Dear believers in Christ, you who trust in the promises of God. Your faith is not in vain. It would be in vain if Christ had not risen. But He has. And that means you too will rise. We can’t prove this in a lab. But God’s Word says it is true, and that settles it. By grace, we believe it. And our faith is not in vain.
Today Jesus seeks to feed that faith, nourish, strengthen it, just as He did for that Nobleman whose son was dying. Speaking of which, why didn’t Jesus just do what he wanted, and go with him, the father who so desperately needed Jesus’ help? Why didn’t Jesus just do what was asked of Him? But maybe the problem is that we often think of such situations like a question, when we should consider it more like an answer.
Today we do often get much of what we want, instantly, not later, but here and now. There are some obvious examples. We don’t have to wait for a warm meal if we don’t want to. We have instant, fast food, drive-through food (invented in 1948). We have instant communication via email, cell phones, and internet. We have movies on demand with instant download. We not only have overnight delivery (beginning in the 1980s), now there is same day delivery. We don’t have to wait for camera film to develop anymore, we have instant digital cameras.
A recent study by a computer professor, asked the question, “how long are people willing to wait for a video to download on the internet?” How long? About 2 seconds. If it doesn’t load in 2 seconds, people start moving on to the next video. And if that wasn’t enough, 90% of 18-29 year olds sleep with their phones. Gotta have that instant communication I guess.
And when things don’t instantly go our way, we say, “Why God? Why does there have to be suffering in the world? Why can’t I have an instant solution to my problem, or, better yet, no problem to begin with? Why God? Why does a child have to suffer? And sometimes they even have to die? Why?
But here we are again thinking of it as a question, when it’s truly more of an answer. An answer to our endless pursuit of instant gratification, which never really satisified us anyway. Maybe faith is more than having an instant solution, or an instant understanding of every problem. “Well, wait a second, let me get on Google to find out why my son is dying.”
Maybe faith is not having everything at our fingertips instantly, and maybe faith is more than getting an instant answer. Faith is trusting in God’s promise, even when there seems to be no solution to our problem, except putting our faith in God – when there is nothing else to cling to, but His Word.
Psalm 33 says, “Our soul waiteth for the LORD: He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in Thee.” “Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from Him cometh my salvation.”
Things haven’t changed much. Back in Jesus’ day it was the Scribes and Pharisees who wanted that instant miracle, that instant gratification. They wanted what they could see instantly, and could measure instantly. Results that could be verified instantly. “Come on Jesus, show us another miracle, and prove you are the Son of God, and then we will believe. Our faith needs those instant results.” So Jesus said, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.”
Today too, the world wants to be wowed, and entertained. The minute one blockbuster movie rakes in hundreds of millions, we gotta have more. And how long one hour of church can seem, but we think nothing of blowing several hours in front of the TV. “Well we gotta be entertained.” And that thinking has made it’s way into many churches. “We gotta have something more than just God’s Word.”
And who wants to wait to see how the pure Word can change people? Who wants to wait to see how God remains faithful no matter what the situation, and makes all things work out for good to those who love Him, even when we can’t see the good instantly? “Who wants to wait for prayer, when I can get on my instant dating application, and find someone to hook up with for a one night stand? Who wants to wait for understanding when we may not immediately understand a Bible verse? And who wants that Bible stuff anyway, when we can find instant gratification in earthly things? And if I do decide to go to God, well He better be willing to prove Himself, and now. He better be willing to show me a miracle, a sign, something more than just words. Something more than just Baptism, or the Lord’s Supper, again, more of His words and promises.”
Perhaps without realizing it, that was what the Nobelman thought he wanted, something more than God’s Word. He wanted to see Jesus heal his son, and so he ordered Jesus to come with him, to his son.
But to be fair, he did come to Jesus for help. And Jesus did help him, just not in the way he expected. It might even seem like Jesus was being cold, and heartless. The man’s son was dying. And Jesus refuses to come with him? Today the skeptics would say, “that was no way to treat a father at a time like that, when his son was dying.”
But, in fact, it was the perfect time, the perfect situation for faith to be strengthened. When things weren’t easy. When he had nothing else to cling to, but God’s Word. And when that Word could not be instantly verified.
“Thy son liveth.” But he had to wait to see the fulfillment of that promise. He wasn’t able to see his son until the next day. “Here let me text or email my wife.” No instant gratification. No instant communication. No instant solution. “My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning”, like in the olden days, when a 3 rd shift worker, waited for the sun to rise, the end of his shift.
Well now, Jesus had all of God’s power. Where was a great miracle the likes of the parting of the Red sea, the stilling of the storm, the walking on the water, the feeding of the 5000, the raising of Lazarus? Where was the glory of a miracle like that for this dad? Jesus offered him none of that. Simply a promise: “Thy son liveth.”
“And the man believed the Word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.”
The situation is exactly the same for us today. True saving faith has nothing to cling to that it can see or measure, no instant verification. But we do have God’s Word, and that is more than sufficient. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
The Nobleman’s son lived. And because Jesus lives, you too will live. That is the very foundation of our faith: The promise. And may that promise of God continue to be with you, and strengthen your faith in Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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