Taking God at His Word
Dr. Jim Denison
This week’s news reports that eyelash transplantation is the newest cosmetic surgery phenomenon. For $3,000 per eye, a surgeon will transplant hair from the back of your head to your eyelid. But there’s a down side: the hair grows just like the rest of your hair, so it must be trimmed and colored if it turns grey.
Did you hear about the man in Vienna who went through a nasty divorce, then cut off his ring finger, ring still attached, and gave it to his ex-wife? He says he doesn’t plan to get married again, anyway. That’s good news for the rest of his fingers, I suppose.
Cosmetic surgery and other technological innovations enable us to solve more problems than ever before. But the perennial issues of life are still perennial. We still cannot heal broken marriages and hearts and homes. We still cannot give life meaning and purpose, or end all wars, or raise the dead. For that we need the Great Physician to be our King. As we continue studying his miracles in John’s Gospel, answer this question: what miracle do you need today?
Remember what Jesus has done
Our story concerns a “certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum” (v. 46). This man was a most unlikely candidate for a miracle from a Jewish rabbi. He was not just a hated Gentile, but a court officer for King Herod. He was part of the very army oppressing and enslaving the Jewish people. If Hitler’s military chief of staff came to a Jewish rabbi for help during the Holocaust, we’d be no more surprised than John’s readers were shocked by this scene.
But this man knows what Jesus has done before, and has faith that he will do it again. They’re in Cana of Galilee, where Jesus has saved a peasant wedding. He has returned from Jerusalem, where he cleansed the temple, evangelized Nicodemus, was called divine by John the Baptist, and cared for a Samaritan woman. Perhaps he’ll do the same for this grieving father.
Do you need God to heal you or someone you love? To heal physically, emotionally, relationally, or spiritually? Are you wondering if he will? First, remember what Jesus has already done for you. Think about the ways he has already proven his love for you.
His Son left heaven’s glory to be born in a peasant’s feed trough, just for you. He endured crucifixion, a form of execution so horrific it is outlawed all over the world today, just for you. He has forgiven every failure you have ever confessed to him, and will continue to do so. He knows every sin you’ve ever committed, and what’s more, he sees every sin you will ever commit in the future. But he loves you anyway. He likes you. He finds joy in you even as you hear these words.
He told his prophet, “The Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18). Think of all the ways he has already blessed you. Does your family love you? So many are trapped in loveless, abusive homes. Has he provided for your material needs through physical abilities and vocational opportunities? So many are trapped in endless poverty. Has he given you the privilege of life in America’s freedom? Who of us earned the right to be born in this country and not in Iraq or North Korea?
I know drug addicts who were miraculously healed of their habit, Satanists who were powerfully converted, prisoners who are now preachers.
I remember a couple brought to one of our worship services in Atlanta by friends. They were planning to file for divorce the next day. But in a Sunday school class that morning, God healed their marriage.
One of our church members here in Dallas came to our country as a Muslim missionary to America, and is now a Christian missionary to Muslims. When he came to Christ, his father back home issued a warrant for his arrest should he ever return. He recently went home anyway, and led his father to Christ.
Think about all the ways God has shown his miraculous power to you and those you know. Remember what he has done. Think back to times when he turned your water into his wine, when he met your needs and those of people you love. Remember what Jesus has done, and you’ll be encouraged to believe that he will do it again.
Bring him your pain
The official in our story is one of the finest examples of biblical faith in all God’s word. He teaches us much about the kind of trust which Jesus can honor with his miraculous power.
First, we trust Jesus personally. “This man” came himself (v. 47), not sending a servant in his place. The Roman teaches us to get on our own knees before Jesus. We must do the same today. Jesus waits to hear from us, not about us. Is he waiting on you today?
Second, we trust Jesus when it’s hard. The Roman official “went” to Jesus (v. 47), walking more than 20 miles and up more than a thousand feet of elevation to reach him. He left a suffering son at home to make the journey. He teaches us to bring Jesus our pain, however hard the journey may be, however difficult such faith is for us.
Third, we trust Jesus in humility. The official “begged him to come and heal his son” (v. 47). He did not order Jesus to do so, though his rank and office would have afforded him such authority. If a high-ranking Army officer stationed in Baghdad were to walk 20 miles to seek help from an Iraqi peasant, we’d be no less astonished. He teaches us to bring Jesus our need, in honest humility, admitting that we cannot solve this problem and asking him to do this in his will and way.