Why Jesus Can’t Work | John 4:43–54 (#25)

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When Jesus Can’t Work | John 4:43–54

Opening Remarks: We’re back in John 4, but we are finally past Jesus’ dealing with the woman at the well. Five messages worth, and we probably could have spent more time there. We didn’t really even focus on the worship aspect this time through.
Now we move on to the next section. This is the story of Christ’s healing of the nobleman’s son, which is the second major sign or miracle of the book of John. Remember, John wrote this Gospel so that anyone could read about the miracles of Jesus and believe that He is the Christ, the Son of God.
READ John 4:43-54
Do you ever have times that you want God to work in your life, but you feel like there’s a barrier that keeps it from happening? Sometimes there are things in our lives that we don’t even realize are there keeping Him from working in us. I’d like to look at this thought today: Why Jesus Can’t Work. Not that He isn’t able, but that we prevent Him. Jesus wanted to work in this dad’s life and heal his son, but this nobleman first had to get rid of that which prevented Jesus from working. Why Jesus Can’t Work.
Introduction: One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most going through the book of John is how Jesus opens His arms to everyone.
In John 1, He invited fishermen to be His disciples.
In John 3, He offered a religious leader named Nicodemus eternal life.
In John 4, He talks to a Samaritan woman at a well, an outcast to the Jews, and offers her eternal life. Then He spends two days teaching a crowd of new Samaritan believers.
In today’s text, He turns His attention to a royal officer, a man of power and influence. But this man doesn’t come as an officer - He comes as a dad desperate to save his son’s life.
Jesus really did work in the lives of people from every stripe and every tongue and every social status - fishermen, religious leaders, outcasts, high-ranking officials. And that is still true. Whatever category you are in today, Jesus can work in your life. But just like back then, Jesus didn’t work in every life. Not because He couldn’t, but because some people had barriers that prevented it.
And it’s still true. God doesn’t work in everyone the same. Some people are moved. Some just sit there. Some are engaged while others sleep. Some leave changed and others just leave.
Whether or not we like to admit it, there are things that limit God’s work in our lives. This text gives us some insight into that thought.
Background: After two days teaching new converts in Samaria, Jesus continues His journey north into Galilee.
Vs. 43-44 - John refers to a proverb that Jesus Himself states in other Gospels that a prophet is commonly rejected in his own hometown because people are so familiar with Him.
Jesus was going to Galilee, which is His home country, and there would be plenty that wouldn’t receive Him because they were familiar with Him. Notice He doesn’t go to Nazareth, His home town. He goes to Cana, which is where He performed His first miracle at a wedding in John 2.
But how sad that there were places even Jesus couldn’t work. That leads to our first truth from the text:

Familiarity Limits Christ’s Work

Mark 6 tells us that Jesus came into His own country and went into the synagogue and started teaching. The people were blown away. They couldn’t believe His wisdom and the miracles He could do. They said in Mark 6:3 “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.”
Why? Because they were so familiar with Jesus.
And Mark 6:5 says, “And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.”
How sad that their familiarity made them kind of “Meh” about Jesus. Familiarity breeds contempt.
This can happen anywhere.
We work a job so long that we take it for granted.
We are married for a while and we get used to the other person’s presence.
Sometimes I’ll set something down and leave it there so long that it just becomes part of the background. I’m thinking, “I can’t find my favorite mug,” and it’s been sitting on my desk for two months.
Sometimes I wonder if we’ve become too familiar with Jesus.
I don’t mean we shouldn’t strive to know Him, but our familiarity turns to “Meh. It’s Jesus.”
How can we sing truths like we sang this morning and not be moved? Because we’re too familiar.
How can we read God’s Word and not be amazed at the power and love of God? We’re so familiar.
How can we hear about salvation and not be grateful that Jesus died for our sins? Familiarity.
We see a cross and don’t even think about His death.
Someone takes His name in vain and we don’t blink.
Familiarity breeds contempt. It makes us complacent.
We start to view the Bible as a book of stories. That’s it.
Nazareth missed out because of overfamiliarity with Jesus that turned to complacency toward Jesus. And it happens to us too.
The longer you’re saved, the more likely this is.
The longer you read your Bible, the more likely you are to miss Jesus on every page.
The longer you go to church and sing the hymns, the more you take it all for granted.
I believe a big reason Jesus doesn’t work more is because we’ve grown so used to Him. We come out of duty. Habit. Not passion to know Jesus Christ.
Guard your heart against the complacency that comes from familiarity.
Don’t forget to remember Who He is and what He can do.
Here’s why, we are limiting His work. With all the Christian experience in this room, we are just as prone to limit God’s work because of familiarity. It can happen in our hearts. It certainly happens in churches. It can happen in worship services. It can happen in families.
Are you “Meh” about Jesus this morning? That may be why He’s not working. You need repentance and fresh look at the Savior.

