A Commentary on the Gospel of John Four
Jesus' Discourse with the Samaritan Woman and Healing the Nobleman's Son
by Cooper Abrams
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The Gospel of John is a testimony to the deity of Jesus Christ and that He is the Savior of the world. Jesus was wholly God and at the same time wholly man. John, in presenting Jesus as the Savior in this chapter, gives further evidence that Jesus was God. After His meeting with Nicodemus, Jesus continued to minister in the region around Jerusalem. He preached the message of the kingdom as Matthew 4:17 records, "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). Verse 1 explains that Jesus had more responses than John the Baptist and many came and were baptized by Jesus' disciples.
This verse affirms that Jesus, although fully a man, was omniscient. Jesus, as the Messiah, was God come in the flesh and clearly retained all His attributes as Almighty God. Jesus knew the thoughts of the Pharisees and that they were designing to confront Him. The Pharisees, as members of the Sanhedrin, were greatly upset that a lowly carpenter's son from Nazareth in Galilee was having such a following among the people. Clearly these self-appointed religious leaders of Israel were jealous and saw Him as a threat to their authority. Knowing their hearts, Jesus obviously was not willing at this time to deal with them and He left Judaea, traveling northward to Galilee.
To further testify to Christ's deity, John states that Jesus "must needs go through Samaria." Jesus knew the Samaritan woman would be at the well and He planned to be there to speak with her. His meeting the Samaritan woman was not by chance, but was God's plan to further reveal who Jesus truly was and bring the Samaritan woman and many in her village to salvation.
The Samaritans were a people of mixed Gentile and Jewish blood who lived in the area on the west side of the Jordan River between Judaea and Galilee. The Jews detested them and would not travel through Samaria and defile themselves. This too gives us insight into the prideful hearts of the Jews who thought themselves superior to all non-Jews and especially to the Samaritans. They knew nothing of God as a God of love, and that they were the chosen people to reveal God to the world. When God called Abram, in Ur, He told him "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:3). The Messiah was to be the Savior of the world, not just to Israel. God revealed this truth also to Moses, "And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD shall lead thee" (Deuteronomy 28:37). Speaking to Israel by Isaiah God said, "Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth. Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me" (Isaiah 43:9-10). The Jews because of their sinful and proud hearts never really accepted this truth. Jonah is also an example of their failure to be God's witness, as he was angry at God when He spared the Ninevites. Jesus, addressing the Jews as recorded in Luke 11:28-29, stated that God used Jonah as a sign to the Ninevites. Sadly, Jonah was a reluctant witness, as were the Jews in Jesus' day. The plain fact was that Israel during this time was serving Satan and had no testimony to the majesty, power and salvation of Almighty God.
The people of Samaria were a people of mixed Jewish and Gentile blood. During the period of the divided kingdom, the Assyrian king Shalmanessar IV, attacked and destroyed the northern country of Israel in 721 B.C. He took the ten northern tribes into captivity in Babylon. The Assyrian king then sent various Gentile peoples from the north to resettle the area Israel has occupied. The population of the area continued to be mostly Jewish, but in time they intermarried with the Gentiles immigrants. The result was that the religion of the Samaritans became a combination of Judaism and pagan beliefs. Later in 586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, destroyed the southern nation of Judah, which were the two remaining tribes of Israel in the south, and took them into captivity in Babylon. Seventy years later, the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. However, because of their false religion and intermarriage with Gentiles, the Jews shunned the Samaritans and would not allow them to take part in rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem. In turn, the Samaritans built their own temple on Mount Gerizim, which was later destroyed by the Jews. The Samaritans then built another temple at Shechem. The Jews hated the Samaritans and the rivalry between the two continued until the time of Jesus. Jesus said it was necessary that He travel through Samaria, not something a Jew would typically do.
Jesus in going to Samaria and offering salvation to the woman at the well was showing that the Messiah was for the salvation of the world, not just to the Jews. Note that is what Jesus said in John 3:16 to Nicodemus. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,. . ." Jesus summed this truth up in John 4:23, "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him" (John 4:23).
