John Message #13, “Introduce Royal Official”, Ed Miller, Feb. 29, 2024

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As we begin to share in the Lord, I want to share just two verses from Ephesians 3.  You know the Apostle Paul was a human instrument, and he’s explaining how he got his revelation, and in verse 3 it says, “By revelation there was made known to me the mystery as I wrote referring to this, and in brief when you read, you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ.”  So, Paul said, “I want you to know that I got it by revelation, and when you read, you’ll know the clue that you must get it by revelation.”  So, let’s bow before the Lord.

Heavenly Father, we thank You so much for the privilege of gathering here, spending a season here hearing your word, knowing that the indwelt Holy Spirit will turn our eyes to the Lord Jesus, and we trust you for that.  We thank You for every part of Your word, and in a special way the gospel of John.  So, minister to us and meet us where we are.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

We’ve been meditating on the fourth gospel, as you know, the Gospel of John, and with the prayer that the Lord would graciously reveal Christ to us.  I want to review just a little bit.  You remember John’s reason for writing this gospel.  John 20:31, “These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in His name.  So, John wrote for those three reasons, that we might know who the Lord is, that knowing who the Lord is, we might trust Him, and that trusting Him, we might experience life and enjoy the Lord.  In our discussion we’ve come to the end of our meditation on the woman of Samaria in chapter 4.  We saw how the Lord revealed Himself to that woman; He was the great seeker, and water was seeking thirst.  Then He proclaimed to her the good news that He was Messiah.  John 4:25, “The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming, He who is called Christ.  When that One comes, He will declare all things to us,’” and then in words that are not able to be misunderstood, He answered, “Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He,’” and He proclaimed that He was Messiah. 

He not only identified Himself as Messiah, but He called Himself the gift of God and the giver of living water.  Verse 10, “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’”  And He actually became that fountain of living water in her heart.  Then He also revealed Himself by delivering her.  He delivered her from empty cisterns that always run dry, from buckets that continually need to be refilled, and from ropes that continually wear one out; He delivered her from herself.

We also saw the second purpose for which John wrote, that we might trust Him, and we saw in that story that faith is illustrated by drinking; that’s how simple faith is.  John 4:14, “Whoever drinks the water I will give him will never thirst, but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”  And when we left off we were pondering the third reason John wrote, “How can I through this story of the Samaritan woman experience life and enjoy the Lord?”  How does this story demonstrate what it means to enjoy the Lord?  As it relates to me, He’s given His life; it’s the exchanged life, and He’s given me everything necessary to obey Him.  We called attention last time to verse 7, “There came a woman of Samaria to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’”  He asked her for a drink so that she would ask Him for a drink; He always commands us, so that we turn around and ask Him for the very thing He commanded us to give.  So, every promise is a command.  Sometimes we urge people to “claim the promises of the Lord”, and I urge you to claim His promises, but claim His commands, because every command is also a promise.  To us, life is revealed by appropriation; we appropriate His life.

How does that story show us how to enjoy the Lord as it’s related to others?  John 4:39, “From that city, many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all things I’ve done.’”  So, when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days, and many more believed because of His word, and they were saying to the woman, “It’s no longer because of what you said, that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”  So, we appropriate Christ, then we manifest Christ; He shows His life to others.

How does this apply to the Lord Himself?  It applies to me when I appropriated His life, and it applies to others when I manifest Christ, how does it apply to the Lord Jesus, and how is He satisfied?  You know that His joy was in giving; His thirst was satisfied when her thirst was satisfied.  His hunger was satisfied when her hunger was satisfied, and she fed on the bread of life.  John 4:31, “Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, eat,’ but He said to them, ‘I have food to eat you do not know about.’”  That was His food, to see others respond to Him.  So, He’s the giver of living water, faith is drinking, and appropriating, manifesting and then letting the Lord serve you, that brings great joy.

The next story in the Gospel of John is the healing of the royal official’s son in chapter 4:43-54.  We’re not going to read that now, but before we turn to that story, I want to revisit the woman of Samaria and just make a few comments on the last part, in other words, missions, the outreach, the overflowing, the bubbling of the fountain.  We already saw that Jesus contrasted and used human illustrations to give spiritual truth, and one of the illustrations was sowing and reaping, the harvest.  With spiritual agriculture we saw that on the physical side it takes time.  There’s four months, and then comes the harvest, between seed time and harvest, but that’s not necessarily true in spiritual sowing.  John 4:35, “Do you not say there are yet four months, then comes the harvest?  Behold, I say to you, ‘Lift up your eyes and look on the fields; they are already white for harvest.’”  So, there doesn’t need to be time.  I told you that Amos prophesied that in Amos 9:13, “’Days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when the plowman will overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes, he who sows seed.’”We also saw that the woman of Samaria is her overflow, greatly influenced the Samaritans to believe.  We saw that in verse 39, “From that city many Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman,” and then in verse 42, they heard it from Christ Himself.

When we talk about missions illustrated in this story, it’s easy to see Jesus as the missionary because He’s the sower and the reaper; He’s the one who led this woman to Himself.  It’s also easy to see the woman as a missionary, because she went and overflowed in all Samaria, but it’s not so easy in this story to see the disciples as missionaries.  When Jesus ministered to the woman, the disciples weren’t even there, verse 8, “His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food,” and when they came back, they were still out of the loop, verse 27, “At this point, His disciples came, and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, ‘What do You seek and why do You speak?’” 

What did they do when they went into the city?  The answer is that they bought bread and then returned.  And yet, Jesus said that they were sowing and reaping.  How was that true?  Clearly, Jesus was sowing and reaping, and clearly the woman was sowing and reaping, but the disciples not so much to these eyes.  I want to dive a little deeper.  He’s talking to the disciples in verse 3&&38 when He says, “Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal, so that he who sows and he reaps may rejoice.”  In this case, the saying is true; one sows and another reaps.  “I sent you to reap that for which you’ve not labored.”  The Lord Jesus said to the disciples, “I sent you to reap.”  When He said that others had labored, and you enter into that labor, what did He mean that others had labored?  He could have meant the whole Old Testament prophets; they labored and they prepared the way.  He could have referred to John the Baptizer; he certainly prepared the way.  He could have referred to Himself, because he was laboring.  He could have referred to the woman. 

There’s always preparation before you show up; there’s always preparation before I show up.  When Billy Graham gave his famous invitation for people to come forward in his many crusades, they came by the hundreds and sometimes by the thousands.  So, you can say that Billy Graham reaped, and he had a great harvest, and yet, who knows what went before that harvest?  Who knows all of the praying husbands and praying wives and mothers and fathers and concerned children; a track was given here, and a song was sung there, and there’s a conversation that takes place one day, a crisis comes into the life (that’s preparation), a warning is given, there’s a narrow escape (that’s a preparation)?  All the way there’s always some wonder or some testimony that prepares the way.  In terms of Billy Graham, my Lillian was one that came to the Lord in that direction through Billy Graham in 1958 at the crusade in Madison Square Garden.  But what preparation came before?  She grew up in a Godly family.  I didn’t have that privilege, but that was all preparation.

Now back to the disciples and this story.  Were the disciples involved redemptively in this harvest of the Samaritans?  Indeed, they were! Let’s go a little deeper.  John 4:9, “The Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.”  Do you know what no dealings means?  It means no dealings, and the rabbis spelled it out; you are not allowed to shop in a Samaritan marketplace.  You can’t do it; no dealings back and forth, and that prejudice wasn’t hidden.  It was well known.  The Samaritans knew it and the Jews knew it.  It went both ways. 

I wonder what went through the minds of the disciples when Jesus said, “I want you to go to Samaria and go shopping in a Samaritan marketplace.  I have an idea there was some conversation on the way, but their hearts were set to obey the Lord.  What Jesus commanded them to do was not allowed by the religious leaders.  Now, this band of Jews suddenly comes into a Samaritan marketplace, and I wonder what they thought.  Can you imagine, they knew that they were Jews.  Jesus commanded them, though they didn’t realize it at the time, to cross the line of prejudice and to go into that Samaritan market and buy food.  This Jewish group of disciples, we just sort of read this thing la, la, la, but I bet you the Samaritans had some thoughts when those Jews walked in.  The woman was shocked when Jesus even spoke to her.  I can’t imagine how they responded, but I’m sure they had some response.  It might have been as mild as surprise, and it might have been as great as shock.  I know they wondered, “What are these Jews doing coming in?”  Maybe there was even resistance; we don’t know, “We can’t sell to you.”  I don’t know what took place, but I’m quite sure they noticed, and I’m quite sure they questioned.  It was unusual, and this didn’t just happen, and it had to be part of their table conversation.

