The Nobleman’s Son: Grace to the Faithful Jewish Remnant
A Third Day in Cana – the Restoration of Israel (4:43-54)
A dispensational outline. John 4 presents a dispensational outline that follows a common pattern seen throughout the Word of God. This patters reminds us of God’s ways in grace with men on the earth.
- Rejected in Jerusalem (John 2:13-25). A picture of the Lord’s rejection by Israel at His first coming.
- Two days in Samaria (vv.39-42). A picture of the Church period. There is no miracle or signs given, just the Word of God working in power. The result is tremendous blessing and a vast harvest of Gentile souls.
- A third day in Galilee (vv.43-54). A picture of God taking up with a faithful remnant of the Jews in a coming day. The nobleman (the remnant) has faith, while the nation refuses to believe without signs and wonders (v.48). The Lord rewards his faith with a miracle (the healing of his son) which is a picture of the restoration of Israel as a nation in the Millennium.
The Lord Returns to Galilee (vv.43-46a)
The beginning of Christ’s public ministry. Compare Matt. 4:12-17; Mark 1:14-16; Luke 4:14-16. Although not mentioned here, just previous to this event, John the Baptist was imprisoned and the Lord Jesus was taken into the wilderness for the 40 days of temptation. Afterward, the Lord returned through Samaria (John 4:1-42) and now He comes into Galilee in the full power of the Spirit of God. This event really marks the beginning of our Lord’s public ministry.
¶ 43 But after the two days he went forth thence and went away into Galilee, v.43 This departure of the Lord into Galilee is a picture of Jehovah resuming His work with Israel and taking up with a remnant. Hosea 6:1-2 says, “After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.” The Church period is often pictured as “two days” (Luke 10:35), which in terms of “one day is as a thousand years” (2 Pet. 3:8), is an apt picture of these two-thousand years.
44 for Jesus himself bore witness that a prophet has no honour in his own country. v.44 The Lord was rejected by the proper Jews (Jerusalem, His own country) and retreats for a time to Galilee, which represents the poor of the flock, a remnant company. “A prophet has no honor in his own country” because of familiarity. The people in a prophet’s own country have seen him grow up, and it is hard for them to accept that God might be working through such a person. Sometimes we get tired of hearing a prophet in our own country because we see their failures… but the Lord had no failures! Often men of God are valued by the saints abroad, but not valued at home.
45 When therefore he came into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem during the feast, for they also went to the feast. v.45 Though Jesus was rejected by the Judeans in the south, “the Galileans received him”, which is a picture of the Jewish remnant receiving the Lord in a future day. That is something Israel is unwilling to do today. Receiving Christ is the critical hinge-point of blessing. This is a general reception, but individual faith was still necessary (v.50).
¶ 46a He came therefore again to Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. v.46a The Lord returns to the very place in which He did His first miracle; the marriage of Cana, which held out the promise, pledge, and earnest of Israel’s future joy. In a similar way the Lord will resume His dealings with Israel on the very same moral “ground” in which He displayed His power in the days of David and Solomon.
Capernaum. Capernaum was the Lord’s hometown for the years of His public ministry. He was raised in Nazareth, but when He turned thirty years of age he moved to Capernaum, which was 20 miles to the north in the borders of Zebulon and Naphtali to fulfill scripture (Matt. 4:13). Capernaum, Cana, and Nazareth were cities of the region of Galilee. In Matt. 11, we read that that Lord had done many “mighty works” in Capernaum. The following miracle was one of those works.
The Nobleman’s Faith in the Invisible Word of God (vv.46b-50)
46b And there was a certain courtier in Capernaum whose son was sick. v.46b A nobleman is a person of distinction in society. This man had a serious problem; his son was sick. Sickness had invaded his world. His noble birth was of no help. In a similar way, the national privileges of the Jews are in no way sufficient to meet the dangers the Jewish remnant will face in a future day.
47 He, having heard that Jesus had come out of Judaea into Galilee, went to him and asked him that he would come down and heal his son, for he was about to die. v.47 The nobleman sent from Capernaum to Cana to ask the Lord to come. This was a distance of about 15 miles. The nobleman comes to Jesus in great need. He doesn’t ask to buy healing, or to offer his devotion in exchange. This will be the expression of the faithful remnant in their time of great need.
48 Jesus therefore said to him, Unless ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe. v.48 The Lord now speaks to the nobleman, but more broadly to the nation of Israel; “except ye see signs…” is plural, similar to John 3:7. The condition of the nation was one of faithlessness. The Word of God wasn’t enough for them. The nobleman is an exception to the rule, as the remnant will be in a coming day. For example, Mark 15:32, “Let the Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and may believe.” Compare this with John 20:29, which says “blessed they who have not seen and have believed.”
49 The courtier says to him, Sir, come down ere my child die. v.49 The nobleman did have faith, but his faith was of a Jewish character; faint, and not as high a caliber as the Gentile centurion who begged the Lord not to come down to his house (Matt. 8:5-13).
50 Jesus says to him, Go, thy son lives. And the man believed the word which Jesus said to him, and went his way. v.50 This man believed the invisible word of Jesus. He couldn’t see the fever leave his son, but he believed anyway. This is precisely the opposite of the nation of Israel who insisted on seeing before believing. Even before we read the end of the story, instantly we know there will be blessing, because God always honors faith.
Faith rewarded by the visible restoration of his son (vv.51-54)
51 But already, as he was going down, his servants met him and brought him word saying, Thy child lives. v.51 God knew what it was to send His Son to die… He knew the father’s heart. So God ordered the servants to tell they boy’s father the good news before he even reached home! The Lord understands that we are human.
52 He inquired therefore from them the hour at which he got better. And they said to him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. v.52 John reckons time as the Romans did… this is either our 7:00 AM or 7:00 PM. The father’s thought was that “he began to amend” (a gradual process), but the servants say that at a specific time “the fever left him” (a sudden turning point). So it is with faith, and so it will be with Israel. A nation shall be born in one day.
53 The father therefore knew that it was in that hour in which Jesus said to him, Thy son lives; and he believed, himself and his whole house. v.53 By comparing the time of healing and the moment of faith, the nobleman learns that blessing is dispensed according to faith! It now says that “himself believed, and his whole house.” His whole house would include family members and servants, perhaps a picture of the nation at large (ten tribes included)! Only the two tribes will be in the land during the tribulation, but when the ten tribes return they too will believe.
54 This second sign again did Jesus, being come out of Judaea into Galilee. v.54 The Spirit of God connects this miracle (restoration of the Israel in connection with the faith of the remnant) with His first miracle in Cana (the establishing the fullness of Millennial joy in Israel).