Jesus traveled north into Samaria coming near to the city of Sychar. The main road through that area, which began at Jericho, was located to the east of the twin peaks of Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal near Shechem. The city of Sychar was located some distance to the west of the road and close to Jacob's well where Jesus' stopped, which was on the east beside the road. John records that Jesus was wearied by His journey.
Mt. Gerizim on the left - Mt. Ebal on the right. From Jericho it was a constant uphill walk into the hills of Samaria, and to reach the area where the well was located. Jesus being wearied by His travel gives us insight into His humanity. Jesus was a man and experienced the same thing that all men do. When He came to the well, he sat down to rest and was thirsty. It was nearing noon and His disciples went into the city to purchase food. Thus Jesus was left alone, setting on the well when the Samaritan woman arrives to draw water. The city is believed to have been about two miles from the well. It was somewhat unusual for her to walk this distance in the heat of the day to draw water. However, as John reveals this woman was of dubious character and probably came at this time to avoid the stares and ridicule of the other women of the nearby village. This was not a chance meeting, but an event of divine intervention.
The grammatical structure of Jesus's request to the woman in asking for a drink of water shows this was a polite request. It is interesting that the woman clearly recognized that Jesus was a Jew probably from His dress and dialect. She apparently was a little shocked by the fact a Jew was speaking to her, a Samaritan, and even asking to be allowed to drink from her pot. Jews held the Samaritans with such disdain they would definitely not speak to them, look at them, or touch them and if they had to travel through Samaria would brush the dust off of their feet when leaving their country.
Jesus had a message for this woman. Jesus' message was not just to the Jews, but also to the world which included the Samaritans. This woman was the first of many Samaritans who would believe and receive Jesus as their Messiah and Savior. Acts 8:5-14, records that Phillip went into Samaria and preached the Gospel and many believed. When the Apostles in Jerusalem heard that many there had been saved, they sent Peter and John there to continue preaching. Peter and John were preaching to Samaritans, some who had been baptized by John the Baptist. John's disciples had believed the message of the coming Messiah and Kingdom of God, but they did not have any specific information that Jesus was the Messiah. Therefore, there were still in the Old Testament dispensation and had not yet received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. But when they received the message of the Apostles and put their faith in Jesus Christ they were indwelled by the Spirit and became Christians and part of the current dispensation of the Church Age. Later, Acts 9:31 speaks of the churches in Judaea, Galilee and in Samaria having a period of rest from persecution after Saul (Paul) was converted. Acts 15:3, records that Paul and Barnabas also preached in Samaria and the brethren received the news of the conversion of Gentiles with great joy.
In the same manner Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, He addresses the Samaritan woman going directly to her spiritual need. Jesus says to her, if you knew the "gift of God" and who I was you would ask for "living water" and receive it. The "gift of God" is plainly a reference to God's promise of the Messiah and can also be the "gift" of His intentional coming to bring her this truth, the "living water" which is the message of salvation.
The woman's response was like Nicodemus's reply to the Lord. She did not immediately understand who Jesus was. She stated what to her was obvious; Jesus had nothing to draw up the water out of the well which was deep. The woman did not understand that the "living water" Jesus was speaking of was somehow different from the ordinary water in the well. Puzzled by His statement, she asked Jesus where He would get this "living water" because He could clearly not draw it from the well, as he had nothing to use to get it and the well was deep. She asked if Jesus thought Himself greater than Jacob who dug the well and was able to give her a greater source of water.
Jesus' reply to her question makes a clear distinction between the physical water of the well she was thinking of and the "living water" of which He was speaking. He said those who drank from the water in the well would become thirsty again, but in contrast, those who drank the "living water" would never thirst again. This different water would be a well that would spring up giving eternal life.
This passage reveals several truths about salvation. It is once received and is sufficient for eternity. Jesus, here as in John 3:15-16, clearly states that salvation is everlasting. Something that is everlasting is that which never ends. The illustration is that once drank (or received), salvation is not repeated. It fully satisfies and does not have to be repeated. Thus salvation is a one-time event and nourishes the believer's spiritual growth.
