Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE SECOND MIRACLE”

John 4.43-54 

Our Lord Jesus Christ’s public ministry began when He left Nazareth for the Jordan River to be baptized by His cousin John the Baptist. He then entered the wilderness for forty days to be tempted of the Devil, was twice publicly identified as the Lamb of God by John the Baptist upon His return from the wilderness, and took some of John’s disciples to be His own, returned to Galilee, and took up several more disciples. His first miracle was performed at a wedding feast in the village of Cana, after which He went to Jerusalem and cleansed the Temple for the first time, predicted His resurrection from the dead, and met with Nicodemus one night. Keep in mind as we read today’s text that John 2.23 reads, 

“in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.” 

Upon leaving Jerusalem, our Lord took those disciples He then had through Samaria on His way back to Galilee, stopping at Jacob’s well near Sychar, where He first ministered to the woman at the well, and then stayed on for two days to minister to responsive Samaritans.

Now, please, turn to John chapter 4. When you arrive at verse 43, I invite you to stand for the reading of God’s Word: 

43  Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee.

44  For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.

45  Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galilaeans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.

46  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.

47  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.

48  Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.

49  The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.

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.

51  And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.

52  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.

53  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.

54  This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee. 

In these verses we have, 

First, CHRIST’S COMING INTO GALILEE 

John 4.43: 

“Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee.” 

Though He was as welcome among the Samaritans as He could be anywhere, and had wonderful success among them, it was needful for Him to continue to Galilee. Notice three things:

First, notice that our Lord went into Galilee, but not to His hometown of Nazareth. Why so? Verse 44: 

“For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.” 

Prophets ought to be honored because God has put honor upon them and people are greatly blessed by their ministries. That said, the honor that is properly due to the Lord’s prophets has very often been denied them, with contempt heaped upon them instead of honor. The honor denied a prophet is usually denied them in their own country. Notice our Lord’s comments on other occasions: 

Luke 4.24: 

“And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.” 

Matthew 13.57: 

“Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.” 

Remember that Joseph, when he began to exercise his prophetic ministry, was hated by his brothers. David was disdained by one of his brothers, in First Samuel 17.28. Jeremiah was maligned by the men of Anathoth, Jeremiah 11.21. Paul was disowned by his countrymen. And even Christ’s near relatives did not believe in Him, John 7.5. People’s pride and envy are obstacles to receiving those who were once their playground friends and classmates but who have a stature granted to them by God as His representatives. We also see evidence of this in the ranks of professionals whose families and childhood friends who have not worked so hard or studied so diligently have difficulty accepting the professional expertise now of those they knew back when. It can be a great discouragement not only to professionals but also to a Gospel minister to serve in the midst of people who place no value on his ministry or his efforts on their behalf. Christ would not go to Nazareth because He knew how little respect they had for Him there. It is just for God to deny His Gospel to those who despise them sent by Him to declare it. Those who mock God’s servants forfeit the benefit of the Gospel message, according to the parable of the householder and the heir in Matthew 21.33-46.[1]

Second, notice that He was well received in Galilee. John 4.45: 

“Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galilaeans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.” 

Christ and His Gospel are not sent forth by God to accomplish nothing. If Christ, and the Gospel, and His servants, are not honored in one place, there will be honor given in another place. Notice the reason why these Galileans were so ready to receive Christ. Some had seen the miracles He performed in Jerusalem. At least the men among them went up to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, which was a considerable distance for them to travel, going out of the way to avoid Samaria as they did. And what was in store for them on this occasion? In Jerusalem, they saw Christ’s miracles, which made a remarkable impression on them. Though performed for the benefit of those in Jerusalem, it may very well be that the Galileans got more benefit from the miracles than those who lived in Jerusalem, just as the Word of God can sometimes bless the person hearing it for the first time more than those who sit under preaching on a regular basis.

Third, notice that our Lord returned to the town of Cana, John 4.46: 

“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.” 

Why go there, of all places? Of course, He worked His first miracle there. He was likely to be well received there, because of the miracle of turning water into wine at the marriage feast. Then, of course, there is Providence. The unseen hand of the invisible God, working in the lives of men to accomplish His grand purpose and fulfill His design. It is the fool who discounts God’s Providence. 

Second, THE CURING OF THE NOBLEMAN’S SICK SON 

Matthew’s Gospel account provides a general description of our Lord’s activities in Galilee at this time, Matthew 4.23: 

“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” 

But only John’s Gospel account informs us about this specific incident, as we see in John 4.46. Several observations:

First, observe who the petitioner was, and who the patient was. The petitioner was a nobleman: 

“And there was a certain nobleman.” 

To say more about the man than this is speculation. Jewish or Gentile, we do not know. The patient, who was not in attendance with him, was his son: 

“whose son was sick at Capernaum.” 

Nothing more than this matters. Sicknesses were generally of two types in that age, a sickness one recovered from and a sickness that one did not recover from. This is of the second type.

