John – “But Who Do You Say That I Am?” – John 4:43-54

Open up your Bibles to John Chapter 4. This is our final look into this chapter. Hands up if you have had anything bad happen to you. It can be a sickness, a sudden death of a family member or friend, a tragedy like a car accident, loss of a job or whatever. If you haven’t, give it time because something will. It’s a part of life. Bad things happen to us all. Doesn’t matter if you are a non believer or a believer or a good person or a bad person. In Matthew, Jesus says…

for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. … Matthew 5:45b NKJV

So what gives? Why does God allow bad things to happen? Why does He allow some people to recover from terminal illnesses such as cancer while allowing others to die? In this post, we are going to take a look at possible answers. I say possible because only God ultimately knows why. A lot to cover here so let’s get started. Not only will we be looking at this passage in John but put a bookmark in Chapter 50 of Genesis as we will be looking at a few verses in that as well. For those of you that don’t know where that is, that is the first book in your Bible and the chapter right before the second book Exodus! LOL! Before we get started though, let’s pray…

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for continuing to allow us to live in a country where we can still read and study Your Word. Father, Your Word is unchanging no matter what Your opponents in our country might think. Father, we pray for justice for those who want to change or silence Your Word in our country! We want to take the time now also Father, to pray for the families suffering from brutal tragedies at the hands of senseless and heartless individuals. Banning guns are not the answer the only answer is for a nation who has abandoned You to turn back to You. Thoughts and prayers are not enough though. We need true repentance and firm action in America and rid the land of all of the paganism, idolatry, and immorality that runs rampant in it and the politicians who support it and even encourage it! But now Father, we want to put all distractions aside and turn our attention back to Your Word. Our hearts and minds are open to hear what You have to say. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening in Jesus’s name we pray… Amen!

John 4

Let’s take a look at the passage in John’s Gospel that we will be covering here…

(43) Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee. (44) For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. (45) So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they also had gone to the feast. (46) So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. (47) When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. (48) Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” (49) The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!” (50) Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. (51) And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!” (52) Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” (53) So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household. (54) This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee. … John 4:43-54 NKJV

Now let’s take a closer look at this passage…

vv 43-45 – (43) Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee. (44) For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. (45) So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they also had gone to the feast.

This takes place right after Jesus’s meeting with the outcast Samaritan woman at the well. The Samaritans begged Jesus to come stay with them for a few days. A far cry from the reaction of His own people who wanted nothing more than to get rid of Him! After hanging out with the Samaritans for a couple of days, Jesus left and went to Galilee. Verse 44 can be confusing to some because the text says that Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. What Jesus said is found both in Matthew 13:57 and Mark 6:4. Jesus was from Galilee. In fact, Jesus was from Nazareth which is in Galilee. What the verse probably means is that He went to another city besides Nazareth. Anyway one is always welcome more in another place than the place they are actually from which is what John could have meant as well. Certainly this was the case with Jesus who was welcomed more by the Samaritans and others instead of by His own people!

Whatever part of Galilee it was, Jesus was welcomed by the people there. These people were Jews and they had gone down to Jerusalem to worship and had seen the mighty works that Jesus had done there. It is important to note that Jesus was not welcomed as the Son of God by these people though. It was more out of fascination and curiosity.

v 46 – (46) So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum.

Now Jesus departs again heading this time back to Cana. This is the second time that the people of Cana are honored by a visit from Jesus. The first time was when He and His disciples and His mother attended a wedding and turned the water into wine at the feast after the wedding. A nobleman was there who had a sick son. The term nobleman is simply an official to a king. The only king at this time was Herod Antipas the son of Herod the Great who ordered the murder of all of the children who were two-years-old and younger in Bethlehem. Jesus brought the Gospel to first a Jewish teacher (John 3), an outcast Samaritan woman, and now an official to the Roman government. The Gospel is for everyone who wants it! 

The nobleman leaves his sick son behind in Capernaum to seek out Jesus in Cana which brings us to the first reason why bad things happen…it drives us to Christ! Look at verse 47…

v 47 – (47) When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.

