- Sermon Notes
Believe and Have Life
John wrote this gospel so that we might believe and that in believing, we would have life in His name. Therefore, he doesn’t tell us about all of the miracles that Jesus did; he tells us an account of Jesus’s life and ministry to strengthen our faith.
In fact, John wrote, “There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written.”
In the verses we’re studying today, Jesus does two miracles. One is in Cana of Galilee and the other is when Jesus returns to Jerusalem to celebrate another Passover feast.
In Cana of Galilee, where He had made the water into wine, there was a certain royal official, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was in Cana he made the journey of 15 miles, no doubt at breakneck speed, to plead with Jesus to come down and heal his son, for he was near death.
He’s a royal official, probably in King Herod’s court. That means he’s wealthy, he has authority; he has everything a man could want, but was helpless. His son was dying.
He had authority and wealth, but it cannot help him. As we all know, there are certain things money cannot buy. To quote from the famous British philosophers, John, Paul, George and Ringo, “Money can’t buy you love.” It can buy you a luxurious bed, but it cannot buy you peaceful sleep. It can buy you a beautiful house, but it cannot make it a home. It can buy you companions, but it cannot buy you true friendship.
The storms of life, sorrows and troubles come to all at one time or another. In fact, in the book of Job it says, “Man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward.” Job 5:7 One of the greatest lessons of life, however, is that you don’t have to go through storms alone.
Isaiah 43:2, 5 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you… Do not fear, for I am with you.”
I. Believing is Seeing
- This royal official heard that Jesus had turned water into wine and believed that Jesus could help his son.
- He doesn’t send a servant, he went to Jesus himself and implored Jesus to come down and heal his son. He was asking; in reality, he was praying for help.
A. A crisis is an opportunity
- One of the lessons from this story is that God doesn’t always answer as we expect and that we need to accept and embrace the answer in whatever way he answers it.
- Another lesson from the story is that a crisis or a tragedy is an opportunity for our soul to get right with God. The most important part of our lives is whether our soul is right with God.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, He speaks to us in our conscience, but He shouts in our pain. Pain is God’s megaphone to arouse a deaf world.”
- At first, Jesus responds in a way that might seem harsh or distant, but He wasn’t speaking only to this man, he was speaking to the crowd.
- It was as though Jesus was saying, “You want miracles, but you have no interest in God Himself.”
- This is true for a lot of people. They turn to God in times of trouble and want rescue, but have no interest in a relationship with God, yet the condition of our soul is the most important thing about us.
- A crisis is bad, it’s often a tragedy, but if that crisis brings us to an authentic relationship to the Lord, then something good has come from it.
Illus – In Matthew 15 there is a story of the only time Jesus left Israel. He went to the area of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman cried out asking for mercy for her daughter. At first, Jesus ignored her. She persisted. Finally Jesus said to her, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
But the story is a lesson in persistence of faith. She responded by saying, “Yes, but even the puppies eat the bread that fall from the children’s table.”
Matthew 15:28, Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.”
- The official was not put off by Jesus’s answer either, but persisted in faith. Jesus responded, “Go your way; your son lives.”
- The man had been pleading for Jesus to come down to Capernaum, but Jesus didn’t answer that way.
- Jesus answered on his own terms. He didn’t do it the way the man had conceived in his mind. There was nothing to see, the man simply had to believe, but he did. It was as though Jesus was saying, “You have My word.”
Ray Stedman in his commentary wrote, “Jesus was not being unkind to the man by refusing to go with him. He was giving him a rare and wonderful gift; he was giving the privilege and opportunity to believe at a deeper level of faith. He was coaching this man into experiencing a stronger, more durable faith. The message of Jesus to this father was, ‘don’t just believe in what I can do for your little boy; believe in who I am.’”
- What follows is a wonderful example of faith. The man believed the word that Jesus spoke and started off; he even took his time going home.
Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
- The man could have asked for some kind of proof, but he didn’t. Some people today refuse to have faith saying, “I need proof.” Really? They walk by faith every day.
Illus - Every time they step into an elevator, or an airplane they have faith. They let a mechanic fix their brakes and then drive on the freeway.
