What Do You Believe About Long Distance Miracles
What Do You Believe About Long Distance Miracles?
Believing that the places that Jesus went were of great purpose and importance, it would be an interesting study to detail and examine each of these places. Why did He almost immediately return to Cana of Galilee where He performed His first miracle? Why did He perform His second miracle there? Is there some significance in bridging the two places together? As we probe and pray, may God give us the necessary interpretation to answer these questions as deemed necessary. May we not pretend to make the insignificant significant nor the significant insignificant.
Miracles as we discussed earlier are of two major types "providential" and "creational." With this being the case, this next miracle may be examined and categorized as either or both. The nature of this particular study requires that I give a more literal interpretation with practical applications, than investigating with the emphasis upon the typical and prophetical. Lest I be guilty of employing "spiritual tunnel vision" to my interpretation, I will, when necessary, give the typical or prophetical.
To answer the question, "Why did Jesus return to Cana of Galilee for His second miracle?", requires going back to John 2:23-25 and there asking John. The last commentary that John gave us goes like this: "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast days, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man." Notice the phrase "many believed Ö when they saw Ö" This statement is referred to by Jesus when answering the noblemanís request, "Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe." Could it be that Jesus goes back to Cana of Galilee because He has some unfinished business? Does He return to select those who would be willing to believe Him only at His word? While in Samaria it is said, "And many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world." Those in Galilee did not have this simply belief, they had to see the "signs and wonders" to believe. May we study these related thoughts by considering first, "the return to the place of the first miracle."
I. THE RETURN TO THE PLACE OF THE FIRST MIRACLE. vv. 43-46
When studying this section, I cannot help but be reminded of Genesis when Abram went back to Bethel (Genesis 12, 13). There are not really that many similarities, but just as Abram went back to Bethel, Christ went back to Cana of Galilee. Abram went back to Bethel after having sinned. He had his wife lie about their relationship as husband and wife, having Pharaoh to think that she was only Abramís sister. After the Lord brought plagues on the house of Pharaoh, Pharaoh released Abram and Sarai. It was then that they returned to Bethel and called again on the Lord.
Abramís return was for the purpose of recovering from his lapse of faith; the Lordís return seemed to be for the purpose of teaching the value of trusting God without the "signs and wonders." This second miracle that took place in Cana of Galilee showed that Jesus is the God of space and of distance.
As Jesus was returning He made this comment, "a prophet hath no honor in his own country." He seemed to be directing this statement towards Judaea. He had been so graciously received in Samaria. The people believed Him without the miracles. There He was greatly honored but in Jerusalem and in Judaea this was not the case. They only were attracted to Him because of His miracles. Later John will write saying that the Lord "had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him" (12:37).
Though Jesus made the statement "a prophet hath no honor in his own country," that did not hinder Him from ministering in His own country. He also saw may converts. Though the honor may be diminished or not at all, that does not excuse a person from ministering to his own country. The thoughts towards Jesus may have been something like this: "Why Heís no prophet; He is only a carpenterís son. You know Ö Joseph."
I pastor in my hometown, in my home church. I am sure there are those in my home town who still say about me, "Yes, I went to school with him. I canít imagine Max being a preacher." Yet when people are in Christ they have a respect that is different than those of the world. The focus is no longer on "who we are" but instead the focus is on "Who He Is." For this reason I am not viewed as "the kid from down the street," but as a brother and pastor in Christ.
When Jesus arrived in Galilee, "the Galilaeans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast" (v. 45). Today there is so much spurious religious activity taking place with more and more sensationalism required. Auditoriums are now being wired for "sound." This is not just the sound to be heard but the sound and the lighting that would allow a rock concert to be held in each service. The rock beat with its lyrics has done more to destroy the mind than most any other media. This murdering of the mind is called, "musical mentalcism."
We have allowed this satanic force to come into our churches and be condoned and accepted as though it were spiritual. All of this is orchestrated into our churches to make our church more appealing to the world and more like the world. God forbid.
Yet this same desire for the sensational is what prompted many of those who came to Jesus. They came looking for another miracle, not just coming for truthís sake. The nobleman when he came to Jesus was desperate. His son was dying. He needed nothing short of a miracle for the healing of his son.
