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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « The Gospel Versus Accountability Groups | Main | The Question of God's Foreknowledge by Pastor John Samson »

    Images of the Savior (9 - His Healing of the Nobleman's Son)

    John 4:49-50 The nobleman says unto him, Sir, come down before my child die. Jesus says unto him, Go your way; your son lives. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.

    We have already observed, in the account of his discourse with the Samaritan woman, that Christ possesses in himself the living waters from which all true life springs and is sustained. This is true both with respect to his physical creation and with respect to his spiritual creation. All things were created by the almighty power of Christ (John 1:1-3); and to this day, they continue to subsist only in him (Colossians 1:16-17). Likewise, all who are his were given life by the power of his word (I Peter 1:23); and it is only in him that they continue to live day by day (Galatians 2:20). This is indeed a remarkable and comforting truth, and ought to be sufficient to constrain us to seek life in him as long as we remain on this earth. All life flows continually from the Creator and Sustainer of all things; and so, when Christ is ours, life, true and abundant life, is ours as well.

    As glorious as this truth is, there is another truth about Christ’s person, that we see displayed in his next miracle, which is more glorious yet: and that is, that Christ is not only the Source of life, and the Sustainer of life; but he is likewise the Restorer of life. This is a mighty truth indeed. It is amazing that the Almighty is able to produce life out of nothing; but it is more amazing by far that the all-Holy is able to produce renewed life out of corruption – that he is able to take a life hard-pressed by the catastrophic results of sin and to restore it to its original, unaffected constitution. It is a mighty God who can create; it is a mightier yet who can redeem his creation from the throes of rebellion and despair. And Christ is not only our Creator when we were nothing; he is our Redeemer when we were worse than nothing, impure rebels before a God who cannot countenance evil (Habakkuk 1:13). As we look at this next account of Christ’s miraculous power, let us remember that, sickness has only come upon mankind because of the sinfulness of the race; that Christ is able to reverse the physical effects of sin and the curse; and that, in reversing these physical effects, he is illustrating and typifying his exclusive power to reverse the moral and spiritual effects of the curse as well. In this light, we may see that Christ’s power to heal is greater than his power to create life, by as much as a Redeemer from a cursed existence is greater than a Creator from no existence at all. And this truth is the only balm for our sin-ravaged souls. It were better not to exist than to exist as sinners beneath the wrath of God (Matthew 26:24); Hence, as sinners, we need more than a giver of existence – we need a healer from corruption. And in Christ, our altogether blessed and lovely Savior, we find both. Oh, let our souls tremble and rejoice!

    As we look into John’s account of this next mighty work of the Savior, let us note, first, that Christ is the Healer; second, that he is the Healer of the world; and third, that he is the Healer of the world through faith in his person.

    If Christ had determined to make his healing power known to the world, he could not have done it more strikingly than he did in this, his second miracle performed in Cana, and indeed his first since he had returned from Judea (John 4:54). By this miracle, we see, not only that Christ is able to heal; but that he is able to heal a person whom he had never seen, from a sickness of which he had no detailed account, in response to a man whose faith was crass and earthly, and apart from any proximity to the person who was afflicted. Hence, we see in this work the omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence of Jesus our Savior, all working together in an admirable conjunction. Moreover, we see all of Jesus’ divine and transcendent powers employed for the good of the hopeless and helpless sin-sick soul. O Sinner, do you feel pressed down and burdened beyond all measure? Then rejoice greatly, for Christ is everywhere present, everywhere knowledgeable, and filled with all the power of God; he is clothed with all the highest attributes of divinity; and he has determined to put them all to use for your benefit, if you are but one of those who believe on his name! Such is the comfort of Christ the Healer.

