Bible Book: John  4 : 46-54
Subject: Trust; Faith; Dependence on God

If you have ever been to a circus you have seen elephants tethered to a chain that is connected to a stake in the ground. You may not realize that that stake is only eighteen inches long and that elephant can easily pull that stake up, because a grown man has to pull the stake up to free the elephant. Now if a grown man can pull up the stake, why doesn't the elephant pull that stake out of the ground and free himself?

Well, when that elephant was a baby, he did not have the strength to pull that stake out of the ground. After years of trying, the elephant concludes that he can never pull it out of the ground. So in circuses all over the world there are massive elephants, capable of lifting entire trees out of the ground by their roots, held captive by puny stakes.

Likewise, there are many people in this world who are chained to the stakes of sin, sorrow, and suffering who could be free in an instant if they would just trust Jesus.

We need a faith that can conceive the invisible; we need a faith that can believe the incredible; we need a faith that can receive the impossible.

This is a story about a man who learned how to "just trust." With just three words, "Lord I believe", his life was totally transformed. Just by faith he went from darkness to light, from blindness to sight, from weakness to might, from wrong to right. In the process he shares with us the single greatest lesson we can ever learn on how to walk through the valley of the shadow of disaster, darkness, and even death, and come out victorious on the other side.

I. When Grief Strikes, Just Trust

"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.

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." (vv.46-47)

This man is called a "nobleman." That word comes from a Greek word, which gives us the word kingdom, and it literally means "a king's man." This man was an officer in the king's court. He was a man of prominence and a man of position. He had money and influence in the highest places.

But he had a problem. His son was at the point of death. Now I am sure this man had spared no expense. He had hired the finest doctors, he had bought the most expensive medicine, and all the while he watched helplessly as the life of his son was slowly flowing out of him. For the first time, this man realized how little money really means. Because money can keep poverty from your door, but it can't keep problems out of your life.

This nobleman learned that there are some things that money can't buy. Money can buy a degree, but it can't buy wisdom; it can buy sex, but it can't buy love; it can buy people, but it can't buy friendship; it can buy influence, but it can't buy respect; it can buy a house, but it can't buy a home; it   buy pleasure, but it can't buy peace. Money can take you almost anywhere except to heaven, and buy you almost anything except eternal life.

But I want you to see that it was trouble and tragedy that brought this man to Jesus. It was a dying son that brought him to a divine Savior. Do you realize that if this man had not known grief, he may never have known grace? If he had not experienced tragedy he might never have experienced triumph.

So often when trouble comes our way we will get bitter toward God, and ask the question: "Why did God allow this trouble to come into my life?" Well, many times, in fact I believe any time trouble is brought into your life, one purpose is that the trouble might bring you closer to God.

I heard about a little old lady who was deathly ill in the hospital, and her doctor came in and said, "Mrs. Smith, I have done all I can do. Now you're just going to have to trust the Lord." She screamed out and said, "Dear God, am I that sick?"

Well, I want to make a strong statement to you about troubles and tragedies that are going to come into your life. Anything that drives you closer to Jesus is a blessing, whether it be cancer, the premature death of a child, the loss of a job, or the desertion of a spouse. Anything that drives you to Jesus is a blessing.

This father comes to Jesus and literally begs him to come to his home and heal his son. That would seem to be a very normal natural request, but notice how Jesus responds:

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

Now Jesus was not just talking to this man. The word "you" is plural. Jesus was talking to the crowd that was standing around. This crowd was full of miracle-mongers and sign-seekers. They were not interested in salvation, they were interested in signs. They didn't care about worship, they just wanted to see wonders.

The world is no different today than it was two thousand years ago. People still flock to the fabulous. I could announce that we were going to have a healing crusade next Sunday; that we would be laying hands on people, seeing miraculous healings, passing out healing handkerchiefs, that we would be speaking in tongues, handling snakes, and drinking poison, and people would be lined up outside buying tickets.

But those very same people won't cross the street to simply hear someone preach the word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, and to see people saved and get right with God. Most people never learn that the miracles of grace are far greater than the miracles of glory.

Suppose a man was shot in the chest and mortally wounded and you knew that he only had one minute to live. Suppose I could heal him. I could lay my hand on him, stop the bleeding, close up the wound, dissolve the bullet, and he would rise up and walk.

But let's assume the man's lost and he would eventually die and go to hell. Now suppose on the other hand in the last minute of that man's life I cannot heal him, but I could lead him to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now which would be better? Obviously, you would say, "Well it would be much better for the man to be saved." Let me ask you this question: Which would you rather see?

You know there are people who will drive a hundred miles to see a man supposedly miraculously heal, who won't walk three feet to see a man marvelously saved.

Jesus said to this crowd in effect, "You don't need a sign, you need a Savior. You don't need a miracle, you need a Master." You see, you can believe in miracles without believing in the Master. This nobleman's problem was he was more interested in the power of Jesus than he was in the person of Jesus. He was more interested in what Jesus could do for him than he was in what Jesus could do in him. Just remember what God expects you to do when grief strikes, is just trust.

