2020-7-26 The Second of His Signs

Cornerstone EPC                                                                              Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                          July 26, 2020

“The Second of His Signs”
John 4:46-54

We noted five weeks ago, in the sermon entitled “The First of His Signs,” the purpose for John’s Gospel.  We learned then that the Holy Spirit led the Apostle John to write the Gospel bearing his name in order that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that, by believing, we may have life in His Name (John 20:31).  There are seven such signs—miracles to a purpose—in John’s Gospel.  The purpose is to engender saving faith—with worship flowing from that saving faith.  Five weeks ago, we noted the first of the signs in John’s Gospel—Jesus changing water into wine at Cana of Galilee—with saving faith resulting (John 2:1-11).  Today we note the second of Jesus’ signs: the healing of the official’s (or nobleman’s) son—with saving faith resulting once again.  Let us hear the Word of God read and proclaimed once again in this place.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

Jesus, after changing water into wine, left Galilee in order to keep the Passover feast.  While there He cleared the Temple (John 2:13-22) of those making His Father’s house a house of trade, entertained Nicodemus for a nighttime visit (John 3:1-21), and—while en route from Judea to Galilee—He led the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well to faith in Himself (John 4:1-42).  Now, barely two days after this encounter, Jesus returns to Galilee generally, and to Cana in particular.

An official at Capernaum, on the coast of the Sea of Galilee some fifteen or twenty miles to the east, learns Jesus is at Cana.  This official’s son is very sick—even at the point of death.  When he learns that Jesus tarries at Cana, he comes all that distance, uphill, likely in haste, to beseech Jesus to return to Capernaum with him to heal his son.  We understand the man’s anguish and desire easily enough, and we marvel at the effort he expends on behalf of his obviously beloved son.

The official arrives in Cana, enters Jesus’ presence, and beseeches Jesus in words not revealed to us.  Jesus responds to him in curious fashion, “Unless y’all may see signs and portents, y’all surely may not believe.”[1]  Likely Jesus addresses this remark not solely to the official, but also to those in the prevailing culture—whether they be present to hear His words or not.  Likely the Spirit also addresses these words to the redeemed in Christ down through the ages, cautioning us against setting our hopes in such powerful works of God and not in God Himself.

The official, undeterred, continues pleading with Jesus, “Sir (or Lord, Greek Kyrie [Kurie]), come down before my child dies.”  To this continued pleading, Jesus replies most powerfully and graciously.  He says to this official, “Go; your son will live” (or, translated alternatively, “Go; your son lives.”), both declaring the fact of the son’s recovery and revealing Himself as the means of his healing.  All of this occurred at a distance, merely at Jesus’ word—not unlike His healing of the centurion’s servant, Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10).

The man takes Jesus at His word.  We read no questioning from the official, e.g., “Why won’t You come yourself?”  We also read no hesitation on this official’s part.  He heads home, believing he has what he asks.  As the official heads down to Capernaum, he meets his servants coming to meet him.  They tell him good news: his son is recovering.  When he asks when the child got better, they said, “Yesterday at the seventh hour” (i.e., 1 P. M.).

The official evaluates this in his soul.  The time his servants declare matches the time of Jesus’ declaration of healing for his son—to the very day and hour.  This work, and the apparently instantaneous nature of it, is enough for him.  He believes in Jesus, along with all his house.  The official believes in Jesus not just as a worker of miraculous healing (which He is), but as the Christ, the Son of God, God incarnate, etc.—and he has life, abundant, everlasting, and free, in His Name.  This is Jesus’ second sign, or miracle to a purpose, namely, to elicit worship and to engender saving faith.

Note two things of Jesus from today’s text.  First, note His incredible power over sickness—even dire sickness.  When He compels such sickness to flee, it flees.  Moreover, Jesus’ spoken word suffices for healing.  He requires no other substance or skill, and He accomplishes this, when it pleases Him, without His physical touch.  Second, note Jesus’ precious compassion for a father and son.  He delivers a son from physical suffering and the specter of physical death, and He delivers a father from emotional anguish—an anguish that may include fear and anticipatory grief.  Jesus’ power and compassion are matchless in today’s text.

Jesus’ power and compassion remain matchless today.  Note that Jesus’ incredible power over sickness—even dire sickness—continues to this day.  True, He often displays His healing power through His gift of medical science and art, but at times He displays His healing power over and above this gift to bring glory to Himself and to bestow blessing upon many—blessing that includes physical healing and salvation unto life.  Note also that Jesus’ precious compassion for us continues to this day.  When it pleases Him (and often it does), He relieves us from our physical suffering, and He relieves emotional anguish as well, such as fear of loss, sense of powerlessness, and the like.  Jesus’ precious compassion for us extends to an even higher level.  This powerful compassion of God, present in physical healing, both elicits worship from us and brings us to faith, or deeper faith, in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  May you and your loved ones receive the physical healing sought, and may the Lord elicit our worship, beget saving faith as required, and deepen your faith if already you be in Christ Jesus.

AMEN.

[1] Each of the second-person pronouns in verse forty-eight is plural in the Greek.