Word of God
Last time I gave a bible study I looked at Jesus turning the water into wine at the wedding at Cana. I said that in the Gospel of John, he makes no secret of why he write his account of Jesus’ life.
... that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John wrote the Gospel so that people may know who Jesus is, that He is Christ, the Son of God, and so that people might have life by believing in Him. John therefore picks out events in Jesus’ life, and teachings that He gave, that display Him for who He is. John includes in his Gospel the ’I am’ statements of Jesus. e,g I am the light of the world, I am the good shepherd etc. These statements show that Jesus is God, referring to the Lords description of Himself to Moses.
God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: `I AM has sent me to you.’ "
These ’I am’ statements are meant to show more than who Jesus is in Himself, but also, and just as importantly, who He is in relation to fallen man, to you and to me.
John himself admits, in the verse before the one that we have just read, and at the end of his book, that there are many other things that he could have included. But instead John includes those miracles and teachings he records as evidence of who Jesus is to the people. Included are seven miracles which John explains are signs to show that Jesus is the one the prophets spoke of in the old testament. Through these signs John displays how Jesus is the fulfilment of the old testament.
We said how the beauty of creation that we see around us is simply the signature of the creature. Some people worship the creation rather than the creator. In the same way the signs that Jesus performs and John records are just a signature of who he is. Jesus often despaired that there were so many people who chased after the signs, rather than the one who performed them. The signs that John picks out are a signature upon the life of Jesus, giving us a little glimpse of who He really is. But just as a signature testifies to the fact that the document has the approval of the one who signed it, these miraculous signs that Jesus performs show that he has the approval of God.
We see that John was very concerned with revealing Christ to the people and so I want to look at each one of these signs that Jesus gave and how they fulfilled there objectives. Today I want to look at the second sign, which is the healing of the officials son, in chapter 4 of John. This sign, like most of the other six, has certain properties. Firstly there is a test show the level of peoples faith before the miracle, then Jesus performs the sign as a revelation of who He is, and finally John also records the teaching of Jesus in relation to this sign. He shows how the combination of these three things affects the people.
43After the two days he left for Galilee. 44(Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honour in his own country.) 45When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there.
46Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.
48"Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders," Jesus told him, "you will never believe."
49The royal official said, "Sir, come down before my child dies."
50Jesus replied, "You may go. Your son will live."
The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, "The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour."
53Then the father realised that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live." So he and all his household believed.
54This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee.
This miracle takes place in Galilee. In verse 44 Jesus pointed out that a prophet has no honour in his own town. The Galileans however welcome him, not however because they believe in who He is, but instead because they have heard of His miracles and want to see him perform some more. This will only be the second sign that Jesus has performed here, and the second that John records, although He will have performed many more in Jerusalem.
Jesus is approached by a royal official who son is ill in Capernaum. The Greek word used to describe this man is Basilikos, he is a servant of Herods house hold. He could have been either Jew or Gentile, but either way as a servant of Herod he would have been despised by the Jews. Here we see the grace of God.
The man is also of great standing. He would have been a man who enjoyed some royal privileged. He would have been a man of relative wealth and honour. Here however we see that problems come in life irrespective of position or power. It would have taken a desperate situation, and a lot of humility, for a man of this position to come and beg a wandering carpenter, to help him.
This man demonstrates the only true way to come to Jesus. Many came, like the Pharisees, to scoff or inspect, or like the general folk, as an audience to a great magician. This man however left behind his own strength, knowledge and abilities, recognised the need for a touch from Jesus, and, in great humility, begged him to do something. Often when we have problems we can firstly try and rely on our own strength, and pride can prevent us from realising that we don’t have full control of our lives. The only true way to receive a touch from Jesus, is to leave all that behind and to fall at his feet.
Jesus could have acted then and there. He could have followed the man and fulfilled his request. Instead of doing this, Jesus tests the hearts of those that are around him. His reply to the man’s request appears quite harsh. "Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders," Jesus told him, "you will never believe."
The man is coming to Jesus because his son is ill and dying. He has humbly come before Jesus and in his request has shown that he believes that Jesus is able to heal his son. Why then does Jesus’ reply sound like he is accusing this man of being a shallow minded, unbelieving individual, who is just testing to see whether Jesus is capable of performing a miracle?
The answer to this question is in the fact that Jesus is speaking not only to the official, but those who are around him as well. The Galileans were only interested in Jesus proving himself through miracles. They were awaiting the messiah, and wanted Jesus to perform powerful signs to see if he would be the one to release them from Roman rule. They new Jesus had grown up with them and so doubted that he was anything special. Jesus asks this question to test to see what was in the heart of the official.
