February 18, 2018
To whom would you entrust your most valuable possession? What is your most valuable possession? Is it your house, your money, your children, your life? Invest your money with the wrong advisor and you might end up losing it. Entrust your children to the wrong daycare and you may experience deep grief. But wait! What about your life? Would you entrust your life into the hands of just anyone? Will any surgeon do?
In the Gospels we come to understand that Jesus calls us to completely entrust our entire life into his care. The Gospel is not just about securing a place in heaven. The gospel is about securing your life in Jesus. This morning as we look at Jn.4:43-54 I want to ask: Are you trusting in Jesus for life?
I. MANY ARE FASCINATED WITH JESUS. Jn.4:43-48
In Jn.1:11, referring to Jesus, John writes, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” Jesus was Jewish and carried on his ministry to the Jewish people. By in large the Jewish people did not accept him. We see this clearly in Jn.4. In Jn.4 Jesus is with the Samaritans and they totally receive him. In v.39-42 it says, “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.’ That was certainly not the usual response to Jesus.
In v.43 when Jesus quotes the proverb, “a prophet has no honor in his own hometown,” many think Jesus is not just referring to Nazareth. Rather he is referring to Galilee and Judea. In other words all of Israel. “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” So it is a little baffling to read in v.45 that when Jesus came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. I mean, which is it? Did they receive him or not? Well, look at the rest of v.45. It says that they “welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.” In v.46 Jesus arrives in Cana, and John quickly reminds us that it was at Cana where Jesus performed an amazing miracle by turning water into wine at a wedding banquet. In v.46-47 we read about a man who asks Jesus to heal his dying son. We will look at this man shortly. But notice Jesus’ response in v.48. “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”
The reason, the Jews of Galilee welcomed Jesus was because of the miraculous signs and wonders they had seen him do. They were fascinated by Jesus. “What an amazing man Jesus is! He can do these amazing things! He has amazing powers!” In our day, Jesus would be a Marvel or DC superhero. Got a problem? Jesus to the rescue! Are dark powers afoot, Jesus is coming! Turn back to Jn.2:23-25. It says, “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” Wow, people were believing in his name. But not really. They were focused on the miracles. Their faith was all about themselves and not Jesus. After miraculously feeding the 5,000, in Jn.6:15 we read, “Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” They were all about the free food. In the way of the world, people are fascinated with anyone who seems to be extraordinary. People are fascinated by anyone they think can advance their own life and prosperity. In other words people looked to Jesus as someone who could benefit themselves and that’s about it. They did not come to the same conclusion as the Samaritans did. They did not see Jesus as the Savior of the world.
Even today, many are fascinated with Jesus. Many books have been written about him. People find his teachings to be insightful and the stories about him to be interesting. On the whole Jesus is seen as only one of this world’s great teachers. It is not uncommon to hear people talk about Jesus in the same breath that they talk about the Dalai Lama, or Krishna in human form, or Muhammed. These are all fascinating people who have something to contribute to our lives.
What I find to be really interesting is that after Jesus gave a difficult teaching in Jn.6, we read in v.66-69 that, “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." There were people considered to be disciples, followers of Jesus who turned away from him. They were fascinated but had not really believed in or given themselves to Jesus.
It seems that fewer and fewer people are attending church these days, at least according to the latest research. But I imagine that people come to church for many different reasons, and not all of those reasons have to do with Jesus. For some church is just part of their social habit. For others church may be a means of enhancing their standing in the community or a means of strengthening business ties. Maybe for some it gives them a good feeling. Or perhaps it is a way of trying to leverage a few blessings out of God. Like the old Art Reynolds song covered by the Byrds at the Fillmore East in 1970, and in 1975 by the Doobie Brothers, “Jesus is just alright with Me!” Yeah! Jesus, he’s cool!
