Summary: DESCRIBES THE NEED TO BELIEVE THE WORD
Faith is vital. It is the medium of exchange in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said, "According to your faith be it unto you" (Matthew 9:29). I know that every man needs to possess a genuine faith in Christ for salvation. However, I want a faith that possesses me. I want to have a faith that is so strong it can hold me fast even in my darkest night of doubt and need.
That is the kind of faith the nobleman of John 4 needed. Most of us can expect to live about seventy years, according to statistics. But the statistical tables don’t always work out with real life precision. For example, we expect to face the deaths of our parents someday. We don’t expect however, to face the deaths of our children. The nobleman in our text did.
I. The plight of the nobleman (46,47a)
Here was a father with a serious problem. His son "was the point of death." As a nobleman, he had prestige and power. Without a doubt he had wealth. It may be safely assumed that the best medical attention had already been given - yet in vain. Death is no respecter of persons; even the wealthy get sick and die.
A. The need he had
Isn’t it amazing how infirmity draws people to Christ faster than prosperity does. Sometimes that is what it takes. As C.S. Lewis observed, "How hard it is turn our thoughts to God when everything is going well with us."
Innumerable people seldom think of Christ until tragedy knocks on the door. Someone has said, "Adversity is the Good Shepherd’s black dog."
This nobleman was brought to Jesus by trouble. The background of this man’s faith in Christ was that he had lost faith in everything else. The illness of his son had tested his faith in the doctor’s ability to heal his son, and in the sufficiency of his own resources to save him. The son he dearly loved was at the point of death, and he was at the end of his resources. It was the bankruptcy of his own resources that paved the way for his faith in Christ. This man would have never experienced the power of Christ unless he had first experienced the poverty of his own soul.
This man’s plight was about to become the dark soil in which the flowers of faith would bloom and blossom.
B. The news he heard
Reports reaching this man brought to him hope. We are not informed how he heard; the news might have been brought by a friend or by a servant. The important thing is that he heard of Jesus.
Are people hearing of Jesus from you?
II. The plea of the nobleman (47b-49)
A. A grave request
There is a sense of urgency and seriousness in the nobleman’s words. Oh, the need for urgency in our churches today. Urgency could be defined as the PRESSURE OF NECESSITY.
The nobleman made two mistakes in his plea of urgency:
1. He told Christ how to handle the need.
He attempted to inform the Lord what He ought to do, how He ought to do it, and when He ought to do it. Have you ever been guilty of instructing the Lord? Have you ever said, "Listen, Lord, for your servant speaks" instead of, "Speak, Lord, for your servant hears"?
2. He presented the need before presenting himself.
More concerned our health, our welfare, our children, our families, and our future than we are the will and glory of God.
How much better it would have been for him to simply lay himself and his problem at the feet of Christ and allow Jesus to handle it His own way.
B. A gentle rebuke
"Except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe." These words, in response to the hurried, eager appeal of the father, seem to be strangely unsympathetic, far away from the matter at hand.
What have these words to do with the nobleman and his dying boy? It has everything to do with him.
It is a revelation of Christ calmness and majestic leisure which befitted him who needed not to hurry, because He was conscious of His absolute power. He puts aside the apparently pressing and urgent necessity in order to deal with a far deeper, more pressing one.
It is worthy of His care to heal the boy, but it was for more needful that He should train and lead the father to faith. The one can wait much better than the other. How precious is faith in the estimation of the Lord and what pains he takes to produce, purify, and strengthen it.
You are not going to believe except you see. There is a faith that is more noble than this. Believe and thou shalt see.