Peter states, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious" (1 Peter 2:2-3). Jesus said to Nicodemus that he needed to be spiritually "born again." When life is begun it starts the process of growth toward maturity. Though the Samaritan woman clearly did not understand what Jesus was truly saying, we who know the word of God can. Salvation once received begins a new life that never ends and brings spiritual growth or "springs of living water". Salvation truly is a spring that brings refreshing, satisfying peace and joy to the soul. In contrast the things of the world do not satisfy and always leave us unfulfilled and thirsting for more.
Once again the woman responds with her earthly understanding. She asked Jesus to give her this water that everlastingly satisfied the thirst so that she would not have to come to the well each day and draw water. Walking approximately two miles a day carrying water was drudgery and she was ready to jump at the chance of eliminating this task. Jesus' reply to her certainly was unusual, because He asked her to go and get her husband. In order to receive salvation a person must first understand that they are a sinner. The woman had unknowingly asked for salvation when she had asked for the "living water." Jesus used the question to reveal the spiritual need in her life. She needed to see her real need that she might subsequently desire to be saved. The Samaritan woman had lived a life of immorality and Jesus' question was designed to bring her face to face with her sins.
The woman honestly replied that she did not have a husband because she had not been married. The Greek word "aner" is translated each time in this verse "husband." However, it is used also to mean "an individual, a man, a fellow or a Sir." Like many Greek words the context interprets the correct meaning or use of the word. She correctly said she did not have husband, which would be a man she was legally married to. Jesus replied that she had stated the truth, because 'you have had five "men" (not legal husbands) and the one you are now living with is not your husband'. The verse can be properly translated "The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five men; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The context tells us that the woman had not had five legal husbands, but had lived with five men or fellows.
Some have taught that a sexual union between a man and woman constitutes marriage. However, this is not substantiated by the Bible. Matthew 19:5-6, describes a marital union as a man and woman who by divine appointment leave their parents and in unity commit themselves to each other and become one entity. God is the author of marriage as demonstrated in Genesis 2:22-23, when Adam made vows to Eve. To be a true marriage there must be vows of commitment, a leaving of one's parents and joining in a new relationship of unity. Living together without legal marriage means living without commitment and true unity. If the couple has not made any formal action of dedication to each other, to forsake all others, there is no true marriage. Although there is a move today to consider couples living together as having the same rights as a legally married couples, throughout history even civil law has not accepted this for marriage.
Jesus was a stranger to the Samaritan woman, yet he knew not only her present affair with a man that was not her husband, but He knew her past, and there had been a total of five men she had lived with. Because He knew these things, she says she perceives that He is a prophet, but does what many do who are confronted by the fact they are sinners. The woman ignores the implications of her sinful private life that he has just revealed to her, and shifts the conversation to a religious question.
The woman apparently was well versed in the controversy between the Jews and Samaritans. She states that part of the contention between them and the Jews was that the Samaritans worshiped at Mt. Gerizim and the Jews in Jerusalem. Jacob's well, where she and Jesus stood was located near the base of Mt. Gerizim. The Samaritans falsely taught that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice on Mt. Gerizim. Earlier in history, a local Samaritan governor named Sanballat built a temple at Mt. Gerizim, which the Maccabean Jewish rebel, John Hyrcanus, destroyed in 129 B.C. during the Intertestamental Period between the Old and New Testaments. Today there are an estimated 600 of this sect in Israel who worship as the ancient Samaritans. Correctly following the teachings of God's instruction in the Old Testament, the Jews only worshiped at the temple in Jerusalem on Mt. Moriah where Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac to the Lord as Genesis 22:2 records.