The nobleman’s son wasn’t just sick. He was dying so the nobleman hears that Jesus is in Cana. No doubt he is already aware of the miracles and wonders that Jesus had been performing and probably thought to himself, “Man! If I could just get Him to come here and see my son! He can make him well again!”. The nobleman makes the trip to Cana, finds Jesus, and doesn’t just ask Him but more or less begs Him, implores Him to come back to Capernaum with him. It’s the Greek word erōtaō which basically means a begging request. If you have ever had a sick and dying child then you know how this nobleman felt. You will do anything to make your child well again! In times of desperation, when people have nowhere else to turn, people will turn to God. As the saying goes, “there are no atheists in foxholes”! However, this nobleman doesn’t believe in who Jesus actually is but rather in His power. What Jesus will do now is give this man a “faith lift”!

vv 48-49 – (48) Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” (49) The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!”

Jesus’s response to this man’s request is surprising to some who read it. Kind of shatters the “gentle Jesus meek and mild, look upon this little child” viewpoint that a lot of us think Jesus as! It is quite possible that even this nobleman first thought to himself, “Boy this Jesus is a really rude guy!”. If you look throughout the Gospels though, Jesus says some surprising and even some downright insulting things! Remember the woman from Canaan who begs Jesus to heal her daughter from demon possession? Jesus tells her, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs”! Wow! Talk about rude and insulting, at least, that is the first reaction we have when we first read this until we read the woman’s response and realize what Jesus really meant by the statement, the fact that He was sent to save the nation of Israel who wanted nothing to do with Him for the most part so He turned to outsiders who exhibited faith in Him. What about the man at the pool of Bethesda in John Chapter 5 that we will be covering in the next post? Remember what Jesus said to him? “Do you want to be made well?”. Well, duh, I don’t know, I guess that’s why I’m here! LOL! There was a reason though why Jesus asks him this though, because He was trying to get the man to exercise his faith. And who can forget when Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees, “You hypocrites!” and, “brood of vipers”! So yes Jesus does say surprising things but there is a reason why and such is the case to this nobleman. 

Jesus’s statement isn’t really directed to the nobleman though because by this time, a crowd had gathered around. It’s really directed to the nation of Israel in general. Unless these people saw signs and wonders, they would never believe and the fact is that even after they saw the signs and wonders, they still refused to believe that Jesus was in fact, the promised Messiah! The same can be said about us. We are also looking for signs and miracles before we truly believe in Christ. Jesus wants our faith to be based on what He says though and not on what He does.

Notice how the nobleman addresses Jesus, Sir. The fact is that the nobleman was an official to King Herod and outranked Jesus but here, the nobleman puts himself under Jesus and giving Him authority over him! Do we do the same? Another reason why bad things happen to us is for our faith to strengthen in Christ looking at verse 50…

v 50 – (50) Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.

Faith is like a muscle. It must be exercised or else it will grow weak. The nobleman didn’t specifically have faith in Jesus of who He was but in His power. He wanted his son to be well again and he didn’t care about where that source came from. The nobleman wanted Jesus to come back with him but Jesus says, “Uh, Uh, you go!”. He wanted to see how deep this faith of this man really was whether it was superficial or a truly deep enriched faith.

There are three responses to our prayers to the Lord from Him…yes, no, and wait. We love it when the Lord responds with a yes to our prayers but what about when He says no or wait? Our response generally is. “He didn’t answer my prayer”. Uh, yes He did! “No” is an answer and so is “wait”. God answers prayers according to His purposes not ours! A good example of this can be found in the story of Joseph in Genesis. Go to that bookmark that I said to put in Genesis 50 in my opening. Joseph’s story is told in Chapters 37 and 39 thru 50, about a quarter of the book of Genesis is devoted to Joseph. I am going to do a study on him in the future because Joseph is an amazing parallel of Christ but his story in a nutshell is that Joseph’s brothers are jealous of him so he is sold to some traders. He is then sold to the Egyptians and becomes Potiphar’s helper but he’s thrown into prison being falsely accused of rape by Potiphar’s wife. In the prison, he interprets the dreams of two men, both of which come true, one is hanged and the other is restored back to Pharaoh’s service. Joseph tells the one who is freed, “Don’t forget about me!” but the man of course does. Then Pharaoh has a dream which no one can interpret, actually, two of them, and the guy who was freed has a light bulb come on his head and tells the Pharaoh, “Hey I know someone!”. Joseph is fetched out of prison, tells Pharaoh, “This is a sign from God. There’s a famine coming! You need to prepare for it!”, and Pharaoh figures who better to help him with this than Joseph, so he promotes him to be second in command. The famine comes and Jacob sends Joseph’s brothers to Egypt to buy food. When they arrive, Joseph recognizes them and throws them in jail accusing them of being spies. After “playing” around with them for a while, he reveals who he is to his brothers. Whew! Talk about his story being told in a nutshell! LOL!  By the time we get to Chapter 50, Joseph’s father and his brothers and their families are living in Goshen having being invited there by Pharaoh. Jacob then dies and the brothers become very paranoid again as we pick it up in verse 15 in Chapter 50…

