21. Sunday after Trinity Sunday
So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. Then said Jesus unto him, “Except you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” The nobleman said unto him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said 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. And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, "Your son lives." Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in which Jesus said unto him, "Your son lives: and he believed, and his whole house. This is the second miracle that Jesus did, when he had come out of Judaea and had gone into Galilee.
1. In today's Gospel passage we find two particularly noteworthy details: The first is the miracle of the boy being healed, even though the Lord Christ wasn't present. The Lord Christ just says to the father, “Go home, your son lives!” Soon thereafter the boy was healed even though he was quite a distance away and didn't know anything of what had happened.
2. That's a great miracle. We see through it the almighty power that lies in the words of the Lord Christ. What He says happens -- neither the world nor the devil can stop it. We need to look at the boy's sickness just like we look at other works with which the devil plagues poor man. It takes just a Word of our dear Lord Christ to drive out the evil works of the devil. Against his will, the devil has to leave as soon as the Lord Christ tells him to - as we see here.
3. The Lord works His miracles so that we will recognize Him as not only being a man, but that we also recognize Him as the one and only eternal and omnipotent God who is Lord over death and the devil who can help by just speaking one word. That is the exact reason why we -in our times of need -should turn to Him for help as the nobleman in our text passage does.
4. This passage also tells us to honor and respect His Word and to pay attention to it as to an almighty power. Whoever has it has everything he needs and can do anything. However, whoever doesn't have it has lost everything --no might, wisdom, saintliness, or anything else can protect him against sin, death, and the devil. As the Lord Christ does here with the nobleman's son - he saves through His almighty Word - that's what the Lord Christ wants to do for all of us, if only we would receive it. Then He would not only save us from physical sickness and pain, but also from sin and eternal death.
5. And so we want to follow the example of the nobleman: with all of our problems we should come to Him who can help us in our times of need, even if we are threatened by death, He can help us. He only needs to speak a word and we are healed; He loves to help us --if we only would turn to Him! Because this nobleman hurries to Christ for help, the Lord even hurries the more to heal his son. He doesn't even wait for the deathly sick son to be brought to Him, but heals even though the boy is absent. The Lord Christ heals him the same moment as He says to the father, “Go home, your son lives!” If only we would also not doubt him, but be willing to come to him for help. If we would only seriously seek the Lord Christ for help... That is also the exact reason why the Lord's heavenly Father has sent Him to earth. His main purpose was to set us free from the tyranny of the devil and to give us a place in the kingdom of heaven.
6. Whoever looks for help against sin and death shall find it in the Lord Christ. We see it here: how ready to help the Lord Christ was, even though it was only physical help. How much more ready to help will He be if the danger is greater (concerning our eternal fate) and we need His help even more?
7. This was now the first point in my sermon today. So many take the miracles of the Lord for granted. However, He performed them so that we would recognize the might and the will to help of the Lord Christ and be assured that in Him we will find help in the time of need.
8. The other point is that in this account we find a very good example of what faith is. Our adversaries, the Catholics say, faith is only the knowledge of what the Lord Christ is all about and what He did. However, they have to confess that the devil and the hypocritical Christians, who will be damned, also have this knowledge. Scripture explains that faith is the very thing through which we receive the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and eternal life. The apostle Paul says in Romans 3:28, “Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” The Prophet Habakkuk says (2:4), “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” Christ says to Mary, “Go, your faith has healed you!” That's the reason why neither the devil nor the false Christians will have such a faith, even though they might know all the biblical accounts. The devil knows Christ very well; he knows what Christ has done here on earth and how He has suffered. However, to know all these things - of course a Christian knows them, too - doesn't make one righteous before God. It's not possible to gain forgiveness of one's sins and to gain eternal life through the knowledge of scripture.
9. In today's Gospel text it's written what true faith is: true faith is believing that everything Christ says and promises is true and without any falseness.
These two belong together: the promises of God and our faith in the truth of His Word, believing that everything that He says will happen. God gave His promises and if we truly believe in them, then that is what's called true and living faith. We see this in the nobleman: he comes to the Lord Christ and asks Him for help for his son. He fully trusted in the Lord Christ, but this promise was still without the Word of Christ. It was solely based on the miracle, which the Lord Christ had done just before at the wedding feast in Galilee. Without doubt, the nobleman had heard about it and places his trust in the Lord Christ from that. Sure, this is faith all right, but it is a small, feeble faith because the Lord Christ hasn't promised His help yet. If the Lord Christ helps the nobleman; he is going to regard Him as great man, if not -- he won't regard Him as having greatness .
10. The Lord Christ notices this and says to him gruffly, “If you people don't see any signs, then you don't believe!” It seems He meant to say, “Faith should not only be based on signs and wonders but on the Word of Christ. Signs and wonders can be false, or lie; whoever builds on the Word of God, though, will not be betrayed, because God's promise is true and is unable to lie. Even though the Lord Christ gave signs and wonders in order to get the people to pay attention to Him and make the people believe in Him, He rather wanted them to pay attention to His Words rather than His miracles, because His miracles only were meant as proof that His Words were true. He actually didn't come to earth because the people needed healing of their physical bodies, but because He wanted to give them His Word so that it would grow in their hearts, and so that they would be blessed through it.
