Nothing can shatter a parents spirit more quickly or more completely than affliction falling upon their child. I can remember rushing to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto with Julie because of complications with Rachel’s valve that connects to her heart [5 hours after her birth]. I can remember rushing Hannah to the hospital after her fall and busted her two bottom front teeth out. I can remember rushing to Sick Kids in Winnipeg because Sarah’s opening in her skull was swelling up and the doctors were very concerned for her because she might have meningitis. These are shattering moments for any parent! They’re moments that make you feel utterly helpless and desperate for someone to take your babies pain away. I know Julie has much stronger stomach when it comes to cuts, blood or needles! So I can’t image what my little Sarah was going though as they stuck this long needle to collect fluid out of her spine, to see what’s going on in her little body. BUT as bad as those moments seem I truly believe it’s those moments where God does His greatest work, not just in our children but in us. I believe it’s those moments where God reveals His grace and mercy, even if the results don’t end in our favor………Because not every situation of affliction has a fairy tale ending! One thing for sure is that tragedy will strikes all of us; young, old, poor and rich……..this is something that is inescapable for everyone! Job said it best! “For affliction does not come from the dust, Nor does trouble spring from the ground; Yet man is born to trouble, As the sparks fly upward. "But as for me, I would seek God, And to God I would commit my cause” Job 5:6-7. As an open fire causes sparks to fly upward, even so mankind is unavoidably consumed with trouble. Here we see a man who is faced with one of the greatest trials….a possible death of a son! Albert Schweitzer said, "The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives." I’m sure this was the heart of the nobleman when he looked at his son who was slowly dying before his very eyes and realizing there was nothing he could do to stop it. A father’s worst nightmare comes true as he watches his son die. 4 Practical Lessons we learn for this encounter with Jesus and the Nobleman.This is His 2nd miracle that John believes is significant to Jesus' ministry that displays His Deity. Again the miracles were to display and confirm who Christ really was! God incarnate deity.
THE RICH HAVE AFFLICTIONS AS WELL AS THE POOR (v46)
We read the Nobleman is in deep anguish over the fact his son is sick and is going to die. “Nobleman” is someone who is a Royal Official, someone who officially attached to the service of King Herod Antipas. He would have been a man of great influence and power; he also would have been a man of great wealth. We learn a sobering truth this morning! All the prestige and money could not solve his problem and cannot solve ours any differently. These accolades don’t make us immune to trials and afflictions of this world. Doesn't the rain fall on the just and the unjust? According to the scriptures they do. Take for example riches, power, fame, or rank:
- didn’t help Steve Jobs
- didn’t help Ronald Regan
- didn’t help Elizabeth Taylor
- didn’t help Whitney Houston
- didn’t help Andy Griffith
- didn’t help Roger Ebert
Never think for a moment that your financial status protects you from affliction or possible death all it does is make you blind to your own spiritual condition. Sam Storms said “It's a disease that's rampant in the culture and in the church. People are drowned with messages from powerbrokers, media, entertainment, TV evangelists and bestselling authors that say joy is intimately bound up in material prosperity, physical health, relational success and all the comforts and conveniences Western society provides. For most people, joy and suffering are incompatible. Thus preachers have a difficult task at hand in communicating to such a culture a genuine joy found in Christ. The idea that the more money I have, the better my health will be! That understanding only leads to heartbreak and deep sorrow as we have seen before with the Rich Young ruler. J C Ryle said “the dweller in palaces often sleep more uneasily that the dweller in cottages. Gold and silver can lift no man beyond the reach of trouble; they may shut debt and rags, but they cannot shut out care, disease and death. The higher the tree, the more it is shaken by storms; the broader its branches, the greater is the mark which it exposes to the tempest. David was happier man when he kept his father’s sheep at Bethlehem, than when he dwelt as a King of Jerusalem, and governed the twelve tribes of Israel.”Afflictions affect us all! Rich or poor, young and old.
