Sermon – Seeing is Believing… or is it? (John 4:39 – 4:54) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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The Book of John was authored by one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, John, who features in the gospel. John makes his mission for writing the book plain in 20:31; “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” He details the many words and claims of Jesus, as well as the various responses from those listening; in either faith, amazement, caution or rejection. Listen as Cornerstone preachers unpack the narrative and invite us to reflect on our own response to Jesus.

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Sermon 14 of 58

Seeing is Believing… or is it?

Chris Tilley, John 4:39 - 4:54, 20 March 2022

Chris continues our series in John’s gospel by preaching to us from John 4:39-54. In this passage we see Jesus’ interaction with a royal official who’s child is dying - and what it means for us today.

John 4:39 - 4:54

39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

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. 47 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. 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.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

We're in John chapter 4 tonight, and we're gonna be reading verses 39 to 54. Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him, because of the woman's testimony. He told me everything I've ever done. So when the samaritans came to him, They urged him to stay with them, and he stayed 2 days.

And because of his words, many more became believers. They said to the woman, we no longer believe just because of what you said. Now we have heard for ourselves and we know that this man really is the savior of the world. After the 2 days, he left for Galile Lee. Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet a prophet has no honor in his own country.

When he arrived in Galile, the Galileians welcomed him They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival for they had also been there. Once more, he visited Kaina. In Galile where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay ill at Capernum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galile from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son who was close to death.

Unless you people see signs and wonders Jesus told him, you'll never believe The royal official said, sir, come down before my child dies. Go, jeez. Replied, your son will live. The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his sermons met him with the news that his boy was living when he inquired as to the time when his son got better.

They said to him yesterday, at 1 in the afternoon, the fever left him. Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, your son will live. So he and his whole household believed. This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Jude to Galile. Well, good evening and a warm welcome for me.

My name's Chris Tilly. I'm 1 of the elders here at Cornstone Church. I do apologize if my throat's a bit croaky. I've got over coronavirus recently and this is about the most talking I've done in 3 weeks, which if you know me is rare for me. So let me pray as we start.

Father, we pray that as we come to your word, as we as we as we read about your son and what he did on this earth and the people whose lives that he touched, that our hearts would similarly be touched that our ears would be open to hear you as we as we look at your word now on them. Well, seeing is believing, isn't it? Seeing is believing in order to to to see something is to believe it. You you hear that quite a lot. The the idea that to see something with your own eyes is the ultimate and irrefutable proof that that that something is true.

It's quite a prevalent point of view. In other words, it's not it's not enough to simply be told about something. It's it's it's not even really enough to be presented with evidence of something, unless I actually see it with my own eyes, how can I know it's true? And that's probably more true today than it ever has been. Isn't it?

We've got more information available to us than we've we've ever had at any point in history. And yet, all it often causes us to do is to ask the question, is this actually true? Often I know this is true. In an age of deep fakes and all kinds of stuff. How do I know that what I'm reading and what I'm looking at is is really true, I would need to see it for myself with my own 2 eyes to believe that that was that was actually the truth.

I remember I remember I was like this is a kid actually, funnily enough. So I grew up going to Church. And I can remember, I can remember as a child sitting in my garden and just saying, look God, if you could just show yourself and I would I would believe in you. But I I can't really see you. So I I'm not sure.

Maybe if you could prove it, if you could prove yourself to me, in some way, then I'd, you know, then I'd probably I'd probably be happy to believe at that point. And, of course, he didn't. Well, of course, he did, but I just wasn't willing to watch. I wasn't willing to see. I wasn't willing to hear the response.

Of course, he did through many people in my life. My parents the rest of the church family, but I didn't wanna hear. I didn't wanna see. Seeing is believing or or or is it? If you've been keeping up to date with what's been going on in Ukraine, some of the reports that are hardest, I think, to to read are about families that are split, where where part of the family lives in Russia and the other part of the family lives in in Ukraine.

And you've got loved ones telling their loved ones, that there's a war going on here. They're blowing everything up, the cities being bombarded. And parents in Russia are going, no, no, no, there's not. There's no war going on. There's nothing happening.

No. There there is a war going on. Can you not hear the air raid sirens in the background. The building next to us got blown up yesterday. Oh, no.

No. No. No. It's it's that's just that's just propaganda. It's not really going on.

