disappointed in God.”

Their cancer came back.
Their parents got divorced.
They lost their job and got a worse one.
Their depression did not go away.
Their business went under.
Their child died.

And they hit the road. The lost their faith. Because their faith was built on the wrong foundation. They had been focused on the power of Jesus instead of the Person of Jesus.

He didn’t keep promises He had never made and so they walked away.

Seeing is not believing. “We walk by faith not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7). Don’t focus on what Jesus can do for you. Focus on Who Jesus is. 

Jesus is not being callous to this man or to the crowd. He is raising their gaze to something higher than even health and life. “I am not a magician or a miracle-dispensing vending machine. I don’t give out miracles on demand. And if you build your faith on seeing my miracles, you are going to be disappointed, and your faith will fail you. I won’t fail you, but your faith will fail.”

When people walk away from God because they are mad at Him for not doing the thing they wanted Him to do, I feel bad for them. I keep praying for them. But I am not surprised and I am disappointed in them because they have clearly put their faith in the wrong thing. They have put the focus of their faith on the blessings of God instead of the God of the blessings. The gifts instead of the giver.

Are the gifts bad? Are miracles and signs and wonders bad? Are blessings bad? 

Of course not! This is the season when we most give thanks for all of God’s blessings. But we give thanks on mountains high and in valley low. We give thanks wherever we go.

Have you been praying for something recently? Maybe something big. And have you told the Lord that unless He does what you are asking for, then you will no longer believe? Maybe you haven’t said it in so many words, but it’s in your head.

“Seeing is believing, Lord. We’ll see if you come through. And then I’ll believe.”

That’s the kind of dangerous faith that Jesus is rebuking here.

What if God says, “No” to the thing you are praying for most fervently now? And you can’t imagine why He might say, “No.”

Determine right now to keep on trusting Him even if you can’t see it. Even if you don’t see it. Seeing is not believe. Believe, even if you cannot see.

That doesn’t mean stop asking. It doesn’t mean stop praying desperately. It just means stop demanding that your will be done or you won’t believe.

This man takes the rebuke. He doesn’t offer an excuse or try to defend his shaky faith. Very wisely, he just keeps asking the One Who has the power to save his boy. Verse 49.

“The royal official said, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’”

What a beautiful prayer! He asks Jesus to travel 20-25 miles to Capernaum to wield His healing power and save his son. And Jesus...does not come. But He does heal! Jesus does care. Jesus does the miracle. After that rebuke, you might have thought that He was going to say, “No,” but He doesn’t.

He has used the moment of everyone’s attention to focus on what was even more important, but in His grace He speaks the word to the heal the child.  Verse 50.

“Jesus replied, ‘You may go. Your son will live.’”

There’s our sermon title for today. It’s shows up again in verse 53.

“Your son will live.” It’s literally in the present tense in the Greek, “Your son lives.” And not just that he’s not dead yet, but he’s healed. He’s going to be alive tomorrow. “Your son lives.” “You son will live.”

And here’s the most amazing thing, verse 50. 

“The man took Jesus at his word and departed.”

He turned around and left. 
He didn’t beg Jesus any more. 
He didn’t beg Him to come with Him.
He just believed what Jesus said and headed home.

Here’s how much he believed. Look at verse 51.

“While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. [What good news!] 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.’

Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he and all his household believed. This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee.”

Now, did you catch it? Did you see how much He believed?

We’re amazed (and rightly so) that the boy was healed at the exact time that Jesus said, “Your son will live.”

But when did this man learn of this? It was the next day, right? The servants said, “Yesterday, at the seventh hour.” That’s 1:00 in the afternoon.

How fast do you walk? I walk about 4 miles an hour. I try to walk about 4 miles every morning before breakfast, and it takes me about an hour. So if it’s 25 miles from Cana to Capernaum, and it’s downhill most of the way, it seems like he could have gotten home the day before. Especially if he thought he was never going to see his son alive again. It seems like he could have been home before bedtime.

Of course, we don’t know why he took so long to get home. Maybe he was exhausted from the uphill journey to get there. Maybe he couldn’t travel at night because of treacherous conditions. We don’t know. But we do know that it was the next day he go there, and I can’t help but think that he took his time because he believed the word of Jesus.

Verse 50 said, “The man took Jesus at his word...”

Here’s point number two and last:


When we put our trust in Jesus and what Jesus has promised, then it gives us a kind of spiritual sight. We see Who Jesus is and trust that He will do exactly what He says He will do. We see it! With the eyes of faith. 

And then, one day, we see it with our own physical eyes. There are many things that God has promised that we do not yet see. Heaven is one of them. Our full salvation in the New Heavens and the New Earth. We are told about them, and we have a taste of it, but it’s still our hope. Paul says, “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?” (Rom. 8:24 NIVO).

But one day our faith will be made sight. If we believe, then we will see. Believing is seeing.

This man believed in Jesus with the eyes of faith. And He believed what Jesus said. He believed Jesus’ promise. He believed the word of the Word. And He saw what Jesus had promised come true.

And so did his whole family. So they all believed. Including, I’ll bet, his boy. Who lived!

Which was a sign. Verse 54 says that it was another sign that pointed to Jesus being the Messiah. Jesus did it long distance. From far away. But Jesus did it. Verse 54 says, “Jesus performed” this sign. And it was another signpost for those with eyes of faith to see that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. And you know what happens to people who believe--they have life in Jesus’ name.

Do you believe in Jesus? Why do you believe in Jesus?

Is it just because He is powerful? Because He can do something for you? Or do you simply believe just because of Who He is? Believing is seeing.


Messages in this Series

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34
04. "Come and See" - John 1:35-51
05. "The First of His Miraculous Signs" - John 2:1-11
06. "This Temple" - John 2:12-25
07. "You Must Be Born Again" - John 3:1-15
08. "God So Loved The World" - John 3:16-21
09. "Above All" - John 3:22-36
10. "Living Water" - John 4:1-26
11. "Ripe for the Harvest" - John 4:27-42