“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)
John begins to show us the different responses by people to the signs and wonders Jesus performed. In John 4:46-54, the first response was heartfelt belief.
Jesus returned to Cana of Galilee where He had turned water into wine (John 2:1-12). Some 16 miles NE was the town of Capernaum. Stationed there was a royal official who was serving in the royal court of Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee (Matthew 14:1-12; Luke 23:1-7). This official’s son was ill, resulting in him being weak and incapacitated.
The official sent for Jesus and asked him to come down to Capernaum and heal his son. John indicates that the official repeatedly asked Jesus to come. The text reveals the reason for the official’s continual pleading was that his son was near death. The man was desperate. What parent wouldn’t be.
Jesus’ response was not only directed to the nobleman but also to the entire Galilean region. “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The phrase “you see” is plural. Jesus was referring to the whole Jewish community. However, the nobleman becomes even more desperate and commands Jesus to come and heal his son. This becomes an indication that the faith of the nobleman was not simply superficial.
Jesus tells him that his son will live and the nobleman believes what Jesus says. Notice that Jesus did not actually go to where the son was. He simply told the nobleman that his son would live and recover from the illness which plagued him. The nobleman took Jesus at His word.
The son did recover at the very hour Jesus told the nobleman that he would. This event only strengthened the nobleman’s faith in Jesus Christ. It also displayed Jesus’ graciousness in healing.
Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “Of course, this is not to say that signs and miracles cannot be used of God to create and strengthen faith. Our Creator used signs for that purpose, as today’s passage reveals. In Galilee, Jesus met a royal official—probably an adviser to the local ruler Herod Antipas—who begged our Savior to heal his dying son (4:46–47). Jesus in His initial response seemed to be rebuking the man for requiring signs in order to believe (v. 48), which is in line with His later pronouncement of blessing upon those who have not seen Him in the flesh and yet believe (20:29). But the problem is not in desiring to see the Lord do a supernatural work, for God tells us to ask Him for healing (James 5:13–15). The problem is when we seek signs as ends in themselves or when miracles are the sole foundation of our faith and not the promises of God. This was not the case for the royal official in today’s passage. He took Jesus at His word that He would heal his son before he was actually healed; the miracle then confirmed faith that was already present (John 4:49–54)”
It is not wrong to ask God for a miracle. It is not wrong to ask God for the healing of a loved one, comfort during times of difficulty or even for a new job. However, we must not have our faith in the Lord rely upon such miracles. Rather, we must rely on the character of God who gives us precious promises in His Word.
Be comforted today by Gods’ graciousness whatever comes to pass.
Soli deo Gloria!