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John 4:43-54 by Robert Dean
Series:John (1998)
Duration:1 hr 10 mins 24 secs

Doctrine of Faith, Healing
John 4:43–54
John Lesson #037
February 7, 1999

John 4:43 NASB "After the two days He went forth from there into 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 that He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves also went to the feast."

There is an interesting little problem here. Jesus makes a somewhat negative comment that a prophet has no honour in his own country. There is a lot of discussion as to just exactly what "country" means in that passage. Does that mean Judea in general? the Jews in general? or does that refer more specifically to Galilee? Every time this word patridi [patridi] is used in the Gospels it refers to Galilee and specifically Nazareth in the area around His home town where He grew up. In order to understand what is going on here we need to look at Luke.

Luke 4:16 NASB "And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. [17] And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, [18] "THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, [19] TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD."

A couple of observations about this quotation. It presents the messianic claims and the credentials of the Messiah. Captives of what? Of sin. We are all born in the slave market of sin. Recovery of sight to the blind: not only the physical blind at one level, but the spiritually blind. Blindness is often used as a metaphor for the unsaved; they are spiritually blind. Only through regeneration do they recover spiritual sight, but Jesus as the Messiah is going to restore physical sight to show that he can restore spiritual sight. So part of establishing His credentials as Messiah He will heal the blind.

Is 61:1-3 NASB " The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn {in} Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified." In Luke Jesus stopped at "to proclaim the favourable year of the LORD." He didn't read the rest of it because there is a distinction between the two advents of Jesus Christ. In His first coming Jesus Christ is going to accomplish the payment for sin, i.e. redemption. What takes place in the second section of the verse in Isaiah relates to what Jesus Christ will accomplish at the second coming.

After Jesus reads this passage, Luke 4:20:  "And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. [21] And He began to say to them, 'Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing'." That must have resounded off the walls that day. They knew that this was a messianic passage, and what he has done by stopping in the middle of that verse was to say that the whole messianic plan is not fulfilled at one coming. But they are not positive. The crowd at Nazareth is negative to doctrine, negative to the Word of God, and all they can do is focus on the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ and say: "My, my, isn't this the little Jesus? We knew Him running around here at Joseph's knee, we knew all of His brothers and sisters. What does He mean by all this? and who is he to make all these kinds of proclamations?"

Luke 4:22 NASB "And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, 'Is this not Joseph's son?' [23] And He said to them, 'No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, 'Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.' [24] And He said, 'Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown'." This is the background for the quote. All John gives us is the quote, because the thrust of the quote is to show is to make a point about John's argument in the Gospel. In John's argument of the Gospel he is making the claim that Jesus is the Messiah, and in His presentation of the Messiah we see Jesus initiating His public role at Cana where He performed the first sign. Shortly thereafter Jesus goes to Jerusalem where He cleans out the temple, He performs various miracles, many Galileans there witness these miracles, hear about the miracles and are impressed with the miracles, and then He has a conversation with a Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus. He leaves Jerusalem and goes to Judea. In Judea His followers increase, so He has an increased popularity, but also hostility. At the end of John chapter two we are told: "Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing." They were truly regenerate believers. "But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men." This is a reference to the omniscience of Jesus Christ. He knows exactly what is on the mind of Nicodemus when Nicodemus comes to Him at night. Then He knows what is going on with the Pharisees. After His popularity increases then the Pharisees are beginning to take cognisance of Jesus' activities, so what do we find in chapter four verse one? "Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John … He left Judea…" Jesus' is exhibiting His omniscience. He knows what the Pharisees have on their minds, it is too early for Him to get into an antagonistic relationship with them, He has much to accomplish, so he leaves Judea and heads north. On His way north He runs into the woman at the well and he demonstrates to her that He knows and understands her deepest needs. Now, as we come to the conclusion of this section in the Gospel, we are going to see that He knows what is going on in the minds of the Galileans, and that they are more interested in signs and wonders and miracles than they are in doctrine.