All of a sudden, add to that verse 39, “And from that city, many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified.”  This woman came back and she was transformed; she was known, and they knew who she was, and I suppose the Samaritans are scratching their heads, “What a day we’ve had today!  All these Jews come in and start shopping, and then this woman comes back transformed and bubbling over and telling us about Messiah, what is going on?  We better check this out.”  So, the disciples had a part, but they didn’t know it.  Jesus didn’t say, “I’m going to send you across the line of prejudice and take a strong stand against prejudice.”  He didn’t say that.  He didn’t say, “I’m sending you there to hand out tracks.”  He didn’t say, “I’m sending you there to witness and find some Samaritan sinners that need the Savior.”  They went to buy food, not to take any stand, not to witness.  They had no clue that they were being missionaries and sent to reap and to sow.  John 4:38, “I sent you to reap for that which you have not labored.”  He’s still talking to the disciples when He said that, but they would say, “I thought You sent us to shop; I thought You sent us to buy bread.  I didn’t know I was on a mission, a missionary journey.  And the Lord says, “You just think so; you think I sent you across that line of prejudice, and you think I sent you as a missionary?   You have no clue.  As far as you know, to obey Me is to buy food and return, and that’s it.”

The reason I’m bringing this up is that this great missionary section at the middle of John chapter 4 includes the disciples, and I want to call attention to their part—living; that’s all they were doing, they were just living, and they were obeying Jesus, living and obeying the Lord.  They weren’t trying to win souls, they weren’t trying to witness, they weren’t trying to evangelize.  They just obeyed the Lord and stepped over the line of prejudice, and purchased bread, and they had no clue how God was using that, but that was all part of the preparation for these Samaritans to come to Christ.  They were sent to reap and they didn’t even know it. 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we talk about missions and some would say, “I never had a chance to lead someone to Jesus.”  Just live; God is using you to prepare, and that’s all part of missions.  Go on your vacation, go shopping, and go to therapy, and go play pickleball, and just live, because the Sower lives in your heart, and everywhere you go, when your heart is right with Him, you are dropping seed.  Everywhere I go, when my heart is set to obey the Lord, I am also dropping seed, seeds of preparation for the harvest.  John 4:40, “When the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days.”  I can’t imagine the thrill in the heart of the disciples for those two days when they had part in the reaping and in the counseling, and so on, just a tremendous thing!

I hate leaving this story of the Samaritan woman because I’ve been so blessed in just meditating, but let’s move on to John 4:46-54, the healing of the nobleman’s son.  I want to share before I look at that, a principle I’ve applied, and I don’t think I’ve ever quoted this passage, but it’s been on my heart every time I teach, and if you reflect back you’ll see this is the method I use.  I want to clear the way so that we quickly get to Jesus.  Isaiah 40:3, “A voice is calling; clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness.  Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.  Let every valley be lifted up and every mountain and hill be made low, and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley.  Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed.”  That was applied to John the Baptist, but it’s not only for him; it’s for every Christian who is preparing the way for the Lord, and in a special way, for Bible teachers.  We need to clear the road, so that people can run right away to the Lord Jesus.  If there are bumps in the road and rocks, we ought to get them out of the road.  If there is a curve, we should straighten it out.  If there is some hole they can fall in, we should fill it up.  If there is a mountain in the way, we should rake it down.  In other words, make the path smooth, so that people can get to Jesus fast.

I bring that up because, as you study the Bible, you’re going to find some technical details, and some times they can be a distraction, comments that cause some to stumble or some to get stuck in a hole, or some to be blocked altogether and can’t get to Jesus.  So, before we look at a story, I try to get those things out of the way, because they are distractions.  I’m not pretending I have all the answers.  I don’t.  There are Bible questions that I can only do what Mother Mary did, and that is ponder them in my heart, and maybe for years and years, but if I can rake over some of the lumps and fill in some of the holes to make it easier for you to run more quickly to Jesus, I want to do that.

