Reframing Faith | John 4:43-54
Topic: Gospel Passage: John 4:43–4:54
Christopher Rich – November 4, 2018
Reframing Faith | John 4:43-54
Introduction | What is Faith?
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work,Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series REFRAMING JESUS: Portraits of Glory from John’s Gospel.In Reframing Jesus, our desire isn’t to reinvent Jesus into someone He is not or make Jesus into an image we are more comfortable with. Instead, we seek to have our portrait of Jesus reframed by John’s Gospel to see Him as accurately and glorious as possible.
How do you define faith? What is something you’ve placed great faith in, only to see what you hoped for unrealized? What do you turn to or go to when you are in a place of desperation? Why do you believe what you believe? Is it because it’s “worked” for you or be because it’s actually true? Is your belief based on what you’ve experienced, or some vision/special prayer or “that could only be God” moment? We talk about “faith”, “people of faith”, “faith community” and we are vague about what that means. As if there are people who have no faith, are not a person of faith, or part of a faith community. Everyone is a person of faith. Everyone walk/limps with faith in something or someone with in community and culture of a variety of sizes and definitions. Even your most ardent secularist, atheist, humanist has a faith; they have faith in people (which is surprising considering what fills the news daily) Your most isolationist in the woods “unibomber” is a person of faith in a faith community (Faith in his world view and a community of one)
A Vague Faith isn’t what gives us hope. Being a “person of faith” isn’t what leads to new life. It is your object of faith that always determines the nature of your faith, not even the intensity or sincerity of it. You are a person of faith. Perhaps you’ve come in and you are specific, “my faith is in Jesus.” I want to ask yourself “why?” There are a lot of reasons people are interested, pursue, or get excited about Jesus, but not all of them are aligned with how Jesus himself understand and articulates what faith in Him is.
In John 4:1-42 we will be Reframing Faith to better understand what it means to walk in faith in Jesus Alone.
PART I | Reframing “Why” we Believe | v43-46
John 4:43-46 | 43 After the two days he departed for Galilee. 44 (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) 45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.
46 So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill.
Jesus has spent two days in Samaria, with Samaritans restoring lost dignity and now he’s left to return to His home region of Galilee. There have been many different reactions to Jesus in His home region so there is some anticipation that they might not receive Jesus properly. Jesus himself seems to intimate as much. “No honor in the home town” Yet it says Jesus was welcomed. The issue isn’t the welcome, it’s the “why.”
The Galileans have a faith in Jesus (welcome Jesus) based on the miraculous signs and wonders, they’re not worried about Jesus making them clean, new, forgiven for sin, saved from God’s just wrath, because their faith assumed acceptance by God. Oh we’re in the family of God we don’t have wealth or influence but we know we’re the good people so we look to God to give us things we desire and need beyond what we can do on our own. They welcome Jesus and purse him because of what they think they can get from Jesus. Jesus had turned water into wine in the region (that brought joy and celebration to a community and likely wealth and honor for a young couple.) During Passover in Jerusalem many from the region came down and saw Jesus clean out the temple. But clearly there were several who like (Jn 2 says) believe in Jesus because of the signs He performed. Their welcome was “sign dependent”, so their faith was conditional. We welcome Jesus because of what we hope he will do. They’re not interested in Jesus savoir of the world, they like Jesus miracle worker. You have several popular movements where they talk about Jesus, The Holy Spirit, God and it’s all focused on what they say God will do for you. You have the health and wealth on the TV preachers, easy picking. But then you have other groups who are so focused on sensationalism, massive movement with great music and thrilling “worship experiences”. If God is near it means He’s going to do something spectacular, God is only in the extraordinary, so if you aren’t experience it then your faith is not properly placed or directed. Their faith is all based on the things Jesus/Holy Spirit can or will do, rather than what Jesus has said, who Jesus is, and what Jesus has done. There is less focus on the sacrifice of cross, forgiveness of sin, and much on the Spirits powers, specifically in regards to bringing signs and wonders.
In contrast, where Jesus has just come from in Samaria there is a faith not grounded on what they hope Jesus will do but what He has done and most importantly who He is. The Samaritans have faith in Jesus based on Jesus acceptance of them and restoration of dignity he’s granted through breaking down cultural barriers and cleaning/forgiving individuals of their sin. They are humble and have assumed not acceptance but rejection. So they’ve worship Jesus for who He is. They welcomed Him in their city because He pursed them and welcomed them into His family. So their welcome is not in anticipation of what they hope to see but in response to who he has and what he’s done. Genuine faith in Jesus is not one that is waiting for Jesus to act and perform but in responding to the fact that He already has in pursuing them for restoration.
In this region with a culture regarding Jesus for what he can do and the miracles he can perform is a man of great importance who is also in great need. 15 miles away down the hill from Cana is an official, a man of resources, wealth, and influence who has a young son who is ill and with all his power he can’t heal him.