11. However, since this nobleman didn't have yet a Word from Christ, there was no way that he could believe. Because of the Lord's miracles and the accompanying commotion, the nobleman starts to trust in the Lord Christ, and hopes He can help his son. However, such faith doesn't last long and it would have died if the Lord wouldn't have helped immediately. That's why the nobleman was in such a hurry to get help. He was afraid that if the Lord Christ wouldn't come with him in person the boy would surely die. The nobleman couldn't believe differently because he didn't know anything more about the Lord than the miracle at the wedding feast. There hadn't been a word from the Lord to him; there was no promise to him. However, as soon the Lord opens His mouth and says, “Go home, your son lives!” good, perfect faith settles in. That's the kind of faith that believes in the Word and the Promises of Christ. This nobleman is an example of that kind of faith: he starts to believe in the Lord Christ and goes home in an undoubting trust into the Word of Christ that his son will be healed.
12. From today's Gospel passage we learn what faith is: Christian faith is trusting the Word and the Promises of Christ, not doubting His Word or His Presence -- no matter if we see or feel Him or not. This is a very particular faith: it believes that according to Christ's spoken Word, things will happen which haven't happened before. If you believe in something, which is right in front of your eyes, it is not faith. A rich man who has a large surplus of money, possessions, and everything else and because of all that believes that he won't starve to death this year, doesn't display this kind of faith. However, if someone doesn't have a surplus of material goods, but has an empty root cellar -- if he believes that he won't starve to death because God would never let him starve if only he trusts in God, honors and fears God, and does his work right. This is called the right kind of faith. Such a faith can't go wrong because it's based on the Word of God Almighty who promises us this as long as we seek the Kingdom of God: But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you - (Matthew 6,33). If we seek the Kingdom of God and do our work right, then God will keep His Promises.
13. Again and again we notice how poisoned we are through sin and that we can't find any righteousness in ourselves. Because the Word of God tells us about the forgiveness of sin and about true righteousness, the Word of God can only be understood through faith. The Word of God works strangely among Christians: even though we are nothing but sinners according to faith and the Word of God we are without sin, pure and righteous. That's where faith puts a Christians; these fools of the Pope are unable to do this. The works of our hands can't do this, they are useless; in ourselves we are useless servants as the Lord says in Luke 17:10, “So likewise you, when you shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done only that which was our duty to do.”
14. As I have told about the righteousness of God so it is with life, too. Through sin we are as dead we can be. The heathen are right when they say: once a man is born, there is nothing surer that that he once will die again. We see this in ourselves, how quickly it happens that we get sick or other bad luck befalls us. Even in such bad luck the Word of God shines for us as a lamp in the darkness and it doesn't only temporally give us comfort for this life here on earth, but it gives us a heavenly, eternal comfort, lifting our eyes to the eternal life. The ones who believe receive this kind of comfort. The ones who don't believe aren't comforted this way. The Christian faith is an absolutely sure foundation for our lives because it's based on God's Word.
15. To sum it all up: faith comforts us by setting our focus on eternal, heavenly values. By faith we already now receive the promises of the Lord regarding things of the future. Faith is the opposite of doubt. Faith holds the Word of Christ for true and doesn't doubt it. Faith knows that the Word of God is almighty, that God is absolutely faithful and true and is not a liar. That's why faith pays utmost attention to the Word of God and is not scared by the devil, or the world. Faith knows what the outcome of our lives is and doesn't care for what the devil has to offer. Faith holds on to the Word of God and does what the Word of God tells him to do. On the contrary, it is not moved by any means of the world to do what the Word of God doesn't tell him to do. If we in the Papacy had followed the Word of God, the Catholic Church wouldn't have entered such an abominable way, seducing people to commit idolatry. But we stopped focusing on God's Word and started unbiblical, sinful practices as a means of salvation from our sin. Many have lost their properties, their money, body, and soul because of the false teaching and the idolatry of the Catholic Church.
17. That's why it is so important to know what it means to be a believer. To be a believer means to trust in the Word of God and His promises, and hold on to them tightly when the winds blow against us -- holding tight, knowing that the things the Lord Christ has talked about will surely come. To have faith in something apart from the Word of God is delusion -- it's a wrong faith, it leads to eternal destruction. One example: someone tells you that you will the next emperor of Rome, even if someone says so to you -- it would not happen, because the Word of God doesn't tell you so. However, one who was a lowly shepherd boy was told by the prophet Samuel that he would become king in Israel and he believed it, because Samuel, according to God's will, had told him so. And so no power in the world, and surely not Saul, could stop him from becoming king in Israel.
18. The same here: the nobleman thought the Lord Christ could help his son. However, since he hadn't received a word from Christ yet, he wasn't sure of the outcome. Nevertheless, after the Lord had said to him, “Go home, your son lives!” he began to have faith. If he had failed to have faith in the Lord, it would have been the same as telling the Lord He was a liar.
