Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 4:43-45 ANow after two days he departed from there, and went into Galilee. For Jesus himself testified that a prophet hath no honor in his own country. Then, when he was come into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast; for they also went unto the feast.@
AA Prophet hath no honor in his own country@ is an ancient proverb, similar to our AFamiliarity breeds contempt.@ The Lord had not been received with due honor at Jerusalem, so Ahis own country@ probably refers here to Judea. Jesus would later apply this same proverb to His home region, Galilee.
John 4:46-47 ASo 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. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea 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.@
In Cana, Jesus met a nobleman from Capernaum. This man, a royal official presumably at the Court of Herod Antipas, had a critically ill son. He wanted Jesus to come to Capernaum, 20 miles away, to heal his son.
The nobleman showed respect to our Lord. He came 20 miles himself, without sending a servant. Also, he besought Jesus when, as a man in authority, he could have ordered, or at least pressured, Jesus to come. Even the most powerful and successful must come to Jesus as beggars and sue as paupers.
This act required much humility. The nobleman swallowed his pride. Such an act would cause a sensation, but he did not care. Public opinion could not stop him from coming to a carpenter. He cared only about finding help for his son.
Oblivion to peer pressure is essential to being effective for God. We must seek to please God, whatever others say or do.
We tend to be very society-conscious. This often hinders our spiritual life. A major ingredient in serving God is having such a sense of need for God that pride and public opinion lose sway over us.
John 4:48 AThen said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.@
Christ will now strengthen an insufficient faith. In Acalmness of majestic leisure, Jesus here puts aside the apparently pressing and urgent necessity in order to deal with a far deeper, more pressing one@ (Maclaren).
Christ was lamenting as well as rebuking. The nobleman was burdened for a son. Jesus bore the burden of a whole nation. His own breaking heart was speaking.
Why was Jesus sorrowful? Because His goodness in itself meant nothing to the people (Aye@ indicates a wider audience than just the nobleman). His own people were blind to the beauty of His character.
They had no eyes for His tenderness, and no ears for His wisdom, but if a vulgar or gaudy miracle had been wrought, they would have run after Him with worthless faith. Lavishing His love on them was null and void to them.
John=s Gospel clearly shows Jesus accepted people who came to Him only because of the miracles. ABelieve Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works= sake@ (John 14:11).
But this is not the highest kind of faith. Jesus told Thomas, ABecause thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed@ (John 20:29).
Thomas would yield to no method of conviction but what He himself prescribed. Be careful not to imitate him. We are encouraged to pray, but rarely allowed to prescribe.
Jesus used this momentary delay to test the nobleman=s earnestness. He wanted to see if he is like Herod=s other men, who desired miracles for miracles= sake. Some people want only to be humored.
If a Amiracle-seeker,@ the rebuke would make the nobleman angry. If too proud to receive a gentle rebuke, his earnestness would be proven false. Giving up easily would show his faith was counterfeit.
Before granting this father=s request, Jesus first showed him his sin and weaknesses, preparing him for mercy. Christ handles us with the leisure of confidence, working on us, and then working for us.
John 4:49 AThe nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down before my child dieth.@
The nobleman did not defend himself or argue. By not denying Christ=s charge he in a way confessed guilt. He neither pretended to have more faith than he actually had, nor sought to disclaim Christ=s accusation.
A good spirit and disposition are evident when we can be told of our faults and not be angry. This attitude shows openness, softness, and honesty. These are traits God admires.
If while we are praying we suddenly have a startling revelation of our own unworthiness and imperfection, don=t try to deny it or rebel. Instead, pray with intensified fervor.
The nobleman showed no sign of retreat at Jesus= rebuff. The standoff seemed to make him more intense. The person who prays in burning anguish is the one who melts God=s heart. He who concentrates his whole essence, flinging his all into every sentence, will win the day.
The nobleman read in Christ=s words neither a reluctance to comply, nor a refusal. He simply continued pleading for his son, thereby verifying his deep concern and sincerity. He was desperate, so wholly occupied with concern for his son that he could think of nothing else.
What the nobleman=s faith lacked in breadth, it excelled in force. His faith was feeble and weak, but not bad. He was not taunting the Lord.
This father was not seeking a miracle to build his faith on. His sole object in coming was the recovery of his son. His faith did not need a miracle, but his son could not be healed without one.
John 4:50 AJesus 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.@
Obedience is an essential ingredient in real faith. Jesus= command imposed a stiff test. The officer had nothing to cling to but Jesus= bare word. If his son is not healed, there will not be time to make the 40-mile round trip again.
When Jesus said, AGo,@ the nobleman left at once. He trekked home with nothing but the assurance of Jesus= words.
The first test had been his sincerity. The second test was his obedience. The father passed both tests Awithout seeing.@
This nobleman=s faith was now like Abraham=s, the father of the faithful, who A. . . against hope believed in hope . . . (and) staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief@ (Romans 4:18, 20).
This was a huge step for this nobleman. He had evidently at first believed Jesus had to be physically present to heal the lad.
This miracle was John=s way of attesting Jesus= claim, AGod is spirit@ (4:24). Jesus= healing of the boy at a distance proves He, as God, was not limited by time and space to do His work.
John 4:51-52 AAnd as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to improve. And they said unto him, Yesterday, at the seventh hour, the fever left him.@
Even once he believed and obeyed, the nobleman=s weak faith still anticipated only a gradual restoration. He asked when his son Abegan@ to amend. The servants indicated he recovered immediately, and was still well.
The nobleman, having expected a slow, gradual recovery, was told the miracle had been completely accomplished at once. Jesus performs no half-way miracles.
When the lame man at the Temple was healed, he did not need physical therapy or lessons in how to walk. As Peter lifted him up, Aimmediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaped up, stood, and walked, and entered with them into the Temple, walking, leaping, and praising God@ (Acts 3:7-8).
John 4:53-54 ASo the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth; and he himself believed, and his whole house. This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judea into Galilee.@
The small seed of faith now blossomed to full faith. Jesus used the miracle to mold and perfect a weak faith.
Two things helped solidify the nobleman=s faith. First, the child=s recovery was sudden, not gradual. Second, the healing occurred at the same time Christ spoke to him.
The Lord, having seen a spark of faith in the nobleman, helped it to grow. A weak faith is better than none at all.
The Lord helps the weak. AHe will not quench the smoking flax@ (Isaiah 42:3, Matthew 12:20).
The way to increase faith is to exercise faith. Trust Him as much as we can. Our inadequate faith will eventually produce mature faith.
Jesus supplied the nobleman=s need. The result was an everlasting love. His entire family was won to the Lord.
Once a person shows believing faith, everyone nearby will be blessed. Someone said, when a man becomes a Christian, his dog and cat should be able to tell the difference. Amen! Let=s bring what little faith we have, and let Jesus multiply it.