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Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity (1880)

John 4:46-54 Holy Scripture speaks of a performing of the essential wisdom of God, that is, of the Son of God on earth, and that its desire is for the children of men.1 Among them is the wonderful divine workings in the works of creation, preservation and administration of all things, as well as the purpose of God for redemption and its execution through Christ, the incarnation of the Son of God, His life on earth, His death and resurrection, to understand the miraculous ways in which He leads His chosen to eternal salvation, etc. A wonderful, admirable performing of divine wisdom on earth throughout the centuries and millennia until the present day! Wonderful also is the workings of eternal wisdom when the Lord, as it were, plays with His dear children in temptation even fatherly and graciously, but often deeply hidden. This full of wisdom performing is often a severe struggle of faith for them, in that the Lord assails them with trials in which they can win only by faith. Think of the patriarch Jacob, of the Canaanite woman! A similar struggle of faith is presented to us in today's Gospel. The struggle of faith of the nobleman with Christ; this was 1. was heavy in its beginning and progress a. because of the heavy cross, with which the Lord laid on the nobleman. His son was sick and critically ill. The anxiety and worry urged his father to seek help away from home, probably because all means already used had proved unsuccessful. This heavy cross should draw him to the Lord, to the only true helper; b. because of the great weakness still adhering to his faith, . He indeed believed in the Lord, otherwise he would not have visited him on the news that in fact He had come from Judea again into Galilee to Cana.2 Whoever flees to Christ in his distress and asks help from Him, thinks He is capable of having the power and the will to help him, he believes in Him; . but this faith was initially even a weak tiny spark; . he indeed believed that Christ could make his terminally ill son healthy, but not that He could make the dead alive again3; . he indeed believed that Christ could help the sick if he had Christ before him, but not that He could heal him from a distance4

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Proverbs 8:31. John 4:46-47. 3 John 4:49. 4 John 4:49.

(O, how much less sour and hard would his struggle of faith have become to the nobleman with a more perfect knowledge of Christ and firmer confidence in Him!) c. because of the apparent refusal of Christ's reply.5 But it seems as if the Lord wanted to put out the smoldering wick.6 The Lord very severely chastises unbelief, that still mixed into the faith of the nobleman. We should recognize from this that we seriously offend and dishonor Christ by our still partially adhering disbelief. 2. blessed and glorious in its outcome; a. the Lord, Who in the struggle appears to push away the nobleman with one hand, strengthened and held him with the other (as with Jacob). He now gave to him a glorious word of promise.7 - This blessed means God uses in order to strengthen our weak faith. This is to direct the eyes from the present distress to the Word of gracious promise; the stronger faith holds on to it, the livelier and more courageous He is. b. the nobleman takes the promise given to him with undoubted full assurance of faith.8 Now he had already basically won a glorious victory. Now he no longer thought that the Lord Himself had to go down, etc. God's grace can make someone from a weak child in faith into a mighty hero of the faith! c. the confirmation of his belief was also glorious . by the servant who encountered him on the way and the good news from his mouth9, . through the comparison of the time in which Christ promised help with that in which the child was healed.10 d. finally, the fruit of this struggle of faith was glorious: . the nobleman taught his entire house what a benevolent and omnipotent helper Jesus was; . all his household believed in Christ with him11; . this event was for all of them just the beginning of a subsequent change in the resistant faith of the Son of God. Georg Stckhardt

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John 4:48. Compare Isaiah 42:3 and Matthew 12:20. 7 John 4:50. 8 John 4:50. 9 John 4:51. 10 John 4:52. 11 John 4:53.