What would they need to see it, to believe it? Do they need more evidence? Do they need more of a sign? Do they need to physically go there themselves? And watch the bombs dropping to to believe.

The question is, would that even really convince them, or would it be like me as a little child the answer comes and I suspect they probably wouldn't believe then, because you can explain away what you see with your eyes if it doesn't fit with what you want to believe. There was there was there was another story about a family that were living in Carkev And if you know about kharkiv, it's basically been being reduced to rubble as we as we speak. And you had multiple generations of this family all living in the same house, and the grandmother. Now, the grandmother, it's old school. She only watches Russian TV.

She only watches the Russian news channels. Rest of the family are watching other stuff, grandma, she has her channel, and that's it. And that's where she gets her information. The world is literally blowing up around her and she's going, no, no, no, no, look, look at my darlings. That building's still there, because the Russian TV's channel is showing a thing from 2 weeks ago.

The building's not there anymore, granted. It's gone. Like, they blew it up. And I don't know, there's no war going on. It's just a special thing.

Putin's in control. It's all fine. Granny, come outside, the neighbor's house is gone. It's not there anymore. She eventually did go outside, and she saw with her own eyes.

And she was ashamed that she could have been fooled for so long, but she was more ashamed that she didn't listen to the testimony of her loved ones and that she had to go so far in order to believe what was clearly in front of her. It was to her shame, that it took so much evidence to convince her of what was plainly the truth. Now, why am I talking about this? Why why am I going on about about seeing and believing. Well, in today's passage, we meet a guy to whom Jesus gives that response.

And it seems like an out of place response, bearing in mind what's going on, the guy's son is is dying. And Jesus talks about seeing and believing and unless you do that, then you're never going to believe. And you kind of think, well what what's going on here? What's what's happening here? Well, when it comes to Jesus, in in this time, people weren't really any different.

Seeing was believing to a degree. And when people come to Jesus, there's only really ever 3 responses in terms of how they how they how they go about it, either. You're presented with a lot of evidence and you still won't believe, to your doom. Or you're presented with a lot of evidence, and you are finally convinced to your shame, but you're convinced it's better. Or you simply hear and you believe even though you haven't seen.

Jesus says, that's to be blessed. That's a blessing. And, specifically, when it comes to Jesus and the Jews, his own people, this issue of seeing to believe is is frequent. It keeps on coming up time and time again. You've got a lot of misinformation about him being pushed by the fallacies and the teachers of the law, and that's filtering down into the people, and there is a general reluctance, not total, but general reluctance on on the behalf of the people to trust him fully, is that there's an undertone of of of unbelief.

So the passage that we're reading here in chapter 4, it's actually the end of a section. It's the end of a section in John that begins in chapter 2. Around about verse 13, and it's when Jesus goes up to Jerusalem to the Passover Festival. And since that time, since he's driven them out of the temple and scourged to the temple court and then was preaching to them. There has been this growing sense of frustration on Jesus' part, and there has been an undertone of unbelief amongst the Jews.

As he encounters various different people. If you look at Chapter two:eighteen, so just after he's cleared the Temple Courts there, the Jews. This is the Pharaces, the teachers of the law, the people. They ask him, what sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all of this. What is the sign that you prove to us?

Your authority to do all of this. In Matthew 12, you get similar things in the other gospels. In Matthew 12, You get the scribes and pharisees saying, teacher, we want to see a sign from you. At the end of chapter 2 verses 23 and 25, we see that many people saw the signs he performed and believed in his name. But There's a but Jesus would not entrust himself to them.

Many people believed in his name, They saw the signs he performed, but Jesus wouldn't entrust himself to them. Why? Because he knew that their faith was dodgy at best. It was dodgy at best. They only believed in him on the basis of his miracles and not on the testimony of his word.

They believed in the things they could see and not in the things that they heard him say. They had faith in who they thought he was, who they thought he was, and what they thought he could do for them, and they were wrong about him. And Jesus knows it. They were thinking along the lines that Jesus is coming to restore the lines of the kings. He's gonna boot out the Romans.

He's gonna He is going to promote Jewish supremacy. He is going to make Israel great again. You know, that's that's what they are thinking. It's this this kind of nationalistic earthly greatness that they think that Jesus has come to usher in and we see that in chapter 6, we haven't got there yet, see it. We will see that in chapter 6 and verse 15.

