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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!

  1. No Honor

    1. Read John 4:43-45. Have you ever felt unappreciated in your work for your church?

      1. 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.)

      2. 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.)

        1. 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.)

        2. 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.)

  2. The Royal Official

    1. 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.)

      1. 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.)

      2. 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?

      3. 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.

        1. Do you love your son? (You bet.)

        2. What measures have you taken to cure your son?

        3. What measures have you not taken to cure your son?

        4. 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.)

    2. 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.)

      1. 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.)

        1. 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.)

  3. Believing Without Seeing

    1. Read John 4:48. Is Jesus speaking to the father or is Jesus just making this statement in the abstract?

      1. Has the father asked to see a miracle? (Yes. On a very simply level he is asking for a miracle for his son.)

        1. 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.)

      2. If Jesus had not healed his son, would the father have believed in Jesus? (I doubt it.)

        1. Is that the correct attitude to have? (I think this supports Jesus' statement in verse 48.)

        2. 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?

        1. Do you believe based on who Jesus is, or do you believe based on your own selfish interests?

    1. 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 place.)

      1. 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 Jesus means.)

    2. 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.)

      1. There are important "faith-testing" points in your life. How important is this one for this father?

        1. Does the life of his son hang in the balance?

      2. 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.)

    3. 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.)

    4. 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 gospel?

      1. 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?")

        1. 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?

          1. Had the father seen his son healed at this point? (No.)

          2. Had the servants heard Jesus say the boy would be healed? (No.)

          3. 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 cultivate.)

    5. Let's compare the three people we have studied last week and this week who came to Jesus.

      1. Why did Nicodemus come to Jesus? What was his attitude? (Intellectual curiosity and pride.)

      2. Why did the Samaritan woman come to Jesus? What was her attitude? (She did not know she was looking for Jesus. She was resentful.)

      3. Why did the royal official come to Jesus? What was his attitude? (He came because of a family tragedy. He was desperate.)

      4. Are these three an illustration of the three major ways in which people come to Jesus?

        1. What has your church done to respond to these three kinds of inquirers?

        2. What have you done to prepare to respond to these three types of inquirers?

    6. 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.
  1. 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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