John 4 Part 4

Resumed from part 3

Next, we’ll go to the arrival of the Samaritans. We’ve looked at the woman at the well. She’s never named. We looked at Jesus’ encounter with the disciples. He’s always using teachable moments. They never did mention about the woman but Jesus talks about the harvest and illustrates what a harvest is like. He talks about what food is like. He talks about what the will of God is like and how that satisfies. He’s always using and leveraging teachable moments. Then the Samaritans arrive. It goes from second-hand knowledge to first-hand knowledge. This is always critical.
John 4:39-42. “From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all the things that I have done. So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” This is a strong text here because these villagers then had done what the disciples who were first called by Jesus and what Nathaniel had done- come and see. So they cane and they saw him and they ultimately believed. Their faith was based on a first-hand experience.
You’ve heard the expression that God has no grandchildren. It’s true. You cannot have a relationship with God by proxy. You can raise a child and you can share the truth but there comes a point in a child’s life where they must come to their own faith. They cannot live on the faith of their fathers or mothers. I remember when my daughter was in that process. She was wrestling with this whole issue. She always kind of believed in these things but there was a point when she really had to wrestle with whether this was true or not.
All of her friends in school were virtually atheists or agnostics. But there comes a point when every person needs to really make it a first-hand, not a second-hand faith. You don’t become a Christian, as you well know, simply by attending church any more than you become a baseball player by going to the baseball stadium. Just being an observer doesn’t work. There’s a choice to be made, a decision to be made, and it’s not going to be done by proxy.
The Samaritans call Him something remarkable- The Savior of the world. It’s found only here and one other place in the New Testament, I John 4:14. It’s very significant that the Samaritans of all people first applied it to Jesus. They had this profound insight.
Then Jesus did something that was quite remarkable. John 4:43, “After two days He went forth from there into Galilee.” Those two days spent in Sychar by Jesus were an exception to His general policy. Remember He said, I’ve only come to the lost sheep of the house of Israel initially. When He saw that the Jews were ultimately going to reject Him then it was after that rejection that the great commission was to bring it to the entire world. This visit is an exception.
Jesus came to Galilee and the Galileans received Him. What does He mean By His own country? In this particular verse He’s dealing with the idea that Jerusalem is really the hometown of every true Israelite. It should’ve been the first to welcome Him as Messiah but it was in the very heart of Judaism that His own did not receive Him. (John 1:12) So while some did believe in His name, He didn’t commit Himself because He knew that they had not accepted the implications of His actions. The word patros refers to Nazareth in the other gospels- His hometown- but here I think it means Jerusalem. If it were otherwise, you’d have a problem. The problem would be that was Jesus deliberately journeying to Galilee because it’s in the region and He would’ve been treated with little or no respect. That wouldn’t make sense. He comes to Galilee and the Galileans give Him a better reception than the people in Jerusalem did. See the idea? As I see it, Jerusalem is really where Messiah belonged but the people there rejected Him already and that becomes an increasingly obvious theme in the gospel.
Galilee is prepared to welcome Him because they had already been impressed by an account of some of their members that had seen Him when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover. John 4:45, “So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves also went to the feast.”
So now we have the fourth group of people in this chapter. First we had the Samaritan woman, then looked briefly at the disciples, thirdly the Samaritan people and finally we look at the nobleman’s son in verses 43-57 (the end).
John 4:46-47, “Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death.” I want to point out something that’s kind of interesting in this with the son. We had Jesus in Jerusalem in John 2. In John 3 we see Him moving up to Judea and then ultimately He moves up into Samaria. That’s kind of an outline of Acts 1:8. The gospel starts in Jerusalem, then goes to Judea, then to Samaria and then finally to the uttermost parts of the world.
In any case we see here that the news of what had taken place at the recent wedding of Cana would’ve been circulated in the district. So in verse 46 this royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum heard about this and he went the 25 miles from Capernaum to try and persuade Jesus to come there and heal his ailing son. The word that is used of a royal official-basilikos- is used here so apparently he was in service; I take it, at the court of Herod Antipas who was the tetrarch of Galilee at that point. I don’t believe that this narrative is the same or a variant account of the story of the healing of the centurion’s son found in Matthew 8 or Luke 7. In both cases it’s true that the sufferer was cured at a distance but apart from that the stories have nothing else in common. In the synoptic story, the centurion says, just say the word, You don’t have to come. In this story the nobleman requested Jesus to come and visit his home. It goes on to say that the son is at the point of death. He heard what Jesus did in Cana, the word has gotten out, and he goes out in this desperate attempt.