But Jesus has come to glorify God He's come to glorify his father, not Israel, and his teaching is about to clash with their presumptions and their opinions and their malformed faith. You go on and you then get nicodemus coming to Jesus. And and he clearly believes Jesus is a prophet from God because he has seen what He clearly believes he's a prophet from God because he's seen the signs, the miracles that Jesus has been performing and says, you could not you could not be a prophet from God and and be able to perform these miracles or you could, you know you know what I mean. So he sees the signs and and and he clearly believes to a degree. But when Jesus speaks, about being born again spiritually.

Nikodemus has no idea what he's talking about. And he goes, you're a teacher of Israel's people and you don't know these things? Why doesn't he know? Well, Jesus' assessment is that nicodemus, the pharisees, the people do not accept Jesus' testimony. That's Jesus' words.

You do not accept my testimony. Their faith is based on what they see and their own opinion of it, rather than on what Jesus says. But we do know that later on, nicodemus does become a believer, like properly. We see that later on in the gospel of John. So, there's something going on there.

There's a faith but it's malformed. It's not It's just small. It's not quite right, but but but it's there. And you see I mean, even John the Baptist disciples, even they weren't listening. You know, they they they failed to hear John's testimony about Jesus.

And so when Jesus starts baptizing people, they complain. I complain. To John, and they say, that man, that man, how dare he's taken away our our our back what do you call them? Baptistisees? It's basically taken away their business.

Not that they're charging for it, but but they're jealous. It's ridiculous. They haven't listened to the word. They've just seen what he's doing. And as we go on into the next section of John in the coming weeks, from chapter 5 onwards, we're going to start to see Jesus coming into conflict, coming into some serious conflict with the rulers and the people because his teaching Not his science, his teaching does not match their prejudices and their assumptions.

They even start to complain about the signs that he's doing because he's doing them on the wrong day of the week. Oh, you did that wonderful thing. You heal the person. You made us you know, you're regrown legs and hands and people are walking and blind are seeing. But you did it on a Sunday, well, Saturday.

It's ridiculous. And when he starts to really teach him hard stuff, and he says, I am the bread of life, No 1 comes to the father except through me, well, then many desert him. When they really start to hear what says, they don't want to hear it at all. Because their malformed faith was based on signs. And on presumptions and on opinions that they had.

In contrast, What we just saw last week was very different, wasn't it? While he was in Sumaria, we we just read it. That's why we read it at beginning of this. Many believed because what? Because they saw signs and miracles.

No. Jesus didn't perform a single sign or miracle in some area, because they heard what Jesus said and they took him at his word. They heard what Jesus said. And according to Jesus, you're blessed if that's you. You're blessed.

When he speaks to Thomas at the end of John in in John chapter 20 because Thomas is doubting that he's risen from the dead. And he's really seriously doubting. He's saying, unless I see it with my own eyes, I will not believe this thing. I will not believe it. And Jesus says to him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you believe.

Blessed are those who have not seen me and yet have believed. Because to believe without seeing or really, to believe without God having to come down and prove beyond all shadow of a doubt, His existence to you Well, that's to avoid shame, isn't it? If you believe without God having to do that for you, Who are you o human that God should have to prove his existence to you? Why should he have to do that? We are only human.

He is god. We won't listen to what he says. He has to prove himself to us. But he does it anyway. He comes down and does it anyway out of love, to win us to him.

That's pretty amazing. So the people who are who are best placed to to to know who Jesus is here his fellow people, the Jews, they ask for further signs, they want to make him prove it to them. Whilst the people who are not his people, the samaritans, they just have to accept him. They're just happy to accept him on the basis of his testimony. They hear him, they believe, blessed.

And the question, so therefore, the question we're dealing with when we come to this passage tonight, this overall section really is is really we're looking at faith what produces it? What's real and what's not? What's right and what's wrong in terms of in terms of faith. We're not called to a blind faith that some people make out, but an informed faith informed by what informed by his word and what he says, his testimony. Not 1 that needs to have absolute cast iron proof provided, but 1 that is a reasonable testimony It's a faith that takes Jesus at his word, and it's a reasonable word that we hear.

