Studies in the Gospel of John- The Second Sign
I. The Healing of the Nobleman’s Son
So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee. (John 4:46-54)
A. As we look at the signs recorded in the Gospel of John we will attempt to describe them, as Arthur Pink says, in three ways. 1. The Typical Significance 2. The Prophetic Application 3. The Practical Teaching.
B. When reading the Gospel of John always ask questions of the Holy Spirit, who is the author of the book through Apostle John. As this book records, He, the Holy Spirit, will lead us and guide us into all Truth.
II. The Practical Teaching
A. Jesus had re-entered Cana and upon His arrival a nobleman implored Jesus to come and heal his son, he was at the point of death. The nobleman recognized and must have heard of Jesus’ ability to heal and restore the sick, lame, and blind. This also implies that though this is the Second sign John lists, it probably was not the second overall miracle he had worked. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night in chapter 3 declaring “…Rabbi, we 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)
B. Nobleman (basilikos). One connected with the king (basileus), whether by blood or by office. Probably here it is one of the courtiers of Herod the tetrarch of Galilee, Chuzas (Luk_8:3), Manaen (Act_13:1), or some one else. Some of the manuscripts used basiliskos, a petty king, a diminutive of basileus. (Robertson’s Word Pictures)
C. Jesus responds to the nobleman’s request by rebuking him. “Unless you see…” The fact that he did not realize Jesus could heal at a distance and that he need not go to Capernaum. “Seeing is believing” is the pragmatic approach for most people, but God is looking for a heart response of faith that says “speak the Word and my servant will be made whole”. We cannot qualify or quantify how God does something when asking, we must simply allow Him to do it the way He sees best.
D. The nobleman believes the spoken word of Jesus and goes his way. The kindness of God is that even when we take steps of faith in obedience he sends us encouragement along the way to assure us that what He promised He is performing on our behalf.
E. As a result, the nobleman and all of his household believed that Jesus was Messiah.
III. The Typical Significance
A. We are talking about the types and symbols of the event.
B. There are many comparisons between this sign and the first sign. Arthur Pink suggests…
1. Both were “third day” scenes.
2. Both Mary and the nobleman were rebuked upon their request.
3. Both exemplified obedient responses.
4. In both miracles we see the Word at work.
5. In both narratives mention is made of the servant’s knowledge.
6. In both it acknowledges that those who witnessed it believed.
7. It sums up the narrative similarly.
C. This man is representative of all Jews and Gentiles that want to “See” by God doing something actively first before believing than simply hearing his Word and believing then seeing.
D. If Jesus can heal a boy at least 10 miles away by simply speaking the Word then surely He can heal us (spiritually, physically, emotionally) today as His word is released over our lives.
IV. The Prophetic Application
A. There is disagreement on whether the nobleman was a Jew or Gentile. He was most likely a courtier of King Herod the Tetrarch. Being from the Galilean region, I believe he was a mixed-Jew.
B. Just as Abraham was a Chaldean and was called by God and from him God made a nation that became Israel. It is noted of Israel that they seek signs or they will not believe and this was the rebuke that Jesus gave to the nobleman, however, the rebuke could be read in the plural form concerning Galileans or more broadly to all of Israel.
C. With His finished work on the Cross and after the “Third Day”, we see that it is the Nobleman’s Son that needs healing. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17) It is within this context that we see that salvation and healing has come to the Nobleman’s (Abraham) seed both Jews and Gentiles and it comes through believing in the Word’s finished work.
D. His healing took place at the seventh hour. The number seven is important because it’s representative of completeness. The essence of something is revealed in the number seven. Therefore the salvation and healing of God came at the seventh hour. The Gospel is the complete essence of God’s plan for man’s redemption, and it is manifested in the offspring of Father Abraham, a true nobleman.