Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Man Believed the Word

  Life of Christ 32

          'This beginning of miracles' Jesus did when He turned water into wine in Cana. It was the first official act of His ministry. After moving His mother from Nazareth to Capernaum He then traveled back to Judea for Passover. He does miracles there, and preaches, but leaves after a short time so as not to mess up John the Baptist's ministry. On the way back to Galilee He goes through Samaria and wins the woman at the well. Upon arriving in Galilee He goes, for some reason, to Cana again where He had done the first miracle.
          Of course, He is well known in Cana now, and when a nobleman heard the Jesus was in town he immediately went to Him in order to ask Him if He could heal his son. The son happened to be out of town in Capernaum, and he was too sick to move back to Cana. The Bible says the son was 'at the point of death' (John 4.47) and it was 25 miles, all uphill, from Capernaum to Cana. So the nobleman in Cana finds Jesus and asks Him, on His return to Capernaum, to heal his son.
          Jesus' initial response is to deny his request, or at least to test the nobleman. 'Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe' (John 4.48). Jesus would do this on many occasions, in essence denying someone's request for a miracle. He didn't want to become a genie, popping out of a lamp at the whim of the holder, in order to grant three wishes. No, Jesus was looking for faith, for belief, not simply a desire to see or experience something miraculous.
          The nobleman's response to this denial was heartfelt and desperate. 'Sir, come down ere my child die' (John 4.49). Jesus, Who would often later make it a point of emphasis to encourage perseverance in prayer, must have warmed to this immediately. Additionally, it removed both of Jesus' objections to doing the miracle, namely someone without any faith who simply desired to watch a performance. This was, rather, the expression of a heartbroken father with nowhere else to turn.
          Without waiting another moment, Jesus says, 'Go thy way; thy son liveth' (John 4.50). In this we see displayed both Jesus' compassion and His power. The nobleman's reaction is also immediate: 'the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way'. Now bear in mind, although he had only heard of Jesus doing one other miracle, a completely unrelated event turning water into wine, and although Jesus was 25 miles away from his son, and although Jesus had no idea what was wrong with his son, and although the nobleman had no way of seeing if anything had actually changed in his son's condition – still, he believed what Jesus had just said.
          I find here the sweetest kind of faith of the type that simply accepts whatever Jesus says. Such a reaction is not, in my experience, normal. Usually, we have much more trouble placing our complete faith in God's Word, especially if our reason, observation, or emotions tell us differently. Faith, on the other hand, ignores all of these things complete, essentially ignoring me completely and what I think and feel, and simply looks to God. This doesn't mean that faith is necessarily unreasonable. There are many reasons, for instance, to believe in Creation over evolution, but in the final analysis it will always come back to faith. In other words, God doesn't mind showing you and I why we should trust Him, but what He wants, what He desires, what He longs for, what He is looking for is someone who will just believe in Him. Jesus came looking for belief, and He found it in this nobleman.
          I'm not talking about presumption. Presumption assumes that God will do whatever I expect Him to do simply because I expect Him to do it. This charismatic approach in reality places the power in me, and as long as I have enough faith I can speak a word of blessing over anything and make it happen. Such an approach is completely unscriptural. No, beloved, I'm talking about things in which we have God's clear Word promising something, but there is no apparent evidence visible to show that He is doing anything about it. It is in such a time as this that I am called to honor God by placing my simple faith in Him, regardless of what I can see or can't see happening at the moment.
          For example, God promises in the Scripture that He will provide for the physical needs of His own (Psalm 37.25, Matthew 6.25-34, Philippians 4.19). In 17 years of pastoring and 26 years of walking with Him I have seen this hold true countless times. Regardless, then, of whether my church grows or shrinks, regardless of whether the offerings go up or down, regardless of recessions, regardless of whether more is needed as my children mature, I am absolutely confident God will provide for the needs of my family. Why? Partially because I have seen Him do it for years, but basically because He said He would. I may or may not see logically how that is going to happen, but I believe it is going to happen, and it is that very faith that pleases Him so much (Hebrews 11.6).
          Recently, so many of the precious people to whom I minister have been called by God to experience great trials. I do not mean they have endured the pain of a hangnail, but rather that the presence of tumors and cancer, or the sudden removal of a job, or the threat of imminent deportation, et al. I certainly have not enjoyed watching them struggle, but I have been greatly warmed by watching them respond in faith to God.
          Jesus came looking for belief. He found it in the nobleman of Cana. Today He is looking for the exact same thing. Is He finding it in you?

If you would like to hear the audio version of this blog you may find it here on our church website. Just press 'launch media player' and choose We Preach Christ 15, 'The Man Believed the Word'.

No comments:

Post a Comment