But the problem is is that we often approach Jesus with a dodgy faith just like that of the Jews, and just like that of the man in today's story, really. So, let's get back into the story, so into chapter 4 and at verse 43. After 2 days, he left for Galilei Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country. When he arrived in Galile, the Galileo welcomed him They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival for they also have been there. So Jesus leaves behind his his very fruitful 2 days amongst the Samaritans, and he hops across the border into Galile And John reminds us in this funny little note in brackets that the prophet is without honor in his home country.

Jesus had said that, so he goes there knowing. He's without honor. And it's it's useful for understanding, it's useful for giving us the context of of what comes next. Otherwise, it it it can be a little bit confusing, because on the face of it, he receives quite a a a warm welcome from his fellow Galileo. Doesn't he?

You know, he goes in and and it says that they welcomed him. The Galileo welcomed him in verse 45. Why? Why do they welcome him? Well, in reality, the welcome is is as superficial as their faith because it's only based on signs.

They welcome him because they had seen the signs that he had done at the Passover Festival in Jerusalem. And where does Jesus go in Galileley? Well, his first stop is cana, where he turns water into wine. He goes back to the place of his first sign. Now, we're not told why he goes back there, but he does.

And while he's there, an official comes to him, and not just any official, but a royal official. A powerful man, A royal official at that time is someone who's in the service of herod. He's connected to herod. He's a man with many servants. He's a man who wants for for really, not much, actually.

But he's also a desperate man. Is desperate because his son lays dying. He would have had access to all of the best physicians, the best healthcare plans, the private medical services. He's exhausted his options if he's here. He clearly has nowhere else to turn, because he's come to Jesus.

And he most likely would have been at the Passover Festival I think it's pretty reasonable to assume. He's a royal official. It was probably a 3 line whip that he actually had to be there in person. He probably had some administrative tasks that he had to carry out while he was there. And even if he wasn't, then he would certainly know about what Jesus got up to, because I mean Jesus has just cleared out the whole temple.

So, I think all the royal officials probably had a dispatch sent out saying, watch out for this guy. He could be trouble. You need we need to keep our eye on him. He's likely to have been 1 of the best informed people around. He would have known about Jesus.

And if his faith at this point to come to Jesus isn't based on the signs that Jesus has been performing, then it's certainly a faith borne out of desperation, isn't it? It's a it's a last resort, last resort Jesus. I've got nowhere else to go. I've got nowhere else to turn. No 1 else can help me, maybe discount.

Maybe. Maybe he can help me. I've heard about the other things that he's done. I've heard about what other people have said about. Maybe he can help.

And so he makes the trek from Capernium to Kena, which is about 15 miles And when he gets there, he humbles himself something that this guy would be unaccustomed to doing. He's a powerful man with servants at his disposal. He's a royal official. People humble themselves before him, but he makes that journey and he humbles himself before Jesus. He begs.

And you can sympathize, can't you? This is a father fighting for his son's life. You can sympathize with that, especially fathers in the room. How far would you go? How far would you not go?

There's no lengths to which you would go. Is there for your son's life? He gets down on his knees before Jesus, and asks him to do something for him that he is utterly unable to do for himself. His son's life is slipping away by the second, please, come and heal my son. But the answer he gets is definitely not what he was hoping for or expecting, I would imagine.

And it seems bizarre on the it's a fact, it seems out of order. He actually does seem out of order, doesn't it? Like this poor man, his son is dying. He's on his knees in front of Jesus. He just walked a long way to get there.

He's he's pleading, he's begging, and Jesus says, unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe. You're like, what? That is outrageous. That's out of order. Why doesn't Jesus just help him?

If he can help him, why doesn't he just help him? Why is he why is he laying into this poor guy? Is he is he down already? I mean, you know, it's why I kick a man when he's down. It's it's a lot.

It's a lot. Now the thing is is that Jesus is he's absolutely correct of of in his assessment of the official here, isn't He's correct. He knows his faith is coming from a dodgy place. It's purely self serving. He just wants to save son's life.

It's not really about him coming to Jesus, and it's probably based on the signs and wonders that he's heard about. But just because something's true doesn't mean you should say it, right? And there's a lot of things that are true, doesn't mean it's always the right time to to start saying those things, you know, we have to exercise a judgment in these things. I mean, Jesus, like, come on, be reasonable. But you can see the urgency and the directness in the man as well.

He takes the rebuke, He's undeterred. It's almost like he doesn't hear. He's like, sir, sir. Please come down before he dies. If we don't go right now, it's gonna be too late.

