Series 18


by Francis Dixon

(Scripture Portion: John 4:46-54)

For our second study we turn to the second sign (or miracle) performed by our Lord (John 4:46-54). Jesus made a further visit to Cana, where He had turned the water into wine, and while He was there a certain nobleman, or courtier, sought Him out. This man, who lived in Capernaum, had a son who was very ill, so he made a long journey to seek help from the Lord. When he found Him he pleaded with Him to “come and heal my son”. Jesus, however, startled him by replying (in effect), “No, I wont come…Go your way; your son will live.” The nobleman took Jesus at His word and turned homewards, but en route he met his servants who told him that the miracle had taken place, and when they compared notes they discovered that the boy had been healed at the exact moment when our Lord said, “Your son will live.” As the result of all this, he and his household believed.

In this miracle we have an illustration of the way sinners come to the Saviour for salvation. Let us study this incident from that point of view and notice:

1. The man was overwhelmed with a great and desperate NEED.

What was it? “His son was sick” (verse 46), “close to death” (verse 47), and he pleaded with the Saviour to “come down before my child dies” (verse 49). This is how the work of grace begins in the hearts of men. When we are brought into a place of urgent need and all human help has failed, then we are ready and willing to turn to the Lord. Maybe we have denied and dishonoured His name, but when our need is great we are driven to Him. When the Prodigal Son had money and friends he could ignore all thoughts of his father, but when “he began to be in need”, then he was ready to return to his father’s house – look up Luke 15:17-20 – and Psalm 55:19. Our journey to Him begins when we realise our great need of His help – material, physical, but above all when we feel our need of spiritual help.

2. As he sought for someone to help him in his need, he HEARD of Jesus.

Verse 47 tells us this. But who told him about the Lord Jesus? Was it someone who had been present at the wedding at Cana who had seen the water turned into wine and who said, “Surely if this man Jesus can turn water into wine He can heal your son”? People will do anything when they are really in trouble. That is why some turn to Christian Science, Spiritism and other false teachings. What a blessing it is, however, when needy souls hear of the Lord Jesus! This is how faith begins – look up Romans 10:17. C.H. Spurgeon said, “First, the nobleman’s faith was just a spark, then it became a fire, then a flame, and then a mighty conflagration.”

3. Immediately he heard of Jesus the nobleman sought Him out and CAME to Him.

Verse 47 says, he “went to him.” This involved a 25-mile journey, but as he travelled over rough country hope shone in his heart. His faith was only like a grain of mustard seed (Matthew 17:20), but it was enough. As he travelled he reasoned, “If Jesus can turn water into wine then surely He can heal my son!” Have you ever reasoned like that? So, the nobleman came to Jesus. If only people would do just that!

4. Having come to Jesus and confessed his need, he definitely ASKED the Lord to grant him His gracious help.

In verse 47 we are told that “he begged Him” – a very strong word; and again in verse 47 the nobleman emphasised the urgency of his son’s need. He said he was “close to death”; and when Jesus (in verse 48) tested him he replied with still greater urgency, “Sir, come down before my child dies” (verse 49). The way to receive the Lord’s help and blessing is simple: “Ask and it will be given to you” – read Luke 11:9-13 carefully. If it is salvation we need, then there is a special promise about that – Romans 10:13, and this promise is wonderfully illustrated in Luke 18:41-42; 23:42-43; Matthew 15:25 and 28; 14:30-31; Luke 18:13-14.

5. The man experienced the Lord’s blessing immediately he acted in FAITH and obeyed His word.

Read verses 50-52. The moment he took the Lord at His word that moment the blessing came. Faith is not a mysterious thing; it is taking God at His word (verse 50). “Forsaking All I Take Him.” If we have come to Christ we know we have been received by Him because John 6:37 says so; we know that if we believe on Him we have passed from death to life because John 5:24 says so; we know we shall never be left alone because Hebrews 13:5-6 assures us of this; we know we shall never want because of Psalm 23:1 – and all this is simply taking the Lord at His word. This is what faith is.

6. When he arrived home he entered into A FULL ASSURANCE of faith as he witnessed the Lord’s miracle-working power.

The first part of verse 53 tells us this. For a day and a night he trusted in the dark, simply relying upon the word of Jesus, but now on his arrival home he had the proof of it all in the miracle so perfectly timed of a healthy son – see verses 52-53. The Lord wants every one of His children to have this full assurance of faith and to know with absolute assurance about their salvation (1 John 5:13), about God’s great providential working (Romans 8:28), about their eternal security (2 Timothy 1:12), and about their future destiny (2 Corinthians 5:1). We can be sure about these things by simply trusting in His word.

7. The nobleman and HIS HOUSEHOLD believed.

Of course they did! – look up and compare Acts 16:30-34. It is God’s plan to save whole families, and He does it by first saving one member of the family, and through that one member He seeks to gather in the whole household. He has saved you in order that through you your loved ones may be brought to know the Lord – look up Mark 5:19.

One final word: This miracle is an illustration of healing from a distance – look up Psalm 107:20. This helps us, for every blessing we receive from our risen Lord comes to us from a distance; it comes to us from the throne of God, where He is seated in glory and power, and where in His compassion and love He waits to bestow upon us fullness of blessing.