Jesus leaves Samaria and heads north to Galilee. He is welcomed on the same basis as He was in John 2:23. These people had seen His signs in Jerusalem (v. 45). He comes again to Cana and is visited by a ″royal official″-either a man of royal blood or a high official of Herod’s court (v. 46). This man has a sick son who is close to death and he begs Jesus to come down to Capernaum. Nothing undermines self-sufficiency as thoroughly as the threat of death hanging over our children.
There are two words repeated throughout this section. The first is ″believe″. In Greek, words are positioned for emphasis at the beginning or end of a clause, such as in verses 48 and 53:
- Jesus says people won’t believe without a sign (v. 48). However, this official believes without having seen a sign.
- Jesus tells him to go, as his son will live. The man believes and departs (v. 50).
- Unlike Jairus (Mark 5:35), who was met by men with the news that his daughter was dead, this man hears from his servants that his son lives. When the man finds out that it was 1:00 p.m., the same time that Jesus declared his son would live, he and his household-family and servants- all believe (v. 53).
The other word repeated, and likewise placed for emphasis, is ″live″ (vv. 50, 51, 53). Jesus gives the water of life (John 4:14). Now, without any direct contact with the young man, He returns him to healthy life. The One through whom all things were made (John 1:3) simply speaks the word, as He did in John 2:8. He spoke and it was so. The healing was not gradual but instant and complete: ″Yesterday, at one in the afternoon″ (v. 52). His powerful word of creation is irresistible.
The incident begins with a boy near death. He is restored to healthy life, but spiritual life comes to the official and his household. It is belief, faith, confidence in Jesus, which links them to Jesus the life-giver, so he and his entire household believed (v. 53).
The rich have needs as well as the poor. The young can fall ill to the point of death, as do the old.
J. C. Ryle writes: ″Affliction is one of God’s medicines . . . Health is a great blessing, but sanctified disease is a greater . . . losses and crosses are better for us, if they lead us to Christ.″3
The fishermen of chapter 1, the self-righteous Pharisee of chapter 3, and the fallen woman of chapter 4 are now joined by a nobleman from the royal court. From the greatest to the least, all approach Jesus as paupers. Hymn writer A. M. Toplady describes the only manner in which we can come to Him:
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to your cross I cling.
3Ryle, John, vol. 1, 255.
Think on the words ″believe″ and ″live″. Belief and life are inseparable. Do we sometimes make faith more complicated than we need to?