You won't be able to do anything. You'll be gone. So he does humble himself. He clearly believes Jesus can do something about it. He asks him twice.

He presses his point. He clearly there is something of belief there. There is something of belief there. So what's going on? Well, essentially, what is happening is that the official is taking Jesus' huge power and minimizing it.

And Jesus gonna take the officials' tiny faith and maximize it. Jesus is Jesus is doing more than the official asked here. That's what that response is about. So let's look at how the official limits Jesus first. So he he says, come down with me.

Come with me. Jesus, you come with me and then you can do what you need to do. He limits him by distance. Did you notice, he limits him by distance. He gives away his lack of faith because he does not believe that Jesus can heal his son from a distance of 15 miles.

I wonder at what point he does think that Jesus can heal his son, 1 mile, 5 miles, or does he have to be standing over him, touching him to heal him? I guess that's what he thought. He's gonna need to lay hands on him or lie down on top of him or breathe life into him or something like that, but not from 15 miles. That's ridiculous. You know, healing someone completely, that's that's plausible.

But from 15 miles implausible, His faith is is lacking. He he clearly thinks that there is a chance, but not from that far away. And we know we know that this is a lack of faith because we get other examples, which are completely the opposite to this. And that's the Centurion. If you know the story of the Centurion in Matthew, in fact, in Luke, Luke's account is even more extraordinary an area than than Matthews, because in Luke's account, he doesn't even go to Jesus himself.

Let me read it to you. It's almost identical Beginning of Luke chapter 7, if you want to follow along. When Jesus had finished saying this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernium, There, a centurion servant whom his master valued highly, was ill and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus, and sent some elders of the Jews to him asking him to come and heal his servants. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly him.

This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue. So Jesus went with them. He was not far away from the house, when the centurion sent friends to say to him, Lord, don't trouble yourself. For I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you, but say the word, and my servant will be healed.

For I myself am a man under authority with soldiers under me, I tell this 1 go and he goes and this 1 come and he comes. I say to my servant, do this. And he does it. When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him. And turning to the crowd following him, he said, I tell you.

I have not found such great faith even in Israel. Then the men who had been sent returned to the house found the servant well. So the similarity is that the centurion has a servant who's dying at home similar to the official whose son is dying at home, they're the similarities end. And that's that's it. What happens next is display of faith that Jesus has not found anywhere else.

He doesn't even consider himself worthy to come and speak to Jesus himself. He sends his friends. He certainly doesn't consider himself worthy for Jesus to come under his roof. He's a gentile. He's a filthy Roman.

There's no way that I'm worthy for Jesus to come under my roof, but he believes that Jesus just needs to say word and it will be done. And Jesus says, I've not seen faith like this. That is amazing faith. And interestingly, Jesus doesn't even say a word. He didn't say anything about the man being healed.

He is just healed. Jesus doesn't even need to speak to heal at whatever distance you It's a big difference compared to the faith of the official in our passage. He's been put to shame by a roman of all people The official also limits Jesus by thinking he cannot raise someone from the dead. Did you notice in in what he said, sir, come down before my child dies. The implication being that if Jesus does not hurry up, then the child will be dead and then you're done for.

You won't be able to do anything about it. That's game over. And here again, he reveals something of his faith about who Jesus is. In fact, it's fairly insulting, it's fairly dishonoring. He's placing Jesus lower than even Elijah or Elijah.

Who were old testament prophets that this guy definitely would have known about. Elijah and Elijah both raised children, recently dead children back to life. Both of them did, but he does not seem to believe that Jesus will be able to do the same. It's interesting how Jesus, going back to to when people were asking Jesus for signs and wonders. It's interesting how Jesus answers them.

So earlier on in John, when they when he has just cleared out the temple, And they say, give us a sign that you have the authority to do this. What does Jesus say? And he goes, okay. Here's sign, tear down this temple and I'll rebuild it again in 3 days. And not what?

It's taken us years to build this temple. You mad, but he's talking about himself. He's talking about his death and resurrection back to life. In the example I gave in Matthew, chapter 12, when the pharisees and the teachers of the law come to him and say, give us a sign, prove to us who you are. Jesus says, I will not give a sign to this wicked and adulterous generation, except for the sign of Jonah.

For his Jonah was 3 days and nights in the belly of a fish, so the son of God will be 3 days in the belly of the earth. And come back to life. When asked for a sign, he talks about his death and resurrection, his power over death, to raise people back to life. That's really the sign. That's the only sign he needs to give at all.

