The Nobleman’s Son
A Lesson on Faith
43 Now after two days He departed from there and went to Galilee. 44 For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. 45 So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all things He did in Jerusalem at the feat; for they also had gone to the feast.
46 So 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. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come out 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. 48 Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders you will by no means believe.” 49 The nobleman said to Him, “Come down before my child dies!” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the world that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. 51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying. “Your son lives!”
52 Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 So the father knew that it was the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your Son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household. 54 This again is the second sign Jesus did when he had come out of Judea into Galilee.
One would think Jesus would return to His home town of Nazareth, but John makes it clear that a prophet is not accepted within his home town. Therefore, Jesus came to Galilee and there the Galileans received Him.
They remembered all that had taken place with the cleansing of the temple. Some of them had witnessed and others had heard about Jesus turning the water into wine. So, they eagerly welcomed Him.
Now Jesus was at Cana, the place where he had turned the water into wine. He was among friends who had already witnessed divine power at work through him.
It had been about a year earlier, that Jesus had also visited Capernaum, but there is nothing recorded as far as miracles or words spoken. But among those that lived in Capernaum was a nobleman. Nobleman literally means King’s man, that is a royal official, probably a courtier of Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea.
The nobleman heard Jesus was in Cana, so he traveled the 16 miles from Capernaum to Cana to see Jesus. The son of the nobleman was sick and he desired Jesus to come and heal his son.
I can imagine the thoughts of this poor man as he traveled by foot from his home to where Jesus was at Cana. Could he make it in time and would Jesus leave and come with him?
The news that Jesus had returned to Galilee must have traveled fast, for it seemed that Christ had barely made it to Cana and this man arrived asking for his son to be healed. This appears to be the first recorded request for healing though miracles in general had been mentioned in John 2:23.
When it came to caring for their son, the nobleman and his family had expended all the human wisdom and skill. They could do no more except to make the boy comfortable and await what appeared to be certain death. This is why the nobleman had the agonizing decision, left home and family and his sick son seeking Jesus.
But Jesus reaction in verse 48 tells a different story for Jesus said to the nobleman and those about him. “Unless you people see signs and wonders will you by no means believe.”
When Jesus had been in Samaria, they had believed without him performing a miracle other than the change countenance of the woman who came to draw water from the well.
Among his family and friends, there was not the same acceptance. For many, acceptance only came as a result of miracles. Many had seen the events in Jerusalem and heard of the turning of water into wine. Yet they still failed to accept him as the Messiah. Now the nobleman came to him. Yet the plea of the distraught father was conditional. The nobleman would accept Jesus as the Messiah only by the healing of his son. He felt that Jesus would comply in healing to secure the nobleman as an adherent.
Jesus detected the note of insincerity in the nobleman’s speech and the way he phrased the question. As it is with so many of us, nobleman’s faith was imperfect. He already had a measure of faith, but it was far from perfect. It needed strengthening.
Jesus requires in all His disciples, unquestioning, unconditional faith. Without this type of faith Divine power cannot be exercised.
The nobleman determined to believe if he could first see. It kind of reminds of Thomas who doubted Jesus had risen from the dead until he could see for himself.
The nobleman’s lack of faith made him unfit for the request he asked. A life that is not surrendered to Christ is doomed to failure when trails and temptations come.
Jesus’ own brother explained this in James 1:5-8. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who give to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord: he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
Interesting Jesus gave him no direct answer. The father suddenly realized that his request had neither been granted nor denied. Jesus words were used in the plural, as in “all you” whose attitude is similar to that of the nobleman, who exercise their unbelief, I will neither say yes or no to you.
Finally, the nobleman exercised his faith. He realized that his own motives were selfish. That his only hope in saving his son was in exercising unquestioning unconditional faith. Unhesitatingly he surrendered his unbelief and false pride. Suddenly the request went from my son, to my little child and Christ could see the heart of the nobleman was changed as he exercised his faith. He had wanted Jesus to come down to Capernaum, but Jesus told him simple to “Go thy way.”
That simple statement by Christ for the nobleman to go his own way, was an exercise of faith. The Nobleman could have lingered, begging all the more for Jesus to come, but he took Jesus at His word, turned and started toward home.
So much faith was now found in this man, that it was not until the next day that his servant found him and told him his son had been healed. “Thy son lives expressed the idea that the son not only “lives” but that he will keep on living.”
Herein lies the object lesson for each of us. It is only by the surrendering of our pride, and lack of faith that we will live, but not only live, but keep on living.
Yes, the wages of sin is death. But, the gift of God for all those that in faith surrender their lives to Christ is everlasting life. Faith must be exercised in order for it to grow. Christ is the author and finisher, and perfecter of our faith but we must allow it to be exercised for it to grow.
Perhaps the reason our prayers are not answered today, is because we have not surrendered our lives and our faith to Christ. Christ wants faith that is based upon unconditional surrender.