Novelty Limits Christ’s Work - Vs. 45-48

Jesus comes to Galilee and it says they received Him. But look at the clarifier at the end of vs. 45, “Having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feat: for they also went unto the feast.”
This is referring to the Passover Feast in John 2. Jesus performed miracles and drove out the money changers. People went back to their homes after that feast saying, “You’ve got to see this man named Jesus. He’s amazing! He can heal people. And He’s so bold. He went into the Temple, made a whip, and drove out the merchants taking advantage of everyone. It was so cool!”
So when Jesus comes to Galilee everyone is treating Him like “Jesus the entertainer.”
“Do a trick! Heal somebody! Turn that water into wine like you did the last time you were here!”
These folks were drawn to His miracles. They believed, not because of who He was, but because of what He could do. They weren’t as interested in Jesus the Savior as they were Jesus the Entertainer.
It’s similar to John 2:24, “But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men.” There were plenty of people that saw Him at the Temple that liked His miracles but didn’t have genuine faith. They hadn’t placed their trust in Him. They just liked what He could do. And Jesus knew it.
They were drawn to the new and shiny and novel.
It’s happening in Christianity today. Novelty is driving many.
The brightest lights. The latest trends. Something to keep everyone happy. Fun for the whole family.
I’m not saying there’s not room for creativity and enjoyment, but that can’t be our motivator, because where does it end?
#1) You have to keep people like you got them.
#2) And soon as the newest trend changes, we have to redefine ourselves again.
Novelty is okay in other areas of life, but in a church our primary responsibility is to the Gospel and it hasn’t changed in 2000 years.
God doesn’t change, so we ought not be so interested in being entertained as we are making sure that we please and glorify an unchanging God.
He specifically mentions this mindset in vs. 48 when He says, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” He’s not just talking to the nobleman. He’s talking to the crowd. “Ye” is plural. The nobleman had the mindset, but so did everyone else.
Is that how you are? Unless something is new and shiny and novel that you’re not all that interested?
There are much better entertainers out there than me.
Better bands and singers and more talented people than we have here.
But looking for something novel won’t lead you to genuine faith. That’s what Jesus says.
If you’re looking for novelty, it will limit God’s work in your life and leave your needs unmet.
Familiarity and novelty limit christ’s work, but there’s a truth here that can combat those limitations:

Humility Allows Christ To Work

This nobleman likely worked for Herod. We don’t know if he was a Jew or Roman, but we know he’s a royal official. Important. Well-known.
But he’s at his wit’s end, because his son is deathly sick.
He comes a day’s journey to Cana and beg Jesus to go back down with him to Capernaum where his son is. Some say the journey was around 20 miles. He could have sent a servant, but he came himself. It’s so dire that this nobleman comes all the way to Jesus because he’s heard about the miracles and he desperately needs one.
It’s human nature to get serious when we have a serious need.
This is the kind of situation in which most people turn to God.
A young couple isn’t all that serious about God when they have healthy babies, but when that baby is in the NICU that changes things.
A man won’t be committed to the Lord until he’s on the brink of losing his wife due to his bad choices.
A teenager will be cavalier about Jesus until he gets in trouble with the law and desperately needs help.
Most people seek God when they have a desperate need no one else can help them with.
Just think about your own life: When have you most passionately sought the Lord? When things were great or when things were falling apart?
It’s okay to come to God in your desperation. He’s the only One that can help.
If you don’t know the Lord, that trial in your life that brought you here this morning is exactly what you need to seek and find Him. Don’t pull away. Get close.
If you are away from God, that difficulty is not meant to make you give up on Him. Use it as motivation to come closer. He’s the only One with an answer.
But be careful of demanding that the Lord does things on your terms.
Vs. 47 - He “besought him that he would come down” and heal his son. He’s desperate. He has a need with no obvious answer.
But look at Jesus’ answer in John 4:48, “Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.”
This seems so harsh, considering what this man is facing. But it’s necessary. What Jesus is saying is, “You would have no interest in me if I couldn’t heal your son. So if I don’t heal him, will you still believe in Me?”
That’s tough, but it was necessary because Jesus didn’t just want to heal this man’s son. He wanted this nobleman to have genuine faith. Remember, He came to see as many people receive eternal life as possible.
He says, “Your greatest need is not your son’s healing. Your greatest need is genuine faith. You must believe in Who I am, not just what I can do for your son.”
If this nobleman’s son had been healed but neither father or son had placed their faith in Jesus Christ, what good would that have done?
We must come to the point that we see beyond the present difficulty and recognize that God wants to do something deeper in our lives. If God removes our pain and suffering, but we remain in our sin, our greatest problem remains unfixed.
The difficulties should drive us to our knees in humility before God and recognize that our greatest need is not what He can do. Our greatest need is Him. Period.
Illustration: (4 guys, one is Jesus, 2 holding bar, 1 walking toward Jesus) Obstacle too big to go over, either turn back or get down and crawl under it to Jesus
Jesus Christ in my life is the greatest need of my life.
Not what He can do for me. But Him being with me.
Not what novel miracles He can perform for me. But the miracle of Him transforming me.
Not some great healing or financial windfall, but simply having Him in my life.
And sometimes the troubles of life soften our hearts enough that we turn to Him and say, “I need you.”
This nobleman said, “Sir, come down ere my child die.” He had faith, but even this statement shows His faith was limited.
First, it was limited because He thought Jesus could only heal if He was next to His Son. But Jesus isn’t limited by time and space.
Second, his faith was limited because He thought if his son died that it would be too late. But Jesus wasn’t limited by death either.
And I love this: Limitation of faith doesn’t mean Jesus won’t respond to it. He’s only looking for faith the size of a mustard seed.
This man didn’t have it all down, but the one thing he had was humility. And that’s what Jesus responds to. The man said, “All I know is my son dies without your help.”
You don’t have to have fully mature faith and all the answers to life for God to work and meet your needs. He’s simply looking for humility.
Familiarity will limit His work. Novelty will limit His work. But humility opens the door for God to work in your life and meet your greatest needs.
James 4:6–8 says it this way, “But he giveth more grace…God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God…Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.”
God isn’t looking for you to have it all figured out. He’s looking for humility.
Isaiah 57:15 states, “For thus saith the high and lofty One That inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, With him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit…”
Psalm 9:10 “And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: For thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.”
Those are the lives God is looking to work in. The humble hearts that don’t have all the answers but know they desperately need the Lord.
Vs. 50-53 - This man believed at Jesus’ word before he ever got home. And right when Jesus said, “Thy son liveth,” from 20 miles away that boy was healed.
Why? Humility.
So think about it - there was a lot of territory in which Jesus could do no work. Because of familiarity and novelty. But there was one place in which Jesus found what he was looking for and said, “I can work here.” In one man’s humble heart.


