The Anglican Orthodox Church
The 21st Sunday after Trinity
GRANT, we beseech thee, merciful Lord, to thy faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve thee with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(We need not be reminded that our souls are no more self-cleansing than the barnyard stall. Having been found more spiritually dead than was Lazarus in his physical death, there needs to be heard that same Voice that calls us forth from the tomb of spiritual death just as Lazarus was called forth from the stone-carved tomb at Bethany That Voice belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ. Lazarus had nothing to do with Christ coming to Bethany and standing without his tomb. In fact, he knew NOTHING of it, or of anything else, for he was DEAD. So were we ere Christ called us forth. Our service and worship should be in humility and not in flambouyant ways to attract the attention of men. When we flee to our closets, or the quiet of the wilderness, it is then that our spiritual ears are most keen to hear the voice of God.)
The Epistle. Ephesians vi. 10.
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Eph 6:10-20 (KJV)
No passage of the Holy Scriptures could be more germane to the age in which we live than this from Ephesians 6. We have spiritually disarmed our nation and people. We stagger like drunken men in a confused and immoral political quagmire. We have deserted the Old Paths of our fathers, and have removed the Ancient Landmark of God’s Word from every public and prominent place. God has not abandoned America – America has abandoned the God of her First Love.
The Gospel. St. John iv. 46.
46 So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47 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. 48 Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. 49 The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. 50 Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. 51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. 52 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. 53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house. 54 This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee. John 4:46-54 (KJV)
My dear friends, I have known most of you for the greater part of your lives. I enrolled some of you in your first public school classes and have watched you proudly excel in school and, later, university. I know you, and you know me! We do not look for signs of proof of each other’s love and friendship because we KNOW the souls of each other. The same is expected of us by our Lord in our approach to Him.
In understanding Holy Scripture, context is everything. We do not lift words and phrases here and there and join them in some extravagant and transcendental manner to reveal a profound and new theory of God. All of God’s Word is built upon a solid and building foundation of truth and reason. “10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” Isaiah 28:10
In order to fully grasp the deeper nuance in today’s text, we need to consider those events which preceded the nobleman coming to Jesus. Be advised this miracle of healing for the son of the nobleman was the second miracle that Jesus performed in Galilee – the first being the miracle of turning six large jars of water into wine at a happy wedding feast. Remember that he simply told the servants to fill those six jars with water. They did not ask why, but obeyed implicitly. They may have wondered why, but they did not ask.
Again in the preceding chapter 3, Jesus has a dialogue with a leading Jewish ruler named Nicodemus. What did Nicodemus say to Jesus that night? “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” John 3:2 (KJV) Nicodemus believed Jesus came from God based solely upon the miracles that he wrought.
After the encounter with Nicodemus, Jesus purposefully travels the longer route through Samaria in returning to Galilee. Why? Because from the beginning of days, He had decreed an appointment with a woman of somewhat blemished repute at Jacob’s Well outside Sychar. (see the preceding text above today’s – John 4:1-42) This woman came in the heat of the day to draw water. I will abbreviate the account for the purpose of saving time. During her exchange with Jesus, she came to know Him as a man, then as a prophet, and finally as the Messiah. She left her coveted water bucket and ran back to Sychar to proclaim to all that she had met the Messiah. Strangely, despite her reputation, everyone believed her words. When we speak out of a convicted heart, our words take on a new quality of authority. These men then came to the Well to see Jesus face-to-face. “39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. 40 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his own word; 42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” John 4:39-42 (KJV)
Please notice the difference in faith between the encounter with Nicodemus and that of the Samaritan men of Sychar! Nicodemus believed because he had witnessed the miracles (signs and wonders) performed by Christ in Jerusalem. But the Samaritans (non-Jews) believed because of His words. They came to meet Jesus – not to see signs and wonders. Unfortunately, the great majority of modern day churches are more concerned with making money by counterfeit signs and wonders just as were the Jews fascinated thereby.
Do you ever wonder why Jesus was troubled when He saw all the Jews weeping at the death of Lazarus? “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.” John 11:33 (KJV) It was not because of any mournful passion, but for the lack of faith of those who KNEW Him – at least informally. He knew that He would raise Lazarus, but these people would not believe that possible unless He proved it to them. That kind of faith is weak at best.
Now comes the nobleman to Jesus. Naturally, he is grieved at the imminent death of his son. He was reduced to desperation and even begging if necessary. Love will compel us to act in ways we would never act as cold, impassionate human beings. He had a weaker faith based on a desperate hope. He had heard of Jesus and His miracles done in Jerusalem. So he came seeking even the hope that He might heal his son. He besought Jesus to come down to Capernaum and heal his son. Herein is revealed the shallowness of his faith, but even shallow faith can become strong and invincible. Every worldly physician at least needs to examine the patient in order to heal; so this nobleman believed that the physical presence of Jesus was necessary if He would heal his son. He had faith that Jesus could call on the powers of God to act, but he did not realize fully that Jesus was also God. We sometimes limit the due reverence and awe in which we must hold our Lord. We attempt to limit his power by our little faith. Shame on us!
The seemingly scolding response of Jesus is to test the depth of the man’s kernel of faith. “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” The Jews of Galilee were no different from those in Jerusalem – they desired signs and wonders from our Lord. Jesus took umbrage at the thought that the power of His love and compassion always required some miracle. Of course, He intended to heal the man’s son from the outset; but He would prefer we believe for WHO He is and not for what He can DO! “Go thy way; thy son liveth.” Perhaps the nobleman’s faith grew from the authority which was starkly obvious in the voice of our Lord, for he believed and immediately departed back to Capernaum in faith. At least he believed MORE! See the rest of the account.
“51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. 52 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.” This nobleman, like us, could not resist testing the veracity of his faith. He inquired the exact time of his son’s recovery. It was 1 P.M. the previous day – the precise time of the Lord’s promised healing, so the man’s faith was fortified by this miracle.
What is the result of a father coming to saving faith? Does it not have a profound bearing on all who love him? Remember Zacchaeus? He was saved, and his whole household. Faith is covenantal. It has the effect of dew failing on the morning flowers. What happened to the household of the nobleman when his faith was firmed? 53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house. 54 This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.
We all have moments of doubt and insecurity just as children desire reassurance that there are no monsters in their darkened bedrooms. But I can assure you of this: God will always affirm our faith at some point. We have decisions to make. We know the RIGHT decision, but it seems dangerous or unprofitable. We must make the decision of righteousness. If we do, our faith will be confirmed – either sooner, or later as on the road to Capernaum. “53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.
“Prenez en Gré”
In Christ Alone
in TRINITY SEASON
† Jerry L. Ogles , D.D.
Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide & Chancellor, Faith Theological Seminary
“Metus improbo compescit, non clementia.” – Syrus, MAXIMS: Fear, not kindness, restrains the wicked!
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer – HOLY SCRIPTURE:
“If there were any word of God beside the Scripture, we could never be certain of God’s Word; and if we be uncertain of God’s Word, the devil might bring in among us a new word, a new doctrine, a new faith, a new church, a new god, yea himself to be a god. If the Church and the Christian faith did not stay itself upon the Word of God certain, as upon a sure and strong foundation, no man could know whether he had a right faith, and whether he were in the true Church of Christ, or a synagogue of Satan.”
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