Next, observe how the petitioner made his application to the Great Physician. Having heard that our Lord Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, and finding that He did not come towards Capernaum, but turned off towards the other side of Galilee, this father went to see the Lord himself, and pleaded with Him to come and heal his son, John 4.47: 

“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.” 

This father was obviously highly motivated to do what he could for his son. But the only thing he could do was seek out the only one who could heal his boy. Sadly, this reaction is rarer than you might imagine. I recently visited a woman who is very ill, yet her husband has taken no steps toward God to plead for her recovery, or to speak to a man of God to learn what he might do to secure from God the healing of his wife. This father displayed great respect for the Lord Jesus, in that he came to Cana himself to plead for his boy when many others of his station in society would have dispatched a servant. And once he was on the scene he besought the Lord rather than trying to direct Him, which some would have done who occupied a high position. This shows us that even the greatest of men when we come to God, must come as beggars, and lay our petitions before God as paupers. As to the errand, this man was on, notice that there is a mixture in his faith. On one hand, there was sincerity in it. He did believe that the Lord Jesus Christ could heal his son, despite the danger the boy was in. It is logical to assume that he had already employed the doctors who were available to him and that they had given up on the boy. This father dared to believe that Christ could cure him when the situation seemed past hope. That said, this father’s faith was not perfectly informed. He believed Christ could heal his son but felt it was necessary for the Lord to travel to his son’s bedside. Therefore, he begged Him to come and heal him. Remember that the Syrian general Naaman had the same expectation of Elisha, and was furious when the prophet did not even come out of his home to attend to Naaman’s cleansing.[2] Perhaps because of this miracle the centurion, a Gentile, a Roman soldier, at a later time, was so strong in faith that he was able to say, in Matthew 8.8, 

“Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.” 

Third, observe the gentle rebuke. This pleading father was a nobleman. He was grieving about his son. He had even shown great respect for the Lord in coming so far and speaking so graciously to Him. Even so, it may surprise you that our Lord decides to rebuke him along with everyone else, John 4.48: 

“Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” 

Our Lord does speak to the man, but He delivers His rebuke by also including the others, using the word “ye” to address them all. This shows us that a man’s dignity in society does not exempt him from the rebukes of the Word. Isaiah 11.3-4 shows that even the meek are rebuked by Him. With this rebuke, we observe that the Savior first shows this father his sin and weakness, to prepare him for mercy, and then proceeds to grant his request. Those Christ intends to honor with His favors He first humbles with His frowns. The Comforter shall first convince. The Lord pointed out that, whereas the Galileans had heard of the miracles He had worked in other places, it seems they would not believe except they saw the miracles with their own eyes. Therefore, this is an appropriate rebuke, in that faith does not require sight. If you have to see to believe, then you do not truly believe, since faith is the evidence of things not seen.

Fourth, observe the father’s persistent pleas for his son, John 4.49: 

“The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.” 

We see here something that was commendable. This affluent, highly placed, important man, took the Lord’s reproof patiently. He then spoke to Christ respectfully. Since he obviously did not take the Lord’s reproof for an affront, neither did he take it for a denial, but continued his plea, and pursued until he prevailed. This is the method Christ takes, first to work upon us, and then to work for us. He will later deal with the Syrophenician woman in this way.[3] So, there is hope if we find the Lord dealing with us in this way. But we also see some things that were not commendable. First, does the father seem so preoccupied with concern for his son that he pays no attention to the Savior’s rebuke? Perhaps. Second, does he still seem to be convinced that the Lord can only heal someone He is near because he continues to plead for the Lord to come to his boy? It seems so. And, third, is the man not aware that the Savior is as able to raise the dead as He is to heal the sick? If the man’s faith were better informed, he would not need to hurry or rush. These things seem to be lost on the boy’s father.

Fifth, observe the Savior’s answer to his request, John 4.50: 

“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.” 

Two things are very encouraging here: First, we see that our Lord grants the father’s request despite the imperfection of his faith. And His answer to the father’s request is granted so easily, demonstrating our Lord’s awesome power to do with ease whatever He chooses to do. And His miracle is worked at a distance, besides. As well, we see that despite the imperfection of the father’s faith, it is still faith, since the man did believe what the Lord said to him and went on his way. This shows the graciousness of our Savior to bless faith even when the faith is mixed with imperfections such as doubt or ignorance. What great grace is on display here, to see the Savior grant a request from a man who trusts Him with a faith that is somewhat misinformed, yet still fixed upon Him.

Sixth, observe the father’s belief of the Word of Christ: 

“And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.” 

