3rd Week of Pascha – MONDAY. The Healing of the Nobleman’s Son, JOHN 4:46-54

Hw does one glean deep and subtle meanings from scripture?

The superior faith of the Samaritans

Signs and Wonders

The Nobleman compared to the Centurion

 

The meaning in Scripture is often very subtle, and not immediately obvious on the surface. Today’s reading is especially subtle in one of its important messages.

 

Blessed Theophylact comments that St John made a point to remind us about the miracle in Cana (a ciy of the Jews) to underscore the superiority of the faith of the Samaritans, as he had just finished recounting the story of the woman at the well, and how the Samaritans gladly received Jesus and believed in Him even though He did not do any miracles in their presence:

 

So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.  (41)  And many more believed because of his own word;  (42)  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 4:40-42)

 

The superiority of the Samaritan’s faith to that of the haughty Jews (who hated the Samaritans and considered them to be unclean heretics and inferiors) is further emphasized by our Lord’s rebuke, spoken to a Jew (for the nobleman was certainly a Jew in good standing among his people):

 

48. Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.

 

The nobleman’s weak faith  also shows a marked contrast with that of the Samaritans:

 

49. The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.

 

He could not believe that Jesus could heal without seeing his son, and blessed Theophylact further tells us that he was very afraid that his son would die, and that Christ would be unable to raise him. He only believed Jesus power to heal after he heard from his servants, who met him as he went back to his home:

 

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.

 

Of course, it is wonderful that the man’s weak faith was made strong by the incident, and his entire household believed.

 

At the end of this incident, St John again stresses the weak faith of the Jews, by again mentioning that Jesus had done two miracles among the Jews. The Samaritans had believed with no miracles, and the Jews needed two miracles, and only a few believed.

 

54 This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.

 

 

There is nothing in the Gospel which explicitly exalts the faith of the Samaritans over that of the Jews, but in several ways, the Gospel makes this point strongly, although subtly.

 

How does one glean such deep meanings from the Scripture? There are several ways; we must do them all.

 

We must be students of the Scriptures; it must be familiar to us because of long time association with its content. In other words, we must read it, a LOT.

 

We also must be “doer’s of the law and not hearers only” – no amount of reading the scripture divorced from trying to follow it will give us understanding in things that matter.

 

Of course, anybody who reads and studies something enough will know much about it, but the knowledge that saves is only available to those who read and attempt to follow the scripture! 

 

We also must be liturgical people. Our services explain the hidden points of the scriptures every day. A person who reads the scriptures for understanding and neglects frequent, attentive worship in as many services as possible is like a man who studies physics but does not understand algebra. The services explain everything, either explicitly, or by framing and shaping our minds in a way which make us able to understand the Scriptures.

 

It is also very helpful the read the Holy Fathers, but without the first three, above, reading the Fathers is an endeavor that can only lead to deficient knowledge and boasting.

 

 

A few other things about this scripture selection.

 

A “sign” is something that does not contradict the usual laws of nature, such as healing the sick. A “wonder” is a miracle that appears the contradict the usual laws of nature, such as making the blind see, or raising the dead.

 

This healing is similar to the healing of the Centurion’s servant (Mat 8:5-13), but it is not the same. Blessed Theophylact goes to some pains to explain this. The differences are many. The nobleman was a Jew; the centurion, although a man of faith, was an officially pagan Roman soldier. The nobleman’s son was ill with a fever, the centurion’s servant with paralysis. The location of the healings was different: the centurion encountered Christ after he had come off the mountain following His transfiguration and entered Capernaum, and the nobleman saw Christ after He left Samaria and entered Cana. The most important difference, of course, is that the centurion had stronger faith, which the Lord praised:

 

 

The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.  (9)  For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.  (10)  When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” (Mat 8:8-10)

 

 

 

JOHN 4:46-54  46 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.

 

 

Bibliography

The Explanation of the Holy Gospel according to St john, by Blessed Theophylact, published by Chrysostom Press – http://www.chrysostompress.org/. ALL FOUR BOOKS ARE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/pascha-monday-03_2009-05-04.doc

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/pascha-monday-03_2009-05-04.html

 

New commentaries are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

 

Archive of commentaries: http://www.orthodox.net/scripture

 

Archive of homilies: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!

 

Share

5 Responses to “3rd Week of Pascha – MONDAY. The Healing of the Nobleman’s Son, JOHN 4:46-54”

  1. Nicholas says:

    Thank you, Father, for this explanation!

