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Sabbath School Lessons on John
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 5: The Struggle to Be Real *
Introduction: How do you like detours? Our study last week had Jesus
headed back to Galilee. On the way He decided to take a little rest
at the well in Samaria while His disciples were rounding up lunch.
While at the well Jesus bumped into a Samaritan woman with an
attitude and ended up converting her and holding a two-day
evangelistic series! John 4:41-42 tells us that many Samaritans
believed that Jesus was the Messiah. This was the beginning of the
church in Samaria. What a great detour! This week our story picks up
with Jesus making it back to Galilee. Let's plunge into our study!
- No Honor
- Read John 4:43-45. Have you ever felt unappreciated in
your work for your church?
- What does John suggest is the reason why a person is
not properly appreciated in his or her own church?
(He doesn't really give an explanation. He just says
"no honor at home." The people know you. They get
used to you and what you do.)
- The text seems to indicate that Jesus is feeling
unappreciated. At the same time it tells us that the
people of Galilee welcomed Him. What country is not
honoring Jesus? (The reason I mentioned the two-day
detour in the introduction was to give you the
background for this comment. Commentators disagree on
which "country" is not showing Jesus proper honor.
Some say this refers to the area around Jerusalem -
which is where Jesus just was. Others say this refers
to Galilee, because that was Jesus "own country." I
think John is comparing the wonderful reception the
Samaritans gave Jesus with the reception (cool) in
Jerusalem and the reception (warm) in Galilee.
Neither reception was as enthusiastic as in Samaria.)
- Notice the note about the Galileans also being
in Jerusalem with Jesus. What does that tell
you? (The saw His miracles. They saw him drive
the cheaters out of the temple.)
- What kind of view do you think they were
beginning to have of Jesus? (They heard about
the miracle at the wedding in Cana. They knew
about the miracles in Jerusalem ( John 2:23).
They had probably been victimized by the
cheaters. They were taking notice of this local
fellow who had been a carpenter.)
- The Royal Official
- Read John 4:46-47. What do we learn about the father? (He
was an important man: a royal official. He had a sick son
who was about to die.)
- How far is Capernaum from Cana? (It is a day's walk -
20-25 miles. Worse, Capernaum is by the sea, so the
walk to Cana is all uphill.)
- A royal official is going to walk 20-25 miles uphill
to ask a carpenter for help. What does that tell you
about this official?
- In the next series of questions, I ask you to imagine
that you are the royal official who is the father of
the dying son.
- Do you love your son? (You bet.)
- What measures have you taken to cure your son?
- What measures have you not taken to cure your
- Is it easy to go and beg Jesus? (You can bet the
father has done everything within his power.
Most likely his only remaining hope is Jesus. He
swallows his pride and goes and begs.)
- Focus on verse 47. What kind of attitude does the father
show towards Jesus? (An attitude of belief. He begged
Jesus to come and heal his son.)
- Why would Jesus have to go to his son? Why does the
father ask Jesus to go 20-25 miles to heal his son?
(Review in your mind the miracles of healing in the
Bible. Very few are done remotely. Almost always the
healer comes to the person to be healed.)
- Does the fact that the father asks Jesus to come
to his son show a lack of faith? (I don't think
so. Our lesson says, "yes" to this question.
Jesus is about to opine on the faith issue, so
let's read on.)
- Believing Without Seeing
- Read John 4:48. Is Jesus speaking to the father or is
Jesus just making this statement in the abstract?
- Has the father asked to see a miracle? (Yes. On a
very simply level he is asking for a miracle for his
- Is the father asking to see a miracle before he
will believe in Jesus? (No. He came to Jesus and
asked for a healing. He did not say, "heal
something" and then I will bring up the subject
of my son.)
- If Jesus had not healed his son, would the father
have believed in Jesus? (I doubt it.)
- Is that the correct attitude to have? (I think
this supports Jesus' statement in verse 48.)
- How about you friend? Will you believe in Jesus
even though He does not grant your prayer
request? Will you believe even though He does
not heal someone in your family? Even though He
does not fix your job problem? Even though He
does not fix your money problem?
- Do you believe based on who Jesus is, or do you
believe based on your own selfish interests?
- Read verse 49. I just suggested that the father was not
demanding a miracle before He asked Jesus to heal his son.
However, is the father asking to SEE a miracle from Jesus?
(Yes. He is asking Jesus to come to heal his son. That
means the father would actually be seeing the miracle take
- Do you think the father has understood what Jesus is
saying and is still demanding that he see a miracle
from Jesus? (The father is asking to see a miracle.
However, I do not think he understands exactly what
- Read John 4:50. Put a marker in the sand right after Jesus
says "you can leave, your son is healed." What is going
through the mind of the father at that point? (He is
debating whether he should trust Jesus or whether he
should continue to beg Him to come heal his son.)
- There are important "faith-testing" points in your
life. How important is this one for this father?
- Does the life of his son hang in the balance?
- Did the father believe Jesus without seeing a
miracle? (Yes. I think the lights turned on for the
father at this point. I doubt he understood what
Jesus was saying (v.48) about believing without
seeing. That is why the father continued (v.49) by
begging Jesus to come to his son to heal him. It was
when Jesus said "I don't need to come, you can go
because your son is healed" that the father realized
Jesus was asking him to believe without seeing Jesus
actually heal his son. In a tremendous show of faith,
the father believed.)
- Read John 4:51-53. Was the father right to take Jesus at
His word? (The very hour (1:00 PM) when Jesus announced
the son would live, the fever left the boy.)
- Let's get back to the question that I ask you each week.
Why do you think John chose this story to put in his
- What message does John (and God) want to convey to
us? (Jesus no longer walks the face of the earth
performing miracles. John is writing to an audience
that even then might not have seen Jesus. Clearly,
all of the subsequent generations did not see Jesus.
The question we face is the same as this father
faced: "Will you take Jesus at His word without
seeing a miracle?")
- Look at the last line of verse 53. Does this
undercut what we just decided? Do they only
believe now that they have seen the miracle?
- Had the father seen his son healed at this
- Had the servants heard Jesus say the boy
would be healed? (No.)
- Is the situation the same as ours? (Pretty
much. The father took Jesus at his word
and believed the report of his servants.
The servants had seen the resulting
healing, but did not know the source until
they spoke to the father. That is the way
it is with us. We read from first-hand
accounts (like John's gospel) and we see
the results in the lives of people.
Putting those two together and believing
is the act of faith which John wants to
- Let's compare the three people we have studied last week
and this week who came to Jesus.
- Why did Nicodemus come to Jesus? What was his
attitude? (Intellectual curiosity and pride.)
- Why did the Samaritan woman come to Jesus? What was
her attitude? (She did not know she was looking for
Jesus. She was resentful.)
- Why did the royal official come to Jesus? What was
his attitude? (He came because of a family tragedy.
He was desperate.)
- Are these three an illustration of the three major
ways in which people come to Jesus?
- What has your church done to respond to these
three kinds of inquirers?
- What have you done to prepare to respond to
these three types of inquirers?
- Friend, Jesus asks you to believe in Him without seeing a
miracle. Will you believe based on what Jesus has done to
save you, without Jesus having to do some special miracle
for you? Jesus calls you to that kind of faith.
- Next week: Putting the Past Behind You
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.