“So 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 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. Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. 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. And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. Then 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. So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house” (John 4:46-53).
John 4:54 tells us, “This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.” Here was a wealthy man whose son was close to death. He must have been beside himself with grief as he travelled the twenty miles from Capernaum to Cana to meet who he believed to be a miracle worker. He was desperate so was willing to give anything a go to see his son well.
The seeking of a wonder
It seems that Jesus recognised that the nobleman, an officer of Herod Antipas, did not have proper faith when he pleaded that He go to Capernaum to heal his son. It is possible that he announced himself and expected Jesus to be impressed at his favoured position. He represents the type of person who will only believe after they have seen a display of God’s power. This is but a shallow form of faith that is covered with doubt and unbelief. It is more of a human hope than absolute confidence in Christ’s ability. It is a ‘well it’s worth a try’ kind of belief system; a ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ approach to getting what is needed. Faith on this level receives nothing from the Lord, so this is why Jesus challenged him about why he came. His blunt, almost rude words, were designed to test the man’s faith, but they were also an attempt to increase whatever faith he had.
Jesus’ apparent rebuke was not to belittle the nobleman before the crowd, instead it was meant to dispel the cloud of anguish that kept him bound in a quagmire of superstitious belief. It is this dubious faith so many have when they rush of to the new healer on the religious scene. They are not really coming to receive from God, but hoping this man has the power to cast their illness away. It is no different to the poor souls who travel to Lourdes to touch the idol or receive the so-called holy water. This is not faith but superstition. Jesus would not have spoken to the man in this way if his faith was not faulty.
The sufficiency of the word
Once again the man pleads for Jesus to go to Capernaum to touch his son, but again He refuses to go. Jesus presented the man with a choice when He said, “Go thy way; thy son liveth”. He could believe the Word or reject it. If he truly had faith, all that was required was that he believed in what Jesus said. We can imagine the turmoil in his heart as he heard these words. He came expecting the compassionate healer to return with him to Capernaum, but his hopes were dashed to the ground. Now he was told to make the long trip home with just a simple word in his heart. He could have stomped away feeling insulted that he, a wealthy and important man, had been belittled by the preacher. But something told him that the Word of Jesus was enough!
It seems that his belief was transformed from mere superstition to supernatural faith as he turned towards home. In fact, as the text appears to suggest, he spent the night in Cana before making his way back to Capernaum. Maybe doubts tried to overpower his mind as he thought about what he was going to find when he arrived. We can be certain that he held on to the words Jesus spoke. Eventually, nearing his house, he spotted a servant racing towards him. He could see it was not bad news being delivered to him, for there must have been an expression of joy on the face of the excited servant. What did he hear? He heard the very words Jesus had said the day before, the very words that were ringing in his ears throughout his journey. “Your son lives”. How he must have jumped for joy as he learned his son was healed at the exact moment Jesus uttered His promise. He thanked God for the simplicity of faith in Christ.
The word was enough for the nobleman, and in fact his faith was contagious, for his household believed in Jesus through him. Jesus once said to Thomas, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Such people come to God without the need of visual proof and it is the kind of faith He is looking for. So the word of Jesus changed a multitude of lives that day. What do we need to reach the lost and bring them to saving faith? “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). The Word of God is enough!