II. THE REQUEST FOR ANOTHER MIRACLE vv. 47-52
The nobleman wanted Jesus to go to where his son was and while there heal him. Or at least the nobleman thought that would have to be the way it was done. The "modern day healing service" requires this kind of atmosphere and display. In such a setting the focal point is on the healer. The healer and the person being healed are in the spotlight.
Yet in this instance the Lord is going to perform a miracle that will not even require His presence. Before Naamanís leprosy was healed he resented Elisha not coming out to where he was. It was only when he was willing to trust the man of God at his word without all the "fan fare" that he was miraculously healed. The modern day healing service could easily be labeled as a performance with the theatrics to match. I must address this concern as a strong warning against everything that is designed to remove the glory from God. All glory belongs to Him and to Him alone.
After the nobleman made his request to Jesus for his sonís healing, he received a rebuke from Jesus. The rebuke was for the purpose of addressing his low level of faith. His faith like the others required the seeing rather than just believing. Hebrews 11:1 tells us clearly what faith is, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." The Word of God goes on to say that "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). You cannot remove or separate the Word of God from faith. Faith and the Word must be connected. The rebuke was based upon a "signs and wonders" mentality that the nobleman had. The rebuke served the purpose of preparing the noblemanís heart for belief. "Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way." It may be argued that the nobleman had a weak faith, but he did believe. The Word tells us that if we had the faith the size of a mustard seed that we could move mountains. I am grateful to the Lord that it does not say, "If you have faith the size of a mountain you could move a mustard seed." God honors even our little faith. Faith is simply believing and then acting upon the word. Our text illustrates this truth when it says, "the man believed the word" Ö "he went his way." His faith increases as he journeys to the place of the miracle. The Lord let his servants meet him with the good news that his son was going to live. The good news must have been written all over their faces. As God honors our feeble steps of faith we become more confident in the workings of the Lord. The Lord is so very consistent and completely dependable. Because this is true, as you walk in faith you also grow in faith.
The nobleman began to inquire of the hour that the son began to mend. He was told, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house" (vv. 52b-53).
Notice the pattern or steps that Jesus used to increase the noblemanís faith. First, he was told to "Go thy way; thy son liveth." This big first step involved the nobleman believing the Word. Had he not believed the Word he would not have received the miracle. The nobleman demonstrated a degree of faith as he called upon the Lord. Even his calling upon the Lord was a result of hearing the Word or report of what Jesus had already done. Now after calling on the Lord, the Lord gave him instructions as to what he should do next. The second thing that he did was to embark on the journey of faith while anticipating seeing his healed son. The third thing that happened was that the servantís met him, thus strengthening further his faith. The report that the servants gave further authenticated the miracle of Christ.
This miracle demonstrates that we can pray and expect God to perform His miracles without any limitations in regards to distance nor space. Prayer can be made for those who are on the other side of the world, knowing that God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think!
III. THE RESULTS OF THE SECOND MIRACLE vv. 53-54
In Capernaum, where the miracle took place there must have been great joy. Certainly there was great joy among the family members, but the servants and friends were able also to rejoice in knowing that one who meant so much to them was going to live. The son lived and gave testimony to the fact that Jesus had healed him. The noblemanís family believed on Jesus also as a result of what Jesus did. All the evidence clearly indicated that the Lord healed and then the nobleman and his house believed. Whether this is an indication of his family believing unto salvation I am not sure. One theologian put it this way, "Previously he had believed the Lordís promise (4:50); now he believed the Lordís person" (Phillips).
Many of Jesusí miracles lend themselves to our making spiritual applications pertaining to salvation. The nobleman could represent the person who is concerned for someone elseís need of salvation. That person like the noblemanís son has a terminal sickness; sick unto death. He is without hope. In his hopeless state, the Lord touches him making his whole. His healing or salvation touches others, who also come to Jesus. I have enjoyed this as a pastor. Someone in the family is saved and then other family members come to the Lord. This was the case in my own family.
May we have a compassion for the souls of men even as the nobleman had for his son.
Sermon From Dr. Max Alderman