The Rich and Powerful:
Faith and Humility
So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. 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.
And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, 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. This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee. (John 4:46-54)
A sick person with a disease has two options. He can hide his symptoms, and do his best to care for his illness himself; but without professional help and modern medicine, he will likely have an untimely death.
His second option is to go to a doctor. Naturally, this is often very difficult to do. Especially when he must be honest about the fact that he cannot help himself or change his condition. It may cause embarrassment to talk about his personal habits such as his diet and weight. If he must stay for a prolonged time, he will have to wear an hospital gown. It is uncomfortable having shots and IV’s put in his arm and the medicine does not taste good. Staying in the hospital costs lots of money. There are many reasons a person may not choose option two.
But if a sick person wants to get better, he must be honest about his condition and trust the doctor. He must receive the treatment and medicine no matter the cost. But the most dangerous disease, is the one without symptoms that the person would recognize. To be sick and not know it is bad because you will not be able to treat it!
The Nobleman’s Sick Son
Jesus has returned to the town of Cana where he had performed his first miracle. Earlier, at a marriage ceremony there, the wine (grape juice) had run out. Jesus told the servants to fill the pots with water. He then turned the water into the best wine! The people in town were aware that he had power to do unusual things. This is the first miracle Jesus had performed! When he returned to this town, a nobleman sought his help. A nobleman is an officer or minister to a prince or king. This man was a government official. But even people with political power are limited in their ability. We learn that he required help for a problem he could not fix himself. This nobleman lived in nearby Capernaum and his son had become really sick. Capernaum was about 16.5 miles (26.5 kilometers) from Cana. So he travelled this great distance to meet Jesus!
He sought for Jesus and begged him to come heal his son who was nearly dead. He humbly requested the only person able to help his need! Many only believe in what they can see. But faith requires a person to accept what the eye cannot see. For example, we know that wind, air, and electricity are real, although we cannot see them. We do however see the effects and therefore believe they exist!
But the man continued to beg Jesus to come heal his son before he died. Jesus tested the faith of this man. He said simply “Go thy way; thy son liveth.” (verse 51) The man believed the word of Jesus, and immediately did what Jesus said. He returned home with the confidence that Jesus would perform his word. This nobleman received help because he had faith in Jesus, and went to him believing that he had the power to perform a miracle.
The nobleman would need at least a day’s journey to return home. But on the way, his servants met him with the good news that his son was alive! The nobleman asked what time he got better. It was at 1 pm the day before. He knew that when Jesus had said his son would be healed, that the miracle had happened immediately! He and his entire household believed on Jesus Christ.
This government worker had to humble himself to ask Jesus for help. No doubt this nobleman had seen all the best doctors, and had tried everything in his own power to heal his son. A parent loves his child dearly. We will stop at no expense to protect our family. But we must recognize that no matter how much power we have, we are all limited in what we can do. Diseases and viral pandemics can overtake any country. We need to know who to go to for help.
Only God can do the impossible. We must realize that Satan and evil spirits also are powerful. This is why many people go to witch doctors and pay shamans to help. They realize there is a spiritual power that is holding them in captivity and they want relief or release from this bondage and fear. Oftentimes it is through sickness that evil spirits attack people.
But there is a sickness we all have that is greater than physical illnesses and fevers. We all are sinners. Because of our sin, the Bible says we must die. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We must come and surrender to the All-powerful God who is greater than the power of evil. Like the nobleman, we must turn aside from all our human efforts and believe the word that Jesus speaks to us. “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6b).
The Rich Young Ruler’s Sick Soul
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:16-23)
Let us consider another man who was young, rich, and powerful. But when he met Jesus, he did not have the same faith that the nobleman had. Instead, he relied on his own riches. The Bible says he had “great possessions”. But worse yet, the possessions had him. This rich young man trusted in his own goodness and his temporary riches. He was moral and proud of it. He said, “All these I have kept from my youth up” (verse 20). He was self-righteous and self-reliant. He had an ‘I’ problem, saying, “…what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (verse 16)
If we offend God’s law in one point, we are guilty of breaking all of God’s commands. (James 2:10) The Law can never justify a person, but rather always condemns him. The law is like a mirror: it reveals the dirt on your skin, but it cannot clean it. The purpose of the law is to make us guilty and realize that we need God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
This rich young man did not put his faith in Jesus, thus, he did not receive eternal life. The law is given to the proud; but God gives grace to the humble.
In Mark 10:23, Jesus said, “Come follow me”. Sadly, this young rich ruler could not let go of his possessions to follow Christ. He loved his money more than the Master. We are warned in I Timothy 6:10 that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Our trust must be in God and not in our riches.
Yet, Jesus beholding him, loved him. Sadly, when this young man saw Jesus, he loved his riches. He had to make a choice who would be his master – the Lord Jesus or money. We also must make a choice at who we will serve: Will we serve Jesus or money? (Matthew 6:24)
Today we see a contrast of two men who were rich and powerful: the nobleman came to Jesus with humble faith: the other man was a rich ruler who was proud and chose to love his money more than God. The first man was concerned about others, the latter was selfish. The first man was interested in what Jesus could do, rather than boasting in what he had done.
Do you need help today? Have you been depending on your own strength or money to make yourself right with God? Do you realize that you cannot pay your sin debt?
This is why Jesus came and died on the cross. He shed his blood to pay for your sin. We are made clean (righteous in the eyes of God) when we accept his sacrifice in our place. This is the only payment for sin that satisfies the demands of our holy God in heaven.
Are you willing to trust in Jesus rather than the money you possess? Are you willing to be honest about your sin and need of forgiveness? Are you ready to humble yourself and ask God for help? Do you believe His Word? Jesus says the following:
He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:23-24)
Notice the two things Jesus promises to those who hear his word and believe: 1) they have everlasting life and 2) will not come into condemnation!