Jesus responds by telling her that the hour is coming when there will be no worship at Gerizim or Jerusalem. Jesus was referring to the fact that in a short time, the present dispensation of the Old Testament would pass and the Church Age would begin. In this present Church Age, believers worship all over the world in their hearts, homes, and local churches. In 70 A.D., Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by Titus, the Roman general, and the Jews dispersed all over the Roman Empire. Since that year, Judaism has not been biblically practiced anywhere by the Jews, because they have no temple. Biblical Judaism ceased to be practiced and is not followed today. Soon, Samaritans would be saved and become a part of this dispensation of the Church Age. As stated earlier, Acts 8:5-14 records that Phillip preached the Gospel in Samaria shortly after Christ's death and resurrection. Many in Samaria were saved including John the Baptist's converts. These Samaritans became Christians and a part of our present dispensation of the Church Age.
The Lord further explained to her that she really did not worship in truth. The Samaritans, although claiming to be true worshipers of God and followers of the Pentateuch, rejected God's revelation through the prophets and the rest of the Old Testament. They were a false religious sect or a cult of Judaism. Jesus plainly stated that the Samaritan beliefs were false and declared that it was through the Jews that salvation was come to the world. He was referring both to Himself as the promised Messiah and Savior and to the whole of the Old Testament as God's divine revelation. It was the Old Testament that prophesied of the coming of the Messiah who would take on Himself the "iniquity" of us all.
For worship to be real and honoring to God, it must have both the elements of the spirit and truth. One without the other is not true worship. The Samaritans worshiped in spirit, in the sense that they were sincere and zealous, but they lacked truth. Their worship was based on false doctrine and therefore was not biblical worship accepted by God. In reality the Jews also had the same problem. They worshiped according to the traditions of their rabbis according to the Talmud. They had the right Bible, the word of God, but did not follow its teachings, thus their worship was also unacceptable to the Lord. Their religious leaders twisted God's word to fit their own agendas. They liked the prestige, money, and power that their false teachings gave them over the people.
Today, like the Samaritans and the Jews, false prophets teach their erroneous doctrines which pervert the word of God. Their worship is not acceptable to God because it lacks truth. True worship recognizes God's instruction as to how He is to be worshiped. God did not accept worship at Mt. Gerizim as it was in the wrong place. Similarly, today's worship is polluted by ignoring God's instructions and makes worship a dead ritual or an irrelevant emotional entertainment. Biblical worship is supposed to be a heartfelt outpouring of praise, thankfulness, and adoration of God. But in our modern times, it has been turned into a spectacle for the entertainment of people. The Devil has always had his "ministers of light" which spew out his damning doctrines. God's truth is ignored by these false teachers and in its place, these men (and women), wolves in sheep's clothing, teach the corrupt wisdom of men. All over the world, church denominations and cults of Christendom zealously proclaim their polluted doctrines and millions are deceived. Little has changed since Jesus' day. Yet, there has always been and will continue to be a remnant who hold to God's truth and as saved spiritually born again believers truly worship and serve Almighty God.
God is Spirit. The Greek text is a stronger statement saying "God is Spirit." The Greek does not have the definite article "a." God is not "a" God, but God who is Spirit. God is Spirit and exists in a spirit world that is not material. The Bible says God is an eternal God from everlasting to everlasting, meaning He has no beginning or end.
"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God." (Psalms 90:2).
Man is a corporeal being made of material things, such as blood, flesh and bones. Man lives in a material universe and is a material being subject to time and space. However, God is not a corporeal being and exists in a spiritual world that is outside of our material Universe. The spiritual world in which God exists is not subject to time and space. God says He is a Spirit which means He has no material body (John 4:24). This is a revealed truth that God has given to us about Himself and His essence. In our world nothing is eternal. Everything exists in time, has a beginning and will have an end, but not so with God. That is why He says He is God from "everlasting to everlasting" meaning having no beginning and no end. Jesus proclaimed in Revelation 1:8, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty " (Revelation 1:8).
