Summary: This shows how the nobleman grew in his faith - he obeyed, even when it was hard.
John 4:46-54 – How to Grow Your Faith
We are continuing our series on The Life of Jesus, looking at snapshots of what He did and what He said at different points of His 3 year ministry. Today we are in John 4:46-54 (p.753). Today we are looking at the question, how do you grow your faith? Let’s read.
Maybe you’ve heard the story of the farmer who purchased an old, run-down, abandoned farm with plans to turn it into a thriving enterprise. The fields were grown over with weeds, the farmhouse was falling apart, and the fences were broken down. During his first day of work, the town preacher stops by to bless the man’s work, saying, "May you and God work together to make this the farm of your dreams!"
A few months later, the preacher stopped by again to call on the farmer. Lo and behold, it was a completely different place. The farm house was completely rebuilt and in excellent condition, there was plenty of cattle and other livestock happily munching on feed in well-fenced pens, and the fields were filled with crops planted in neat rows. "Amazing!" the preacher said. "Look what God and you have accomplished together!"
"Yes, reverend," said the farmer, "but remember what the farm was like when God was working it alone!"
That is what growth is like. God could grow your faith without any help from you at all, but He chooses not to. God works with people and in people to take them to higher levels. That’s what he did for this fella in our story today. Let’s look at the story a little more closely.
Jesus had been gaining a reputation for being a bit of a miracle worker. Although the text calls this His 2nd miracle, it’s only the 2nd one that the writer John has described. So Jesus returned to His home province of Galilee, to the town of Cana, where He had done His 1st miracle of changing water into wine for a wedding banquet.
News of His arrival reached the town of Capernaum, some 20 miles away. There in Capernaum was a nobleman, a royal official, a servant of King Herod. This man’s son was dying, and needed a healing. His son’s life was hanging by a thread, and the man knew that Jesus was his only hope. He rushed the 20 miles from Capernaum to Cana. By the time he found Jesus, he didn’t know whether his son was still alive, or whether he had died during his nearly eight-hour journey to find Jesus. But when he found Jesus, he had only one thing on his mind – getting Jesus to come to Capernaum with him as quickly as possible, in the hope that there was still time to save his child’s life.
I’d like to point out that if you want to grow your faith, it has to be on purpose. Growing your faith isn’t really an accidental thing. The man deliberately looked for Jesus, and he was desperate. It was a choice he made to go find the Lord, and it’s the same for us. We don’t really stumble into obedience. We don’t fall into faith. They are on purpose, just like they were for the nobleman.
So what was Jesus’ response to the man’s begging for Jesus to go to Capernaum? Jesus commented on people’s desire to have things glitzy and glamorous. Jesus said, "Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe." Jesus wasn’t so much rebuking the man but all people who want to see things before they believe. They want God to prove Himself. They say, “God, if you’re real, show yourself to me. Prove it!” Jesus didn’t act on those requests then, and neither does He today.
But the man wasn’t looking for a sign. He wasn’t asking Jesus to show him His credentials. He didn’t care for the glitz and glamour. All he wanted was for his son to be healed. That’s all that mattered to him. He said, "Sir, come down before my child dies."
Ambrose Bierce once said that to pray was “to ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy." That’s what the nobleman did.
And Jesus responded to that. He wasn’t going to show off His power like fireworks. He wasn’t out to impress the crowds. He wasn’t trying to display all that He could do. What Jesus did was change this man’s life, and all those in the household with him. Jesus said to the man, "You may go. Your son will live."
And the man went. V50 says, “The man took Jesus at his word.” The man had a certain amount of faith in Jesus at this point, obviously. He believed Jesus, even though Jesus didn’t actually do anything obvious yet. Well, what kind of faith is that? Probably he trusted Jesus, not knowing exactly what He meant. He understood Jesus to say that his son had not yet died, and that he would not die either. The man’s faith, whatever amount he had, prompted him to action.