Jesus has been rejected. There is hostility in the south in Jerusalem and Judea. There is a true, genuine, excited reception of Jesus in Samaria, and then we see this contrast again with the Galileans who have a superficial reception of Jesus based upon His wonder-working powers. They look upon Him as a rabbi, but still He is able to do some pretty marvellous things. John is a little bit sarcastic here when he says, "the Galileans received Him." It is a sort of conditional reception because it is based upon what took place in Jerusalem. There we have an adverbial participle of cause and it should be more correctly translated, "because they had seen all things He did in Jerusalem." They received Him because He could perform miracles, is what John is saying. It was not because they understood He was the Messiah and that He was going to die on the cross for their sins but because he was a miracle worker and was going to do things for them.

Now we come to the official who comes to Jesus for healing. John 4:46 NASB "Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum." Here at Cana where He performed the first sign He will also perform the second sign, which is what we read in verse 54. This is, again, a second sign. We have what we would call in literature and inclusio. This is called bracketing, where you enclose a segment with similar events. The beginning was at Cana, the first sign; now the second sign. In terms of its literary presentation John sees this as all one inclusive episode and he is trying to make certain points for us about Jesus presenting Himself as Messiah. So this will conclude this particular section of the Gospel.

It focuses on a very interesting individual. Notice the people that we have seen in John so far. We have seen the bride and bridegroom and the head waiter who were surprised about the water being turned into wine, Nicodemus who is a ruler of the Jews and how confused he was about the truth of the gospel, then some insights into John the Baptist, the Samaritan woman at the well, and now an aristocrat from the court of Herod Antipas. This man comes to Jesus from Capernaum about 20 miles away where Antipas had a palace. This man has heard about Jesus and His miracle working and that he could heal the sick.

We need to remember the chronology of the life of Christ. Jesus comes to John the Baptist where He is baptised. He goes out into the wilderness for forty days of testing. He comes back to where we have the four days in the life of John the Baptist in John chapter one where he licks up John and about five other disciples and then heads up to Cana. Right after the wedding at Cana it says he went to Capernaum. So He shifted His residence to Capernaum. He was there for maybe a week or two, we don't know how long, and it says "shortly thereafter," so it is just a short time, He went to Jerusalem for the first Passover. So he has been in Capernaum and the implication from the Luke chapter four passage is that He has performed miracles in Capernaum already, even though nothing we have looked at clearly states that. That is the background for this man's knowledge.

We do not know what the disease suffered by this man's son was but we do know that it seems to be fatal. The father loves the son very much and is almost in a panicky state to get his son healed. It often happens with people when they have some kind of fatal or serious illness, they will start trying any kind of thing to get healed, any kind of quack medication in order to try and solve the problem because they are in a state of panic and operating on emotion and are no longer operating on objectivity. It is mazing how many believers who have gotten away from doctrine and forget that God has a plan and purpose for their life, that God has our days numbered. No matter how healthy we eat, no matter how much exercise we get, no matter how careful we are, that will not add one day to our life, God has determined that already. Our days are numbered. God has determined the time, the manner and the place of our death. So if that has already been determined and set from eternity past we just need to relax and accept it and put it in the Lord's hands. And when that time comes we need to face it on the basis of grace and trusting God and not panic. But this man doesn't have any doctrine and he is panicking. He is probably a believer based on the fact that he calls Jesus Lord. The NASB translates it "Sir," but in the Greek it is kurios [kurioj], the word for "lord." It is interesting that it is a Gentile in chapter four, the Samaritan woman, who responds, it is the Gentiles in Samaria who respond to the gospel, and it is a Gentile nobleman here in verse 46 who responds, but it is not the Galileans or the Pharisees who are responding to the gospel.

So the son has a fatal disease and the father is described as a royal official. In the Greek this is basilikos [basilikoj] from basileia [basileia] the word for kingdom, for someone who is related to the function and operation of a kingdom. So he is in a high position in the court of Herod Antipas. He is probably very wealthy, he is in a high position and can probably avail himself of the best medical care available, yet nothing can help. So he goes to Jesus in order to find help for his son.  

