First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, September 29, 2019)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pasto
2 Kings 4:8-37; John 4:43-54
This morning we continue our study on the “Seven Signs” Jesus did and recorded to us in the gospel of John. The last couple Sundays, we looked at the First Sign, turning the water into wine at a wedding in Cana, found in the gospel of John 2:1-11. In John 2:11, John concludes the First sign by saying, “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”
The Second Sign is found in John 4:43-54. It is the healing of the royal official’s son. One important element of sound Biblical teaching is the importance of looking at the setting, the context, of a certain Scripture passage. We did that all summer long when I preached on the “Seven I am Statements” of Jesus also in John’s gospel.
So, what is at stake here in John 4:43-54? Well, Jesus got to spend the last two days in Samaria. The time in Samaria was spectacularly successful. It appears that the whole town of Sychar was turning to Jesus as the Messiah and the Savior of the world. The focus in Samaria was not on Christ’s miracle-working power, but on His word. “We have heard him for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world” John 4:42 stated. This is a better response than anything Jesus has gotten among His own Jewish people. Strange.
But who are the Samaritans? The Samaritans or the Shamerim (שַמֶרִים), means the “Guardians, Keepers, Watchers (of the Torah.” Samaritans claim descent from the tribe of Ephraim and Manassa, two sons of Joseph as well as from the Levites. The Samaritans only accepted the 5 Books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).
I think John did a great job in the introduction of the Second Sign setting the stage to compare the response of the Samaritans, the less religious, to the response of the Jews to Jesus’ message. Jesus is back to Galilee where Jesus grew up in Nazareth. Though less religious, the Samaritans were able to grasp Christ’s message. Think about those examples of the Samaritans in the Bible: The Samaritan woman in John 4 whose life was transformed by God’s grace; the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 who showed love, compassion, and generosity to a stranger; and the Samaritan leper in Luke 17:16 who showed gratitude for receiving God’s healing and came back to offer thanks to God.
Remember Jesus just a few days back did His first miracle in Cana. About 15 miles east from Cana was Capernaum where the royal official with the sick son in this story lives. So Galilee is Jesus’ homeland in a special sense. He just left Samaria, which is not his homeland, and turning now to His own stomping grounds.
Here is what John says in chapter 4:43-44 “When the two days were over, he went from that place to Galilee (for Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in the prophet’s own country). In John 1:11 says, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” Yet, Christ intends to keep offering Himself to His own, and overall His own will not receive Him.
Welcoming Without Welcoming
But there is a strange thing that we see here and might need explaining. Jesus stated that a prophet has no honor in the prophet’s own country. Yet, John 4:45 says that when Jesus came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed Him.” The answer is that the “welcome”—the reception—is not what it looks like on the outside. There is a kind of receiving Jesus that has no true honor for his person in it. It’s just an interest in His signs and wonders. It was a false faith, a superficial “welcoming” or “receiving” of Jesus. John 7:3-5 state that not even His brothers believed in him.
A Royal Official Shows Up
It is in the midst of disbelief that we see a believing heart. A royal official shows up at the end of verse 46. There’s no indication of the official’s nationality or background, his religious conviction or his worthiness—only his faith. He had heard of Jesus, and His miraculous power, and begged Him to come and heal his dying son. Jesus didn’t go with him but simply told the man his son would live. The man took Jesus at His word and departed for home. The next day, while he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his son had recovered. From their discussion, he learned that his son had been made well from the very time he had spoken with Jesus. Because of this He and all his household became believers, saved by grace through faith.
What Keeps Us from Seeing Jesus’ Glory?
Least we become like the Galileans, I want us this morning to think about an important question. What keeps us from seeing Christ’s glory? Now none of us is part of Jesus’ hometown. So you may think this doesn’t apply to us. Yet, the Church today could be Jesus’ hometown. We may fall in the same trap the Galileans fell into during Jesus’ time. So let’s be aware of two dangers:
I will stop here today, but I will say more next week, Lord willing, an0ut the faith of the royal official and how we can take Jesus today at His word. In the Name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit! Amen!