(15) When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” (16) So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, (17) ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.” ‘ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. (18) Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.” (19) Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? (20) But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. (21) Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. … Genesis 50:15-21 NKJV

What I want to focus on in this passage is verse 20. Genesis 50:20 is one of the most famous verses in The Bible. Genesis 50:20 is a companion verse to one that we all should know as well…Romans 8:28…

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. … Romans 8:28 NKJV

In all honesty, I can not believe that Joseph had this attitude the whole time he went through all of these hardships that he suffered. He was a man with human feelings, feelings that we all have. I’m sure there were sometimes that Joseph began to lose faith and wonder why God was not answering his prayers, or so he thought. The point is that he didn’t lose his faith. He basically said to himself, “I don’t understand this God but You must have a purpose for all of this so I’ll wait until you reveal that to me!”. By the time Joseph says what is in Genesis 50:20, he finally gets it! He is telling his brothers, “Yeah you did me wrong but if all of this didn’t happen to me, all of these far greater things wouldn’t have happened either!”. What’s the point and what does this have to do with this study on this passage in John? Simply this….be careful what you call bad because what we may consider is bad happening to us actually can be for the better for us! God is more interested in our spiritual growth rather than our physical comfort! Job realized this as well. Through all of the whining and crying after all of the hardships that he had suffered, he still had faith in God…

But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. … Job 23:10 NKJV

The point is that bad things will happen to us. It’s a part of life but don’t lose faith because of it and if you haven’t given your life to Christ, don’t use it as an excuse not to come to Christ! Let’s move on now and finish this passage and the chapter in John out…

vv 51-54 – (51) And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!” (52) Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” (53) So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household. (54) This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.

When the text said that he went his way in verse 50, it doesn’t mean that the nobleman made a beeline out of there right away. Capernaum was about 20 miles from Cana, a day’s trip on foot back in those days, so what the nobleman actually did was went back to where he was staying in Cana, got a good nights sleep, and THEN set out for Capernaum. How do we know this? Because of what the servant says in verse 52 after telling the nobleman that his son was alive. Question…why did the nobleman wait so long to leave? I think I would have left right away myself. Could it have been a case of hesitation on the nobleman’s part in believing Jesus’s promise? I don’t think so. The nobleman left with a promise from the Lord…Your son lives. The nobleman said to himself, “You know what? I believe in that promise! I’m going to get a good night’s rest and then head out in the morning”. When the servant meets him as he heads back to Capernaum and tells him the exact same thing that Jesus told him,Your son lives!, it doesn’t surprise the nobleman one bit. What this does do is solidify the nobleman’s faith in Christ. When the text says that he himself believed, it was a much different form of belief than what the nobleman originally had and his whole household became followers of Christ as well! John ends the chapter saying that this was the second sign that Jesus performed in Galilee.

To close this out, we have spent a great deal of time in Chapter 4. So what are the takeaways from this chapter? Here they are…

* No one is too far gone for Jesus’s love

* Jesus wants true worshipers of Him not fakes

* Never stop praying because there is unbelievable power in prayer

Let’s pray…

Father,

As we close out this chapter, it is only fitting that we end it in prayer. Father we pray that Your unbelievable power would come upon us to become powerful worshipers of You. Lord we love You and we love Your Word and the lessons that we learn from it. Lord we pray that if there are people out there who are suffering from tragedies, tragedies that have kept them from coming to You, from having a true, meaningful relationship with You, that they would end that today and give their lives to You in the saving name of Christ we pray…Amen!