Obedience with Divine Purpose

Jesus modeled for us perfectly how to trust and obey the Father with divine purpose. Philippians 2 explains how Jesus was obedient even unto death on the cross. Even the beginning of His public obedience had as its aim His duty on the cross of Calvary. This model of obedience unto gospel purpose is for each believer to follow from the moment of conversion until the point of heavenly transformation.

In John 4, we find Jesus has just finished a short trip into Samaria, a forbidden area for Jews. He has spiritual success there, achieved by the power of His spoken Word alone, without a sign or miracle (John 4:39-42). The miracle of a changed life through the power of the spoken Word has more influence than even Jesus’s first or second sign. Christ now begins His Galilean ministry (John 4:46) which lasts about sixteen months. It is significant that His second sign occurs at the same place where He stepped out into public ministry and among the family, friends, and local countrymen who know Him best.

Jesus and His Spoken Word

As Jesus is ministering in Galilee, a royal official associated with the ruling Herod Antipas rushes to see Him at great risk to his own life. This nobleman comes because his young son is quite sick; he asks Jesus to come heal his boy who is close to death. Jesus said something which does not seem tender: "Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe" (John 4:48). The word "you" in this verse is plural, not singular. Though Jesus is addressing the nobleman, His message is for the greater audience of family, friends, and those who saw Him grow up in the region. Jesus knows the truth about those around Him, knowing they serve Him with their lips while their hearts are far from Him. Jesus expresses this rebuke to the many religious while speaking directly to the one.

The royal official presses Jesus to come with him. Jesus is gracious to this desperate man in unbelief, saying, "Go, your son lives" (John 4:49-50). The man believes the word spoken by Jesus. A miracle happens in the royal official’s heart when he believes Jesus. The word "go" in this verse includes the understanding to go live as one who has new life in Christ, to live obediently. The man is able to do this because he believes in Jesus, returning home to his son a changed man. The power of the spoken Word of Jesus heals a man’s soul and heals a son physically in the same moment. The nobleman is met by his servants who confirm the time the fever had left his son (John 4:51-53). Jesus publicly shows He is Lord over distance and presence by this second sign.

Obedience with Purpose

Jesus is faithful throughout His life to His Father’s mission, and His obedience has purpose leading to eternal fruit. His family, friends, and countrymen, steeped in religion, have an external obedience, believing they can earn favor with God by their religious deeds. Unbelieving people want the performance of Christ not the person of Christ. Jesus’s Galilean ministry concludes in John 6:66. Though many of His friends and family turn away from Him, Jesus remains faithful with the religious unbelief unto the end of His earthly ministry (John 12:36-50).

The Gospel of John is written that people might be saved. It is good for us to examine ourselves. Are we religious believers about the performance of Christianity and what that brings to our lives? Or are we about the person of Christianity and a transformative relationship with Jesus Christ? Do we attend church for the programs and for people to hear us? Do we have a sense of entitlement because we are overly familiar with Jesus without knowing Him? Do we find exclusive security in what we know about Jesus?

Knowing Jesus is doing the will of Him who sent Jesus, just as Jesus did. The more we know Him, the more we should be on His mission. Does our obedience have a mission? Growth in Christ-likeness and pursuit of Christ’s mission is the antithesis of self-entitlement and expected comfort in knowing what we know.

Does our mission to obey embrace the patience and grace of Christ as we know Him and live Him and speak of Him? Are we showing this patience and grace to our religious family and friends? Jesus did a second sign before the same people. Jesus did not allow unnecessary space to be created between Him and unbelief. His obedience was always presenting saving faith to unbelief, doing the will of His Father.

We can see the heart of Jesus for the spread of the gospel, the concern for His local family and friends in His own community where He performed His first two signs in public ministry. From these opportunities, Samaritans and a royal one and his household came to believe in Christ. The Spirit of God broke the bread of Jesus’s purposeful obedience to the will of His Father unto regions beyond that of His own hometown.

Application Points

  • Is your obedience to the Lord rote obedience done with cold, hard duty? Are you stuck in religious unbelief? Now is the time to come to Jesus just as you are.
  • Are you obeying the Lord with mission and purpose, patiently presenting saving faith to unbelief? God would have you partake in the eternal harvest as Jesus did.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Luke 8:21; 11:28; Acts 4:31; 6:7; 8:14; 11:1; 13:7, 46; 17:13; 18:11; Eph. 6:17; Phil. 1:14; 1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Tim. 4:5; 2 Tim. 2:9; Heb. 4:12; 11:3; 13:7; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 John 2:14 – Word of God
A Hymn to Encourage: "Trust and Obey"

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet, we will sit at His feet,
Or we'll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go.
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.