Third Sunday after Michaelmas – Pr. Anderson sermon
St. John 4:46-54 “Jesus is Your Protection from Sin, Death, and the Power of the Devil”
October 15, 2023 | Christ Lutheran Church
In Nomine Iesu
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Almighty and everlasting God, by Your Son You have promised us the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and everlasting life: We beseech You, by Your Holy Spirit so enliven our hearts that in daily prayer we may seek our help in Christ against all temptations, and, constantly believing His promise, obtain that for which we pray, and at last be saved; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen. (Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, by Veit Dietrich, p. 164)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Rom. 1:7, etc.)
The sermon text for today is taken from the 4th chapter of the Gospel according to St. John. We read selected verses in Jesus’ name:
Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.”
The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household.
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by Your truth, Your Word is truth. Amen. (Joh. 17:17)
In Christ Jesus, who strengthens you with His Word and Sacraments, defending you from the darkness of the world so that you may live in His marvelous light, dear fellow redeemed:
When a medical emergency happens, the first thing we do is head for the hospital. We know that in the hospital there are lots of experts. They went to school for a long time to know how to treat us. So, we put our trust in them. We put our trust in them for heart attacks, strokes, various cancers, and issues as small as the common cold. Now as we put our trust in the doctor, what would we think if the doctor would tell us that they could miraculously heal us? That they could make all our problems go away? We would be skeptical. We would have to see it to believe it. The official from Herod’s court thought the same thing. He wanted to see for himself what Jesus could do. Jesus gives a hard response for the people wanting to see miracles, yet Jesus does show His love to the official. He shows His love to you. Jesus is your protection in this life from sin, death, and the power of the devil.
Protecting us from these evils seems like a tall order. How can anyone do it? Living here in the world, we certainly see how many problems it has. The official knows of the world’s problems. “When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to Him and asked Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.” As parents, you know how hard it is to see your child suffering. Especially when there is nothing that you can do to help them. Like any parent, you know that this official tried to do everything he could to help his son. The world has told him, that he is now at the end of the line. It is an unfair place. Children are so full of life, and this official must sit and wait for his son to die.
Well, that is what he thought until a certain someone came back to town. The man who had arrived in Cana was Jesus. Jesus was back in the same town, “where He had made the water wine.” This is the location of Jesus’ first miracle. As word spread of this man Jesus performing miracles, the official heard that He was back. “He went to Him and asked Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.” The official had a little faith. He heard of this man who could turn water into wine. There was all this hype, so the official thought that he just needs to get Jesus to his house. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you [people] see signs and wonders you will not believe.” Now that is a strong statement. He calls out the people and the official. Their faith is not in the right place. They look for and want the signs and wonders. That is not why they should believe in Jesus. He is preaching of the kingdom of God. The miracles point to the message.
Like good skeptics, our faith can be like the official and the crowd. This “protection” is a tall order. How can we believe in
Jesus unless we witness something happen. Wouldn’t you want to see water turned into wine? Wouldn’t you want to watch as someone’s leprous skin disappears. How about Lazarus walking out of the tomb alive after being dead? The Bible would sure seem more worthwhile to read and believe right? St. Paul is spot on why we can think this. “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart” (Ephesians 4:18). We harden our hearts because frankly there are times we enjoy being a part of the sinful world and all it has to offer.
We enjoy getting caught up in all the drama and as we hear rumors from others and taking it as gospel. We don’t have to see proof of the rumor, yet when it comes to Scripture, when it comes to Christ and His Word, we need proof for it to be real. We rightly get scolded by Jesus as well. Instead of taking Him at His Word, we demand proof. The Pharisees demanded proof and Jesus would not give it to them. That is not how salvation works. The proof we need comes from the message of Christ. If we decide that we are going to wait for miracles, or simply think that since we don’t see them, then Christ and His Word must not be true, then we are left to our own demise, taking on sin, death, and the devil by ourselves. The forces against us are many and they want our little faith to look for signs instead of hearing the clear Word from our Savior.
As the official hears the law, Jesus of course brings the Gospel. The official knows why he is there. He is out of options and there is no help anywhere else. This is the man who turned water into wine and the official knows that He will heal his son. He once more says, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” He is persistent. Jesus can do it. He has faith and Jesus now looks to strengthen it. Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” The official heard and believed what Jesus told him, that it wasn’t the sign, it was His Word. He trusted in Christ and went home to see his son.
The official knew that he couldn’t compete with the problems the world was throwing at him. There was nothing left for him to do to help his son. All He could do was put his faith in the Savior. He goes to the only source of strength that the world has. Jesus took away his sin, saved his son from death, and beat back the temptations of the devil who wants him to doubt His saving power. This official and his scenario is found in the Old Testament. The faith that he struggled with is found in Abraham. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” (Romans 4:18) Abraham believed in the promises of God and we are marked among his children as it is faith in Christ that saves.
Your faith can flutter at times. Your sins, the world, and the devil do work against you. They want you to doubt what God has promised you. They want you to demand proof that God can do what He says. As these temptations come after your faith you put how little it may be in Christ. When you think that you have no faith, that is when it can be at its strongest because it is here you see that your faith is a gift. You can’t rely on signs and wonders. You believe in the promises of God that He loved the world so much He gave His One and only Son to die on the cross for you. Your spiritual battles are beaten by the Man who is true God and turned water into wine. He heals those who aren’t near Him. He protects you from the powers of darkness.
St. John writes how this message that you’re hearing, you have the blessing of hearing it every week. “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). The darkness looks to take over your life. You see it on the news, and you hear bad news from family members. It’s not too hard to end up like the official, exploring options and wondering what is left. Now like the official, Jesus comes to your rescue. “Shall I ransom them from the power of [the Grave]? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O [Grave], where is your sting?” (Hosea 13:14) Jesus conquers sin, death, and the devil for you. You do not need to fear for your life as your spiritual enemies have been defeated by the blood of Christ shed for you.
The world would have you believe that your battles in life are against those around you. We are seeing that right now in today’s events. Jesus tells you that this is simply not the case. He reminds you that the command for Christians is to love your neighbors. St. Paul tells you who the battle in this world is against. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this
present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:10-13). The world is looking to get as loud as it can, so that it can scoop you up into it. You can stand firm against the darkness as you are clothed in the armor of God. It is not armor that allows you to go and unleash hell on the world. It is Christ defending you from the world, assuring you that you are protected!
The official knew that he was protected from his spiritual foes. He could confidently go home believing that what Christ said was going to happen, even if he didn’t witness it. Jesus strengthened his faith. His servants told him before he even made it home that his son was well. Seeing his son healed, our text tells us that, “he himself believed, and all his household.” He shared the Gospel with his family, that Jesus is the promised Savior. It is through His Word that He makes all things well. This text teaches you that you never have to worry when sharing your faith. It is the power of the Gospel that changes hearts. Jesus’ Word strengthens your faith. You hear that no matter what happens in this life, your sins are forgiven, your death is only the beginning of eternal life, and the devil is defeated. With this knowledge you can respond, “My merry heart is springing, And knows not how to pine; ‘Tis full of joy and singing, And radiancy divine. The Sun whose smiles so cheer me Is Jesus Christ alone; To have Him always near me Is heav’n itself begun (ELH 517 v. 15). Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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