The Fourfold Gospel
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton (1914)

dJOHN IV. 46-54.

      d46 He came therefore again [that is, in consequence of the welcome which awaited him] Unto Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine [see page 114]. And there was a certain nobleman [literally, "king's man:" a word which Josephus uses to designate a soldier, courtier, or officer of the king. He was doubtless an officer of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee. That it was Chuzas (Luke viii. 3) or Manaen (Acts xiii. 1) is mere conjecture], whose son was sick at Capernaum. [The nouns in this verse are suggestive. We have a "nobleman," yet neither riches nor office lifted him above affliction; a "son," yet approaching an untimely death before his father; and both these parties came to sorrow in "Capernaum," the city of consolation. Neither circumstance, nor age, nor situation can guarantee joy. We must still be seeking Jesus.]   47 When he heard [157] that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee [and was therefore within not very easy reach of his sick child's bedside], he went unto him [literally, "he went away unto him." The verb contains a delicate suggestion that the father was reluctant to leave the son, even to seek aid], and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. [Many, like this father, only seek divine aid when in the utmost extremity.]   48 Jesus therefore said unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will in no wise believe. [Though Jesus spoke these words to the nobleman, yet he also intended them for those who stood by, for he used the plural "ye." That the Galilæans in general deserved reproof for their lack of faith, is shown by the upbraiding words which he spoke concerning their cities (Matt. xi. 20-24). Jesus wanted men to believe in him because of his self-evidencing character and words (John x. 38; xiv. 11; xv. 22-24; xx. 29). But the people required to have their faith buttressed by miracles. There is a vast difference between believing in a man, and believing his credentials. Miracles were our Lord's credentials; his ministry among men can not be thought of without them; and when the Baptist's faith in Christ himself wavered, Jesus referred him to them (Matt. xi. 4, 5). See also John x. 37. The two words, "signs" and "wonders," indicate the two aspects of miracles. To the thoughtful they were signs or attestations that the one who performed them acted under the authority and approval of God; to all others they were mere wonders, which startled by their strangeness. Jesus was fresh from Sychar, where many required no other sign than his words.]   49 The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. [The father felt that the case was too urgent to admit of delay for argument. It seemed to him that he raced with death. His faith differed from that of the centurion in that he felt that the presence of Jesus was required to perform the miracle. He also regarded the powers of Jesus as limited to the living; but we must not censure his faith as particularly weak, for in both these [158] respects it resembled that possessed by Mary and Martha--John xi. 21, 22, 32, 39.]   50 Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. [Jesus enlarges the nobleman's conception of his divine power by showing him that his words take effect without regard to distance.] The man believed the word that Jesus had spake unto him, and he went his way.   51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him, saying, that his son lived.   52 So he inquired of them the hour when he began to amend. [More correctly, "began to get better." The father expected that the fever would depart slowly, as it usually does; but the reply of the servants shows that he was mistaken.] They said therefore unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. [Though for harmonistic reasons we are persuaded that John himself uses the Roman method of computing the hours, which would make the phrase here mean 7 P. M., yet since the phraseology here is not his, but that of the Galilæan servants, we take it to mean 1 P. M., for they would use the Jewish method of computing from sunset to sunset. If both parties had started at once, they would have met before sundown, as each had but eleven miles to traverse. But it is more reasonable to suppose that the wearied but now believing father sought some refreshment and a brief rest before returning, and that the servants tarried awhile to see if the child's recovery was permanent. This would lead to their meeting after sundown, at which time, according to the invariable custom, they would call the previous period of daylight "yesterday."]   53 So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house. [We note here a growth in the faith of the nobleman. He first believed in the power of Jesus' presence, then in the power of Jesus' word, and finally he believed generally in Jesus, and his household shared his belief. This is the first mention of a believing household; for others see Acts xvi. 14, 15, 34; xviii. 8.]   54 This is again the second sign that Jesus did, having come out of Judæa into Galilee. [159] [One small sign and many converted in Samaria; two great miracles and one household converted in Galilee. Such is the record. Jesus doubtless had many other converts in Galilee, but it is often true that the greater labor brings the lesser harvest.]

[FFG 157-160]

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