The answer to that question is found in the following verse, in the officials reply. "Sir, come down before my child dies." The royal official probably didn’t fully understand who Jesus was, but his answer demonstrated two things. He had a desperate need, and he knew that only Jesus could help him. He wasn’t after a show, or an experience, he wanted to know the healing power of God.
Jesus answer to the mans request test him even further. "You may go. Your son will live." The man was asking Jesus to come with him, Jesus was asking the man to believe that Jesus word was good enough. The literal translation simply says, ’Go, your son lives.’ Jesus wasn’t asking the man to believe that He had foreseen the future and knew that his son would get better, Jesus was actually asking him to believe that his son had been healed at that moment.
The test was quite simple. Would the official take Jesus at his word and believe Him, or would he have to see or experience something first? The official passes the test. The man took Jesus at His word and departed. The man in fact left with such faith that he didn’t rush home. We find that it is the following day before official’s servants met him. He must have stayed somewhere overnight. The journey from Cana to Capernaum could have easily been completed in one day. The official didn’t rush away from Jesus in the same manner that he had rushed to him, instead he had the confidence that his son would be well.
While still on his way home the mans servants rushed excitedly to him to confirm the good news. When the man heard this news and the time that it had happened it says that he and his household believed. It doesn’t quantify what this means, but it is the same term used in this gospel for when a person has a revelation of the identity of Christ. This man has gone from believing what Jesus says, to who Jesus is.
The same test that Jesus put to this man and the Galileans, he also puts to His church. We are all praying for a new move of Gods spirit. We all want Jesus to visit us in power like he has done in previous revivals. Are we after experiences, signs and wonders, or are we after a deeper relationship with, and revelation of Him. If we are after the signs, then we are no better than the faithless people in Galilee who gave Jesus no honour.
How do we know that presence Jesus is in this meeting now. Is it because we have had a great worship time? Is it because of prophecy or miracles? Is it because we can feel his presence? The answer to this is no, although these are often the results of his moving. The problem is that the enemy can also copy miracles and will do in the last days. We know that Jesus is in this meeting now because Matthew 18 verse 20 says, ’For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.’ We know it is true because He says so.
God is going to move in His power again through this place. We can either be a people who watch for the wonders, or we can be a people who enter into a deeper relationship with Him. There seems to be two spheres of false doctrine around in the church and both are as dangerous.
There are those who throw the baby out with the bath water and reject and signs and wonders, saying that they ended with the acts of the apostles. When God states in acts chapter 2, that he will pour out His Spirit in the last days, the only time limit that he puts on it, is that it will end when the Lord comes again (verse 20). Those who reject a miracle or sign from God, as being from the devil, are in danger of committing the sin described in Mark 3:29.
There are also those who chase signs and wonders. They go to meetings for and experience of God, or to see miracles performed. If this is somebody’s primary motivation then they are in grave danger of being deceived. The book of Revelation warns us that the beast will also perform many miraculous signs.
13And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. 14Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth.
The Bible makes it quite clear that the signs and wonders should follow the word of God (Acts 14:3, Hebrews 2:4). We should therefore seek first the very word of God, and the wonders will come after. Are we willing to be like this official, to believe the word of God, to act upon it and then to see it come to pass.
What did Jesus reveal about himself through this sign that John decided to record it? To answer this question we can read the first few verses in this gospel.
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.
3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
The beginning of the book of John makes it clear that Jesus Christ is the very word of God. It states that he is the Word in the flesh and it was through him that all things were made. It states that He was with God, and was God. The word then became flesh in the form of Jesus Christ. If the Word was in the beginning and all things were made through him, lets compare this passage to Genesis chapter 1.
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
Genesis 1, states that God spoke the world into being. It was the very words of God that caused everything to exist. Jesus is in the very breath of the Father. That is why God breathed life into Adam (Genesis 2:7). This is what sets us apart from the animals. In the case of the animals and everything else, God spoke the Word (Jesus), and they were formed. In the case of humans, God breathed into us. We were given life from the inside.
The fact that Jesus is the creative Word of God, is what is revealed through this second sign.
50Jesus replied, "You may go. Your son will live."
The man took Jesus at his word and departed.
This man had taken Jesus at his word. The Greek word used here for ’word’ is logos. It is the same word used in chapter 1 of John when Jesus is described as the word of God. The man didn’t see anything special. Jesus didn’t need to put mud on somebody’s eyes or lay hands on them. He didn’t ask the man to wash his son in a pool or anything else. Jesus is simply asking the man to take him at his word, and that is exactly what this official does.