PART II | Reframing Desperation | v47-50
John 4:47-50 | 147 When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.
Faith comes from Hearing about Jesus. What happens when what you’ve heard about Jesus meets what you need from Jesus? News of what Jesus can do has permeated the region, the results of Jesus acting have led to people being interested in hearing more about Jesus. I have heard about the things Jesus has done for others I wonder if something can be done to change what I can’t in my life. This official is in a desperate situation. His son has more than a cold he is at the point of death. Everything else has likely been tried, all options exhausted. When there is nothing left to try, I know people have talked about Jesus. I might as well try the miracle work I’ve heard of.If He can turn water into wine than maybe he can turn certain death in to ongoing life. Wine great for celebration of abundant life, but I am in desperate need of sustenance of life for one where it seems to be ending. What have you placed faith in that has failed you? What has it led you to do? Do you double down or search for something else?Faith can come from understanding personal desperation, other options you’ve pursed failing purposely to drive you to seek something better.
Faith doesn’t come to Jesus with the answer but seeks the answer in Jesus. The official already has the answer “Jesus is going to show up and fix this”. We like to pursue Jesus when we need him and expect Him to respond in a way that is favorable and in the way we have already prescribed. The official knows Jesus is close, but he goes seeking him. Faith desires life for others. I don’t need Jesus in the area or somewhere around me I need Jesus here with me in this suffering and trial. He wants to summon Jesus on the bat phone. Come here and perform what I need. I know you are capable of doing this.
Faith comes from engaging with Jesus and being challenged by Jesus- Jesus answer is a rebuke to the official and the culture he’s a part of. You (people plural) only believe in what you can see. You only have faith in signs and wonders, not the one who the signs and wonders come from or point to. Why does Jesus even do signs and wonders? We don’t place faith in Jesus so he’ll give signs and wonders. Jesus gave signs and wonders so we would believe in him. Jesus sounds a bit cold blood here. A man’s son is dying and he’s more concerned with the nature of belief. He is pushing back on a less the accurate theology of what authentic faith is when a man is coming to him in desperate need. The son’s illness is a life and death issue. But so is faith in Jesus. There is physical death and there is spiritual death. In this episode it’s easy for us to see the one in the greatest need is the son dying, yet Jesus is able to see more comprehensively healing needed for three parties. The son yes, but also the official and the culture he represents in this region. Jesus is about to bring more healing (more grace and truth) that the man was actually seeking. He just wants his son better and Jesus is going to also make his soul better while drawing attention to less than accurate understanding of faith. If the Galileans are sensationalists who desire signs and wonders, we are rationalist who only believe what we see. Both are not actually practicing faith from a biblical definition. That’s not faith (I’ve seen something so it’s true) It’s not faith to say, I’ll believe it when I see it. That’s doubt.
For the official and for us, Jesus doesn’t want to just fix what wrong in his life but what’s wrong in his heart. “Jesus I don’t want to talk theology I just want you to fix what is wrong in my life.”Don’t teach me, help me. Jesus is helping him by showing him what genuine faith is. Jesus often works in our hearts before he works on our lives. But don’t doubt Jesus willingness and ability to work in and on our lives. When have you been more excited or felt your faith more sure on when you’ve seen God move? And more doubtful of His presence and goodness when He’s not responding to you in the way you expect, or He seems distant?Kent Hughes says if the world is “Seeing is believing” Than Jesus here is asking us to recognize “believing is seeing” what is true, true about Jesus.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
This is the definition of faith we’re give in the Bible. By definition is a trust in Jesus not in seeing/experiencing something tangible. Faith is in believing the word of Jesus BEFORE experiencing the healing of Jesus.
If his answer is “Jesus come and fix it”, Jesus answer is “Go and walk in faith that I already have.”
Jesus doesn’t respond to us on our terms we respond to Jesus on his terms. We don’t negotiate with God, we surrender to Him. God is compassionate, patient, listens, hears, but God will not be dictated to. Jesus meets us in our desperation, is gracious to rebuke us in the nature of our faith/belief, AND Jesus is compassionate to intervene to bring life to those who are desperately seeking Him. Jesus says “You wanted me to show up, but I’m not an uber” I am more powerful than you think. I can and have healed him from 15 miles away. Like Jesus on the cross “it’s is finished” The job is done, the healing has been performed. Now go and walk out your life returning your home knowing I’ve worked. I am not going to be physically present with you, you have to go on a journey where you believe what I’ve said before you see it’s been done. He responds with faithful obedience to what Jesus has said to him. Jesus gave him a promise and Jesus gave him direction. So the official converted from one who was interested in what he hoped Jesus could do to trusting the word of life proclaimed by Jesus. He has a genuine faith, he walks in response to what Jesus has said not what he’s seen Jesus do (because he hasn’t seen Jesus do anything yet) I think this is as miraculous as any other “sign” Jesus performs a man hears a from Jesus and responses not with doubt (no Jesus come do my house, show me everything you can do to heal my son, obey, serve, and respond to me in the way I demand) but with faithful obedience. Genuine faith doesn’t come from seeing miracles preformed, but when genuine faith is experienced a miracle has been performed. Jesus speaks good news. Jesus spoke and he believed. This man’s walk out in faith. He is responding to good news from Jesus. Healed son is good news! Let’s be clear Jesus doesn’t say “Go, walk in obedience and I will then heal your child.” Go exercise your faith and the sincerity and intensity of your faith will heal your son. No! He says “Go” Your son will live (your son lives). Believe the good news that Jesus has proclaimed and walk in response to it.