Jesus scans this room. You have a need. Jesus wants to work. But there are territories here in which He can’t.

Hearts Of Familiarity

You’ve seen and done it all.
You’ve heard sermons like this hundreds times.
You’ve sung the songs 1000 times.
You’ve read through your Bible.
There’s nothing new or exciting about i.
And your heart is cold and hard.
You haven’t moved at an invitation in years.
Why? You’ve seen it all. Familiarity breeds contempt.
That’s your choice, but if you think God is going to work in your life, you’re mistaken.

Hearts Of Novelty

It’s boring. It’s not exciting.
You want more. You need more excitement.
You want better music. A better preacher.
More innovative stuff. More lights and fog.
Modern music and the latest fads.
Another new Bible study series.
But what kind of ministry did Jesus do?
He taught and He served.
Because that’s what met people’s genuine needs.
He doesn’t expect His people to always need something new.
In fact, He rebuked the mindset in this text.
If you’ve come today wanting something new, you’re going to be disappointed. God doesn’t change. The Gospel the same.
And that mindset will limit His work in your life. Your have real needs, and they won’t be met with that heart.
But, there are territories in this room in which God can do some work:

Hearts Of Humility

There are noblemen and noblewomen here this morning, but not how you think.
Noble does not mean:
Religious, Articulate, Wealthy, Attractive, Successful, Talented
This man’s true nobility was not in his position. His true nobility was because he had a heart of humility.
THT: God does the greatest work in the humblest hearts. So humbly seek the person Jesus not for what He does but for who He is.
Did you come with a Crisis?
A great need has brought you here. Don’t get angry. Get humble. Get low.
Even if God doesn’t work the way you want Him to, place your faith in Him and trust His guidance.
Not just what He can do for you. But for who He is.
Some have come today saying, “I have a need no one else can meet.”
“I have something that will die if Jesus doesn’t step in.”
“My spiritual life is on the verge of collapse.”
“My marriage is all but over.”
“I’ve lost the hearts of my children.”
“I don’t have anything else worth living for.”
No, you do. To know Jesus. Don’t come with demands. Come saying, “I need you. Whether or not you answer like I hope. I believe and place my faith in You.”
Why did you come today?
If you came out of familiarity, it’s probably empty.
If you came for the novelty, you’ll probably be disappointed.
But if you came with a heart of humility to seek Jesus, He can work with that.
And notice what happened in vs. 53:
His son lived
The man believed
The man’s family believed
When you come to Jesus in humility, He may not work how you ask, but He often does more than you expected.
Do you need to humble yourself before God?
Do you need to repent of being “Meh” about Jesus and church and your Bible?
Do you need to confess the sin of only being content with the novelty and just say, “I don’t need anything new. I just need a better relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Do you need to place your faith in Jesus Christ this morning? If all your crises were solved today but you leave in your sin, none of the rest matters.
God does the greatest work in the humblest hearts. So humbly seek the person Jesus not for what He does but for who He is.
Mother’s Day Video
Youth Ignite This Tuesday at 6:30
Ladies Meeting This Thursday at 7:00
(EASTSIDE 101 May 19)