Trinity 21 - the Sunday of the Nobleman of Caperaum
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
October 18, 2015
Central Passage
John 4:46-54

In the name of the FATHER and of the + SON and of the HOLY SPIRIT.

Jesus is always arguing with people. And not just the usual suspects of Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes. He argues with His mother at the wedding in Cana. He argues with His disciples – a lot. He argues with Nicodemus, with the woman at the well, with the Syrophonecian woman He called a dog. And these are people asking for His help! Take, for example, this official from Capernaum. “Lord, come down and heal my son,” prays the official of Capernaum. A reasonable request by a father in need of the Lord who can, in fact, heal his son. But Jesus argues with the man. And not only the man but everyone standing around. The “you” in Jesus’ words, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will never believe,” is plural. Jesus doesn’t just heal the man’s son. He rebukes the man, and everyone else, too.

He even did this with the widow of Nain. Remember her? Her only son was dead and she and some friends were on the way to bury him when they met Jesus. Jesus rebukes the widow, “Do not weep.” That’s a rebuke. Who doesn’t have the right to weep at such a time? But Jesus rebukes her: “Do not weep.” Here He rebukes the father asking for Him to heal his son: “Unless you see signs and wonders you will never believe.”

So Jesus raised the widow’s son so she would not weep, and He healed the nobleman of Capernaum’s son so that he, and his whole household, would believe.

Jesus rebukes you, too. He argues with you. And like His mother or His disciples or Nicodemus, like the widow of Nain and this nobleman of Capernaum, Jesus is always arguing theology with you. Why? Because you don’t believe.

Not that you’re not a Christian and that you don’t believe in the forgiveness of sins by the blood of Jesus or that He rose from the dead, or such things. You believe all such things. But faith isn’t a stagnant, one time deal. It’s not merely an educated ascent to some propositional truths, even though without those propositional truths such as Jesus is born of the ever-virgin mother, or that He suffered, died, and was buried, and is risen from the dead – without those historical truths, those facts, our faith is useless. But our faith is also a living faith, an active faith. And living and active things need to be trained and fed and nurtured. For our faith is more than belief in history. Even the demons knew that Jesus is the Son of God. Our faith is that our Father keeps His promises and that He has promised us an eternal inheritance. And the way our faith is trained is by Jesus arguing with us.

Only, He doesn’t argue with us only by dialogue but by sickness and disease, even death. Not that He brings these things on us but that He uses these things to train our faith, to build our faith so that you would believe. So that you would believe that He is your Savior in all things, for all things, for every situation. And that the way He saves you from all things, for all things, and in every situation is by His resurrection from the dead.

Your sick son is saved by Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus saves your worry-ridden, trouble-ridden life by His resurrection from the dead. Jesus saves you by His resurrection from the dead. So the apostle says that unless Jesus is raised from the dead our faith is in vain. Forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are all in vain if Jesus is not risen from the dead. But He is risen from the dead. And He would have you believe that the Father’s promises are for you and for your household. Just as He wanted the nobleman of Capernaum to believe that the Father’s promises are for him and for his household.

So the Lord argues with you. Because our real plight is not worrisome personal or church finances or strained relationships or failing marriages or even hateful people or even sick sons. Our real trouble is that we do not believe. Jesus would increase your faith so He points out your unbelief, not to pick a fight with you but to bring you ever more into a stronger faith. A weak faith cries out to the Lord for a miracle, a strong faith cries out to the Lord for more faith. And the Lord answers those who cry out to Him.

Here is your answer. This divine, holy gathering wherein the Lord is serving you His salvation, His very life. The answer seems weak or ill-suited to our troubles because of our unbelief, not because it is powerless. In the middle of all your woes – real or imagined – the Lord Jesus meets with you. He is here in the midst of your failing marriages and sick children and dying parents, in the midst of your own sickness and pain and looming death, and says to you, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Here the Father is establishing with you all His promises which find there “yes” in Christ Jesus. Here the Lord is hearing you and answering you, arguing with you and strengthening your faith. Here the Lord is telling you: “Go you way, you will live.” You, your sons and daughters, and all the Lord calls to Himself. Go in peace.

+ In Nomine Iesu +