John 4:47 NASB "When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring {Him} to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death." The word translated "was imploring" is in the imperfect active in the Greek and it means to beg, to continue begging. The imperfect tense is continual action in past time, so he is continually begging the Lord Jesus Christ to heal his son because he is about to die.

John 4:48 NASB "So Jesus said to him, 'Unless you {people} see signs and wonders, you {simply} will not believe'." Jesus does not seem to exhibit a tremendous amount of compassion at this point, does He? He seems to rebuke him. The words "people" and "simply" are not in the original text. The original text uses a second person plural in both places, so we need to translate this "unless you all see signs and wonders you all will not believe." He is saying to "him," singular. These are details of the text that are important because they are interpretive clues. He turns to this man because this man is the one who is asking Him, but He is not really talking to the man, He is talking to all of the Galileans who have this superficial response. He is saying, "None of you all will respond unless you see signs and wonders, you are just in this for the show." There probably is a mild rebuke toward him bit this man is exhibiting faith and he does trust the Lord, and He knows that Jesus Christ can indeed solve the problem.

The Scripture of the New Testament tells us that the Jews were constantly seeking for a sign. And the sub-point that John wants us to pay attention to is that Jesus is presenting more than enough evidence of His Messiahship in His life. He has performed miracle after miracle after miracle, all of these are signs that He is indeed the Messiah and so Israel has absolutely no excuse for not recognising Jesus as the Messiah.

Remember what Jesus said to Thomas after Thomas doubted that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Thomas said he wouldn't believe until he saw Him, he had to have that empirical data. Jesus appeared to him and said: NASB "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed {are} they who did not see, and {yet} believed," i.e. pure faith, not related to empiricism or rationalism, but solely to trusting the Word of God. Then John says in the next verse that many other signs were given. So these signs were given to provide us with rational, historical, verifiable evidence. 

John 4:49 NASB "The royal official said to Him, 'Sir [Lord, kurioj], come down before my child dies'. [50] Jesus said to him, 'Go; your son lives.' The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off." Notice the response. The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and he started off. [51] "As he was now going down, {his} slaves met him, saying that his son was living. [52] So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, 'Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him'." The important word is "yesterday." What has happened is that the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and he started off—the word poreuomai [poreuomai] which means he went about his business.  He didn't head home, he didn't pack his bags, get on his donkey and head to Capernaum 20 miles away. Jesus told him his son lived at 1 o'clock in the afternoon. He could have been home around 5 o'clock, but he doesn't go home because it is "yesterday." He stayed over a night. He believed Jesus; he rested in what he heard. That is called the faith-rest drill. He relaxes; he is not worried anymore. One minute this man is punching the panic button because his son is about to die, then Jesus said his son lives, and he relaxes. He doesn't give it another thought because Jesus had told him the truth and he believed instantly what Jesus had said. That shows us that it is doctrine, folks, that stabilises our emotions. When we get in a position of fear, panic, anxiety, worry, what is it that stabilises us and gives us focus in life? It is not emotion, it is focusing on doctrine. It is the doctrine, the content, the promise of God that gives us what we need so that we can relax and have inner peace and contentment and tranquillity, that peace of God that surpasses all comprehension. 

The doctrine of faith

1)  Faith is a mental activity triggered by volition. You either believe or you don't believe, it is your responsibility determined by your choice. As such, faith is not emotion because emotion cannot respond to a command. What is the command? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

2)  Faith is always directed toward an object which can be expressed as a proposition. A proposition is a statement with a subject and a verb. The Scriptures are propositional truths, clear statements given by God about the nature of reality. We do not believe in Jesus in the sense that we have a personal relationship with Jesus. The only way you know about Jesus is because you met Him through a proposition in the Scriptures. These are words on a page, and these words on a page told you about Jesus, that Jesus said, I am the way the truth and the life, no man can come to the Father except by me. And you said, I believe that. You believed the proposition. Once you have said, I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins, then you begin to have a relationship with Jesus Christ on the basis of propositional information given in the Scriptures. We don't know Jesus by having a personal encounter with Him. That doesn't do it. It didn't do it for Judas and it didn't do it for a lot of other Pharisees who had all kinds of encounters with Jesus, and they are in the lake of fire. When you believe something the result is relaxation and rest.