There doesn't need to be any other sign. Really, what he's saying is that only once I am dead, will you believe? And then come back to life again. That's the sign. That's when you're gonna truly believe.

And that's to your shame that it's gonna take the son of God die on a cross to convince you. For your lack of faith to be satisfied, for you to see and believe and understand so that we'll love him and believe in him then. So you see a prophet has no honor in his own country. Jesus was exactly right when he said that. The lord of all is being dishonored in his own own country by his own people, the same ones who are eventually going to kill him.

And we see that more than the sun. The person that really needs healing here is the official. And so that's who Jesus deals with. First. So, I'm going to deal with you first, and then I'll deal with your son.

I'm going to go to work on you, and then I'll sort out the problems in your life. Is that not how Jesus deals with all of us? I'm going to go to work on you, on your soul first, then I'll deal with the issues in your life. And that's why he deals with him this way. He gives him no choice, actually, He gives him no choice, but to take him at his word.

He says, go. Go and your son will live. I'm not gonna come with you. I don't need to. Go and your son will live.

I mean, it's not the official I don't think the official really wants to have to take Jesus at his word at this point. I think he'd feel a whole lot better if he came with him. But he has no option but to do so. And it's only afterwards If you notice in the text when he's almost home and his servants run out and they tell him that his son is well, And he goes, what time did that happen? And so it was about 1 o'clock in the afternoon and then light bulb.

That's when I speaking to Jesus. That's when he said your son will live. That is when he believes for the first time with anything other than the desperate kind of faith. That's when he knows. That's when he understands.

That's when he he gets it. Unless you people see signs and wonders, you'll never believe Jesus had said to him. He was leading him to grow his faith. He was doing what he needed to do in this man to grow his faith. Of course, he's gonna save his son.

But I wanna grow your faith. I want you to understand, official. You've come to me for something. But what have you really come for? It's a shame it has to be that way for Jesus to prove himself, isn't it?

But isn't it amazing how patient and compassionate and merciful he is with it? He's faced with someone who clearly doubts him, but desperate. And he grants him way more than he asked for or bargained for. Not only is his son brought back from the brink death. But the entire household are saved from spiritual death.

The entire household are saved Now, that's not just a small it's not like our households. It's not even like the Dryden household where there's a fair few of them. This is a royal official. This is a man who has many, many servants in his household, and all of those servants have families, and all of those families have communities, and extended families. And they've just been a witness to this thing as well.

You see what Jesus is doing here? He's taken something small, something malformed, something that was a bit dodgy, and he's made it right. He's grown it. Massively, he's multiplied it. He's multiplied faith and set it straight.

That's way, way better. And what a household to do it in? The guy with all of his his his official influence as well. What a what a force for good that household has become in Capernium? Their master's tiny faith has been taken and maximized and through it, they've all been saved.

By Jesus. Not by their master by Jesus. Us. So a few applications as we as we as we just close on this. As we as we think about how this applies to us.

And I think the first thing is we've got to check our motives when we come to Jesus We gotta be careful. How are we coming to him? Do we have the wrong idea about him? Are we coming purely to improve our lives before he's actually gone to work on us personally. Do we just want him to make things better for us or we want him to go to work on the things that are wrong and malformed in us.

Because like the Jews had a faith based on signs. Basically, meaning they had a faith based on things that they liked the look of. Or that intrigued them, or that had the potential to really radically, you know, make their lives and their country and everything amazingly better. We can be the same. We can be the same.

We can do it in ways we don't notice. Do we just like some of the stuff that Jesus has to offer? Take church as an example. Why do we come? Do we come because his word is what we want to hear, or can we get taken up with things that are good about you?

I'm doubtingly good about church, but I like the look of it. It I mean, it's a sign, isn't it? Isn't a church a miracle? It is a sign and a wonder in this earth. The church is miraculous.

Look at the people in this room. We have nothing to do with each other, really. We're very, very we're from all over the world, and under any other circumstances, unless we were being paid, we probably wouldn't spend time with each other. We'd have to work together in order to get us all in the same place. And yet, we're united.

That's miraculous. It's a big family. It's a global family. It's a miracle, and it's attractive. It can be an attractive thing.

