John’s Gospel Chapter 4
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
A lesson in the power of Christ and the progress of faith. The occasion, v. 46, 'so Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he had made the water wine'. This explanatory association of places and persons with a particular event or incident is in the typical manner of John, see the following : ch. 1. 44, 12. 21, 'Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter; ch. 4. 5, 'a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph'; ch. 7. 50, also ch. 19. 39, 'Nicodemus ... he that came to Jesus by night'; ch. 11. 1-2, 'Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha'; 'It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, 12.1 ; 'Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead'; and ch. 13. 23, 'Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom, one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved', also v. 25.
THE SECOND OF THE SEVEN SIGNS
THE NOBLEMAN'S SON HEALED We note that the first miracle was in the realm of joy - a marriage : the second was in the realm of sorrow - a worried father.
1. The Suppliant's Urgent Request, v. 47.
i. Faith Aroused. 'He heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee'. How did he hear of Jesus and His power to heal ? Was it through his servants ? for they were surely interested, v. 51. For the Old Testament parallel, see 2 Kings 5, the story of Naaman the Syrian general who heard of the prophet Elisha through a servant maid.
Rom. 10. 14-17. 'Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God'. 'How then shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard ? and how shall they hear without a preacher? ... How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things?,
The man was driven to Christ by an outward need, before he was drawn to him by an inward desire.
ii. Faith's Appeal. 'He went unto him and besought him that he would come down and heal his son : for he was at the point of death'. The nobleman, a courtier or king's man, had travelled some twenty or thirty miles to meet the humble Christ - he considered his own rank and nobility as unimportant in this urgent matter.
He begged the Saviour, 'Sir, come down ere my child die', v. 49, indicating that he still linked the blessing with the bodily presence of the Saviour. Compare Psa. 107. 20, 'He sent his word, and healed them', and contrast the words of the centurion with the words of the nobleman in similar circumstances ; Matt. 8. 8, 'Lord I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed'. Of him the Lord Jesus said, 'I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel', v. 10.
2. The Saviour's Unexpected Response, v. 48.
'Except ye sec signs and wonders, ye will not believe'. This was probably a general statement in which the nobleman was included. The Jews required a sign, 1 Cor. 1, 22, but the Samaritans in ch. 4. 41 believed His word without a sign.
iii. Faith's Affront. This seeming rebuff was a test to deepen an outward need into an inward desire. It is important to notice that the suppliant was not angered by this rebuke but repeated his request more urgently - the situation demanded action not argument.
This apparent severity of the Saviour was not peculiar to this occasion, others were : the Syrophenician woman, Matt. 15. 21-28 ; Mark 7. 26-30. 'It is not meet to take the children's bread and to cast it to dogs . . . Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from the master's table'; the impotent man, John 5;1-10 an apparently unnecessary question, 'Wilt thou be made whole?'; the death of Lazarus, John n. 15. 'And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe'.
iv. Faith's Acceptance, v. 50. 'Jesus 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'. Here is belief in action, for is it not true that belief is only real if it brings response in deeds ?
3. The Son's Unique Recovery, v. 52.
Healed at a distance, such was the power of Christ and such
the progress of faith.
v. Faith's Assurance, w. 52-53. Signs now followed - his servants met him and confirmed the cure - 'yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him' - so the father knew the cure had been immediate.
vi. Faith's Acceptance, v. 53. 'Himself believed and his whole house'. See how the circle of blessing widened, and compare other instances recorded, as : Lydia, the seller of purple, whose heart, house and household became the Lord's, Acts 16. 15; Jailor at Philippi, believed in God, with all his house, Acts 16. 34; Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue at Corinth, believed in the Lord, with all his house, Acts 18. 8.
'These (signs) are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name'.