In this story there are two things that I think can distract.  One reason I know they can distract is because they’ve distracted my commentators.  I read all these books, and I see how distracted they are, details that occupy time and slow the pace and hinder from sprinting to Jesus.  The first distraction is in verse 54.  This is, again, a second sign Jesus performed when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.  This healing of the nobleman’s son is called the second sign.  We know the first sign from verse 11 of chapter 2, “This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.”  The first sign was turning water into wine; that was the first sign.  So, if the miracle of turning water into wine was the first sign, and the healing of the nobleman’s son was the second sign, you would expect logically that there would be no signs in between one and two, and yet we read in John 2:23, after He cleansed the temple in Jerusalem, “Now, when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover during the feast, many believed in His name, observing the signs which He was doing.”  And then when Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, John 3:2, “Rabbi, we know you’ve come from God as a teacher; no one can do these signs unless God is with him.”  So, if we have signs in between the first sign and the second sign, some people want to get distracted and try to figure that out.

There are two possible explanations.  One is that John is not writing in chronological order.  When we get to the next story, that’s a big deal, to prove that he doesn’t write in chronological order.  I’ll just set that aside for now.  There’s a more simple answer.  By the way, here is a great principle of studying the Bible; read the Bible carefully.  That’s just a good principle.  John 4:46, “Therefore, He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine.”  Where was He when He performed the first sign?  The answer is Cana.  Where was He when He performed this sign?  It was Cana.  This is the second sign He did in Cana.  It’s not saying that it’s the only sign He did; it’s the second one that He did in Cana.  That’s not a big thing, but some earnest Christians can’t get past it because Bible critics wrongly say, “There are contradictions in the Bible,” and then they use stuff like this to get you sidetracked.

The second distraction is in verse 46, “Therefore, He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine, there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum.”  King James says, “A certain royal official,” and the sidetrack is, “We need to identify who this was.  Who is this royal official?  There are great arguments.  Some go to Luke 8:3 and say, “Chuza; that was the royal official.  He was the steward of Herod, and His wife was Joanna, and she was a financial supporter of Christ, and that’s who it was.”  Others say, “No, no, no, no, you need to go to Acts 13:2; it’s Manaen, and that’s the one.  He was either Herod’s foster brother, or he was some son of Herod, and that’s who it was.”  Others say, “You don’t read the Bible carefully; you ought to read Matthew 8 and Luke 7 because this is the same story in different words of the centurion’s servant; it’s just repeated again in different words.  They see a few likenesses and say it’s the same.  I think stronger arguments can be made to prove it’s not the same.  In this he comes himself, and in the other miracle he sends servants to come.  In this we know the disease was a fever, and in the servant it was paralysis; that’s different altogether.  We know that Jesus didn’t come in either case, but this was struggling faith, and in the other case he commended him, “This is great faith.”  Probably one is a Jew and the other one is a gentile.  It’s a different thing, but that doesn’t matter; that’s just a detour to slow you down from getting to Jesus, and we want to get to Jesus. 

I happen to know who the royal servant was, the royal official, so I’m going to let you in on it, because I know.  I’ll tell you who he was; he was a trophy of the grace and goodness of God, and that’s all you need to know.  He’s a trophy of God’s wonderful grace.  Don’t get sidetracked trying to figure everything out.  We waste precious time looking at signs and wonders and trying to figure out details, when we could be do what John said, “I’m writing so you know Jesus; I’m writing so you trust Jesus; I’m writing so you enjoy Jesus.”  So, let’s get on with the inspired reasons.

John said he wrote this gospel so we would know who Jesus is, and that He is the Son of God, the Christ of God.  How does Christ reveal Himself in the story here of the healing of the royal official’s son?  The royal official didn’t catch on right away; he’ll catch on later and we’ll talk about that.  I want to start by showing you that God made that connection between the first miracle at Cana and the second miracle at Cana, verse 46, “He came again to Cana of Galilee, and there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum.”  I think it would be helpful in a sentence or two, just to recall how He revealed Himself the first time at Cana, and then how He advances on that revelation in the second sign at Cana. 