Do we just like the social aspects of church? Or the kids work is fantastic. That's what draws us in. We like the look of it. Gotta be careful that we're coming to hear his word, whatever it says.

Whatever it says, especially the parts that we find uncomfortable. And we should also be careful that we do not limit Jesus. Do we sometimes doubt his power? Do we limit his power? Do we put conditions on his work in our lives?

When we look at the world around us, we sometimes feel like, well, what's what's he doing? What the heck is Ukraine all about? What is going on over there? Not just that, but all the other wars. Can he not do anything?

Well, he is working through it. We know he's working through it. We see him at work through it. If only we want to if we want to look. We ask why won't God simply show himself?

If you really want people to believe God, why would you not just pull apart the heavens and stick your head through, and say, I am God. And Jesus is my son. And you have to believe in him, otherwise, you will never be saved. Why doesn't he just do that? Well, if he does that, then it's the end day, and it's too late to believe anyway.

The time for believing, hearing and believing would be over if that was the case. And we also know from what we've just been looking at that really no amount of signs on there own is is enough for people to just simply believe if they don't want to. We doubt his ability. We limit his ability to save other people in our lives, don't we? Do we not do that?

Do we not all have someone that we think there is no way that person is ever gonna be safe? I could probably think of 10, and that's 10 ways I've just limited Jesus. There's no way that Jesus could save that person. They are so anti. They are so awful.

They are so against. They are so confident in their own beliefs. And yet Jesus doesn't even have to say a word and it will be done. He doesn't have to come down from heaven either. He can do it right from where he is.

Our job is to trust in that fact and be a witness to that fact and keep on praying and and and being a witness in people's lives. Or we can limit Jesus by thinking that there are just things that he can't do in my life. There are just things that are kind of off limits to him. They're things that he doesn't really speak into. Whether it be a physical illness or a mental illness, you know, Jesus just doesn't speak on that issue.

And so, I'm only going to seek secular help for my problems. So, my problems, my issue that I have, I'm only gonna go to the world for solutions. I'm not gonna turn to God with them. And we limit him. If we believe that, then we may as well not believe anything that's in here.

Because if we if we believe that there are things in this world that God's word doesn't speak into, that Jesus doesn't care about, that we may as well just give up the whole show. He cares deeply about everything to do with us. He speaks into every aspect of our lives, There's nothing new in this world that limits his ability to help or to heal. In any way, what so ever. There's nothing new under the sun.

And finally, let me let me leave you with a with a with a massive couragement here that we see in this passage. Because if this if this official shows us anything, then it is that we should absolutely come to Jesus in our desperation. Absolutely, we should. Because none of us are the finished article. We're barely the we're barely the beginning of the work that he's doing in us.

Even those that have been walking with Christ for decades, are far from what we're going to be 1 day. And we all have to start somewhere. And what we see here is that when we do come to Jesus, albeit falteringly, in the wrong way with dodgy ideas about who he is, with dodgy motives for what we want him to do. Often doubting, he can actually do them at all. Well, he's loving.

And he's kind and he's gracious to do more than we dream of. More than we imagine, more than we ask, way more than we of. That's an encouragement because that describes me so often, I come to Jesus this official. So often I doubt. So often I limit him.

So often my motives are wrong, and he just goes Chris, your dodgy little malformed faith I'm going to take and I'm going to grow it. And I'll do more than you've asked. I'm actually not going to do the thing you asked because that stupid. I'm going to do something way better. I will increase your belief and grow your faith.

And show you who I really am. It's now a wonderful savior. Let me pray. Further, we thank you that you you are patient and you are loving and you are kind and you have compassion on weak people with wrong thinking and wrong ideas wrong motives, people who demand to see things from you, who demand that you prove yourself to us. Who are we to demand you to prove yourself to us?

There's some sort of sign or wonder when you tell us everything we need to know. And you've given us the ultimate sign, which is your son's death and resurrection on the cross And for us, here 2000 years later, there's nothing else we need. There is nothing else we need to know. There is no sign that could ever supersede that there is no greater piece of evidence that you love us, and you want us to be in relation it with you. And you gave your son to do that.

Father, we we thank and we praise you for that for that wonderful good news, Amit.

Preached by Chris Tilley
Chris Tilley photo

Chris is an Elder at Cornerstone. He is married to Bernadette, who is part of our safeguarding team, and they live in New Malden.

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