John 4:48, “So Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.” So His first reaction seems to regard his request as typical of the Jewish demand to see signs first and then they’ll believe. He’s expressing disappointment at that persistent attitude. Some other scholars have suggested instead that this might actually be the word “wonders”. Remember, Herod of Antipas in Luke 23:8 wanted to see some tricks. He wanted Jesus to work some miracles so he was really pleased to have the opportunity to encounter Jesus. He thought He’d work some tricks and Jesus didn’t do a thing for him. He’s not a clown. He’s not a performer so Herod sent him back to Pilate. In any case, He’s rebuffing that whole attitude.
John 4:49, “The royal official said to Him, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.” Instead of taking offense at any implied rebuff here, he speaks as a desperate man. It would touch a cord in the heart of any parent with this child that’s been stricken by fever in any land and at in any time. Wouldn’t it? I mean all he’s thinking about is that this is his last chance. He’s on the point of death and I’ve got to get Him to come with me. So he’s inviting Jesus to come and go out of His way.
But notice what Jesus says in verse 50a, “Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son lives.’
The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off.” This is the biggest risk he took in his life. He wanted Jesus to come. Jesus says, you’ve got to trust Me here. You go, He says, your son lives. You can imagine that was the critical moment in his life. If he goes back and Jesus wasn’t right then that was my last opportunity. Do you see this idea? There’s such finality about that.
The royal official knows that if this opportunity is missed that’s it. So here is “the moment” in this man’s life. It’s a story about who Jesus is.
John 4:50b, “The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off.” That’s an awesome statement. He not only believed, he acted. He combines actual trust with that faith. We have not only faith but also a trust that takes place. Now what if this man needed a second opinion from another man as there are so many opinions from different men on facebook? Well, the son wouldv’e died!
John 4:51, “As he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his son was living.” Who knows how far he went? It was a 25 mile journey, a person walks about 2-3 miles an hour so about a 12-15 hour trek and as he was going down his slaves were going on their way to find him. Somewhere along the way, they met.
John 4:52-53, “So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, ‘Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, ‘Your son lives’; and he himself believed and his whole household.”
What was his first question? When did it happen? He wanted to know not only that he was alive but also when it happened. Notice the progression in the faith that takes place- first it starts from a crisis, a faith crisis. He goes there in a last desperate effort. Isn’t that how a lot of people come to faith in Jesus? They come out of a crisis situation. Usually it’s not out of our comfort but out of our pain, our crisis, our loss of control and when our world falls apart that often that is when we come to faith. But then we need to move from our crisis faith to a confident faith and then from a confident faith to a confirmed faith. That’s what happened here. It was a confirmed faith when he saw that the very hour was when his son became well. There’s also a fourth stage- from crisis to a confidence to a confirmed faith to a contagious faith. Who else believed? He and his whole household believed. The man became an evangelist in that regard.
I want you to notice something about this miracle. He performed it at a distance as He did with the centurion. The first miracle at Cana revealed His power over time. What was that miracle? He turned water into wine. It revealed His power over time- instant fermentation takes place. This miracle reveals His power over space. He can heal at a distance as well. He has authority over all things.
We see here the story ends up in a personal surrender to Jesus Christ. That is the image we have here. We have a complete surrender. They put their faith in Him.
There’s a progression as well in the nature of miracles.
As I tie these threads together for us, I want us to see again that God’s desire for us is to be part of a process, to see that we are part of a larger process bigger than we. That the inward dwelling of the Holy Spirit, the living water, is to come through us and become contagious to others where we actually point people to that water and manifest the presence and power of the Spirit of God in our arenas of influence. We are to be a part of that process, having a purpose, being on a trajectory of growth in our faith, our trust, our surrender, and our obedience so that God can use even further crisis, I will say, to draw us to Himself.
You know it’s not just one crisis. Life is filled with these kinds of stories. Another crisis comes and perhaps that will be used to kind of spearhead a new level of trust and faith. There might be a lot of arguing and wrestling with God during that new crisis but eventually the product will also mean growth if we respond eventually by surrendering on a new level. We surrender to a new insight about Him and a new insight about ourselves and we grow. We commit all we know of ourselves to all we know of Him. Another crisis comes along and we then continue to move along. Do you see the point here? What you have are a series of deliverances in the past that will form your present. Wasn’t He there? Didn’t He show up at that time? Did He show up here? After awhile, you begin to build a holy history that can remind you of His working in the past and that will give you hope in the future as well.
May we be a people of hope, a people of purpose, a people of faith, trust and obedience. May we be a people who sacrifice and surrender ourselves, knowing that whatever we have surrendered to Him that’s the only thing that is really safe and secure.
Father, we thank you for this time. We pray that You would guide us into all truth, as we respond to Your Son. In His name we pray. Amen.

 

Continued in part 5

 

 

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