By Randy Dillon
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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 of 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, “Sir, come down before my child dies!”
50 ¶ Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word 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 at 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
Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine at Cana of Galilee was followed by a second "sign" miracle performed in the same city. As Jesus returned to this city from His ministry in Samaria, He was sought by a nobleman from Capernaum. It is likely this was a man of authority in Herod's government, probably a Roman. His son was evidently very ill, even to the point of death, and the man had likely come to the end of his ability to find a cure. When he heard of Jesus coming to Cana he walked the 20 miles from Capernaum, his hometown, to Cana to find Jesus. It seems probable that Jesus ' ministry and miracles had become well-known around Galilee. His request was for Jesus to come to Capernaum to heal his son.
Jesus' response is interesting in that He did not refer to the request for healing but rather to the fact that belief depended on seeing signs and wonders. This may have been an indirect challenge to the nobleman's request. If so, the man seems not to have been deterred by what Jesus said. He requested that Jesus come with him or his child would die. He addressed Jesus as "sir" which was a way of humbling himself since he had legal authority over Jesus. Jesus told the nobleman to "go thy way, thy son liveth." Scripture tells us that "the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way." On his way home, his servants met his with good news that his son was alive and he learned that it was at the same time that Jesus had said his son would live.
Now the lesson to be learned from this miracle. Jesus challenged the man by His comment about signs and wonders, The Roman did not answer this admonition but instead reiterated his belief that it was imperative that Jesus come and heal. On the basis of this statement of faith, Jesus told the man to leave and his son was alive. It is one thing to believe that Jesus could heal in person. It is a greater act of faith to believe simply the word of Jesus could achieve healing.
Why is this event important in scripture? The nobleman represented a Gentile Roman, a hated foreign authority which suppressed Jewish freedom with an iron hand. That Jesus would condescend to help such an enemy of the Jews was very likely not held highly by His own people. Were there not Jewish children in need of healing? Yet Jesus saw something in the Gentile that He did not see in many of His own people: faith. This miracle occurred based on the nobleman's faith that Jesus had the power to heal. Even more, that faith extended even to the word that Jesus spoke, not just His physical presence. It also points to the fact that Jesus came to ALL people not just the Jews. This was also not acceptable to the vast majority of His own, even the disciples. Yet it should have been obvious to his followers that this was to be the case after his recent ministry among the Samaritans.
It should be instructive to Christians that faith is at the core of answered prayer without regard to the person who comes in sincere faith. This does not mean that every prayer will be answered as we desire, but it does point to faith as the centerpiece of our request. May we, like the nobleman, come humbly before our Savior and Lord in simple faith with our every request.