3)  Therefore, with regard to salvation you do not believe in a person or come to salvation through a relationship with Jesus, but first you believe the propositions in Scripture that inform you about Jesus and His saving work. What does that mean? That means faith is rational, it is part of the cognitive operation of the soul; it is not irrational, it is not emotional.

4)  Therefore faith must be an activity of the mentality of the soul, it is a cognitive function, not an emotive function. So for the immature believer it is the Scripture that is the object of faith. In the faith-rest drill you mix the promises of God with faith. Faith means that God's Word is more real to you than your experience, than your reason, than anything else; nothing is more real to you than the Word of God. For the mature believer it is not only the Scripture but the doctrinal principles that have been learned.

5)  Faith has no merit in itself. It is not faith that saves, it is the object of faith that saves. It is the faith in Jesus Christ's substitutionary death on the cross.

6)  Faith as an intellectual activity excludes emotionalism, rationalism and mysticism. Faith by definition as an intellectual activity excludes all of that. Therefore we must conclude that emotionalism, rationalism and mysticism are dangerous if not destructive to salvation and the spiritual life. That does not mean that we cannot have legitimate emotion as a response to what is going on in the mentality of our souls, but that is a result.

7)  Faith is rational and logical in conformity with the ultimate person of the universe, Jesus Christ, who is called the Logos, the Greek word from which we get logic, reason, thought, communication.

8)  All the faith in the world secures nothing but condemnation from God unless that faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Faith in Christ alone secures eternal salvation. John 3:18.     

John 4:53 NASB "So the father knew that {it was} at that hour in which Jesus said to him, 'Your son lives'; and he himself believed and his whole household." Here we know that they are all saved. What so often happened in the ancient world was that the entire household would follow the leadership of the father. This happens in many non-western cultures today. It is not that they are riding on the coat tails of the head of the household and it is not a superficial faith. There is an integrity to the family, there is an integrity to the community. In the early times with chiefs, you would go to the chief of the tribe and explain the gospel, he would accept and then everybody would follow. It was their faith too. It was just the way their culture worked and operated as a whole. So as a result of all of this, this is when he is saved and his whole household. This brings us to the doctrine of healing.

The doctrine of healing

1)  There are three key words used for the doctrine of healing in the Greek. The first is the word therapeuo [qerapeuw], from which we get our English word therapeutic. Then there is the word hiaomai [i(aomai], and the third word is sozo [swzw]. The last word is the common word for salvation, but the basic root meaning of sozo is deliverance and we have to always pay attention in context as to what the person is delivered from. If the context is a physical illness then the connotation is of healing. therapeuo means to serve, to heal, or to cure. In the New Testament, though, it is always used of healing and is the primary word that is used for healing in the Gospels and Acts. hiaomai goes a little further, it means to heal and to cure but it also means to be made whole, and it can refer to spiritual wholeness. sozo means to deliver or save, and in contexts related to physical illness it means deliverance from a disease.

2)  The causes for sickness. What is the cause for sickness? There are five. Ultimately all sickness is a result of Adam's fall. In the garden of Eden in an environment of absolute perfection there was no disease. Once sin entered it radically changed the environment. Because Adam is spiritually dead after the fall he is going to be subject to physical death. There is going to be a deterioration within certain species, the development of viruses and bacteria that are harmful to mankind. The second category is biological and includes constitutional defects, such as birth defects, blindness, deafness, genetic malfunctions that may cause some diseases or illness. The third category is psychosomatic. This is a case of the influence of a person's emotional status and it may result in real or only perceived disease. There may be symptoms there but no constitutional disease. This is the result of the conversion of adversity into stress and, in the case of the believer, when there is no use of the problem-solving devices to prevent that. The fourth category is spiritual. This is from divine discipline which is the law of volitional responsibility and divine punitive action. The fifth category is demonic. In the case of the demonic it may or may not work through natural biological causes.