II. SOME EXERCISE FAITH IN JESUS. Jn.4:49-54
In v.46 we learn about an official from Capernaum whose son was ill. The word, “official,” implies that this man probably worked in the service of Herod Antipas, son of the late Herod the Great. He makes the 20 mile trip to Cana in order to ask Jesus to come to Capernaum and heal his son. In v.47 we learn that his son was at the point of death. In v.48 Jesus seems to be rude to the man. “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” Jesus was talking to the man, but the word, “you” is plural in both cases. In other words Jesus is speaking about the people of Israel in general.
Notice the man’s response in v.49. It is a spoken prayer, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” This man was desperate like any loving father would be desperate to save his child from death. We have no idea what this man believed about Jesus except that he knew Jesus could heal the sick and that Jesus was good and kind. That’s a good place to start concerning Jesus, but it is not a good place to stop. Jesus said to the man, “Go; your son will live.”
I’m reminded of the man hanging by his hands from the gutter of his two story house after the ladder fell from beneath his feet. He cried out, “Is there anyone up there who can help me?” A voice came out of heaven, “Yes! Do you have faith?” The man said, “Yes.” The voice replied, “Let go.” The man cried out again, “Is there anyone else up there who can help me?” If you had just come 20 miles and Jesus said, “Go; your son will live.” What would you have done?
It says this man believed. While many were fascinated with Jesus, this man believed Jesus. We know he believed because the text says so. But more importantly, this man’s faith was seen in the fact that he went on his way. He didn’t ask for a sign of assurance. He put feet to faith. He believed and went home. According to v.51-53, the man’s servants met him on the way to tell him that his son was recovering. They compared notes and discovered that the son started to get better at the very hour Jesus said, “Your son will live.” Then we are told in v.53, “And he himself believed, and all his household.”
Something happened in the heart and mind of this man. In v.50, he accepted the word of healing from Jesus, but in v.53 he accepted Jesus. He believed that Jesus is the way to life with God. He began to stake his life on Jesus and to base his living on Jesus. For this man the question was not, “If I were to die tonight do I know if I would go to heaven?” He wasn’t thinking about that question. He embraced Jesus by faith and by embracing Jesus he entered into a new life that is, indeed, eternal. This new life has eternal implications that begin to be lived out in the present.
Now think about this. We don’t know anything more about this man. Obviously at some point his story became known to John and others. That might be an indication that this man associated himself with other believers. But at this point, we have no sense that the man had any ongoing physical interactions with Jesus. He believed from afar! Can you do that? Can you believe in Jesus from afar? You surely can. Jesus healed the boy from afar and you can believe from afar. Because Jesus rose from the dead after dying on the cross for our sin, because Jesus ascended to the Father after rising from the dead, because Jesus sent the Holy Spirit after ascending to the Father, everyone who desires life that is eternal can also believe in Jesus, who is the way to the Father. To believe in Jesus is to be born again by the Holy Spirit. To believe in Jesus is to embrace the Savior of the world.
Have you believed in Jesus in this way? How would a person take the step to begin believing in Jesus? Well it is a step that begins in the heart and mind of a person. A person begins to trust in who Jesus is and all that Jesus has said, and all that Jesus has done and will do. Jesus called people to follow him and obey all that he commanded. So in believing in Jesus we are embracing the life that he gives and seeking to live according to his teachings found in the New Testament. But there is one more thing. In order to believe in Jesus a person must turn away from their self-centered, self-directed life. That is the essence of what it means to be a sinner. Sinners are committed to living their lives apart from God and his good commands. So when a person comes to Jesus they turn away from that kind of life and entrust their life to Jesus. This is called repentance. Have you repented of your sinful heart and behavior and turned to Jesus for forgiveness and life with God?
This past week has been brutal. Chicago lost one of its best police officers in gunfire. Seventeen students were gunned down in Florida. Men and women, life is too short and filled with too much sadness and distraction to play around with trying to be god. You will come up short. Only Jesus Christ can give you eternal life that begins to blossom and bear fruit immediately as you live your life in Christ. Are you trusting in Jesus for life? Amen