II. When God Speaks, Just Trust

Now Jesus did what this man wanted him to do, but he didn't do it the way the man wanted him to do it. This man wanted Jesus to come to his house, lay hands on his son and heal him. He evidently thought that Jesus had a certain "healing range" and he had to get close enough to do it! What he didn't understand was that with Jesus distance makes no difference. His power is not limited by time or space.

But Jesus refused to come, and the reason was this: He was more interested in this father's faith than he was in his son's sickness. I've got news for you. God is more concerned with your faith than he is with your finances; more concerned with your faith than he is with your fitness; more concerned with your faith than he is with your feelings; more concerned with your faith than he is with your fortune; more concerned with your faith than he is with your future.

You can be in the greatest shape in the world, have more money than you can spend, enjoy a beautiful family, live in a three-story mansion, drive an expensive car, and hold a top position in the greatest corporation on earth, but without faith you will never please God. While this man was harping on healing, Jesus was focusing on faith.

"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." (v.50) Jesus simply says to this man, "your son lives" and evidently the man simply said, "Lord, I believe." That is what real faith is. Just believing that God will do what he says he will do. It is just believing the word of God. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:17)

You see this man had to learn a very valuable lesson. He thought "believing is seeing." He said, "Lord, you come to my house and touch my son, let me see with my own eyes you can heal him, and I'll believe in You." But Jesus didn't take that bait. He said, "No, I won't give you my presence, I won't even show you my power, but I will give you my promise-your son is healed."

Now at that exact moment this nobleman came to a fork in the road where faith and doubt part, and he had to make a decision whether or not he was going to get on the holy highway of faith, or the rocky road of doubt. He made a decision that would begin to change his life forever. He said, "Lord, you said it, that settles it, I believe it."

This man learned that seeing is not believing, but rather believing is seeing. I read one time about a man who was crossing a desert back in the days of the pioneers, and he ran out of water. He was dying of thirst when he came upon a water pump near an abandoned shack.

Well he had no water to prime the pump, but he noticed there was a jug of water near the pump with a note attached. The note said, "There's just enough water in this jug to prime the pump, but not if you drink any of it first. This well has never gone dry even in the worst of times. Pour the water in the top of the pump and pump the handle quickly, and you will have all the water you can drink. After you are finished, refill the jug for the next man who comes along.

This man had to make a decision. He could see the water in the jug; he could only believe the water was in the well. He had to make a decision. Is seeing believing, or is believing seeing? Well, the man believed, primed the pump and had all the water he could drink. But understand he had to believe there was water in that well before he could ever prime that pump and see it. You don't receive and then believe, you believe and then receive.

So many people looking for a work from God when all they're going to get is the word of God, and I want to tell you if the word of God is not good enough for you, the works of God won't be either.

Now what does this man do when Jesus tells him his son is healed? We're told very simply in v.50 "he went his way." Now there is more to that statement than meets the eye. Because that man did not go home immediately.

And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, 'Your son lives!'

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.'" (vv.51-52)

That boy was healed at the "seventh hour." Now it is debatable whether this was seven o'clock in the morning (which would be Roman time), or one o'clock in the afternoon (which would be Jewish time). But it really makes no difference.

Either way, there was plenty of time for this man to get home. He was only twenty-two miles from Capernaum. That was a five-hour walk or a two-hour chariot ride. But instead, he stayed in Cana. Now what was he doing in Cana? Who knows? He may have been conducting business, sightseeing, or visiting with friends. But the point is, he did not immediately go home.

Can you just see that man walking around town and seeing some of his friends? They come up to him and say, "What are you doing here. I heard about your son. Has he died?" He said, "Oh no, he's been healed." They said, "Well, how do you know, have you been home?" He says, "No." They said, "Have you got word from home?" He said, "No." They said, "Well, how do you know your child has been healed?" He said, "Because Jesus said so."

I can also hear someone say, "Well, don't you think you ought to go home and check?" He says, "Do you think I need to get up in the morning to check to see if the sun is going to rise in the East?" He probably said something like this: "Just as surely as the high priest is a Pharisee, my son has been healed."

Now we learn what real faith is. Real faith is putting all of your eggs in God's basket and then counting your blessings before they hatch. I know some of you are thinking, "Well, I could never have that kind of faith." When the truth is, you have that kind of faith every day.

There are people every day who get sick, go see a doctor who will tell them they have a disease they can't spell, write out a prescription they can't read, for a medicine they can't pronounce; they will take it to a druggist they don't know, and go home and take it and expect to feel better the next morning. Now if you can have that kind of faith in a doctor and a druggist, how much more can you have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!

III. When Grace Summons, Just Trust

Now I want you to notice what happened to this man beyond this miracle:

"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.

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." (vv.52-53)

Now there seems to be a contradiction here, for we are told in v.53 that this man believed. But we were told earlier in v.50 that the man believed. It's the same Greek word, but the reason why we are told twice that he believed is because he believed in a different way.

There is more than one kind of faith that people can have even in a relationship to God. For example: Nine out of ten Americans believe that Jesus is the Son of God, but only three out of ten Americans have received Him as Lord and Savior (George Barna, Marketing The Church, P. 94.)

