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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Don’t Wait for a Crisis to Trust Jesus

Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. – John 4:50

Some people only come to Jesus in times of crisis. After 9/11 for a short time many people sought comfort in churches. That seeking spirit did not last. Today, over a decade removed from the horrific day of terror our nation is not better but worse in many ways. In many ways we are further form God not nearer. That’s superficial. That’s delinquent. That’s sinful. That’s sad.

There is an account of a nobleman who came to Jesus in a time of crisis. His son was at the point of death. There are important lessons to learn from this account. The nobleman couldn’t prepare for this life crisis. No one can prepare for a life crisis. They just come and by nature they are unexpected.  

Jesus had just returned to the village of His first miracle, Cana. Upon entering Cana a nobleman in full life crisis approached Him (John 4:46). One commentator states, “This nobleman was popular, prominent, and powerful—a courtier in Herod’s court. Yet the saying of Jesus’ day is still true today: “The black camel of grief kneels at every man’s gate.” It doesn’t matter how rich, powerful, or successful one might be. Sooner or later, we all experience sorrow and tragedy.” [1]

“When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.” (John 4:47). This nobleman was thirsty for healing for his son. He came to Jesus. There is a saying, “Man’s extremities are God’s opportunities.” A child at the point of death is about as extreme as it gets for a person. I’ve been there. I know how that feels. There’s worry, concern, fear, trepidation, and uncertainty. Situations like these are tailor made for Jesus. It’s always best to go to Jesus in times of crisis.

Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” (John 4:48). Jesus utters an important point. Some people put too much emphasis on “signs and wonders.” It wasn’t wrong for the nobleman to come to Jesus looking for a miracle. But he should have believed before he came to Jesus and not have waited until a time of crisis.

There is a form of evangelism that looks for signs and wonders as a means to draw people in and then the gospel is preached to them. It puts an undo emphasis on miracles. Miracles are real and do happen, but they aren’t planned by anyone but God. They can’t be conjured up according to human will. Jesus’ evangelistic strategy centered on the cross. He said, “even so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14). He said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). We need to point people to Jesus and His cross work. Jesus said “signs will follow” the preaching of the gospel (Mark 16:17). Signs are not the gospel. They are only the residual effect not the cause in evangelism. We need to remember that.

The account continues, “The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. 51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!” 52 Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household. 54 This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee. (John 4:49-54). As we look at these inspired words there are a number of things we can learn about faith, healing, and how God works. I will use a few other portions of scripture to help us understand the significance of what is going on here. May God guide us in His truth.

God is not limited by distance. Cana is about 27 miles from Capernaum. Distance means little to Jesus’ ability to heal. He makes intercession for us now from the throne of God (Heb. 7:25). His prayer on our behalf in heaven has its full affect regardless of distance. Aren’t you glad Jesus is praying for you? I know I’m glad He’s praying for me. Thank You Jesus for Your intercession on our behalf.


There is no set formula for healing. Here a nobleman begs Jesus to come to his home to heal his son. Jesus tells the nobleman simply “Go your way; your son lives.” And the very same hour of Jesus words the son was healed. In another instance a Centurion came to Jesus and pleaded with Jesus to heal his servant. Jesus says, “I will come and heal him.” But the Centurion tells Jesus, “I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” This great faith caused Jesus to marvel and comment this centurion demonstrated more faith than one from Israel (Matthew 8:5-10).  Both instances demonstrate different amounts of faith. But both people were healed. There is no set formula for God to heal. The primary truth to be gleaned here is that God heals. God uses our faith in the process of healing. But our focus should be Jesus not our faith. Look to Jesus!


Why should we look to Jesus? The first thing we need to understand is that the faith to be healed or to heal comes from Jesus. In explaining the healing of a beggar Peter stated: “And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.” (Acts 3:16). Peter speaks of “faith in His name.” This faith is in the name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus. Why is there power in Jesus’ name? Because when we exert faith in Jesus we demonstrate we believe Jesus is alive. Healing comes by believing in the authority and capability of Jesus to heal.  This faith is not from us, it is from Jesus. Peter speaks of, “the faith which comes through Him.” Healing faith, faith to do God’s will is “faith that comes through Him.” Jesus gives faith for healing. If there is no faith to heal, then for some reason unknown to us, Jesus has determined not to heal. We must trust the Lord in this. We must trust Jesus.


What is God’s purpose in healing? Peter mentions the beggar was given “perfect soundness.” The word “perfect” means complete. This beggar was not only physically healed, he was spiritually healed. His physical problem was solved, but he was also saved from his sin through faith in Jesus. The nobleman ended up believing in Jesus and trusting in His word. The healing God does always has a deeper purpose than mere physical relief. God heals physically to work an eternal spiritual healing as well.


What does this faith to heal and work God’s will look like? Abraham is a perfect illustration of God’s-will-working-faith. God promised Abraham and Sarah a child even though they were well past childbearing years physically. But even though everything physically was telling them “No, this is not going to happen; it’s too late for you to have this child of promise” God gave Abraham faith to do what would normally be impossible to do.