    We may learn, furthermore, that Christ is the Healer of the world from the circumstances surrounding this miracle. For Christ had been ministering and healing many people from Judea, and had even been pouring out in abundance his healing powers in the regions of Samaria before he returned to Galilee, his homeland. But recognizing that the time of his great success had not yet come, and being desirous of limiting his miraculous work, lest he be driven too soon to the final confrontation with the Pharisees, he determined to return to his own country, where he understood that he would be received without the honor due his name (John 4:42-44). Now, lest the reader be confused on this point, let us make clear that the circumstance of his people’s receiving him on account of his miracles certainly fell short of their giving him the honor of which he was worthy: for Christ himself testified that their fascination with him was founded solely upon his earthly miracles, openly professing that the Galileans had a faith which was restricted to his signs and wonders (John 4:48). That this recognition was indeed true is made clear a little later when, because of the hardness of Jesus’ sayings, most of his professing disciples soon left him (John 6:65-66). Hence, we may infer that Christ was openly showing himself to be the Healer of the world without distinction; for, having been rejected by his people at large, he was pleased to make his healing power known to the world of Samaritans and Gentiles. By the rejection of his own people, his mercy and power were extended to the entire world; and hence all without distinction were made heirs of the grace of God, even as the apostle Paul later reasoned with such forcefulness (Romans 11:7-11;30-36). Oh how blessed a circumstance is this for us, who were previously estranged from the covenants of Israel, and pagan children of wrath, yet now have been healed by Christ, the Savior of the world (Ephesians 2:13-22)! If Christ were the Healer of Abraham’s seed alone, we would have every cause to despair; but since Christ is pleased to make of us who had been Gentiles the true seed of Abraham by faith (Galatians 3:26-29), we have a cause far more than sufficient to put our trust in him and be healed of every sin-wrought disease of body and soul! Oh, let us pour out our hearts in praise and adoration that Christ is not only the Healer, but the Healer of the whole world!

    Finally, we must observe that Christ is the Healer of the world exclusively by faith in him. It is not sufficient that we have faith in his works, or that we delight in the gifts apart from the all-satisfying Giver of those gifts – was not that the sort of faith which initially occasioned rebuke from Christ in the case of the nobleman? He recognized that Christ was able to heal, having witnessed his power at the feast of Jerusalem; but this faith failed to delight in the glorious person of Christ the Healer, and was therefore received by a stern rebuke from our Savior: “Except you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” But oh, how gracious is our Lord that, instead of therefore turning him away, he performed this work in the nobleman’s behalf, in order to change his faith from a crass delight in earthly benefits to a spiritual joy in Christ himself. For through this sign, Christ having healed the nobleman’s son from a great distance and by the mere word of his power, the nobleman and his house were brought to faith in the person of Christ. Thus the work of Christ was a means employed to open up his spiritually-blinded eyes to the glories of the person of Christ. Let us be admonished by this account: how many of us have sought our satisfaction in the healing gifts of the Savior while despising the beauty of his person. If his gifts do not represent to our hearts the glory of who he is, we will miss the true and everlasting Joy for the sake of the earthly and ephemeral joys which cannot eternally satisfy. Let us use the gifts of God to rejoice in the person of God! Let us resolve, whenever we see Christ’s power and the delightfulness of his gifts, to be diligent to observe the following admonition:

    Trace the sunbeam to the sun;
    Trace the river to the sea;
    Trace all pleasures to the One
    Who is Pleasure perfectly –

    For only in doing thus will we find our souls filled with all the benefits of knowing the very Healer of the world!

    The great beauty of God’s mighty work of redemption is that, not only is the person of Christ filled with many praiseworthy perfections; and the bodies and souls of men filled with a great many distresses; but more than that, God has so designed that the perfections of Christ should be the full and final answer to every sin-sick need of mankind. Are we thirsty? Christ is water. Are we hungry? Christ is bread. Are we sinful? Christ is substitution, forgiveness, and righteousness. Are we estranged? Christ is reconciliation. Are we sick in body and soul? Christ is the great physician, who delights to heal mens’ bodies in type and shadow of the complete spiritual healing that he alone may effect. O you who are sick, distressed, and wounded by many pangs of flesh and spirit, look to the one who can heal the nobleman’s son! Gaze long and hard upon the Sun of Righteousness, risen with healing in his wings (Malachi 4:2)! Turn your eyes from yourself, where you will find only despair, and look to him who was lifted up as the serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14-15). No matter how hopeless your case, if you but look upon him in awe-struck adoration, you will be healed of every last malady brought on by the bite of the serpent.

    Posted by Nathan on November 10, 2006 07:17 PM

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