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Summary: Looking at Jesus' encounter with the official and how the official exhibited true faith.

‘OFFICIAL’ FAITH

John 4:43-54

1) Official faith pursues (vs. 43-47). Vs 45 “The Galileans welcomed him”. The reason they welcomed him was because they wanted to see Jesus perform more of the miracles they had seen in Jerusalem. Soren Kierkegaard, the famous Christian existentialist philosopher, said, “There exists a paradox between reason and faith. Reason can bring us to the edge of faith--but ultimately, religion defies human logic and requires that we take a ‘leap of faith’ as we commit ourselves to Christ. Signs and wonders appeal to our reasoning. But belief is not a product of reason--it is a product of faith”. Vs. 46 “royal official”. He was probably an officer in King Herod’s service who was overseeing that area of Galilee in some capacity. Vs. 47-“he went to him”. This nobleman walked some 20 miles from his home in Capernaum to Cana where Jesus was. Sometimes we think things should come easy for us; we think that when we pray God should just instantaneously give it to us. Sometimes he does but there are other times when we need to put forth some effort. When God moves us to be an active participant in the answering of prayer it will be an opportunity to see how serious we are; to determine how important it is to us. God already knows but we need to know. This is for our benefit. If everything is just handed to us we don’t develop gratitude; instead we become spoiled and expectant. We see that his trouble led him to seek out Jesus. It can be that way with us. So often it’s when hardship comes upon us that we seek Jesus. There was a purpose for God allowing this official’s son to fall this ill-it led the official to seek Jesus. So it is with us. When God allows hardship to fall upon us it’s always for the purpose of us seeking him. Vs. 47-‘he begged him to come’. As an officer, he would have had authority over Jesus, but here we see this authoritative figure humbly coming to the “commoner” Jesus seeking his help. His humility showed his recognition that he couldn’t fix this himself and it showed that he thought Jesus could. Normally, this official could’ve ordered anyone under him to do anything he wanted. He probably had all the best doctors attending his son without remedy. He was now faced with a situation where he couldn’t order anything to be done. He was faced with a situation where the solution was outside of his control. No matter who he went to and no matter what he tried his son was not getting better. He was put in a humbling situation. He was being humbled to go to someone who technically would be “under” him; not to give an order but to make a plea. We need that same humility. We think we can fix things ourselves and we’re wrong. God will allow us to be in situations where the solution will be outside of our control; where nothing nor no one will be able to fix it; so that we would be humble and seek Jesus. Official faith pursues Jesus.

2) Official faith is persistent (vs. 48-49). Here we see Jesus putting off the man’s request. Whether Jesus is addressing the man along with the crowd I don’t know. Whatever the case, he’s rebuking them for their lack of official faith. “Your faith is based in seeing a miracle, and if you didn’t see miracles you wouldn’t believe.” In any event, this rebuke is a test for the official. How would he react to this statement? He could’ve taken Jesus’ response as a rejection and decided to walk away. Or he could’ve had the opposite reaction and demanded Jesus to do it. “I’m an official; I order you to do this.” It wouldn’t have worked if he had. Kind of like the time when Christian Herter, governor of Massachusetts, was running for a second term in office. One day, after a busy morning chasing votes and getting no lunch, he arrived at a church barbecue. It was late in the afternoon and Herter was famished. As he moved down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman serving chicken. She put a piece on his plate and turned to the next person in line. “Excuse me,” Governor Herter said, “do you mind if I have another piece of chicken?” “Sorry,” the woman told him. “I’m supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person.” “But I’m starving,” the governor said. “Sorry,” the woman said again. “Only one to a customer.” Governor Herter was a modest and unassuming man, but he decided that this time he would throw a little weight around. “Do you know who I am?” he said. “I am the governor of this state.” “Do you know who I am?” the woman said. “I’m the lady in charge of the chicken; keep it moving.” If we were honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that sometimes, as foolish as it is, we try to make demands of God. We try to give God ultimatums or we try to make deals with him. Instead, we need to be more like the official, who did none of those things. Instead, what we see him doing is making another plea (49). He wasn’t being demanding; just persistent. We see that he wasn’t going to be deterred. He came a long way to see Jesus and he wasn’t about to let a non-favorable first response dissuade him from his objective. What about us? Are we persistent in our prayers? Until we get a ‘no’ from God we need to persevere in our requests, not in selfish obsession but in passionate persistence.

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