3)  A quick summary of suffering. First of all, we live in a fallen world. We are subject to decay, to disorder, to diseased and to death. Secondly, from our own volition. Because we make wrong choices the law of volitional responsibility comes into effect and we suffer as a consequence of our own bad decisions. Third, we suffer because we are associated with people who make bad decisions. They operate on negative volition so they come under divine discipline and we suffer with them. Fourth reason, for blessing and spiritual advancement under the doctrine of evaluation testing, James 1:2-4. This includes people testing, system testing, bureaucracy testing, thought testing. We never know whether we are being attacked by demons or whether it is something else. Lastly, it can be any combination of the above. What should be clear is that the cause of suffering is not always clear. Sometimes we screw up and we know it, but the cause of suffering is not certain and it is not necessary to know. The solution is always the same: the faith-rest drill, using the problem-solving devices. In the passages on spiritual warfare in 1 Peter 5 and Ephesians 6 the solution is always, Take your stand. Defence. It is always on the basis of the word histemi [i(sthmi] which means to take your stand. It is a defensive posture, it is not an aggressive position, it means to stand behind the buckler of faith, the fortress that we build in our souls from doctrine and to let the battle be the Lord's.

4)   Jesus' healing during the time of the incarnation was to establish His credentials as the Messiah. Jesus did not come to alleviate the suffering of the world. His mission wasn't to heal people, His mission was to die on the cross as a substitute for our sins, and to establish His credentials as the Messiah. Isaiah 53:5. The healing ministry of the Messiah is given in Isaiah 35:4-6 NASB "Say to those with anxious heart, "Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come {with} vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness And streams in the Arabah." In Jeremiah 8:22 NASB "Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored?" The implication there is that it will be restored under the Messiah. Jeremiah 33:6 NASB "Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth." Ultimately this happens when the Messiah establishes His kingdom. But when Jesus was presenting His offer before it was rejected He was establishing His credentials through healing. It was not to alleviate all the suffering in the world.

5)  Apostolic healing also established the credentials of the apostles during the pre-canon era when the gospel was initially being proclaimed. 2 Corinthians 12:12 NASB "The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles."

6)  The spiritual gift of healing operated during the apostolic period, but like any spiritual gift it was under the control of the person with the gift. That means that if I had the gift of healing I could go down to the hospital and everybody would be healed and it wouldn't have anything to do with whether or not they were believers. Remember the nobleman's son in John chapter four was not a believer. Healing was not necessarily conditioned upon faith. Then spiritual gift was temporary, it was designed to give credentials to the apostles and prophets, and it died out with the closing of the canon.

7)  The interesting thing about healing in the New Testament is that most of the people who were healed had major defects—blind, lame, crippled, paralysed, lepers.

8)  In the timeline of miracles in the Bible Moses had miracles in 1445 BC, there was Joshua, a couple of miracles with the Judges, Elijah and Elisha, then very little until the New Testament era when the 70 were sent out under the ministry of Jesus, the ministry of Christ, the apostles, but most of their miracles occurred during 32-52 AD and after that there is silence.

9)  There is a warning. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 NASB "{that is,} the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders"—the Antichrist is followed because of his power and signs and false wonders. So miracles can be performed by many people and they are not necessarily genuine. Today we live in an era of modern-day faith healing that has its roots in positive mental thought that came out of a man by the name of Phineas Quimby who lived in the mid-nineteenth century. His most well-known disciple was Mary Baker Glover Patterson Eddy who founded the Christian Science denomination. He also influenced another man by the name of E.W. Kenyon. He was plagiarised by a man in Tulsa by the name of Kenneth Hagan and they are the fathers of what is called the Word of faith movement.

Healing ultimately will come when the Messiah comes, when He establishes His kingdom. That is what the Old Testament prophesied. When Jesus came He gave us a taste of what that would be. But He was rejected by the Jews at that time and the kingdom was postponed. In between we have the church age. At the beginning of the church age there were those who had the gift of healing to authenticate the message of the gospel, that Jesus Christ had died on the cross as our substitute. But we will not see that again until Jesus comes in His kingdom. The only thing we will see until then is the false prophets and the false teachers and the Antichrist who promote signs and lying wonders.