There’s no question that at the first miracle He revealed Himself as the mighty Creator; He had created water in the first place, and now He’s recreating it, and turning it into wine; He’s transforming it into wine.  If we use the theological word, we would say, “He revealed Himself as the omnipotent Lord, all-powerful Lord, His power, His almighty-ness.”  In the first miracle He would show that He was omnipotent and He was not bound by the law of time.  What I mean by that is that we turn water into wine all the time, but it takes us time.  It takes the seed time, and then it takes the growing time, and then it takes the harvest time, and then it takes the squeezing of grapes time, and then it takes the pouring out of the lees time, and I don’t know how to make wine, so whatever else is included, it takes all of that time, and Jesus did it in a moment by the mighty power of God.  That’s the revelation in the first sign; He’s omnipotent, all powerful.

How does He add to that revelation in this second miracle?  In the second miracle there’s no question He’s still omnipotent, as He was in the first miracle.  He speaks and the child is healed; that’s by the mighty power of the Lord.  But in addition to that display, omnipotence, He also revealed Himself as omnipresent.  In verse 46, “He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine, and their was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum.”  The distance between Cana and Capernaum is about twenty to twenty-five miles away.  The father was in Cana; the son was twenty-five miles away in Capernaum.  In verse 52, “He inquired of them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, ‘Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.’”  That’s how we know he was sick with a fever.  What a wonderful revelation!  Jesus worked a miracle at a distance; He wasn’t there in person.  In this miracle, Jesus, in this second sign revealed Himself as omnipotent and omnipresent.  In the one He wasn’t bound to the law of time, and here He’s not bound to the law of space.  His presence is everywhere.  Jesus was in Cana with the desperate father pleading for the life of his son, and at the same time He was at the bedside in Capernaum of the child who was burning up with a fever, and very close to death.  Jesus’ body was in Cana, however, His presence was not confined to His bodily presence.

This is not the only miracle that Jesus is going to work at a distance.  Sometimes it’s a short distance, like the blind man who goes to the pool of Siloam.  Sometimes it’s a longer distance, like Luke 7 and the Centurian’s servant, or in Mark 7, the Syrophoenician woman whose daughter was at home possessed with a demon.  There are many illustrations of Jesus being in more places than one at the same time.  In fact, remember that He said to Nicodemus in John 3:3, “I who speak to you am also in heaven at the same time,” “I’m here, but also there.”  He certainly was with Nathaniel under the fig tree; He was there then.  Even the miracle of the coin lodged in the fish’s gill, I think He was underwater.  He knew where that fish was and where that coin was dropped and when he ate it, and all the rest. 

Let me ask this question.  Since Jesus lives in my heart and lives in your heart, He’s omnipresence and He’s omnipotent.  We just sort of say, “Jesus lives in my heart,” and we forget that He’s there with all of His attributes.  He lives in my heart.  Is there any way that Jesus can express Himself through me in His omnipresence?  How can I be in more than one place at the same time?  The answer is that it’s by union with Jesus.  This father touched an omnipresent Savior, and by touching an omnipresent Savior, he also touched his son who was a great distance away.  The same Lord and faith that can reach twenty miles, can reach two hundred miles or two thousand miles away.  By faith, we can touch distant needs by touching an omnipresent Savior.  I hope you know how wonderful is the gift of prayer.  What a tremendous provision God has made!  How many distant needs can be touched by the simplicity of touching Jesus through believing prayer.  Only eternity will reveal how God used Spirit-led prayer to fulfill His purposes in distant places.

Sometimes I think about faith as the longest arm in the world, because it can reach to the heart of the needy and the heart of the sick and the unevangelized all over this globe.  Faith is the longest arm in the world because it can reach the ends of the earth.  I have friends that I pray for in Africa, and I have friends in France that I pray for, and I have friends all over the world that I pray.  I’ve been recently praying for one in Australia.  Faith can do that.  I say faith is the longest arm in the world, and it’s also the shortest arm in the world.  Why?  It’s so short, all it needs to do is touch Jesus, and He’s not far away, and that’s why we can express the omnipresence of the Lord.  This was the manifestation to this royal official.  He didn’t see it right away.  He didn’t say, “Oh, thank You, Lord for revealing yourself as omnipresent; that’s what I needed.”  He didn’t see that at first. 

Some of us are burdened for members in our family who are distant, they’re far away, or they’re needy, or they’re sick, and we wish we could be with them in those places, and comfort them and encourage them and give them a word from the Lord.  The omnipresent Jesus lives in your heart; touch Him, and then touch your family.  It goes both ways.  When we come to the end of this we’re going to see that when this started, it was not good news.  This father was not happy; he was burdened and he was anxious and he was frantic and he was in a panic.  When it ended, the whole family came to Christ, and it was the sickness of this boy that sent his father on the journey to see Jesus.  Sometimes it goes the other way, and the parents lead the children, but sometimes trouble takes us to seek the Lord.  When this was over, we see how redemptive that sickness was. 