In accepting Jesus at his word, the man has done something much more profound than simply believing a promise. This is something he doesn’t realise until he makes his way home. When he is met by his servants, and realises that the time of his son’s healing, is exactly that of Jesus instruction, he suddenly realises the power of Jesus command. Jesus has reveals that His very words have the power to heal. Jesus reveals Himself to be the very Word of God.
The man realised that accepting Jesus at his word was every bit as powerful as actually having the physical presence of Jesus. He is in his word, and so when we take him at his Word it is as powerful as a physical manifestation of Him. 2 Peter 1:20&21, and 2 Timothy 3:16 tell us that scripture is also the Word of God. Not only is Jesus in the spoken word, He is also in the written word.
Many times I have found myself in situations when I need Gods guidance and strength. In these times God has often spoken to me through his written Word. When we take God at his word, it is as powerful as having the physical presence of Jesus next to us. I want to encourage you to study the scriptures more and God will reveal to you scriptures that are relevant to your situation. Often when I am meditating on my daily Bible reading, a verse or chapter will stand out and speak directly into my situation.
When you take that into you situation and stand on the promise, you need to realise that Jesus is in that Word. It is as if you have the physical presence of Jesus standing next to you. It is at this point we can really stand on the scripture that is in John 4:4.
4You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
The teaching concerning this sign, is actually a thread throughout the gospel of John. Jesus continually refers teaches on this subject but some of the most profound teaching on this subject is contained in the following chapter and is actually sometime after the third sign. It is contained in John 5:31-47.
31"If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. 32There is another who testifies in my favour, and I know that his testimony about me is valid.
33"You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.
36"I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me. 37And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
41"I do not accept praise from men, 42but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?
45"But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?"
This portion of scripture refers to testimonies of who Jesus is. The testimony comes in three forms. It comes in human testimony. It comes via the Fathers testimony, and it comes in testimony via the scriptures. These are the three forms in which the Word of God is revealed to people. Just prior to the account of the healing of the officials son, he had been in Samaria.
A despised Samaritan woman, on her way to draw water from a well, had come to know Jesus though his prophetic words, and his explanation of the scriptures. She had then testified to others about what Jesus has done. They had seen the works of Jesus and heard for themselves what he had to say, and seen in him the fulfilment of scripture.
41And because of his words many more became believers.
42They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world."
They had followed the same pattern of coming to know Jesus. The had heard human testimony, seen the Fathers testimony, and witnessed the testimony of scripture. The had accepted and believed the Word of God and so He had revealed himself to them. Most of us will have come to know Christ in the same way. Firstly through the testimony of a friend. Then through the testimony of the Father in the changes that take place in our lives, and then a gradual deepening in our relationship to Him through studying and understanding the scripture.
The same three Testimony’s that were on Jesus’ life that demonstrated that he was the Word of God should also be on our own. We should be constantly testifying of what God is doing in our lives now. Not just when we first got saved but now. We should have the testimony of the Father that the purpose of our lives are in his will. If we fall out of Gods will, entering the wrong relationship, being in the wrong job, then we can lose the testimony of the Father upon our lives as we can no longer do the work that God has given us. Thirdly, we should not only study the scripture, but allow it to affect our lives. The Pharisees studied the scripture, but because they weren’t willing to allow it to affect their lives, and as a result they didn’t even recognise Jesus.
Are you willing to accept the word of God and act upon it before you see it come to pass. Are we forever searching for God to move miraculously rather than just putting our trust in him first. Instead of looking for God to move in miraculous power in this church before we move out in faith, we first need to simply trust Him at His word.
Jesus is the Word of God. When we stand confidently on a word of God for our situation we are actually taking the full power and authority of Jesus with us. Lets start to see the Word of God for what it is, the living word.
If we have truly accepted the word of God in our lives then that should be evident in three ways. We should be willing and able to give our human testimony of how God is working in our lives. We should be living purpose driven lives that have the testimony of the Father upon them. Thirdly, anybody who reads the Bible should recognise us as people who have the Word of God inside us.
In Matthew chapter 8, and Luke chapter 7, Jesus encounters a similar situation where a man of authority comes to him and requests that he heal a servant. In this instance the man tells Jesus not to bother to come, but just to speak the word. Jesus describes the faith of this man as greater than any in Israel. If we want to be truly effective for God then we nee to be people who truly recognise the power of His Word.
I believe that this is Gods church for his word right now...
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.