Sabbath, April 18, 2009
“The more earnestly and steadfastly we ask, the closer will be our spiritual union with Christ. We shall receive increased blessings because we have increased faith.
“Our part is to pray and believe. Watch unto prayer. Watch, and cooperate with the prayer-hearing God…. Speak and act in harmony with your prayers. It will make an infinite difference with you whether trial shall prove your faith to be genuine, or show that your prayers are only a form.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 146.
“Not because we see or feel that God hears us are we to believe. We are to trust in His promises. When we come to Him in faith, every petition enters the heart of God.” –The Desire of Ages, 200.
A MAN WITH AN URGENT REQUEST
1. Despite overwhelming evidence that Jesus was a prophet, why did some refuse to accept His message?
John 4:44, 45 For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country. Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galilaeans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.
Matthew 13:57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
Mark 6:4 But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.
“The Galileans who returned from the Passover brought back the report of the wonderful works of Jesus…. They hoped that this Man, who had put the rulers to flight, might be the looked-for Deliverer. Now tidings had come that seemed to confirm their brightest anticipations. It was reported that the prophet had declared Himself to be the Messiah.
“But the people of Nazareth did not believe on Him. For this reason, Jesus did not visit Nazareth on His way to Cana. The Saviour declared to His disciples that a prophet has no honour in his own country. Men estimate character by that which they themselves are capable of appreciating. The narrow and worldly-minded judged of Christ by His humble birth, His lowly garb, and daily toil. They could not appreciate the purity of that spirit upon which was no stain of sin.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 196.
2. While in Cana, what urgent request did Jesus receive from an officer of the king?
John 4:46, 47 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.
“In Capernaum the tidings attracted the attention of a Jewish nobleman who was an officer in the king’s service. A son of the officer was suffering from what seemed to be an incurable disease. Physicians had given him up to die; but when the father heard of Jesus, he determined to seek help from Him. The child was very low, and, it was feared, might not live till his return; yet the nobleman felt that he must present the case in person. He hoped that a father’s prayers might awaken the sympathy of the Great Physician.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 196, 197.
THE TRUE FOUNDATION OF FAITH
3. What was Jesus’ answer of Jesus to the officer’s request? Explain Jesus’ response.
John 4:48 Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.
1 Corinthians 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
Matthew 12:38, 39 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.
“On reaching Cana he found a throng surrounding Jesus. With an anxious heart he pressed through to the Saviour’s presence. His faith faltered when he saw only a plainly dressed man, dusty and worn with travel. He doubted that this Person could do what he had come to ask of Him; yet he secured an interview with Jesus, told his errand, and besought the Saviour to accompany him to his home. But already his sorrow was known to Jesus. Before the officer had left his home, the Saviour had beheld his affliction.
“But He knew also that the father had, in his own mind, made conditions concerning his belief in Jesus. Unless his petition should be granted, he would not receive Him as the Messiah. While the officer waited in an agony of suspense, Jesus said, ‘Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.’” –The Desire of Ages, pp, 197, 198.
4. What can we understand from the father’s second plea? What would we do in a similar situation?
John 4:49 The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.
Mark 5:23, 35, 36 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live… While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.
“Yet the nobleman had a degree of faith; for he had come to ask what seemed to him the most precious of all blessings. Jesus had a greater gift to bestow. He desired, not only to heal the child, but to make the officer and his household sharers in the blessings of salvation, and to kindle a light in Capernaum, which was so soon to be the field of His own labors. But the nobleman must realize his need before he would desire the grace of Christ. This courtier represented many of his nation. They were interested in Jesus from selfish motives. They hoped to receive some special benefit through His power, and they staked their faith on the granting of this temporal favor; but they were ignorant as to their spiritual disease, and saw not their need of divine grace.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 198.
GOD’S ANSWER TO HUMAN NEED
5. Had the nobleman expected to receive such a prompt, gracious hearing and the performance of a miracle from so great a distance?
John 4:50 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.
“Like Jacob he prevailed. The Saviour cannot withdraw from the soul that clings to Him, pleading its great need…. The nobleman left the Saviour’s presence with a peace and joy he had never known before. Not only did he believe that his son would be restored, but with strong confidence he trusted in Christ as the Redeemer. At the same hour the watchers beside the dying child in the home at Capernaum beheld a sudden and mysterious change. The shadow of death was lifted from the sufferer’s face… The fever had left him in the very heat of the day. The family were amazed, and great was the rejoicing…. At the very moment when the father’s faith grasped the assurance, ‘Thy son liveth,’ divine love touched the dying child.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 198, 199.
6. What wonderful results did this experience have for this man and his family?
John 4:51-54 And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. Then inquired 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.
“The father hurries on to greet his son. He clasps him to his heart as one restored from the dead, and thanks God again and again for this wonderful restoration.
“The nobleman longed to know more of Christ. As he afterward heard His teaching, he and all his household became disciples. Their affliction was sanctified to the conversion of the entire family. Tidings of the miracle spread; and in Capernaum, where so many of His mighty works were performed, the way was prepared for Christ’s personal ministry.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 200.
7. Why are answers to our prayers sometimes delayed? Should our trust in God depend on His answering all our prayers?
James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
Psalm 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.
“He who blessed the nobleman at Capernaum is just as desirous of blessing us. But like the afflicted father, we are often led to seek Jesus by the desire for some earthly good; and upon the granting of our request we rest our confidence in His love. The Saviour longs to give us a greater blessing than we ask; and He delays the answer to our request that He may show us the evil of our own hearts, and our deep need of His grace. He desires us to renounce the selfishness that leads us to seek Him. Confessing our helplessness and bitter need, we are to trust ourselves wholly to His love.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 200.
WORDS OF LIFE
“The nobleman wanted to see the fulfilment of his prayer before he should believe; but he had to accept the word of Jesus that his request was heard and the blessing granted. This lesson we also have to learn. Not because we see or feel that God hears us are we to believe. We are to trust in His promises. When we come to Him in faith, every petition enters the heart of God. When we have asked for His blessing, we should believe that we receive it, and thank Him that we have received it. Then we are to go about our duties, assured that the blessing will be realized when we need it most. When we have learned to do this, we shall know that our prayers are answered. God will do for us ‘exceeding abundantly,’ ‘according to the riches of His glory,’ and ‘the working of His mighty power.’ Ephesians 3:20, 16; 1:19.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 200.