SICKNESS AND DEATH COMES TO THE YOUNG AS WELL AS THE OLD (v47-v49)
“he went to Him and implored Him to come..” “Implore” means to ask, beseech, desire, entreat, pray. This passage gives the idea that he repeatedly begged Jesus to come with him. His approach was out of desperation and urgency just like any parent would do in the same situation. Why? His son was going to die if Jesus didn’t come. This is something that every parent tries to block out or would rather not talk about! We have a tendency to shut our eyes to the plain facts, and act as if the young will never die. The idea “My child will never die before me." Look throughout history, there has been many sorrowful occasions due to the loss of a little one or young ones. Take the resent news of a family losing a 17 year old girl in Nova Scotia and a 15 year old in California. A young body 8yrs old and a young woman 29yrs old, two of the three killed by the blast at the Boston Marathon this past week. Go to any cemetery and look at the names and dates on those marble slabs of cold stone. YOU TUBE videos like: 99 Balloons or Choosing Thomas, Victor-y…….heartbreaking stories of losing someone so small in such a short period of time. The bible is filled with affliction and tragedy! Aaron lost two sons at once, David a man after God’s own heart lived long enough to see three children buried, Job lost all his children in one day. None of us including this Nobleman are guaranteed tomorrow. I think J C Ryle said it best “the only true wisdom is to be always prepared to meet God, to put nothing off which concerns eternity. This is what Jesus was concerned more about in encounter of the Nobleman…..not our physical but our spiritual state which determines our eternal state. We’re to live on this earth as if each day may be our last, ready to depart at any moment.
WHAT BENEFIT AFFLICTION CAN BRING TO THE SOUL (v50)
“go your way; your son lives” Sometimes pain and suffering play a greater purpose in the lives of those affected. Take for example
- Jacob and his people when Joseph was sold into slavery.
- The greatest event in history Jesus dying on the cross.
- The 5 missionaries that lost their lives by the hands of the ones they came to bring the good news too.
Affliction in this life always has a reason….sometimes we may not understand or get an answer to why! But God knows what He is doing! A beautiful promise we can take out of afflictions is that it’s always for our good and for God’s glory! Again this encounter was another way of showing this helpless man that there is hope, but it only comes from believing in Christ alone. John MacArthur said “the Lord graciously performed the miracle, consequently drawing the official’s faith to a higher level. By healing his son physically, the Great Physician moved to heal the father spiritually". This man realized his blindness like the woman at the well was removed to see who Jesus really was! God incarnate deity! All great encounters throughout the Lord Jesus’ ministry were to confirm this truth! God in the flesh! God came in the flesh and dwelt among us to show us His love for sinners who desperately needed to be saved.
- All afflictions have a purpose in our lives whether you like it or not!
- Affliction will either draw us closer to His sovereign arms or further away from His sovereign arms.
- Affliction will either soften our hearts or harden our hearts.
- Affliction will either grow us stronger in our faith or deteriorate our faith.
CHRIST’S WORD IS AS GOOD AS CHRIST’S PRESENCE (v51-v54)
“go your way; your son lives” What I find amazing here is that we see no argument from the nobleman! We see him do one thing! Believe the words that Jesus spoke to him. Amazing! This is something that we can take to the bank. Again not every situation turns out like this gentleman’s and his family. But we see in God’s word that we can find great comfort in times of our own affliction. His word brings truth, joy, comfort and peace into our heart when we’re afflicted confused and desperate. Just like I felt when my children were in pain and there was nothing I could do about it. Seeking His face for comfort in my stormy trials of life! Even preachers have affliction. No one is exempt from sickness or death! But one for sure I serve a might King who will see me through those dark moments! He has and he always will no matter what the outcome brings [Good or bad]. As I said at prayer meeting the other night I always find great comfort in His word. I’m always reminded of this passage found in Isaiah.
Isa 40:21-31 “Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God"? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
This is the same God who spoke to the nobleman and He is the same God who speaks to you and me today. Though we may not have the same outcome as this man in the physical you can be sure we can in it the spiritual. He is an everlasting God who is deeply in love with you and me. He is an everlasting God who desires all men repent and put their trust in Him alone. All He asks of us is too simple believe in Him!
- In those dark hours
- In those lonely hours
- In those struggling hours
- In those desperate hours
- In those good and the bad hours.
Why? Isaiah said it best “He does not faint or grow weary” A father’s worst nightmare can turn into a great opportunity to grow deeper in the love of Christ! It’s for our good and His glory that we go through afflictions. As James said……. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3. Turn to Him with all your cares and watch Him do a mighty work in your life, strengthening your faith in Him alone. REMEMBER: He is the all-powerful, all- knowing, everywhere-present God. AMEN TO THAT!