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The Greater Miracle
John 4:46-53 

 

He came therefore again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain 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 requesting Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. [48] Jesus therefore 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 way; your son lives." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he started off. [51] And 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. They said therefore 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. 
 

The phone rang. Dad put down his garden tools, wiped the sweat from his face and rushed into the house to grab the phone before its final ring. With his mind on his Saturday morning chores, he didn't notice the sliding glass patio door was closed. 

Mom found him in a pool of blood with glass chards laying beside him. Frantically, Mom called 911. The dispatcher couldn't send any help, it seems that my parent's address was on the wrong side of an arbitrary bureaucratic line. Mom would have to call someone else.

Afraid there wasn't enough time to make another phone call, Mom managed to get Dad in the front seat of the car to take him to the hospital herself. Instead of getting on the freeway and driving to downtown Ft. Worth, she took a side street to a hospital that was closer. 

Traffic was heavy. Blood was pouring into the floorboard of the car. Time slowed down. Dad was bleeding to death. Mom was desperate.

The royal official in today's text was desperate too. Desperate enough to travel twenty miles from Capernaum to Cana to ask for help. Twenty miles wasn't the only distance the official had to cross. The journey was a piece of cake compared to the social distance he traveled. This man had high standing under King Herod. He traveled in the high social circles of his time. No doubt, he'd gathered with Herod and all his friends on many occasions. But now, he, a Roman ruler, lowered himself to seek help from Jesus, a Jewish laborer. The racial difference, notwithstanding, he lowered himself to seek help from the village carpenter. It must have been his last hope or he wouldn't have humiliated himself like this. Why would he do it? Why would he journey so far and humiliate himself like this?

Simple. His son was sick. His son was dying.

My Dad was dying and Mom felt helpless. Traffic was at a standstill. Mom saw the looks on the driver's faces as they pointed to the bleeding man, her husband in the car next to them. She honked the horn, but no one pulled over to let her by. No one offered to help. At that moment she would have done anything to get Dad the help he needed. It was surreal. The strong man who had always provided for her and always protected her was wilting away before her very eyes. He needed help. She had to get him some help.

Have you been there? Have you ever been in the position of knowing you're the only one that can help, and you do everything you can, but you still feel helpless? Maybe it was a traffic accident, or cancer. Or maybe it was standing by helplessly as your children made bad choices that are ruining their lives. Have you ever been in the spot where you had no where to turn, and you were willing to do anything?

When He arrived in Cana, he followed the crowd to Jesus. Tired and road weary, he laid aside civility pushed others aside and looked Jesus straight in the eyes. Jesus said to him,"Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe."

Jesus' statement was directed to the ruler, yet the plural address "you people" leads me to believe He was speaking to the crowd. The crowd that knew how He turned the water into wine. Though the whole city wasn't at the wedding, I'm sure that by now they had heard how he turned the ceremonial water into wine. 

Jesus' message is clear. Faith comes before the miracle. Remember, Mary and the servants demonstrated their faith before Jesus performed the miracle. Mary showed her faith by telling the servants to do whatever Jesus said for them to do even after Jesus rebuffed Mary by saying, Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." (John 2:4 KJV) The servants showed their faith by dipping their cup into the murky ceremonial water and carrying it to the headwaiter to drink.

A lot has happened in John's gospel between last week's sermon and our text today. Jesus cleansed the temple, running out the money changers (John 2:13-22). He met with Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews who felt his first birth was sufficient to get him into heaven. Jesus told him he had to be born again to even see the Kingdom (John 3:1-15).

John the Baptist declares that he must decrease and Jesus must increase (John 3:22-36). Traveling through Samaria, Jesus encounters an immoral woman and offers her eternal life. She accepts his offer and goes back to the city and tells everyone what happened (John 4:1-42). 

Now He's back in Galilee talking to a Roman official. His message is loud and clear. Ritualism won't help anyone. Just as the ceremonial water needed transformation, so did the practice in the temple, so Jesus cleansed it. Nicodemous, even as a religious man, will split hell wide open if he isn't born again, but an immoral woman who accepts Christ's forgiveness will know eternal life. Life belongs to those who believe. And faith always comes first.

The man wasn't looking for a sign, he wanted help. He said to Jesus, "Sir, come down before my child dies." [50] Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your son lives."

The Royal official didn't argue with Jesus. Like the servants who dipped their cups into the murky water to carry it to the headwaiter, he just did what Jesus said. When he turned and walked away, he believed.

Imagine the 20 mile journey back home. I'm sure he didn't stop and rest, he went straight home to return to his son. The journey to Jesus must have seemed like a year, but the journey home must have only taken a minute. When he got there, his son was well, and when he inquired the hour that he was healed, it was the very hour that Jesus pronounced him well. Then the man believed.

Wait a minute, you say, didn't he already believe? Sure. He believed that Jesus would heal his son. But this faith was for another miracle. He wasn't believing that Jesus would do a miracle, He was believing in Jesus to save his soul. And the scripture says, his whole household believed.

I can only imagine my Mom's relief as she turned into the entry way of the emergency room at the hospital. Attendants put Dad on a Gurney and wheeled him in. I was a freshman in college when this all happened. I can still remember the tremor in my Mother's voice when she called to tell me about it. 

Dad was pretty beat up. His face was scarred and the glass had cut a major blood vessel in his leg. In the early hours, it looked like he would live, but the doctors weren't sure if they could save Dad's leg.

Dad was confined to a wheel chair when he went home, but he kept serving the Lord. Each week, some men from the church would help him get up on stage and he would preach his sermon. One Sunday, he forgot about his leg and walked to the pulpit, stood and began preaching. The congregation gasped. God healed him. He never used the wheelchair again.

It was because of the royal official's efforts and faith that his son was healed, and it was because of my Mom's efforts and faith that Dad was rescued. Sometimes God uses our faith and efforts to benefit someone else.

But when it comes to saving faith, we have to exercise it for ourselves. Like the Royal official did, and like my Dad did twenty years earlier.

Dad doesn't talk about his healing much. While acknowledging the fact that God performed a miracle in his life, saved his leg and healed his body, he prefers to talk about a greater miracle. The day God saved his soul and made him a new man.

Impact Preaching: A Case for the
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