Signs & Wonders (John 4:39-54)

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Trying to explain adult concepts to children can be hard.

–        Some are easy

o   No you cannot hit your sister on the head with a cup just because you want a refill. Would you like if I did that to you? No? Ok then, don’t do that to your sister. Problem solved… for a few moments.

o   No, you cannot have brownies for breakfast… unless your mother is out of town for the weekend J. Song: “Dad is great, He gives us chocolate cake!”

o   Yes, you must wear clothes and cannot go outside in your underwear.

o   Oldest telling youngest “Fine go ahead and waste paper. I guess that means you don’t want to breathe.” The oldest is learning about deforestation, while the youngest just wants to color the pages in her book.

 

–        Some are a bit more discussion and almost regular conversations

o   No, we cannot stay and live or move to Disney World.

o   Daddy isn’t going to church but to work during the weekdays; bc every Daddy has to work for their family to have a home with food and clothing. Your Dad just happens to work at the building where we worship God with our church family.

o   No, the baby in Mommy’s belly cannot come out to play right now, He/She still needs to grow and get stronger before coming out to be with us.

 

–        Some are hard to put into words

o   What’s a Eunuch? “A person enslaved to a very evil master… and you’re not old enough to discuss how evil.”

o   Discussing divorce: Why does that person’s mom and dad live in separate homes?

o   Dying is a really bad sickness & Death is a leaving from this life…

  • 2 Great Grandfather’s, soon Great G-ma, Friend, Brewster, Uncle
  • Alethia wearily says, “There’s been too many people dying lately.”

 

The reality of a loved one dying, even more the dying or death of a child is one/the most heart wrenching circumstances a person will ever face in this life. This morning we encounter John 4:39-54 to uncover how to heal sickness with the hope of Jesus.

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EXAMINE       John 4:39-54             Healing Sickness                   (James 5)

Previously Jesus has spent two days in Samaria with spectacularly successful ministry. Jesus shared gospel hope with “Sammy” (a Samaritan woman) and she believed, and in turn told her entire town about Jesus. John notes, “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39). Jesus stays (abide/μένω) with the ‘unclean’ Samaritans for two whole days, showing 1) Jesus is unconcerned about Judaism ritual purity laws because He fulfills the law and faith in Him provides righteousness, and 2) Jesus’ mission is to seek and save the lost, whether Jewish kinsman or Gentile (cf. Jn 1:11-12; 10:16; Mat 14:24-28). Jesus testified “a prophet has no honor in his own hometown,: (Jn 4:44) implying that success in His message, ministry, and miracles would be away from those who knew Him too well – or more, those who were religious Jews and Pharisees would have the most trouble accepting Jesus.

The Samaritans (interracial Jew & Gentile) believed Jesus and the testimony of a woman, affirming Jesus as “the Savior of the world” (Jn 4:42). So far in John’s Gospel we have seen numerous titles for Jesus. It is why the early church came up with the “ICHTHYS”, the Greek word for fish. As early as the first century, Christians made an acrostic from this word: (Iota) Iesous (Chi) Christos (Theta) Theou (Upsilon) Uios (Sigma) Soter, i.e. Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.[1]

Following time in Samaria Jesus returns to Cana in Galilee – not far from where He grew up, and the first place Jesus performed a sign-miracle of changing water into wine (Jn 2:1). A royal official from Capernaum (16 miles from Cana[2]) had a deathly ill son and asked Jesus to come and heal the boy (Jn 4:47).

Jesus’ response to the man with a dying son gives us two affirmations for our faith.

We must believe in Jesus in our daily life.

The initial response of Jesus to the man with the dying son appears cold and careless. Jesus says, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” It potentially could be heard like this: “You are only coming to me because you have an emergency, not because you truly believe.” Essentially, the man has a problem to solve, specifically a health need, and wants Jesus to fix it. The man is not coming to Jesus in humble faith saying, “Lord, I’m a sinner in need of your forgiving grace. Please save me and also spare my son from his death.”