You see, in the Bible there are different levels of faith and different kinds of faith. In v.50 this man had a satisfied faith, but now he has a saving faith. At first he believed in the promise of Jesus, but now he believes in the person of Jesus. First he believed in what Jesus said, now he believes in who Jesus was. First he believed in the sign, but now he believes in the Savior. Never never ever get the idea that salvation is simply believing in the word of God, it is also believing in the God of the word.

This man had a different agenda from Jesus. He wanted Jesus to deal with his son; Jesus wanted to deal with his soul. The highlight of the story was not in the son's physical cure, but in the father's spiritual conversion. The reason why Jesus performed this miracle was not primarily that the son would be healed, but that the father would be saved.

But I want you to see one other aspect of this story. Not only did salvation come to the man, but v.53 says it came "to his whole household." I can see this man walking down the road to his house, the servants excitedly run out to meet him, and all they talk about is the miracle, the healing of his son. This man looks at them calmly, and says, "Forget about the miracle, let me tell you about the man that performed the miracle. Forget about the sign. Let me tell you about the Savior that gave the sign."

They probably said to him, "Well, aren't you glad your son is cured?" He said to them, "Oh, I'm glad that my son is cured, but I'm more concerned that my son is saved." That father led that entire household to Christ.

Can I just make a practical observation about many of us here today? So often when we ask for prayer requests, the vast majority are for people we know and love who are sick and ill. I want to emphasize that we ought to pray for the sick and we want people that we love to be healed.

But has it ever occurred to you that we are more concerned with keeping the saints out of heaven than we are in keeping sinners out of hell? May I tell you something? It is no tragedy to go to heaven, but it is life's greatest tragedy to go to hell. We're more concerned so often that our saved fathers and mothers and grandfathers and grandmothers are going to heaven than we are that our lost neighbors are going to hell.


One of the reasons why I know this man really believed in the Lord Jesus is because he wanted others to believe in the Lord Jesus. There was a great Jewish evangelist by the name of Hyman Appelman, who told a story years ago about a little boy in Chicago who had been born hopelessly and helplessly crippled.

His legs had been terribly twisted and mangled in the process of his birth. His mother was just a poor scrubwoman, a maid, and could not afford very much. They lived a very threadbare existence. This little boy had to stay home all day long just crawling around the house while his mother worked to make a living.

This little boy whose name was Michael, was a very avid reader. When his mother would come in and put the newspapers on the floor, he would read every line of those newspapers while his mother would be off at work. One day he read in the newspaper of a doctor from Vienna by the name of Dr.

Lorenz who had flown over to Chicago to operate on the daughter of a wealthy millionaire who was cripple.

The paper carried the story of how this doctor performed a medical miracle and restored this little girl's ability to walk. When that mother came home, Michael told his mother about it and said, "Mother, wouldn't it be wonderful if that doctor could operate on me?"

Well, that mother went into her bedroom and began to sob and weep and pray for her son. She asked God to work a miracle for her son to see this doctor. Finally, she made up her mind she would go see the doctor herself, who had set up temporary headquarters in an office building.

She went down to where the doctor was, walked into the office where a nurse met her. She said, "I want to see the doctor." The nurse said, "Do you have an appointment?" She said, "No, I don't." She said, "Well I'm sorry you cannot see the doctor."

About that time she saw a man walk by in a white frock and she recognized this man from the picture in the newspaper. She pushed that nurse aside, rushed into that doctor's office, literally dove at his ankles, wrapped her hands around his legs and said, "I will not let you go until I speak to you." Well that doctor sat and patiently listened while she poured out her heart to him.

The doctor said, "Lady, do you have any money?" She said, "No sir, I'm just a cleaning woman. I don't have any money. I don't even have any insurance." He said, "Madam, let me see what I can do." Well, this fine doctor not only operated on this boy for free, but he raised the money to pay for all of the medical and hospital bills.

Well, the doctor operated on this boy. Several days afterwards the mother came in to see her son and he said, "Mother, I want you to go to the window and look out the window. I've got a surprise for you and I don't want you to see it."

She walked to the window, and had not looked out the window for even a second when she felt something at her side and turned around, and there was her son who had gotten out of his bed, and walked over to her and was just looking at her. Well, you can just imagine that scene as they buried themselves in each other's arms, crying, weeping, thanking God for the miracle he had wrought this doctor.

The next day the doctor came walking into the room and he said, "Michael, I just came by to say goodbye to you. I'm going back to Vienna." Well, that little boy, who wasn't very well educated, looked up and said in his very poor grammar, "Doc, you ain't gonna leave me are you?" The doctor said, "Son, I must go back to Vienna to my home, because I have patients there I need to care for."

That little boy, lying on his bed, grabbed that doctor by his face with both hands, pulled it down to within an inch of his own, and looking that doctor squarely in the eyes, with tears coming down his cheeks, he said, "Doc, as long as there is a tongue wagging in my head, there ain't nobody ever gonna forget what you've done for me."

When you just trust that is what will happen to you. God will work miracles in you, through you, for you, and with you. There is nothing that God cannot do for you, both on earth and in eternity will you will just trust.