Summary: We will close out this chapter looking at the stages of faith as seen in the life of a government official of Jesus’ day.
Tonight we will finish up chapter 4 of John. We’ve now gotten away from the story of the woman at the well. Last week we talked about how we show evidence of our faith when we honor Jesus, when we welcome him into our lives, and finally when we receive Him. Tonight we will close out this chapter looking at the stages of faith as seen in the life of a government official of Jesus’ day.
This nobleman probably held some high position in Herod’s court. It’s his experience that reveals the various stages of faith, the kind of growing faith that everyone should experience.
READ 46-47. The first stage of faith is a beginning faith. When Jesus entered the city of Cana, a certain royal official approached Jesus. This man’s actions demonstrate exactly what is involved in a beginning faith.
1. The first thing we see is there was a desperate need. The man’s son was at the point of death. Every human being will confront a need in their life. Eventually the severe needs that come from accidents, illness, disease, suffering, and death strike everyone. No one is exempt. It doesn’t matter if you are an official in government or the king himself. The day eventually comes when every person needs help. It’s beyond our control to avoid them.
2. Secondly, there was hearing about Jesus. This man had heard ABOUT Jesus and so he listened attentively to what he heard. He didn’t turn a deaf ear to the message. He didn’t think of himself as being too important to listen. He didn’t think of the message as foolishness. Whoever it was that originally shared with this man about Jesus, the government official didn’t mock him.
So the official had a desperate need, and then he heard about Jesus.
3. The third step in a beginning faith is the coming to Jesus. Facing one of the severe disasters in his life, this man came to Jesus. Jesus was the only person he had ever heard about that might be able to help. We need to note what this man had to sacrifice in order to go to Jesus.
a. First, he had to leave the side of his dying son. Knowing he would be gone for many hours. Imagine the anxiety and fear that his son might die while he was away. The man would literally have to tear himself away from his son. Such an act shows how strongly he believed that Jesus could help him.
b. Secondly, the man had to travel almost a day‘s journey to reach Jesus. Capernaum was about twenty miles from Cana. Imagine the concern and apprehension gripping the father’s heart every foot of the way, wondering if he should have left his son’s side. The fact that he persevered and kept his eyes on the hope of Jesus shows the faith of his heart.
c. Thirdly, the man didn’t let his high position keep him from Jesus. He didn’t wrap himself in pride not did he allow what others might say keep him from Jesus. Swallowing his pride, he confessed his need in the face of all who ridiculed, and he went to Jesus.
So this official has a need, he hears about Jesus, he comes to Jesus, and the last step we see in this beginning faith is:
d. He begs Jesus to help. Read 47 again. The Greek word used in the original text was “erota” which means the literally begged and kept on begging for Jesus to meet his need.
READ 48-49. Now we see the second stage of faith—a persistent faith. There are two things, two crucial lessons we learn here.
1. The first thing we have is a lesson in faith. The am said, “Come down, and heal my son.” Jesus was saying, “Unless I come and you see signs and miracle you will not believe. Is that what you are saying?”
Jesus had to teach the man that His word alone was enough. Belief is His Word was what was going to assure this man’s request. His power was at the royal official’s disposal if he would just believe him. Belief needs to precede signs and wonders.
In v. 48, the word “you” is plural. Jesus was not only addressing the man but the crowd as well. He wanted the crowd to get the message as well.
We also need to note here that people are no different today. They might say they believe, but until they experience a sign, a wonder, a healing for themselves, do they really believe? For instance, we pray for healing needs most every Wednesday night. What if a traveling miracle working evangelist set up a big tent in the field across the street and put up a big sign that read “COME SEE THE HEALING OF THE SICK FIRST HAND.” I wonder how many from SEBC would sneak over there to see. I wonder how many would put more faith in SEEING a miracle expose versus coming to our prayer meeting and praying in faith.