However, Jesus’ response isn’t cold or careless, and is a little clearer in the original language saying, “Unless y’all (you plural) see signs and wonders y’all will not believe.” Therefore, Jesus is not just responding to the suffering father but to all the stubborn elites who rejected Jesus’ authority. Understanding Jesus’ context, we can relate to those we know who only seek or discuss God when it comes to the headlines, the handouts, or the faith healings. These people approach God for selfish reasons rather than with authentic heart motivations.

God is not a means to our end, He is the end goal of life and everything good. Many people try to use God to solve their problems of financial or relational struggle, depression or diet issues, or any variety of vices. We don’t need a religious sign but rather a relationship with the Savior (cf. Jn 4:42). Our prayers to Jesus are not because He is a genie but because He is God.
◊      Daily faith in Jesus is like breathing; we can’t live without it but it’s a natural (not forced) part of life.

o   Ex. Do you breathe to live or live to breathe? Admittedly this is somewhat semantics, but the idea is that if we are overly focused on breathing then we will miss enjoying the life we are given. Just breathe and live! Likewise, when we try to force God into a set of religious expectations or feelings then we miss the relationship of walking with Jesus in the everyday.

o   “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: ‘Our Father…” (Mat 6:8-9)

o   “I am the vine, you are the branches. If any man abides in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

  • IF we don’t abide, we won’t survive… Lord, help us to sense and savor our daily dependence on You.
  • à Fasting to Easter (March 1, 2017). Consider fasting in an area: meal, tv, other and replace it with prayer… AND/OR TOGETHER WE PRAY AT 4/16 [or reverse J]
  • PRAY FOR 1) Shared faith opportunities 2) Souls saved.

 

è If you haven’t already or don’t have a place to start, reading 1 chapter a day from Gospel of John.

o   God: Write a truth about Jesus’ character or action.

o   Respond: Write an action step you will implement personally.

o   Others: Who are you sharing faith lessons?

o   Worries: Pray with humility and hunger spiritually with Jesus.

We must believe in Jesus in the desperation of life.

Despite Jesus’ charge against the royal official’s class, the man was desperate and determined to get his dying son help. “The official said [repeated implored – imperfect tense], Sir [Lord – κύριος], come down before my child [little one – παιδίον] dies” (Jn 4:49). The anxiety and agony over a dying loved one – much more a child – is one of life’s most desperate circumstances. The thought of Jesus not coming alarmed the father as he pleaded for Jesus to come heal his son. The man’s desperation led to definiteness of request for his child.

Likewise, our prayers – especially in the desperation of life, should be specific and not vague. Vague prayers reflect vague faith. When our prayers are vague then we miss the opportunity to know God hears and answers with His wisdom and love. As Christians, our role is not to wonder or worry when and how God will answer our prayer. Our role is to discern God’s will through His word and the ways He works, and then humbly but boldly ask, seek, and knock for God to answer our request (Ps 34:7; Mat 7; Lk 18; Heb 10, etc.).
è What is the desperate circumstances where you need to be definite and specific? Tell God the burning desires and burdens of your heart. Jer 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” He knows

Jesus responded to the man’s plea, “Go, your son will live.” “The man believed the word that Jesus spoke” (Jn 4:50). If Jesus didn’t want people seeking Him for miracles, then why did He grant the man’s request? The miracle of speaking a word to give life was a sign identifying Jesus’ divinity. Only God can speak words with power to create, heal, and give life.

When the man returned home and found his son healed of fever and alive, he knew it occurred at the spoken words of Jesus. He believed and led his family to faith in Christ.

è Are you sharing faith lessons in the midst of your suffering? God intends our trials to become testimonies for His glory.

APPLY/THINK

The sign miracle of healing the sick child became a revival moment for a family.

–        A father began faith and led family to spiritual growth.

–        PERHAPS – this royal official becomes part of a missionary movement as Manaen (Acts 13:1-3)

–        Signs and wonders can conquer unbelief. Our faith should not be in the miracle but in the miracle worker and saving power of Jesus.

o   Let us pray for signs and wonders that God may ignite a revival among family households and church houses.

 

[1] See also https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2016/11/25/the-x-in-christmas/

[2] http://www.bible-history.com/map_jesus/MAPJESUSNew_Testament_Cities_Distances.htm

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