Trinity 21 – October 15th and 16th, 2016 – John 4:46-54
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +
We don’t get the fullness of who Christ is and what He does. Our old sinful flesh just has a hard time comprehending this. But thankfully our lack doesn’t undercut Jesus. This is what we see in our text today. “So [Jesus] came again to Cana in Galilee, where He had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went down to Him and asked Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.” Jesus had been wandering around, He’s been in Jerusalem, Samaria, but now He’s back in Galilee. So this official from Capernaum hears that Jesus is back in the area, and he goes to Jesus and begs Him to come to his house and heal his son. Seems pretty good so far, doesn’t it? Except Jesus’ reply is sort of curt to this man. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” Well, why would Jesus say that to this fellow? He obviously believes. . . I mean, he came to Jesus to ask for healing, he wants Jesus to come. Why would Jesus say that unless there are signs there won’t be belief?
Here is why. This fellow understands that Jesus is holy, that He has power – but he doesn’t get it. What does this official ask Jesus? Come, come and heal my son. I want to see you lay hands on him, I want to hear you cry out with a loud voice, I want You to heal him thusly. He’s still thinking of Jesus like He's some mere wonder worker. The thing is… does Jesus need to walk up to this boy to heal him? Nope. But the man is insistent – “The official said to him, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’” We are wasting time with talking Jesus, when we should be walking. Let’s get a move on it, before my kid dies. Snap to it! What this fellow completely overlooks is that Jesus doesn’t need to go with him to heal the kid, Jesus can heal him right there. The guy doesn’t fully understand just how powerful Christ is, and so he tries to boss Jesus around. I hate to sound so critical of this guy, but while there is good, while it’s good that he knows to go to Jesus – he’s trying to micromanage Jesus, he’s selling Jesus short, and we need to be critical of things like this, we need to be wary of this sort of attitude, especially in ourselves.
One of the dangers in modern America is a tendency to almost quietly sell Jesus short, to undercut His power, and substitute our own. To think that He can’t do things that He says He does. We had an infant baptism here today/yesterday – yet many would deride this – it's no good unless they decide for themselves – oh, so God can't bring life and salvation unless I act? Kind of makes God out to be sort of powerless. Or there are those who deny that Christ's Body in Blood is really present in the Supper. “He's up in heaven, He can't be down here on the altar!” Or maybe we could stop telling the Word of God that He can't do what He says, hmmm? Or even think about what we hear about prayer. Oh, if you just say this prayer the right way God’s gonna give you all blessings that you desire. Am I in charge of God? Do I get to tell God, “You must bless me and in this way”? Do you see how over and over sinful man wants to tell God how to do His job, what He can and can't do? And this is where the man in our lesson errs. Please heal my son – great. You need to come down and heal him in this way – not so great.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Go, your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.” Now, I will praise this man. Jesus doesn’t give the man precisely what he asked, what he demanded. Jesus doesn’t go to Capernaum. He does something better. Jesus speaks a word of life. Go, your son will live. And hearing, the man believes – the man gets it. If Jesus says something, it’s going to be, it will be true. And so in faith, he heads home. His plans of dragging Jesus along with him are dashed – but as he walks home, he goes trusting in Christ Jesus and His Word. And that trust proves true – the servants come running to meet him – Your son lives. And what do you know – the son is healed at the very hour when Jesus said, “Go, your son will live.” “This was now the second sign that Jesus did when He had come from Judea to Galilee.” The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Who is this Jesus – well, let’s see, He speaks, and then there is life. Hmm, can we think of Someone who speaks, and then there is life, say life springing up from the ground? This is a God thing that Jesus does – this shows that He is God, that He is the Word of God by Whom all things were made. This is what Jesus does – He restores life. If you want to know who Jesus is, He is the God who gives life, and He gives it by His Word. What Jesus says, is. And this truth is revealed, is shown to us by this miracle – it is the proof of who Jesus is, it is His credentials. This Man Jesus is God come down to save us.
