So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. (47) When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. (48) Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. (49) The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. (50) Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. (51) And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. (52) 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. (53) 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. (54) This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee." [John 4:46-54]
CHRIST IS RISEN!
There is a lot here in this short story of the second sign Jesus did at the beginning of his ministry.
Sometimes reading scripture is similar to pricing real estate; in real estate the three most important things are "location, location, location!" and in Scripture hermeneutics, we must pay attention to "context, context, context!"
Jesus' first two signs were in the land primarily inhabited by the Gentiles, Galilee. Previous to this miracle, He turned water into wine among the Gentiles (in Cana of Galilee) , and met the Samaritan woman (considered by the Jews to be worse than the Gentiles, as they were considered to be apostate Jews). The Samaritans after being evangelized by woman we have honored with the title "Photini, Equal to the Apostles", believed in Jesus, and all they required was two days of listening to his talk, which was "as no man has ever spoke". The Jews, especially among the ruling elite, did not believe, and were jealous, and actually asked for a sign, ignoring the miracle of the wine, and Jesus obvious authority and wisdom. This is why Saint John mentions:
"Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee. (44) For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honor in his own country." (John 4:43-44)
Within this context, we encounter this story.
The nobleman believed Jesus without requiring proof, and the context if his belief, juxtaposed with the faith of the Samaritans, and the miracle in Cana of Galilee is a resounding rebuke of the unbelieving Jews. The elite Jews did not believe because they were blinded by anger, and jealousy and pride. We had best make a note of this.
The most compelling aspect of this story is if we apply it to ourselves. It can be (MUST BE) understood in a metaphorical way; it refers to two events, one historical, and the other being the process of our redemption.
The nobleman believed the Lord and went away, and his son was healed at the time of our Lord's promise. It took a little while for the nobleman to get this news. That interim time is a metaphor for our entire life!
The healing that is taking place is not "flashy", but it is definitely happening in stages. The Lord promises us much more than the healing of our son; He promises us perfection and total peace in our souls. As we live our life, it is evident that we are not always at peace, and have many problems and obstacles. Are we like the nobleman? Do we believe even though we do not have absolute evidence that the things we long for are coming to pass?
Let's admit it; we must WORK on maintaining our belief. Discouragement is actually disbelief. Let's have the courage to label it as such, and work on renewing our belief that the word of the Lord TO US will come to pass. I do not know any other way to do this except to pray when I don't feel like praying, and do stuff I do not want to do. I hunger to read the Scriptures, especially the Gospels and the Psalter, and other holy things, because these things increase my belief and resolve to continue the struggle. I fast for this reason. I attend the services as much as possible for this reason (and not because I am the pastor and must go - search the internet, and you will find many churches, even big ones, that as a general rule have services only on Sunday - I schedule services because my soul needs them, and my flock needs them too).
The nobleman's faith brings home the point that:
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2Peter 3:9)
O Lord, help us to be patient and always believe, even when we are tempted to be discouraged.
Priest Seraphim Holland 2013 St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
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Our parish is being encouraged to read the
Gospel of John during the Pentecostarion period. If we read 1/2 chapter a day
plus the remainder (about 2 chapters) the day before Ascension, we will finish
in forty days.
This small essay is a prayerful meditation on some part of the "assigned" reading. REMEMBER - read the scripture to apply it to yourself. This is all important. There may be parts you do not understand, but there will always be something that touches your heart if you read it prayerfully.
If you have comments about this verse or another in this selection (John 4:43-44), please add them in the comments, or email them to me.