- While it’s true that we “Walk by faith, not by sight,” 2 Corinthians 5:7, we don’t have blind faith; the proof of our faith is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 12:39-40, Jesus said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea creature, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
C. Accept God’s answer with a good heart
- I think one of the most beautiful parts of this story is when the man simply believed the word that Jesus spoke and started off.
- Jesus didn’t answer the way he expected, but he took Jesus at His word and that was enough for him.
- God may overrule your prayer; He may answer in a way you don’t expect. A no can be just as much of an answer as a yes, or He may say to wait.
- But the key is to accept God’s answer by faith and don’t let worry and fear overwhelm you.
Matthew 6:25, 27, “I say to you, do not be worried about your life… Who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his lifespan?”
Illus - Bobby McFerrin wrote a song that gave his own answer. “Don’t worry, be happy. Landlord say your rent is late, he may have to litigate, don’t worry, be happy, be happy now.”
- I think God’s Word gives us a better answer - Don’t worry; pray.
Philippians 4:6-7, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- The problem is that the pain of worry puts everything out of perspective, but when we pray it brings us back to God’s perspective.
Illus - When you hit your thumb with a hammer, it becomes the most important thing in your life; at least for the moment.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18, For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison… The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
II. You Have to Want to Change
- After these things, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the Passover as all Jewish men were required to do.
- In Jerusalem, by the sheep gate, there’s a pool called Bethesda (House of Mercy).
- A certain man was there who had been 38 years in a sickness. When Jesus saw him he asked, “Do you want to get well?”
- There are a lot of questions people would like to ask God, but there are some questions God asks us, and this is one of them.
A. Some people don’t want God’s help
- That might seem like an amazing statement, but it’s certainly true. Some people don’t want to change. They like their lives just as it is, don’t see anything wrong with it, and have no desire to be “saved” out of it.
Illus - When you go to a county fair and see all the animals washed and beautiful don’t think they actually like it. A pig likes the mud and can’t wait to get back into it.
2 Peter 2:22, … “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”
- The problem, of course, is spiritual blindness, because when they stand before the throne of God and give an account of their lives, their eyes will then be fully opened.
Revelation 3:17-18, Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
- Other people refuse to believe that help is possible; they have simply given up. They have resigned themselves to being weak and failing the rest of their lives. “That’s just the way I am!” They say.
Illus - Some people are so used to being in prison, they’re more comfortable there. They will even sabotage help when it comes.
Psalm 142:7, “Bring my soul out of prison, so that I may give thanks to Your name.”
B. Arise and walk with the Lord
- At first, the man explains that he has none to help.
- The man was helpless. We can relate to him in so many ways. We all need help. We all find ourselves at times unable to do the thing we ought to do, or the thing we must do.
Isaiah 25:4, For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat.
- Jesus told him to take up his pallet and walk. There’s a lot to unpack in that simple statement.
- Remove the possibility of a relapse is one lesson for us. Don’t come back and lay down here again; make a clean break from the past. Are there some things you need to get rid of?
Illus - When the Romans landed on the island of what is now England, the general had all the soldiers watch as he had all the ships burned.
Illus - When the prophet Elijah threw his mantle over the young Elisha, he knew it was an offer to become the next prophet. At first he said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother and then I will follow you.” Elijah responded, “Go back, what have I done to you?” Elisha knew what to do, he burned his plow and sacrificed the oxen and followed Elijah.
- Keep walking, don’t lay back down where you once were; that is the lesson. Get up and keep walking, in fact, the key to continual spiritual victory is to keep walking with God every day.
- We have a part here. Some people say, “I tried that Christian thing and it didn’t work for me.” Really? That’s like saying, I tried the whole health club thing and it didn’t work.” Did he even go? Keep walking, get into God’s Word and stay close to God.
John 4:46-5:9 NASB
46 Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. 48 So Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe." 49 The royal official said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies." 50 Jesus said to him, "Go; your son lives." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. 51 As he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his son was living. 52 So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." 53 So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, "Your son lives"; and he himself believed and his whole household. 54 This is again a second sign that Jesus performed when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.