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Feb 23, 2020

Maturing Faith

Passage: John 4:43-54

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Miracles in John

Keywords: faith, discipleship, belief, growth, miracle, cana, deathbed

Summary:

Jesus second miracle.recorded in the Gospel of John also took place in Cana of Galilee. But this one had to do with a crisis...and the building faith of a panicked father. This is a great passage for those of us who are looking to take ever-increasing steps of faith in our journey with Jesus.

Detail:

Maturing Faith

John 4:43-54

February 23, 2020

Get Acquainted Question:  Share a time you remember having to find or get emergency medical help for someone. 

INTRO:  Sandy & I were in our first year of marriage, living in an apartment on Burnside Ave. in NE Portland, OR .  We were both working in a large church near downtown Portland, she as an Administrative Assistant and I as a College Ministry Pastor/Intern. 

      The phone rang sometime around 3:00 a.m., never a good sign when you’re a pastor.  I answered it to hear the worried voice of the mother of one of our college students asking for immediate prayer.  She, her husband and her physician daughter were at the local hospital where their son, Mark, had been brought in by ambulance just moments before.  They had been awakened minutes earlier by the sounds of their son experiencing a seizer and convulsions in his adjacent bedroom.

      So, Sandy and I prayed and then I headed to the hospital waiting room.  There I heard the story of what had happened.   

      Mark, a very athletic and sharp college guy, had been riding his bike on a rare, sunny Portland afternoon the day before.  He was on a side street going with the flow of traffic.  As he approached some cars parked along the street on his side, he did a head check before pulling out around them. 

      Unfortunately, he must have misjudged his speed because before he had time to correct, he ran into the back end of the first car and went flying off the bike through the air.  Though the bike was damaged and he was a little banged up, he wasn’t knocked out.  He got himself home and his parents took him to get checked out at the local emergency room. 

      After an examination, the doctors sent him home and told his parents to simply check on him every few hours over the first 24 hours.  In the middle of the night, they had been awakened by the sounds of him convulsing. 

      Rushed back to the hospital, doctors found that he had actually suffered a slow brain-bleed because of the incident, something that caused his brain to swell and him to go into convulsions. 

      As the four of us sat, talked and prayed in that waiting room that early morning, there was an intensity about our praying.  Mark had been taken into emergency surgery to relieve the pressure and try to save his life.  It was anything but sure what the outcome would be.  There was a strong possibility he could die on the operating table.  If he survived, there was a good possibility he might suffer permanent brain damage.  To what degree was anyone’s guess. 

      So we prayed for a miracle.  And we waited.  The doctors eventually came out from surgery to inform us that Mark had made it through the surgery.  They had done all they could to relieve the pressure and stop the bleeding.  Now only time would tell whether he would awake from the coma and, if he did, how much brain damage he would have, if any. 

      Many of us have probably been involved in similar types of emergency medical situations.  If not an emergency situation, most of us have still had to face the hard reality of watching a friend or loved one fight for their life.  Those are the times that even the most non-religious of people find themselves crying out to God in prayer the best they know how.

      This was precisely the kind of emergency a father in John 4 found himself in.  He was a royal court official of some stature.  Whether he was a Jew or Gentile, we’re not told.  What we do know is that he was a father…and his son was fighting for his life in the midst of some fever-inducing infection.  While not coronavirus, the panic that this disease produced in this son’s father was very much like the desperation any of us would feel if someone close to us contracted the coronavirus.  Possible death has a way of focusing…and sifting… one’s religious convictions.

      This story, the second of seven miracles presented in the Gospel of John, follows on the heels of Jesus having spent two days in the Samaritan village of Sychar with his disciples.  We pick it up in verse 43.

43 After the two days he left for Galilee. 44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there.

      Jesus is on his way back north to Galilee after the story of his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well earlier in this chapter. 

46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine.  That was the miracle we looked at last week.  There may have been a year or more of time between that wedding party in Cana and this account we are about to read.  But it is noteworthy that John mentions that Jesus was again in this village of Cana.  It is possible that by now word about the wine miracle had gotten out to most of the inhabitants of Galilee.  And it is possible that Jesus was spending an extended period of time in Cana once again.

And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

      We’re not sure the exact position this “royal official” or “nobleman” had in King Herod Antipas’s court.  But we do know that he was an upper-class sort of guy.  He undoubtedly had money.  He certainly had social position and standing.  He probably had a nice home, some servants, a beautiful wife and children.  But he was not immune from crisis. 

APP:  It’s good to remember when you’re feeling poor or down-classed that social standing, educational level and even wealth cannot insulate you from the unexpected crisis of life and death.  Just as the “rain falls on the just and the unjust,” so tragedy befalls us all.  Nobody sells “Tragedy Insurance” even today (thought someone listening to this sermon might

try to do so after today