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Perfect Timing

John 4:46-54

Rev. Kurt Hering

Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity
Trinity Lutheran Church  
Layton, Utah

Play MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Oct 20, 2013 

Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.

Since the beginning of cinema, the perfect timing of the hero has been a take it to the bank theme. From the damsel in distress tied to the railroad tracks, to the westerns of the “golden age” of the boob tube and the silver screen, to virtually every cop show and adventure movie ever made.

They all are salvation stories of sorts. They take us through the range of emotions, take us to the brink of death, and deliver us to a happy ending.

But what is great for movies isn’t so popular in our churches. The great message of the Gospel is just such a rescue effort of our Lord according to His perfect timing. But nobody wants to wait. And while folks can’t seem to get enough death—the more graphic and the gorier the more we seem to like it--talking about sin and death in our churches is often met with derision and disdain (not to mention dismissal). We want to prevent all that suffering stuff—or at least forget about it. We want our best life now.

The trouble is, we’re just not ready for it. Why? Because our best life comes only when sin has been destroyed. And that takes death.

To hear the entire sermon preached for the Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity, "Perfect Timing,” click on the MP3 audio link provided above. The audio begins with the Old Testament Reading, Genesis 1:1-2:3. The sermon begins at the 14:58 point of the mp3 file.

A servant of the Word and His folk,

Pastor Hering

For those of you who prefer to read or read along while listening, the preaching manuscript follows below.

Nota bene: Sermons are meant to be heard. Some points from the manuscript are explained and filled out during the preaching, so you will need to listen to the audio file to get the full message.

TEXT: John 4:46-5446[Jesus] came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. 47When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. 51As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. 52So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. 54This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.

Dearly beloved of God,

Since the beginning of cinema, the perfect timing of the hero has been a take it to the bank theme. From the damsel in distress tied to the railroad tracks, to the westerns of the “golden age” of the boob tube and the silver screen, to virtually every cop show and adventure movie ever made.

They all are salvation stories of sorts. They take us through the range of emotions, take us to the brink of death, and deliver us to a happy ending.

But what is great for movies isn’t so popular in our churches. The great message of the Gospel is just such a rescue effort of our Lord according to His perfect timing. But nobody wants to wait. And while folks can’t seem to get enough death—the more graphic and the gorier the more we seem to like it--talking about sin and death in our churches is often met with derision and disdain (not to mention dismissal). We want to prevent all that suffering stuff—or at least forget about it. We want our best life now.

The trouble is, we’re just not ready for it. Why? Because our best life comes only when sin has been destroyed. And that takes death.

In speaking of this Luther says something like, “The terror of death is the real death.” Here is what he means. The worst thing about death for those baptized into Christ Jesus and the kingdom of God—those who have been baptized into the absolution of our Lord and belief in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is the facing of death all the day long. For once it happens we discover and experience what until death we have know but by faith—that God and His Christ have been there with us the whole time.

So today Christ’s apostle who called himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved” out of his humility and deep gratitude, sets a Gospel that shows the perfect timing of our Lord—and how we need death to get our attention.

[Jesus] came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. 47When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.

In the perfect timing of our Lord it was when his son was “At the Point of Death” that the Jewish nobleman went to Jesus and asked Him “to come down and heal his son.”

Isn’t that the way it is with all of us? It’s not until we are “At the Point of Death” that we face up to our problems and do something about them.

• Cars, appliances, computers, sometimes even clothes.

• Personal health.

• Dickens’ Scrooge character confronted by the Ghost of Christmas Future.

And it is not until we are at the point of death, or at least when we have faced the certainty and inescapability of death up close and personal, when we are ready for the perfect timing of our Lord

It was “At the Point of Death” when God first promised a Savior to Adam and Eve--a death not imminent enough to Eve in her mistaken and false confession, or to Adam to keep him from also eating of the fruit.

Again that is how we are, isn’t it? Even knowing things aren’t healthy, because the ultimate effects aren’t imminent enough we do them anyway—especially when it comes to sin. Breaking the Commandments is the way of death—but not usually right away. It takes a while.

So the Holy Spirit works by the preaching of the Law to bring sinners to where we are “At the Point of Death” in order that they will repent and be saved, that is turn to the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to come down and heal us before we die eternally.

“God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, . . .” Ephesians 2:4-6

See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” Deut. 32:39

And even this begins with God’s own Son. It was “At the Point of Death” that our dear Lord, the only begotten Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary gave up His Spirit and proclaimed once and for all people of all time, “it is finished!” The Father killed His only begotten Son by the hands of men as a sacrifice for our sins--something He delivered Abraham doing to his only son of the promise, Isaac. And the Father also raised the Son that He killed, so that after we have died and been killed, we too will be raised by Him to eternal life.

For it is to this you have been chosen since the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), even as the Christ was foreknown and even His work of suffering and dying for you was finished (Hebrews 4:3) from the foundation of the world.

“. . . you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. . . .’All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass.

The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’"

(1 Peter 1:18-21, 24-25)

And here is the best news of all. You are in the Word! And since the Word of the Lord endures forever, so do you—so will you.

Jesus said . . ., "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. [John 11:25-26]

It is “At the Point of Death” that God saves you in the waters of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, killing the Old Adam sinner in us and burying us into His death—the death that ends in Resurrection and Ascension, His that is now ours by faith, and later on the Last Day will be ours in our own flesh forever as well.

It is “At the Point of Death” that God saves you in the preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) And the “faith (through which you are saved by the grace of God for Christ’s sake) comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)

It is “At the Point of Death” that God saves you in the body and blood of the Sacrament of the Altar. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16) For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-36) And it is this death of the Lord and your participation in it that saves you.

It is “At the Point of Death” that God forgives you all of your sins and raises you to a life that never ends—in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Rev. Todd Wilken, host of Issues, etc. writes: “Skeptics think suffering is a question God can’t answer. How could an all powerful, all loving God allow human suffering?

“They just don’t get it.

“Suffering isn’t a question for God; it is the answer. [As the prophet of our Lord writes]

“’Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.’ [Isaiah 53:4-5]

“All grief, all sorrow, all affliction belong to Jesus. There isn’t a single pain we suffer, however small, that he didn’t claim for himself at the Cross. Our pain is his pain, our suffering is his suffering, our wounds are his wounds.

“Skeptics think an all powerful, all loving God doesn’t have an answer for human suffering.  He does: his suffering.”

Do you get how big that is? All suffering is His—from the beginning to the end, from Adam to you.

He knows it—even to death on the cross. He’s been through it—even to the other side of the grave.

And in His perfect timing He brings you and everybody who believes through your suffering too—even to your death when he snatches you from the grave and the jaws of hell to life everlasting—in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.



Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.



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