John also wrote this gospel, not only so we’d know the Lord, omnipotent and omnipresent, but also so that we would trust Him.  The way this story unfolds shows that this royal official had faith, but it was a struggling faith.  As the story unfolds his faith develops, but at first it was very weak, it was struggling.  Before I look at his struggling faith I want to make a point about struggling faith.  There’s a difference between struggling faith and unbelief.  There’s a big difference.  God accepts struggling faith, and boy, I hope you can praise God for that, He accepts struggling faith as faith, but He can’t accept unbelief. 

Here’s the difference between struggling faith and faith.  I’ll illustrate it with Peter who denied the Lord, and Judas who betrayed the Lord.  The Lord Jesus describes Peter’s struggling faith in Matthew 26:41, “Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter temptation.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  That expression, “The spirit is willing,” that’s struggling faith.  I may not get it right, and I may fail, and the flesh may fail, but I have a willing spirit, and that willing spirit is struggling faith.  Judas did not have a willing spirit.  He was hard, he was resisting, he was against the Lord.  The difference between struggling faith and unbelief is that struggling faith still wants to believe, but unbelief doesn’t.  It’s wonderfully illustrated by this royal official.  First, I know he had faith.  How do I know?  It’s because he came to Jesus.  That’s how I know he had faith.  I’ll show you in a moment how I know it was struggling, but I know he had faith, because he came to Jesus.  Chapter 4:47, “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; he was at the point of death.” 

Let me show you how I know he was struggling.  That verse that I just read reveals at least two things.  Number one, he came because of the testimony of others.  In verse 45 it says that the Galileans were moved because of all the signs that Jesus was doing, and evidently that word got to him, and he heard about all these great testimonies.  So, that was one thing that stirred him on.  The second thing comes from the original language.  He came begging.  Wuest translates it, “He went off at once to Him and commenced begging Him to come.”  That word is, “He asked over, and over and over and over,” and we don’t know how many times.  He said, “My son is dying; please come, please come.  He’s dying.  He’s got a fever.  He’s dying.  You’ve got to come.  You’ve got to come now.”  That’s how that scene is actually, according to the Greek, that he was desperate for his child who was at the point of death. 

Struggling faith begs, because it believes somehow that by importunity and by repetition the only way to overcome God’s reluctance is to keep at it and to keep praying again and again.  There’s a couple of truths here.  One of them is that you don’t have to overcome His reluctance; you have to lay hold of His infinite willingness.  He’s not reluctant.  He wants to help you.  He wants to respond.  There’s no idea of overcoming His reluctance.

Let me ask this question.  How many times do you have to ask God for something in faith?  I’m not going to try to answer that, but I know I don’t have to twist His arm to do something, and I don’t have to force Him.  Begging God is evidence of struggling faith.  I know there’s a way to keep on asking that is not struggling faith, because we’re commanded to keep on knocking and keep of seeking and keep on asking.  So, there’s a way to do it, but I have the idea that struggling faith is saying that I’m trying to get God to endorse my plans, my will.  I just need a stamp of approval.  “This is what I want You to do, Lord, and I want You even, if possible, change Your mind, change Your will, and do it my way.  But the right way, of course, is to keep on praying, keep on trusting, “Lord, make me faithful, overcome the enemy, and you can keep on praying about the same thing without it being struggling faith. 

If I interviewed this man, and I speak as fool, but if I went to this man after Jesus had talked to him, and I said to him, “Excuse me, Mr. Royal Official, could you answer this question?  Do you believe in the omni attributes of God, that He is omnipotent and that He’s omnipresent?  I think the official would say, “What are you talking about?  I came here because my son is dying.  I came here with a big problem.  I don’t know anything about the omni attributes of God, and I don’t know why you’re quizzing me about my theology.  I came twenty-five miles from Capernaum all the way to Cana because I want Jesus to do something.”  Verse 47, “Again, when he heard Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him, imploring Him to come down and heal his son; he was at the point of death.”  He wanted Christ to come heal his son, begging Him over and over and over to come.