Paul describes this miracle working faith with the following inspired words: “(as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” (Romans 4:17-25). God promised to make Abraham a “father of many nations.” Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was in her nineties, but he hoped in God. When God gives faith, hope is always alive. Even though all the physical evidence was contrary to the fulfillment of God’s promise, Abraham trusted God. Always trust God and His word. He will never let you down. The faith God gives doesn’t waver. It isn’t shaky or unstable. It is steadfast.


Abraham took God at His word and as he did his faith became stronger and stronger (compare Mat. 7:24-27). How was Abraham’s faith strengthened? Abraham gave glory to God. He gave glory to God before the answer of God came. He gave glory to God no matter what God’s answer ultimately was. No matter what, Abraham gave glory to God and that is what strengthened his faith. Can you, will you, give glory to God no matter what? If you do it will strengthen your faith.


Abraham’s faith was a “fully convinced” faith. He was fully persuaded by God’s faithfulness. God had never let him down before. There was no reason God would let him down in fulfilling His promise; not now or ever. That is the kind of faith that is righteous before God. The account of Abrahams faith is “also for us.” Trusting in God like this is how God forgives our sin through faith in Jesus and how He does great God-glorifying works through us.


What is the benefit of the faith God gives? In Peter’s first epistle he writes to people who have been scattered because of persecution. They have probably lost everything. They may be alone, lost, confused. But Peter writes to them about faith for the future. Faith for the future is hope. This is what the Lord inspired him to write: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:3-9). Peter begins by blessing God for Jesus, for His abundant mercy, for making a way for us to be born again, and for “living hope” that comes through Jesus resurrection from the dead.  What is “living hope”? Living hope is hope that is always alive. Jesus is alive, He is not dead. And if Jesus is alive, then death is defeated, and hope, no matter what, lives on. Peter blesses God for our inheritance in heaven and which is heaven. Peter blesses God for the power He gives to keep us strong in Him as we trust Him. He blesses God for the joy we have even though there are trials in this life. He explains that these trials are necessary to prove the genuineness of our faith; our more precious than gold faith. When our faith is tested it will result in praise, honor and glory before our Lord Jesus. And Peter bless God for this faith because it enables us to have incredible inexpressible joy and full glory even though we haven’t seen Jesus and await “the end of your faith.” All of this is what God seeks to develop in us through faith and in living hope.


On a number of occasions Jesus healed with no clear mention of faith in the one who was healed (Luke 14:4; Luke 21:51).He healed the man with the withered hand by simply asking him to stand and stretch out his hand. He was healed (Luke 6:6-11). He raised people from the dead. The dead have no faith to be resurrected! (E.g. Luke 7:11-17; John 11). On another occasion Jesus spoke to the parents of a little girl who had died saying, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well” (Luke 8:50). There was little if any faith in that house and situation. Those around Him ridiculed Him for wanting to minister to the dead girl (Luke 8:40-56). But He raised her from the dead. These examples don’t necessarily mean people are healed without faith. It does mean though that our focus should be more on Jesus than our faith. We need to look to Jesus for healing. The faith necessary to heal is a gift of God’s grace that comes from Jesus.


Healing is God’s decision. God’s ways are not our ways (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9). He operates according to His eternal plan. When our request for healing fits into His eternal plan there will be healing. When it doesn’t fit into God’s eternal plan He will give us grace that is sufficient to get us through in all situations. God’s grace is always sufficient no matter what (2 Cor. 12:8-10). 


But what is the most important truth to glean from the account of the nobleman and his son’s healing? There is power in the words of Jesus. Jesus healed with a simple word. God’s word revives us (Psalm 119:25, 40). God’s word gives life. “For Your word has given me life” (Psalm 119:50). Jesus’ words gave life. Jesus is God! And that is why we should focus on Jesus more than our faith. Faith is only as valid and effective as the object in which it is placed. If your faith in in yourself, it will only be as effective as you are. If your faith is in people or human capabilities it will always be as limited as those resources are. But if your faith is in Jesus, if your faith is in God, well, there is nothing too difficult for God. Jesus once said if we have faith as a tiny mustard seed we could move mountains (Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6). That is not a testament to the power of faith as much as it is a testimony of the power of the object of our faith, God.

He didn’t have to go to the one who needed healing for that person to be healed. And the nobleman “believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.” It doesn’t even appear that the nobleman went directly home. It appears his faith was such that he went on his way in no particular hurry. He simply believed and took Jesus at His word. We should too!


Don’t wait for a crisis in life to trust in Jesus as your Savior. Believe in Him now. Take Jesus at His word now. Then when you come to the inevitable mountain of a life trial you will be ready to see the power of God work in and through you. Then Jesus will be able to say to you, “Go your way, your son lives,” and you’ll be able to take Jesus at His word and see the glory of God.




[1]Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 470

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