Did the Lord Jesus Christ grant every aspect of the father’s request? No. He declined to accompany the man to his sick son’s bedside. Relying only upon the Savior’s Word, the father goes on his way content. Is it not glorious that that which is lacking in our faith is perfected by the Word and power of Christ? Though he sees no sign and senses no wonder, yet the father believes the healing is done. Christ said, “Thy son liveth,” and the man believed him. He not only believed the omniscience of Christ that He knew the child had recovered, but he also believed the omnipotence of Christ, that the cure was effected by His Word. Christ said, “Go thy way,” and, as an evidence of the sincerity of his faith, he went his way. He did not press Christ to come down, did not say, “If he recovers, yet a visit from you will be acceptable.” No, he has no further concern. Entirely satisfied, he did not hurry home that night, but returned at his leisure, as one that was perfectly at ease in his mind.

Seventh, observe the confirmation of his faith, by the report of his servants as he returned, John 4.51-53: 

51  And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.

52  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.

53  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. 

You may remember that David’s servants were very reluctant to tell him the bad news that his son with Bathsheba had died. Good news, on the other hand, such as we see here, is a message we are eager to carry to others. It is good to furnish ourselves with corroborating proofs and evidence, to strengthen our faith in the Word of Christ, that we may be fully assured. The diligent comparison of the works of Christ with His Word are of great use to us for the confirming of our faith.

Eighth, observe the happy effect brought about. Verse 53 concludes, 

“and himself believed, and his whole house.” 

The father of the sick boy himself believed. He had believed the Word of Christ when he was in Cana. But once he arrived home it seems he believed in Christ as the promised Messiah and became one of his disciples. Christ has many ways of securing a man’s heart, and by granting mercy such as we have seen here may make way for deeper work on the soul. We are also informed that his whole house also believed. Because of the concern, they all had for the sick boy, and the blessing they all received when he was healed, they were all affected and impressed by Christ. By His dealings with the father and His healing of the son, He showed all in the household that He is worthy of their trust. We know the head of a family cannot give faith to those in his family, or force them to believe. But he can so conduct himself that he is instrumental in removing external prejudices that obstruct the evidence that establishes faith. When a head of household lives rightly the work is more than half done. Abraham was famous for this, Genesis 18.19. As was Joshua, Joshua 24.15. And this fellow was a father, a real dad, who brought his household along with him. What a blessing resulted from the sickness of his son. This should reconcile us to the afflictions we sometimes face. We do not know what good may follow from our troubles. And could it be that the conversion of this man and his family in Capernaum induced Christ to then settle in Capernaum, as His headquarters in Galilee?

Ninth, observe John’s remark, John 4.54: 

“This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.” 

This, then, is the second miracle that John’s Gospel deals with in detail, with the turning of water into wine being the first. The first miracle was soon after His first return out of Judea. This second miracle was soon after His second return out of Judea, perhaps to remind us of the first miracle, worked in the same place some months before, and to let us know that this cure was before the many cures the other Gospel accounts will mention in Galilee. 

What lessons can you take home with you from the text we have examined this morning? There are four features which stand out in my mind, and I hope in yours as well:

First, be mindful that the Lord Jesus Christ chose to go where He was more welcome and to avoid the place where He was less welcome. He did not completely neglect Nazareth, just as He did not completely neglect the Jewish people. But He went to Cana rather than Nazareth at first, and the Gospel was carried to the Gentiles when the Jewish people were resistant to the saving message. In our day, we see the Gospel well received in other lands than our own, and that is because so many who convince themselves that they are sympathetic to the Gospel are nevertheless not open to trusting Christ, and not even here today.

Second, be encouraged by the fact that the father of the sick boy had a very uninformed faith. It was a real faith, but it was mixed with ignorance. The man persisted in his belief that the Lord Jesus Christ could not heal his boy from afar, and so he twice urged the Savior to come with him to the lad’s bedside. As well, the man was so urgent as to suggest he believed the Lord could heal but seemed to give no thought to the Lord’s power to raise the dead. Thus, there was no real urgency. Nevertheless, despite the imperfection of the man’s faith, his request was granted, the Savior healed his son, and in the end, the entire household came to faith.

Third, take note of the fact that in the midst of the crisis the Lord Jesus Christ rebuked the man, and others as well. In other words, it seems as though the Savior treated a guy rather roughly who was pleading on behalf of his son. But the Savior did much the same thing to the Syrophenician woman on a later occasion. With this nobleman, the Savior granted his request without seeing any improvement in his faith, while the Syrophenician woman’s faith was put on display as of most excellent quality. Thus, even in a crisis, the Lord may take on the task of improving you before He grants your urgent plea.

And finally, take note of the ease with which the Lord Jesus Christ granted this man’s plea for his son. No effort was displayed. No exertion was evident. The Lord Jesus Christ is so knowledgeable, and so very powerful, that He but decides the lad will be well and he is well, and He knows because He knows everything.

Surely, this is a Savior who can be trusted because He is trustworthy. Therefore, I urge you to trust Him now.

__________

[1] Herbert Lockyer, All the Parables of the Bible, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1963), pages 225-227.

[2] 2 Kings 5.9-14

[3] Mark 7.24-31

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org