Now, what do we learn and take from this? Consider your own life, what you see. How many of you see your bodies not working like they used to? How many of you see signs of age and wear when you look in the mirror? Oh, as a society we try to hide that today, don’t we? But it’s there. Or how many of you, when you look at your lives see things broken – broken friendships, broken families, broken people, even yourself broken – just all those things that wear you down. Some of these tails of woe I know, some I don’t. You know some of mine, some you don’t. We all have them. We are sinful people living in a sinful world – nasty horrible stuff happens and we all get older and things start wearing down and dreams and plans don’t work out right. This is reality. How do we respond?
The world gives us a few answers. One answer the world gives is to simply ignore these problems, pretend they don’t exist. Oh, you could just go get drunk or high, that way you don’t have to face reality. Or, you could do what is more “socially acceptable” – live for stuff, whatever is the latest and greatest thingamabobber that pops up in an ad. The world offers many ways for us to pretend that the difficulties of life aren’t there – dab a little make-up on and you’re just as young as you used to be, get the spiffy car and you’ll feel footloose and fancy free, or just drink till you forget. And of course, these are all lies – none of it is real, none of it fixes the problem – but it seems appealing. It gives us something we think we can do, something we think we can control – when in reality these problems are often beyond us. Another answer the world gives is the simple dour answer. What you see is what you get. Everything is basically just cold math and random chance and that’s all there is, so smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. Scrap, fight, claw for whatever brief pleasure you can get, because that’s the best it is.
That's what the world can offer. But you know reality. You know what is going on. Sinners in a sinful world. It’s all sin and death attacking us. Change and decay in all around I see. Our bodies, they break and die. Our friendships, they can break and die. Hopes – they can break and die. But this isn’t just the way it is, this isn’t just nature, the random chance of the universe. We are fallen, we have sinned, and the life that we should have had is tainted and fallen and broken, and we of ourselves can’t make it right. We are less than we were created to be, that’s the reality of life in a fallen world, and if left to our own devices, all the toys, all the money, all the sex and drugs, all the ambition and power won’t change that fact.
But even as you see this, Jesus says to you, “Go, you will live.” This is Christ’s message to you, “Go with confidence and peace, face down anything you see in this life, for you will live.” When Christ Jesus goes to the Cross, He is facing down all this junk and trash we see in life, the stuff we don’t like to talk about. He goes to the Cross to fix the fall – and Jesus stares it down, takes it upon Himself, lets the world do it’s worst to Him, lets the world kill Him most cruelly – takes the wages of our sin upon Himself. Yet on the third day – He rises. He rises victoriously over sin, death, the world – all this junk tried to destroy Him and He just strides on out of the tomb. He is the Lord of Life, the God who creates with a Word, the God who forgives with a Word, the God who gives new life in Himself with a Word. And Jesus says to you a wondrous Word, especially when you are feeling the weight of this world upon you – Go, You will live.
Do you feel your own body turning against you? Go, you will live. You will live eternally, and even if you die here, you will live again, better in the resurrection than now, because Christ’s Word of life to you at your baptism will not be broken. Do you look around and see friendships broken, relationships destroyed? Go, you will live. You have been Baptized into Christ Jesus, made part of the Communion of Saints, brought into a family that after the resurrection of the dead on the last day will have no more problems, will not break, but will be united with Christ forever. Do you see things wrong in this world? Go, you will live. You will live eternally in the new heavens and the new earth where moth and rust do not destroy, where there is peace. Do you see your own sin, trying to drag you down? Go, you will live. Christ Jesus has forgiven you, and your sin is done away with, destroyed, and in the life of the world to come it will not be remembered any more. And this is not random, this is not mere chance. God has called you, planned for your salvation even before the Creation.
This is more than we expected, but God does more for us than we anticipate. This is His great love for you. Go, you will live. + In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +