We have come to know and to believe
the love that God has for us.
1 John 4:16

Michaelmas 4, 2021

Almighty, everlasting God, who by Your Son have promised us forgiveness of our sins, justification, and eternal life: we beseech You so to govern and quicken our hearts by Your Holy Spirit that we may by daily prayer in all trials, seek such help from Him, and by steadfast faith in His Word and promise, be sure to find and receive it, and through Him at last obtain eternal salvation. Amen. [LPC #110]

God’s grace, mercy, and peace are yours from God our Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the name of Jesus, Amen.

There are some things you just get tired of talking about, or hearing about. If I asked you each to name one such topic right now, it wouldn’t surprise me if most of us said the same thing. It’s a common experience. So common, that we begin to suppose that God feels the same way about our prayers and the issues we might bring to Him.

Should you bring those requests to God? Again? Will He listen? Will He take action? If you go all the way to Him, will He care enough to come to you? Your home? Your life? Will He bring what you need, that only He can provide?

This is spiritual warfare. It’s life vs. death, faith vs. doubt, new man vs. old Adam. We heard it happening in our Gospel today. This is what happens as soon as you listen to God, because there are some who don’t want you to. Our preferred solution would be for God to show us His work. We’d like to see Him doing the thing, like we might envision Him doing in today’s OT when He created everything. If we could see His almighty power at work, trust might come easier. Right? But then, how did He do the work of creating everything? What action did He take in that first week, when He created all things?

John 4:46–54

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. [ESV]

These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by your truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed:

Jesus was back in the region of His youth, not far from Nazareth. His fame was growing. We’re told that people there had seen Him perform signs at the last feast in Jerusalem. This official was from Capernaum, the main town in the region, a hub on the shore of a great lake, or a small sea. This official had his privileges, but his desperation humbled him. He came on his own feet seeking Jesus to heal his son.

It might be hard for us to appreciate his desperation. They might have had a doctor available, but it wasn’t like today. The doctor could let some blood out and might have other remedies, but nothing like the medicines we know today. No antibiotics. No Tylenol. The boy’s body was burning up, fighting some infection. It looked like he was losing the fight, and fast. So his desperate father went to find the Galilean rabbi who had a reputation for performing miracles. If this didn’t help his son, then the official would likely never see him alive again.

The devil wants us to think that God will turn us away. That He doesn’t like to hear about our little problems. That His attention is on more important matters, like running the universe. He wants to discourage us from believing, trusting, even hearing what Jesus has to say. But God allows us to bear a cross of just the right weight that we can’t honestly manage it ourselves. Maybe you can fake it for a while. But the end of the line comes and you get crushed by the weight of that cross. God lets it happen, and the devil whispers that He doesn’t really care.

But your cross and desperation are part of God’s design. Only the humble can approach God, those who will let God be God. This official with his worry and desperation knew he was a mortal sinner, and so was his son. But if only Jesus would come, maybe they would see God’s power to help and save.

Jesus wouldn’t do it. He refused to show His miraculous power. He kept it hidden. Just like the way God hides himself from you and me. Oh, He also shows Himself, but always leaving room for faith. He says, “Here I am” when you open your Bible, psalter, or Hymnary. He’s here now, even with His mighty power to save, but it’s still hidden under His Word and Sacraments. He said, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” But He wants you to believe on the basis of His Word. Same with this father.

So when the man pleaded for Jesus to come to his home, Jesus simply said, “Go; your son will live.” And the man trusted what He said. Trusted it so strongly that it wasn’t until the next day that he returned down to his town and met his servants looking for him. It didn’t surprise him to hear that his son was better. Why not? Because he trusted the words.

This seems weird. You might have a hard time understanding it. Our sins make it hard. Consider what may have driven this father to Jesus. Concern for the life of a child is enough to do that, but you know there was more on his plate, because you have it, too. In his earthly life, what sin had this father committed? Neglect? Uncaring permissiveness? Harsh treatment in anger? We parents sin against our children in so many ways, as many as the ways children also sin against their parents. And we fear the regret that may come forever when we lose the chance to say, “I’m sorry” or “I love you.” So our consciences suffer and would drive us to desperation. We need God’s help, His healing, his daily bread. But we also need His spiritual help: forgiveness, protection in temptation, and deliverance from evil. You need His forgiveness. This official from Capernaum had such needs as we do. And you have what he received.

You have God’s forgiveness. That message delivered to you is my divine assignment. You have God’s forgiveness. As parents, as children, for each and every one of you. It’s the start of healing, of new life. You can go about your life; you will live. This is a word you can trust.

The next day, we’re told that this man found out when his son was healed. The devil would tempt us to think it wasn’t Jesus, that we wasted that trip after all. But he knew better. Not only did he trust Jesus’ words, now He believed in the man himself. Not only the official, but his whole household, including servants and son. They believed. Even without seeing the signs and wonders, these people put two and two together, understanding who was behind it all.

Do you know who’s behind your life? This is part of our spiritual warfare. God is behind both the bad and the good, and it’s all going to be good in the end. Did you hear that in today’s OT? God made everything, and it was very good. Now with Jesus, and with you in the picture, He’s making it all good again. Bring Him your requests. Trust Him to listen and to help.

Your sins are forgiven. You are cleansed of all evil done by you, to you or with you. Jesus’ blood has seen to it, and by His stripes you are healed. This is God’s message for you: a message you may trust from Jesus: a person in whom you may believe.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria