Summary: Jesus heals the nobleman’s son and shows that faith comes by hearing.
Today we’ll finish chapter four in our study through John. It’s important to remember that the main purpose is “that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing we might have life through His name” (Jn. 20:31). What we’ve already read and what we read here serves toward accomplishing that purpose. Jesus has already been to Cana of Galilee once where He turned the water into wine (2:11). Shortly afterwards He went to the Passover feast in Jerusalem where He did some other miracles (2:23) which many people saw and were amazed. Then He baptized in the province of Judea (3:22) until the jealous Pharisees heard about and Jesus left for the province of Galilee (4:3). Along the way He stopped in Samaria to talk to the woman at the well and stays with the Samaritans:
Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee. 44For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.
This is one of those places where it’s helpful to read Greek. The word translated as “for” is better translated as “indeed;” it literally says, “Himself indeed Jesus testified...” In other words, Jesus went to Galilee (His hometown) where He said He would have no honor (Lk. 4:16-30).
45Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galilaeans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.
This seems like a contradiction, but look at verse 48. They received Him in the sense that they would receive any miracle-worker. He was an amazing magician who piqued their interest. As a miracle-worker they received Him, but as a prophet they would not.
46So 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.
So here we have one of the main characters of this story. The man is royalty; he’s connected to Herod Antipas. He has access to doctors and medicine and the best of Galilee. And there’s nothing he can do.
47When 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.
He makes the trip from Capernaum to Cana, finds Jesus, and asks Him for help.
48Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.
The first thing I want to point out is that the “ye” is plural. He’s not talking just to the nobleman but to everyone around.
Second, the word for “wonders” can also mean something monstrous. “Unless you see something amazing you simply won’t believe.”
Third, note the stark contrast between these Jews and the earlier Samaritans! What miracle did He do at the well? He was received into Galilee because of His miracles in Jerusalem, but they still want more! When is it enough? Signs and wonders were good; they proved that Jesus was the Messiah. But these people chase miracles; He was thrilling in Jerusalem and He’ll be thrilling in Galilee, but they still don’t believe. It’s similar to the mass feedings. When they came for a second helping He rejected them saying, “Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” (Jn. 6:26). The earthly thing should have pointed them to the spiritual thing, but they missed the point.
Well, the rebuke serves its purpose but it doesn’t deter the man:
49The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.
I can’t help but think that the man’s perspective has changed a little bit. Maybe he first asked thinking Capernaum could use a miracle-worker. Maybe he was thinking to put Jesus to the test personally. I guess now he’s thinking correctly though. This time he asks with proper motive.
50Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth.
Note the two commands: the royal official who says “come.” And now Jesus who says “go.” The man’s prayer is answered with no miracle. Will he believe?
And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.
It seems so sudden in reading doesn’t it? Jesus says it, and the man just walks off delighted. The word is enough. I’m not sure he’s a full-fledged believer, but he will be this time tomorrow.
51And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.
The change in the boy was so abrupt and plain that the servants went after their master to bring him home.
52Then 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. 53So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: