THE QUEST OF
Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine.
And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum.
When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to
Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the
point of death." John 4:46,
He is called "a nobleman."
The word John used could mean a member of the royal family or a person who
served in the royal court. What we can be sure of is that a high
official in the court of King Herod made a twenty mile trip to seek help
from a man who grew up in the area as a village carpenter. How could
this be? In the culture of that day the pride of those in high
degree would have made this an extremely difficult and humiliating act.
Even more intriguing are
the words of the nobleman that clearly indicate his belief that if he
could persuade Jesus to come home with him that Jesus would heal his son
who was at the point of death. What brought him to this level of
belief in Jesus?
THE AWAKENING OF FAITH
We can assume the nobleman
had heard about Jesus, the miracle worker, and called it superstitious
chatter. It appears that was the attitude of the royal family and
most high officials who served in the court of King Herod. But the
testimonies of those who had heard, seen, and experienced the supernatural
power of Christ continued to increase. Jesus had made Capernaum, the
nobleman's home town, His base of operations. "...He came and
dwelt in Capernaum..." Matthew 4:13. The gospels tell us
that He preached in the synagogues; healed multitudes of sick from Galilee
and Syria; cast out demonic spirits and called twelve men to be His
special disciples. (Matthew 4:13-25; Mark 1:14-34; Luke 4:31-41).
There can be little doubt there were times when this nobleman was an
observer among the multitudes that gathered around Jesus. His
cynicism began to evaporate and he began to accept the idea that Jesus was
a living expression of the supernatural.
THE CONFIRMATION OF FAITH
Jesus and His disciples
journeyed to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover. He made
quite a stir by driving those out of the Temple who had changed God's
house of prayer into a house of merchandise. (John 2:13-17) The religious leaders
recognized this as a possible fulfillment of Malachi 3:1-3 and asked
Jesus, "What sign do you show to us since you do these things?"
The answer of Jesus was, "Destroy this temple and in three days I
will raise it up" (John 2:18, 19). It seems no one fully
understood His meaning until He raised the temple of His body from the
dead, ---not even His disciples. (John 2:21, 22).
However, there were many
who received some understanding about Jesus from the miraculous signs He
performed during the Passover feast. "...Many believed in His
name when they saw the signs which He did." (John 2:23).
Yet, John's record makes it clear that this belief only reached the level
of mental acceptance. It fell short of saving faith. "But
Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men..."
(John 2:24). It is also worth noting that this mental acceptance of
Jesus was strengthened by the temporary mental acceptance
of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were known for their literal
interpretation and legal application of the Scriptures. If they had
discerned any flaws in what Jesus taught or the miraculous signs He
performed they would have opposed Him vigorously. Nicodemus was one
of their highest ranking teachers and he spoke for the Pharisees as to
their thoughts about Jesus, "Rabbi, we (Pharisees) know that You
are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do
unless God is with him." (John 3:2).
And so, a host of Galileans
told their relatives, friends, and neighbors what they heard Jesus say and
what they saw Him do. The verse John wrote just before introducing
the nobleman to us reads, "So when Jesus came to Galilee, the Galileans
received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the
feast..." (John 4:45). The nobleman was a Galilean.
He was either one of those who observed Jesus personally or was informed
by those who were there. His growing mental faith in Jesus was
confirmed...but it was not yet complete.
THE CHALLENGE OF FAITH
It was at this time that
the nobleman's son came down with a deadly sickness. His fever raged
out of control. Perspiration rolled from his face and body,
saturating his clothing. He grew weaker and weaker until he lapsed
into unconsciousness. He was obviously at death's door and the
physicians despaired that they could revive him. One thought came to
the nobleman's mind and he asked, "Where is Jesus?" Someone
answered, "He has gone to Cana." Without hesitation he rose and
called for his horse to be saddled. He hurriedly made preparations
to depart. As the nobleman urged his horse forward during the twenty
mile journey a number of thoughts passed through his head:
"What if I am too late and
my son dies before I can get Jesus to him?"
"Although I have seen Jesus heal others and have faith in His power to
heal, will He be willing to heal my son?"
"What's the best way to approach Jesus to persuade Him to come to
When the nobleman arrived
where Jesus was his faith was again challenged. He "implored Him
to come down and heal his son..." Jesus answered, "Unless you
people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe."