His struggling faith is also suggested by the comment Jesus made right after he came, and some take that to be rather strong, or I won’t say rude, but awfully strong.  He comes and says, “My son is dying, can you come,” verse 48, “Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.”  Isn’t that strong!  And He’s talking to him.  He’s also talking to those that are around Him, the Galilieans who were sign-seekers, but I think this man, also, came seeking a sign, and the sign was, “Heal my son.”  He came because of sign-seekers, He came begging and pleading, he came by sight, “I want a sign,” and then his struggling faith is also illustrated by the fact that he came with an agenda.  Let me show you that.  He came telling Jesus where this miracle had to be done, “You’ve got to come to Capernaum.”  That’s where it’s going to be done.  And he came suggesting to Jesus what needed to be done, verse 49, “You’ve got to heal my son.”  That’s what needs to be done.  And he also told Jesus when it should be done in verse 49, “Now. So, there’s my agenda; I’m telling you what to do, I’m telling you where to do it and I’m telling you when to do it.  That’s struggling faith, coming to the Lord Jesus with an agenda.

It’s interesting to see how Jesus responded.  The royal official said, “Come,” and Jesus said, “Go.”  The royal official said, “My son dies,” and Jesus said, “Your son lives.”  The royal official said, “Come with me,” and Jesus said, “Go alone.”  So much for your agenda.  I have a plaque on my wall, and it says, “Do you want to make God laugh?  Tell Him your plans,” give Him your agenda.  

Jesus never turns away struggling faith.  This is so tremendous.  He accepts struggling faith as faith.  I don’t know about you.  I’ve often come to the Lord with an agenda, and I might say, “I want Your will,” but deep in my heart I’m saying, “I hope things work out my way; I want my own plan and I want my own will.”  When this story started, it was sad.  When the story ended, it was glad, and there was joy, but sometimes, brothers and sisters, there’s a road that goes from this to this, and that’s the road of pain, and he had to go on that road, and as he goes along he’s going to go twenty miles, and what’s he going through?  Here is a truth I wouldn’t trade all the gold if every planet was lined in gold and given to me, this truth that God always deals with us as we are and where we are in order to take us to the place that He wants us to be.  As you come with struggling faith, you come with your own agenda, you come sad, you come broken, you come begging, He’s not going to turn you away.  He’s not going to turn me away.  He always deals with the willing spirit that will just come and pour itself out.  It’s a tremendous truth.

In the end, what do we read?  Verse 50, “Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son lives.’”  Now, I’m going to add in between that; I don’t think I’m dishonoring the word of God.  He’s going to say, “Go, without a sign; Go, without an agenda, go, your son lives.”  Some years ago, my sister had a child three years old run over by a drunk driver and was killed.  It was a terrible time; she went into sort of a shock.  The funeral wasn’t for another week, and she was just a zombie during that week.  Everybody was trying to tell her, “You’ve got to sleep, you’ve got to eat,” and she would talk to you but she wasn’t there.  Do you know what I’m saying?  Her husband, my brother-in-law, asked if I would do the funeral.  I’ll never forget the end of that because I said, at the end, I looked her in the eye, and I said, “Go your way, your son lives,” and it was over.  The tears gushed and she became human again.  Such a word!  The Lord Jesus said to him, “Now, go your way,” and listen to the rest of verse 50, “The man believed the word that Jesus spoke,” objectively, “and started off.”  He believed the naked word of the Lord, the bare word of Christ, and so, you’re going to see now, and we’re going to come back to that because how did you start off with struggling faith, subjective, and end up with this objective faith, just a word of the Lord? 

What is faith?  Faith is taking Jesus at His word and going your way.  I’m going to end there this morning; Christ is the omnipotent and omnipresent One that lives in your heart and mine, and faith is believing the word of Jesus, and going your way.  We’re not finished with this story.  Lord willing, we’ll pick it up next time.

Father, thank You again for Your revelation of Yourself in Your word, and we want to come quickly and run right down a smooth road to get to You.  Thank You for the revelation that You are omnipresent, and You live in our heart and we can touch You and reach the ends of the earth.  Thank You for the revelation that faith is just listening to Your word and going our way believing that word.  Make these things so real in our heart, and prepare us for our continued study.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.