Faith is trusting Jesus even when His answer isn’t what we want or when His promise isn’t for now but for later.
So what if we acted like Jesus promises for life and healing were present realities now even if we won’t always experience confirmation of them until later?I think this is an important question because we’re going to see what Jesus said is true, the son is healed, the son lives. But most all of our life as a disciple is the life of being on a journey of believing, hoping, trusting the word and work of Jesus before seeing and experiencing its results. Remember faith is the assurance of things hope and not yet seen. Like this official, he is walking by faith and not by sight. He leaves and is walking to toward what Jesus has promised towards where Jesus says healing and life are. So keep walking, affirm authentic faith by walking.
PART III | Reframing Certainty | v27-30
John 4:51-54 | 51 As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. 52 So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. 54 This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.
Walking in obedience to the truth of Jesus word is faith affirming, seeing the results of Jesus work is faith confirming. Faith was already expressed and walked in. We can be so focused on remembering that God can be glorified in our suffering and that we need to have faith even when God doesn’t respond in a way we understand and allows more suffering that we can forget that God is compassionate, Jesus grants healing, Jesus does hear our petition, does act even when He seems more distant (15 miles out). Jesus is always closer than we think and is never too far away to act in our lives.Jesus can seem distant from a situation, but He is still very much present in power.
Faith isn’t hoping in a make believe God that never acts. Sometimes God gives us glimpses and we receive news that reveals and reminds us that our faith is not in vain and our hope is not foolish. It gives us even greater confidence that our faith is well placed when it’s placed in Jesus. God is so good to give us moments of assurance that it was Him working to bring healing and life to move us from a certain path of death to the promise of new life with Him now and forever. The official gets the great news his son lives!
Faith is recognizing when God has acted. Where in your life have you been given healing, joy, freedom? When have you experienced a dramatic change of circumstances or direction in our life? That was God acting. If you’ve experienced healing and life know that God did that. Faith is remembering who the hero of your story is. In every instance of death moving to life, of true healing, Jesus is the hero. There is great joy when faith is met with hope realized. Jesus did what he said he was going to do.
When Jesus says I’ve acted, believe He’s acted. What I mean by that is, if Jesus says you’ve been saved and healed, live like someone saved and healed. The official gets the details of the healing. We are able to see in the rearview “God did something” God acted. For the official he trusted Jesus before he saw Jesus act, but there are many who experience or healing and rejoice but don’t know where it came from or who did ii.Jesus spoke life and healing, but there was a time before the official came back home that the servants, the son, the family knew is there was sickness and certain death and now there is healing and life. No doubt, there were doctors with the son, medicine taken, prayers given, lots of things were tried hard to know which one caused the dramatic turnaround. But the father had heard the word of Jesus, knew it was at the same time healing came knows there are no coincidences and has no doubt on the simple truth that Jesus word saves. With his faith in Jesus word/work confirmed he is able to bring clarity to his household. You’ve seen the healing, you’ve seen the transformation. Let me tell you who ACTUALLY did it, Jesus did!
The result of faith confirmed and affirmed is to be faith multiplied. Healing work of Jesus has a faith multiplying effect.Believing is seeing Jesus is worthy of faith. And seeing Jesus act leads us to greater boldness and clarity to share with anyone and everyone we come in contact with that Jesus is the one who heals. He is not able to contain himself. He took leadership and initiative seeking Jesus in desperation and he took initiative in showing his family how Jesus has worked to bring life and healing. He believed when he didn’t see, he believed even greater when he saw. Now he’s able to articulate to others how God acted in this situation not to focus on sensationalism but for the purpose of pointing people to salvation. “Dad, tell me the story of how I was saved?” Jesus spoke and you lived because Jesus is the God who saves. Now me, you, your mom, all of us, anyone who will listen, are called to walk in faith in who Jesus is, what He says, and what He’s done.
At times get to have our faith confirmed, and we have our faith grow in us and through us, at times we're going to have walk a long time before we have our faith confirmed until then we are going to simply Trust Jesus.