(John 4:47, 47) It must have been difficult for the nobleman to
understand exactly what Jesus meant. However, some things were
1. Jesus was not 100%
pleased with the motivations that drove the nobleman to come to Him.
Did the nobleman believe that healing his son was more important than
anybody else's need" Was making an abrupt departure to heal his son
more important than anything else Jesus had to do? Did the nobleman
believe Jesus had to be physically present where his son was in order to
heal him? If these were the reasons that brought the nobleman to
Jesus they fell short of what they should be.
2. There is a clear inference that believing in Jesus based on His
miraculous signs is an incomplete faith. This is a re-emphasis of
what happened in Jerusalem. "...Many believed in His name when
they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to
them..." (John 2:23, 24).
3. We are informed in Romans 10 that saving faith "Comes by
hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17).
To observe the miraculous signs of Jesus is a powerful call to have mental
belief in Him. To have saving faith we must (truly) hear the word of
God. Nicodemus gives us a perfect example. He, and other
Pharisees, knew that God had to be with Jesus in order for Him to do the
signs He did. Jesus insisted that man's greatest need is to receive
spiritual birth by the Holy Spirit in order to enter the kingdom of God
(John 3:3, 5-7). Jesus went on to tell Nicodemus what he had to do
in order to experience that spiritual birth. "And as Moses lifted
up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted
up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."
(John 3:14, 15). There is evidence that Nicodemus heard this
"word of God" and placed saving faith in Jesus. After Jesus was
"lifted up" on the cross Nicodemus and Joseph openly took His body down
from the cross and provided temporary burial in Joseph's tomb.
What did the nobleman do?
It seems he acknowledged that his motives and his belief were imperfect
and that he didn't know how to make them what they ought to be. Yet,
he threw himself totally on the compassion of Jesus and begged Him to meet
the deepest need he felt in his heart at that time. "Sir, come
down before my child dies!" Jesus spoke six words, "Go your
way, your son lives." This was a challenge for the nobleman to
place complete trust in Jesus based totally on what Jesus said.
THE ACTIVATION OF FAITH
Up to this point the
nobleman's faith has been like a smoldering heat. Jesus calls for
that faith to burst into flame, based on nothing else than belief in His
word. From the depth of the nobleman's innermost being there rises
unquestioned confidence in the word of Jesus. He is fully persuaded
that his son has been healed. How do we know? He "Went his
way" as Jesus told him, but a careful reading reveals that he did not
go back to Capernaum immediately. We find in verse 52 it is one
o'clock in the afternoon. It would only be a two hour horseback ride
to Capernaum, but the nobleman doesn't get back there until the next day.
What did he do in the meantime? He probably found a place among the
people receiving the teaching of Jesus. His soul was hungry to hear
more of the world of God.
THE CONFLAGRATION OF
The next day the nobleman
approached his home in Capernaum. His servants see him coming and
hurry to meet him. Excitedly, they tell him, "Your son lives!"
He asks them about the hour his son began to get better. "Yesterday
at the seventh hour the fever left him." In the culture of that time
there were twelve hours of day beginning at 6:00 a.m. followed by twelve
hours of night. By our time that would be 1:00 o'clock in the
afternoon. The nobleman knew it was the same hour Jesus had said, "Your
son lives." He cannot restrain from telling this to his
servants. He hurries quickly to his house to rejoice with his
family. With boundless joy he shares his faith in Jesus. As
result his entire household joined him in that faith. That is not an
unusual consequence when anyone comes to total faith in Jesus.
The question is, "Where are
we in relation to faith in Jesus Christ?" There was a time when
Jesus marveled that His disciples had "no faith" (Mark 4:40). He
rebuked Peter with these words, "O you of little faith" (Matthew
14:31). Jesus, the Son of God, is worthy of our faith.
We can't manufacture it. There's only one way we can get it...by
hearing the word of God. May this begin a commitment to daily hear
the word of God. To a Canaanite woman of Tyre Jesus said, "O
woman, great is your faith. Let it be to you as you desire." (Matthew
15:28). She truly heard what Jesus said and acted on it in faith.
Thomas E. Berry
Scripture quotations from NKJV unless otherwise noted
Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.