Summary: Real belief in the power and character of Jesus takes us past human limitations

Every once in a while, God does it to me. I can’t anticipate it. That would ruin the whole effect. No, it’s not in my planner for the day. It has to come out of the blue. But, just the same, I can count on it to happen.

Has He done it to you? You know, have something happen that wakes you up, gets your attention?

A farmer loaned his mule to a neighbor to help with some plow work. After an hour or so, he came back for help. “That mule won’t do a thing. I can’t even get him to move over to the plow.” The farmer said, “Let’s go have a look at him.” He picked up a 2 x 4 and followed his neighbor out to the field where the mule was standing motionless and indifferent to the world. “Mule, let’s go!” He didn’t budge. So, the farmer took the board and WACK!, smacked him across the nose. Suddenly looked up. “OK, mule, let’s go!” And the mule started walking straight to the harness. The neighbor just stood there wide-eyed. The farmer said, “See. He’s a pretty good mule, you just have to get his attention first.”

Has God ever had to get your attention first?

11 years ago, I was at a mall in OH with my family. It was time to get going. Carrie was occupied looking at things, my 7 and 2 year old were being kids, and I was trying to keep them up with us, keep them from running off, keep them from fighting, getting pretty tired of it myself. Being in a mall is torture enough for me. Trying to herd 2 antsy trolls just multiplied it by 10. Now, my wife was in her element and completely oblivious to the suffering going on a few paces behind her. My fun meter had pegged, and I was feeling sorry for myself. Then, from the other direction, another mother came walking, pushing a wheelchair. Her little daughter was probably 4 or so. The little girl had turned-in limbs and other telltale signs of cerebral palsy. As that mother cast a glance at our family, it was an indictment on me, without her even knowing it. WACK. God had my attention. Suddenly, my attitude got an adjustment. I’d take kids bouncing off the wall over children not being able to any day. So, right there I thanked the Lord for my healthy kids, and any parent who has a healthy child at home ought to do the same.

When you’re a parent of a sick child, it hurts you. You wish so much you could bear that load for that little boy or girl who doesn’t even understand what’s going on or why they have to hurt. That’s the situation for the man we look at today.

Put yourself in this father’s sandals. He’s an important government man, working for King Herod Antipas, but being important doesn’t keep your kids from being sick. His little boy has a fever - not just a “take two children’s Tylenol and call me in the morning fever,” but a fever so vicious that the hour the boy is healed it’s obvious. The kind of disease that, if something doesn’t happen real soon, will kill him. In fact, in v51, the servants meet the father with the news that the boy is living - that was nothing new - but it leads us to believe that he wasn’t going to be living unless something changed.

What does a father do? Everything humanly possible. What parent wouldn’t do whatever it took, whatever could be done for the sake of your child?

Jesus is in the area. People are flocking around Him to see Him do something spectacular. His first miracle had been at a wedding feast in this town, and He had just returned from Jerusalem where a lot of these people had seen Him.

This father’s belief that Jesus might be able to do something prompts him to make the 20 mile journey in a last ditch effort to save his little boy’s life. While others are just wanting to rub elbows with this interesting teacher, this father is begging (vb tense suggests it’s a continual begging) Jesus to come heal his son. Can’t you see him, finally finding Jesus, pushing people aside, and abruptly begging Jesus for help? “Come and heal my son. Please, come and heal my son!”

Jesus seems a little abrupt Himself. He looks around and says to him, “You people just won’t believe unless you see miraculous signs and wonders.”

It’s not a game. It’s a process. It’s a divine process of stretching faith. This isn’t the only time someone comes to Jesus in need and He stretches them because of it. Jesus is after a belief that’s characterized by dedication, not by amazement. He says it’s a wicked and adulterous generation that seeks a sign. He wants people who are going to love Him and believe in Him, not just follow Him around for a thrill.

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