Series: Faith of Our Fathers
Week of June 3-9, 2021
AIM: In studying this lesson, we find that Jesus doesn’t always give us the answer we want to hear, and He sometimes sends us on our way without any certainty that things are going to change. He doesn’t give a sign that will ease every doubt about our future, or worries about our family, or whatever else. Yet we can be confident, we can have faith in all that He has said. We have a father in our lesson today that demonstrates this.
Can anything break the heart of a parent like the loss of a child? Can anything grieve a parent like fear of losing a child? This is the account of a man whose son was dying. We do not know the precise nature of the son’s illness except that he had a high fever and was near the point of death. We do not know the son’s name or his age but there is a hint in the text that he is not yet an adult.
I think this is every parent’s deepest fear—that somehow, someday, in an accident or by illness or through some other means our children will be taken from us. Nothing seems more unnatural than the death of a child. It is a prospect so terrible that we can hardly think of it, much less speak of it. Having to bury one of our own children is a tragedy we silently pray we will never have to endure. But it does happen. J. C. Ryle points out that the first recorded death in the Bible was not of a father but of a son—when Cain killed Abel. And when the Apostle Paul points out that death has come to “all men” (Romans 5:12), he doesn’t mean just grown-up men, he means the entire human race—young and old alike, rich and poor, male and female. Death has come and will come to all of us sooner or later. But when death draws near to the young, it brings the parents to a moment of personal crisis. This is how C. S. Lewis put it in A Grief Observed (p. 25):
“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it? Only a real risk tests the reality of belief.”
When your child is sick, you don’t care about test results, x-rays, percentages, new medicines, research protocols, or anything like that. When someone’s child is sick, people just want to know one thing: ‘Is my child going to be all right?’” Nothing else matters! Everything else is just details.
Today’s story happens very early in John’s narrative. We are told that this was the second miracle that Jesus performed in Galilee, the first being when Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding in Cana. But this wasn’t Jesus’ second miracle, but it was the second miracle that he performed in Galilee. And so, it is here that we read the story of a sick child and a desperate parent. And many of us have been there at one time or another. A child, a spouse or a parent is sick and there is nothing we can do. We would fix it if we could, but we can’t. We do everything we can think of, everything we can do, and still. . . it is not enough.
This is a story, not of one step but of many steps.
Let’s consider the fact that every journey begins with a single step. And I truly believe that. Back in “old school” church, the choir marched out on a song that said, “One Step.” We must recognize the importance of that first step. You don’t just arrive at your destination you need to start the journey. It was Mark Twain who said, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” And it was that practically perfect nanny, Mary Poppins who said, “Well begun is half done!” But as much as I believe in the power of the first step, we also need to know and understand that the first step isn’t the only step in the journey. The story of Abraham’s journey begins in Genesis 11.
Genesis 11:31 (NLT)
31 One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai (his son Abram’s wife), and his grandson Lot (his son Haran’s child) and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaan, but they stopped at Haran and settled there.
Did you catch that? Terah was headed for the land of Canaan, but he stopped at Haran and settled there. And so Terah never got to where he was heading. Many times, we stop too soon!
In our lesson, we see an important man comes to Jesus, at a time of crisis; and through this account we see an example of a man, a father, willing to step out on faith and allow nothing to stop him!
John 4:46-54 (NLT)
46 As he traveled through Galilee, he came to Cana, where he had turned the water into wine. There was a government official in nearby Capernaum whose son was very sick. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged Jesus to come to Capernaum to heal his son, who was about to die. 48 Jesus asked, “Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?” 49 The official pleaded, “Lord, please come now before my little boy dies.” 50 Then Jesus told him, “Go back home. Your son will live!” And the man believed what Jesus said and started home. 51 While the man was on his way, some of his servants met him with the news that his son was alive and well. 52 He asked them when the boy had begun to get better, and they replied, “Yesterday afternoon at one o’clock his fever suddenly disappeared!” 53 Then the father realized that that was the very time Jesus had told him, “Your son will live.” And he and his entire household believed in Jesus. 54 This was the second miraculous sign Jesus did in Galilee after coming from Judea.
- A Beginning faith (v. 46-47)
- There was a desperate need – his child was dying
The man heard about Jesus, and he listened attentively to what he heard. He did not. . .