The same is true for the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. In our material world we cannot conceive of a being existing as one God, yet being three Persons. Yet, clearly the Bible says that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God. Many struggle at trying to understand what it means to be a Spirit. The reason is that we have nothing in our material world to define or compare to a spirit, thus it is difficult for us to conceive this truth. Yet, it is true because God has revealed it to us and we can accept God's word on the matter. It is a mark of a false religion that they always degrade God. Because their understanding is darkened by unbelief, man makes his false gods in his own image as being a man, or some other creature God has made. Yet, when we look around us all men can see the greatest of God's creation. His handiwork proclaims that He has unlimited attributes as Almighty God. Blinded by his unbelief, in spite of what God has clearly shown him, man chooses to make his own god.
Jesus' response spoke of the future coming of the Messiah. The Samaritan woman responds that she knows that the Messiah is coming and that He will be called Christ. The Samaritans, like the Jews were looking for a prophet to come. But like the Jews they did not understand the Old Testament teachings concerning God's Messiah. This is demonstrated in that history records several times in Samaria false Messiahs had arose. Acts 8:9 records that a man named Simon deceived the Samaritans and had a great following. The historian Josephus recorded that Pilate put down a rebellion in Samaria caused by another self-proclaimed Messiah.
Jesus made this emphatic statement that He was the Messiah and interestingly, He made it first to a Samaritan woman and not to the Jews. Jesus made this same statement again after He healed the blind man as recorded in John 9:37. Jesus' going to the Samaritan woman shows God's purpose for this Gospel. God inspired John to proclaim in detail the fact that Jesus was the Messiah, the promised One of Israel. Here Jesus Himself expresses this truth plainly so there can be no misunderstanding about who He was. It is important to consider that Jesus was replying to the Samaritan woman who said she believed the Messiah would come and would tell all things. Jesus is therefore reaching out to her with the truth, that she might believe and be saved.
The disciples at that moment returned from the village where they have gone to purchase food. They were astonished at seeing Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman. It was not only taboo to talk to a Samaritan, it was not proper for a man to talk to any woman, let alone one who was not his wife. They obviously thought that Jesus was acting in an improper way and was degrading Himself. However, out of respect or not seeking to make the matter an open issue they held their silence and made no open comment. Jesus was their rabbi or teacher and they were His disciples, and disciples do not confront their teacher or master.
The woman who had come to get water was so taken by Jesus and His statements, she left immediately in apparent haste leaving behind her water pot. She was very excited about meeting Jesus and her actions indicate that she accepted Jesus' statement that He was the Messiah. The woman rushes to the city and compels the men of the village to come with her and see a man who had told her everything she had done. She tells them He has supernatural powers and proclaims to them that He must be the Christ. She puts her statement in the form of a question. She was a woman and modesty and respect would dictate that she not tell these men this was true, but respectfully ask them to come and see for themselves. She surely made an impression on these men because they left their village and went out to the well to see Jesus. It is a truth well mentioned that when a person believes in Jesus Christ they want to tell others about Him. Learning who Jesus truly is is too much an important truth to keep to yourself. Like all Good News we learn, we want to share it with others.
Jesus disciples then compelled Him to eat the food that they had purchased in the city. Their action shows their concern in taking care of their Rabbi and Teacher. Jesus' response catches them off guard, because He proclaims that He has meat they did not know about. They were surprised by His answer and began to question one another if someone had already given Him something to eat.
Jesus then explains that He is not speaking of physical food, but of spiritual matters which were more important. He said His food or substance was to do the will of Him that sent Him and to finish His work. As a good teacher, Rabbi Jesus used every opportunity to train His disciples. They had much to learn and the importance of doing the spiritual work of God was more important than earthly things such as eating. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). Jesus stated the object of His ministry in Luke 22:42 as He agonized over His coming suffering and death on the cross, saying, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." The plan of salvation is God the Father's. Jesus, when a boy of twelve, declared His destiny when His parents found Him teaching in the temple. "And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49) Revelation 13:8, affirms that this was God's eternal plan declaring that Jesus is the ". . . Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8)
What a wonderful truth this is that is beyond our full comprehension. You and I, who are saved by God's grace, are the manifestation of a plan that existed with God before the world was even created. We should think about it in this personal way. We were in the mind of Almighty God in eternity past and who loved us then, even before we existed. What a wonderful thing it is to be a part of something of such a grand scale.
"Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours" (John 4:35-38).
Jesus continued His teaching and indirectly answering the question in the minds of the disciples as to why He was talking to the Samaritan woman. In the disciple's minds the Kingdom of God was something in the future. But seeing the Samaritans coming out of the city, Jesus proclaimed unto them that the Kingdom was now, as well as in the future. The fields, He said to them, were white or ready to be harvested. Jesus was reaping the harvest of His witness to the Samaritan woman, and the Samaritan woman was reaping the fruit of her testimony as well. Many in the village of the woman believed in Jesus Christ and were saved. Both the sower and the reaper of the Gospel rejoice when God's grace is received and people are saved.
Verse 37 is often used to express the idea than one person sows or witnesses the Gospel to a person, and then another person actually wins the soul to Christ. However, although we know this is true, it is really not all that this verse is saying. The reaper here is the one who is saved. He eats the fruit of the sower and thus benefits from the sower's labor. Jesus had sown the Gospel and the Samaritan woman had reaped and been saved. She in turn took her witness to her city and sowed the Good News to them. They then reaped the fruit of her labors and received Jesus as their Messiah.
"I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. And many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world" (John 4:38-42).
The disciples had not sown the Gospel in this Samaritan city, but Jesus had and earlier John the Baptist. Apparently, as the Samaritans came to the place by the well, the disciples began to witness to them and many of them believed. What a thrilling event this was in their lives as the long awaited Messiah had come and was in their presence. He told them the truth and surely their hearts were full and their spirits uplifted by His presence. They did not want Him to leave and beckoned Him to remain with them. They had many questions and did not want the blessing of His presence to end. There must have been a great excitement in their village as the news spread through the small city.
Jesus honored their request and remained there for two days teaching. The Samaritan's stated their first response was to believe in Jesus because of what the woman had told them. But now after two days of hearing Him teach their faith was broadened and was firmly based in the truth He taught them. It is the same when one first believes and comes to Jesus Christ. The newly saved soul accepts the Person of Jesus Christ as their Savior. As time passes and the believer learns more about Him and God's truths, his faith is strengthened and grows strong.
Jesus remained in Samaria for two days teaching, but afterward departed traveling north into Galilee. John in his next statement gives us the reason that Jesus went into Galilee. Jesus had not yet preached in Galilee as He had in Judea and Samaria and was not known as He was in the south. Jesus had been well received in Judaea and news of preaching and miracles had reached the north into Galilee. Jesus did not return to Nazareth as would be expected, but traveled to the east and north of His home town. He knew that He would be well received by the Galileans and not by His home town where He had grown up. Several times Jesus made the statement concerning "a prophet hath no honor in his own country" and is recorded in Matthew 13:57, Mark 6:4, and Luke 4:24. Matthew 13:54-58 records that Jesus did later return to Nazareth and preached in the synagogue there. The residents of His home town recognized the power of His teaching, but they were offended at Him. Apparently they were too proud to be taught by someone they knew had such humble beginnings. Clearly, they thought themselves superior to Him and they would not believe. Matthew says Jesus ". . .did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." (Matthew 13:38) Unlike His home town, the rest of Galilee openly welcomed Jesus having seen and heard of the things that happened when He was in Jerusalem.
Some of the Apocryphal books tell stories of Jesus doing miracles as a boy. The Apocryphal books are spurious books written centuries after the time of Christ, which claimed to be inspired of God. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus is supposed to have killed a scribe name Annas because he muddied pools of water Jesus had made clear. In another tale, Jesus made twelve clay sparrows on the Sabbath day. When confronted on violating the Sabbath by making the sparrows, Jesus made them come alive and fly away. John 2:11 declared that Jesus first miracle was done at Cana when He changed water into wire. If Jesus had done miracles as a boy surely the residents of His small village would have known of it and would have thought Him to have special powers from God. However, the residents of Nazareth thought him to be nothing out of the ordinary and were offended by His teachings. This is but one more evidence that the Apocryphal books are fiction and false.