19. We have God's Word and Promises, too. He comforts us with the words as they are written down in John 8:51, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man keep my words, he shall never see death.” John the Baptist points to Him and says, “See, the Lamb of God who carries the sin of the world!” These words should be important to everyone. He doesn't say: whoever believes in Me, no, He says: whoever keeps My Word won't see death… John the Baptist doesn't say that Christ was sent as a sacrifice for the sins of certain people, no, he states that Christ came as a sacrifice for the sin of the whole world. Since you're a sinner, too, accept that fact and don't doubt that Christ has died for your sin, too. The sacrifice of the Lord Christ as an atonement for sin is the foundation for our faith. If we believe in Him, He won't let us down, just like He didn't let down the nobleman either.
20. Don't think that the nobleman had an advantage over us or that it was easier for him to believe because the Lord Christ stood right there in front of him saying to him, “Go home, your son lives!” It doesn't matter. The Word of God is the Word of God. As the Lord Christ had told the nobleman to go home, He tells us that our sins are forgiven and we shall receive eternal life.
21. Tell me: to whom does God talk during baptism? Isn't it true that this baptism is for you only and for no one else? You, enjoy your baptism! Others can't enjoy your baptism. If they want to enjoy baptism they have to get baptized themselves. However, what does God promise you in your Baptism? He says to you, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be blessed.” You are baptized into the death of Jesus Christ and freed from sin and death. Would it be possible for God to speak friendlier to you than at your baptism? During your baptism God talks to you alone in the friendliest way. Don't forget: your baptism is meant for you alone.
22. Just remember the last time you went to a servant of the church or another Christian because you needed absolution of sin and comfort: the servant of the church or the other Christian told you the same that you read in the Bible or that you hear me preach; that Christ has died for all sinners and that you need to accept the fact that he died for you, too. Dear brother, dear sister, we're all sinners and actually worthy of being damned forever. However, the Son of God came to earth for us, died for us, and rose up from the grave on the third day for our righteousness. Let His suffering be your comfort, and count His death as payment for your sin.
23. The same applies during Holy Communion: in the bread, His body and in the wine, His blood is being passed out. The pastor tells you, “That's His body for you and that's His blood poured out for you.” In order that you should not doubt that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is for you also, are His body and His blood being put into your mouth. During Holy Communion when you have bread and wine in your mouth, God deals with no one else but you; He only talks to you who have come to communion and who eats and drinks as the Lord has commanded us to do.
24. Now look at these Christians who for such a long time come to church, who don't even come for absolution, and who don't want to partake of this blessed Communion. These, who don't care for God, or who believe that God doesn't want to have anything to do with them, and who don't care about God speaking to them, comforting them, forgiving their sin - are not worth God speaking to them. Let the devil speak to them. You see: we're not lacking God wanting to talk to us; we're lacking that we don't follow the example of the nobleman: accepting and having faith in Christ's order and doing as He has told us to do.
25. The nobleman could have found a reason not to believe in Christ if he would have followed his own reasoning. His reasoning could have made him doubt the Word of God. Who would believe that the Lord Christ’s Word would work long distance? He could have argued with the Lord, told Him that he needs to go home with him and touch the boy, otherwise His Word wouldn't work. However, the nobleman stops reasoning and has faith in the Word of God. He trusts in the Lord Jesus as if his son were already standing there beside him. If his heart had had no faith in Christ, he wouldn't have been satisfied with the Lord just telling him to go on home. However, we read in John's account that he had faith in the Word of Christ and went home.”
26. Now you understand what true faith really is: it's taking the Lord Christ's Word for true and not doubt what Christ has promised you. Hold on tight to the promises of Christ and don't let other thoughts, which surely won’t stay away, make you doubt the Words of Christ. Doubts lead us into sin and death. If you don't want to stick to the Word of God and want to be your own judge --then sin will settle in mightily and lead you into fear and despair and death will kill you.
27. A Christian, however, knows that one day he will have to face death. He holds on to the Word of God as well as he can and says, “Christ has died for me, that's why I'm free from sin and cannot die; neither the devil nor death can scare me because Christ has died for me and paid my debt. That's called true faith! Someone who believes like this won't need to fear lack because he knows the Word of God is absolute truth.
28. You say that you don't know what you shall believe, you don't know if the Bible is true? I answer you, believe in the Word of God that's the one who won’t betray you. You'll find out at the end. Just do as the nobleman in our text today. He believed the Word of Christ. He didn't see at first. The next day when his servants came, he found out that his son was healed, and that only because he had believed, if he wouldn't have believed, his son wouldn't have been healed. Finally at home he finds out that God's Word was true - his boy is alive and well. Now he doesn’t need faith -- now he sees that his son is healed.
29. That's how it is with us, too. Forgiveness of sin, eternal life -- we don't see it in the here and now. You went to church today, went for absolution, went to the Lord's Table but you're still the same as yesterday, the same old flesh and blood. Don't let this irritate you. Hold on to the Word of God, which promises you the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Just go on with your life without doubt, as the nobleman did. As you believe in the forgiveness of sins and eternal life through Jesus Christ, you will at the end find his Word true. Here we have it only in His Word and faith, there it will be a physical experience. May God, our dear Father in Heaven, grant us this in His Son's name! Amen.