- turn a deaf ear to the message.
- think himself too important.
- consider the message to be foolish.
- mock the person sharing about Jesus.
Romans 10:17 (ESV) 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
- The man was facing a severe disaster of life – death come to all!
Psalm 31:24 (GW) 24 Be strong, all who wait with hope for the Lord, and let your heart be courageous.
Psalm 33:18 (GW) 18 The Lord’s eyes are on those who fear him, on those who wait with hope for his mercy
Psalm 39:7 (GW) 7And now, Lord, what am I waiting for? My hope is in you!
- The man did not let his high position keep him from Jesus. He did not wrap himself in pride, nor did he allow what others might say keep him from Jesus.
- The man had to leave the side of his dying son knowing he would be gone for many hours.
- The man had to travel almost a day’s journey to reach Jesus.
- The fact that he persevered and kept his eye on the hope of Jesus shows the faith of his heart.
Romans 10:11-12 (AMPC) 11 The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed. 12 [No one] for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek. The same Lord is Lord over all [of us] and He generously bestows His riches upon all who call upon Him [in faith].
Psalm 91:15 (KJV) “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.”
- A Believing faith (v. 48-49)
- A lesson in faith: The man said: “Come and heal my son.” Jesus was saying, “Unless I come, and you see signs and miracles you will not believe. Is that what you are saying?” Jesus had to teach the man His Word alone was not enough. Belief in His Word was what was going to assure the request. His power was at the nobleman’s disposal if he would just believe.
- Signs and wonders (the boy’s healing) were not as important as
believing in Jesus.
- The man was helped because he persisted.
Luke 18:1-8 (MSG) 18 1-3 Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, “There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’ 4-5 “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’” 6-8 Then the Master said, “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”
Matthew 7:7-8 (NASB)7 “Ask, and it will be given to you;seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
Hebrews 11:6 (KJV) 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
- A Blossoming faith (v. 50)
- A Charge and promise
- The Charge – “Go”
- The Promise – “Your son will live”
- A Change
- He believed immediately and
- he turned immediately, heading home to his son.
- He actedon his faith.
- A Confidence
- that Jesus was omniscience, so he went.
- that Jesus was omnipotent, so he went.
Ezekiel 12:25 (NCV) 25 but I, the Lord, will speak. What I say will be done, and it will not be delayed. . . but in your time I will say the word and do it, says the Lord God.’”
Luke 21:33 (NIV) 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
- A Building faith (v. 51-52)
- He was in the act of obeying Christ when he received the glorious news that his prayer was answered.
- Belief and obedience were essential for his miracle
- “Old School” Song: “Trust and obey for there is no other way”. And this is what the father did – he trusted Jesus and obeyed His word!
Psalm 37:5 (KJV) “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”
Proverb 3:5 (KJV) “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding”
- A Binding faith (v. 53)
- The man believed and then. . .
- His whole house believed
- Miracles testify –
John 2:11 (NLT) 11This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
John 7:31 (NLT) 31 Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. “After all,” they said, “would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this man has done?”
Acts 8:6 (NLT) 6 Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did.
POINT TO PONDER: If miracles testify to who Jesus is, why don’t we have more miracles today? Wouldn’t more people believe if they saw miracles?
- Fathers can lead their household to Christ.
- The father claimed his whole household for Christ.
- They would each have to exert faith personally, but this man claimed them and would exert his influence for Christ.
Acts 16:30-33 (NLT) – 32 Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” 32 And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. 33 Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized.
Joshua 24:15 (NLT) – But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
PRAYER PRINCIPLE: Thank God for the persistent faith that carries you through whatever trials that come your way.
SOCIAL JUSTICE PRINCIPLE: Exercise your faith in such a way that others are drawn to it.
EVANGELISM PRINCIPLE: Share with others how Christ’s action on the cross and subsequent resurrection was the perfect demonstration of faith in action.
STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE: Giving allows others to experience Christ at His finest.
DISCIPLESHIP PRINCIPLE: Although you may be waffling in your faith because of a disaster or disappointment, recall how God helped you in the past in order to get through your current crisis.
NEXT WEEK’S TITLE: I’m Still Standing
SERIES: Faith of Our Faithers
DAILY BIBLE READINGS: Mathew 7:24-25; Matthew 16:18