John 2:23, records that many believed in His name when He was in Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover. John 4:45 records that there were many Galileans at the feast also who had seen firsthand Jesus' preaching and the positive response He had among the people there.
Jesus' first stop in Galilee was at Cana where He had performed His first miracle. Apparently, the news that Jesus was returned to Galilee and to Cana traveled quickly over the region and a noblemen who lived in Capernaum heard of Jesus' whereabouts. The nobleman's son was sick at the point of death and he left his home and traveled the 16 - 18 miles to Cana to seek Jesus' help.
The title "nobleman" refers to someone associated with King Herod or his court. For example, Luke 8:3, records that a woman named Joanna was healed of an evil spirit. She was the wife a steward, who was a nobleman named Chuzas, who was one of Herod's courtiers in Galilee. Although unnamed this man had some official office with the King Herod.
Clearly, Jesus and His ministry were well known in the region of Galilee. This nobleman had heard of Jesus' miracle at Cana and of the events surrounding His trip to Judaea. He clearly loved his son and realized that without a miracle he would die. More importantly, he believed that Jesus could heal him, although Jesus had not healed anyone before this event. In his desperation he immediately left Capernaum and went to beseech that Jesus would heal his son.
Jesus' statement to the nobleman seems to be insensitive unless one understands the hearts of Jews. The Jews were not seeking righteousness or the spiritual things of God. Jesus knew their hearts and what they were really seeking. Their thinking was worldly and they were blind to the true things of God. Later, when Jesus pressed home the message of their need to repent of their sins and need for spiritual revival, the Jews abandoned him. Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) and to present Himself to Israel and the world as the promised Messiah. His miracles were signs to show He was truly God come in the flesh and to authenticate His Messiahship. His ministry was to bring Israel into a right relationship with God.
Paul states the truth behind Jesus' statement saying, "For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom" (1 Corinthians 1:22). The Jews should have believed His message and received it on a spiritual level, but instead they continually sought some supernatural show of His power. Jesus had fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of the promised Messiah. However, they pressed for signs. As examples of this, Jesus had revealed the spiritual needs of Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, but both of their initial responses were on a worldly level. Neither Nicodemus nor the Samaritan woman seemed able to comprehend their spiritual needs. His message to the Jews was one of beseeching them to repent of their sins and receive their Messiah and promised Kingdom. He was telling them that receiving the Kingdom of God was a spiritual matter, but they were not concerned with spiritual things. This was the point that Jesus was making to the nobleman and to those who overheard his comment, which included His disciples.
The nobleman made an urgent request that the Lord should leave immediately and go to his son to heal him. Clearly, the man believed that Jesus had the power to save his son. Clearly, the Lord's response to the man was because of his faith. James 5:15 affirms the truth that God responds to genuine faith. "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him" (James 5:15). If God is to bless us and aid us in our lives it will always be based on our faith in Him. Where there is no faith God cannot work. Paul states, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1-2) It is faith that receives first, God's grace in salvation, and then we receive the daily blessing of His continual presence.
One of Paul's greatest statements concerning faith is "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
Jesus simply told the man to go home, that his son lived. The miracle performed was not seen by the people who were gathered at this place, but they soon heard of it all over Galilee. It was one thing to heal a person in their presence, but a much greater miracle to simply speak the words and many miles away a young man received his health and was healed. Jesus showed the unlimited scope of His power. The man believed Jesus' words and returned to his home to see his now healthy son.
"And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house. This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee." (John 4:51-54)
The improvement in the son's health must have been so dramatic that the nobleman's servants could not wait for the nobleman to return home. They went to find him and to give him the good news. To verify the miracle completely, the nobleman asked when his son had gotten better and they told him it was the seventh hour or one o'clock in the afternoon which was the same time Jesus had told the father his son was healed.
This was the second miracle that Jesus did in Galilee and was done after His trip to Jerusalem. Earlier records show that Jesus did miracles during the time He was in Jerusalem. "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did" (John 2:23).
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