    “It is also very helpful the read the Holy Fathers, but without the first three, above, reading the Fathers is an endeavor that can only lead to deficient knowledge and boasting.”

    I might add to this that when we attend the services regularly, we receive the teachings of the fathers of the church effortlessly. As I study the fathers, I’m continually amazed at how much of what they say I already know, just from having attended the services for the last 10 years.

  2. Deborah says:

    Father, Bless,

    You make a very interesting and helpful point with your contrast.

    I must say that the nobleman, as weak as his faith may have been, had more faith than I probably would have had. The Samaritans did not need miracles but they had the Savior, Himself, speaking to them at length (and in the case of the Samaritan woman, telling her things about her life that He could have only known through the power of God). But the nobleman, as far as we know, was coming in faith and hope of receiving help, not after having heard His words, but mainly because of his hearing about or witnessing Jesus’ miracle at the wedding in Cana. And from this one miracle the man surmises that Jesus’ must also have the power to heal–even though, as far as we can tell from scripture, Jesus had performed no healing miracles before this. And when Jesus tells him to go home, that his son is healed, scripture tells us that the nobleman ‘took Jesus at His word’ and left without knowledge but only trust that his beloved son was healed. His faith was weak–but it was strong enough to bring Him to Jesus to ask for help and strong enough for him to trust His word.

    And here I am now having heard both His words and countless testimonies of His miracles and I still sometimes struggle to believe that God is going to heal my sons–and me.

  3. I remember I read long ago the words of the Holy Herarch Seraphim (Zvezdinsky) that the day when we were not at the Divine Liturgy is a lost day…Of course, I could not attent liturgies every day, but I noticed that the day when I am at a liturgy, is filled with a special sense for me. It’s like painted in different colours, it is remembered, it carries the meaning that other days do not. I realise that a person who believes should, probably, feel the presence of God near him in all circumstances, all the time, all the states…but as I am not so much spiritually advanced:-(, I feel this mostly in church. Liturgy is what brings sense to life. I can hardly imagin (and do not even think of it, as I’m even afraid to think of it) what my life could be without Liturgy. What I pray for – is that the Holy Efharistia can be performed in my heart as well – like breathing. but this seems unachievable at present. The whole life of a person should be – Efharistia.

    This is the major thing Church can do for us. and what can we do for God? everything we have – is His gift, what we can bring to Him – is returning Him of what He Himself gave us. Gratitude to Him – is what we can do, being frateful & glorify Him – in all situations, in sorrow, and in joy, admitting that all we have – we have from Him, and all our life and whatever we do – won’t be enough to reward everything…

    Bishop Afanasy (Evtich) in one of his lectures describes the following episode from the life of some Russian Church Hierarch: “One Russian bishop, who came to one of the Western countries for the first time after the fall of communism, was asked by Western christians (catholics & protestants): “What does Russian Orthodox Church do for the settlement of social matters?” – this bishop answered with humility: “WE SERVE THE DIVINE LITURGY”. Being surprised by the answer, they didn’t understand Vladyka. I think this is the best answer that could be…as the Liturgy is the entrance to Heaven.

  4. Deborah says:

    Natalia wrote:
    >What I pray for – is that the Holy Euharistia can be performed in my heart as well – like breathing

    Simply beautiful–I never thought of it that way.

    Natalia wrote:
    >“What does Russian Orthodox Church do for the settlement of social matters?” – this bishop answered with humility: “WE SERVE THE DIVINE LITURGY”.

    This is something that is really understood by very few, isn’t it?

  5. Dear friends! Oh…so many aspects to discuss, to think, to feel.

    HOLY FATHERS:

    I agree, much seems familiar, and this seems also strange, at least it seemed to me so from the beginning. My endeavor to the reading of holy fathers was at first very “massive” & active. I just devoured books, and what is also strange – not in a careless or inattantive way. I absorbed the contents, the idea, the phrases, I even could quote orally. It surprised me, as I had very little time really, and read usually in bits, or on weed-ends. I wonder how I managed to swallawed so much being in a tight corner with the time & assignments! Now I have more spare time, but I read much less, and usually one & the same things….Each time I read them anew, find out new things there, focus my attention on new moments & re-examine the “old” ones. It’s like being a conjurer, taking new & new objects from one & the same basket, while the audience is bewildered at how many things can fit in such a limited capacity…
    Holy fathers also act like a refreshing shower…when I came back home from the office, I was sometimes filled with feelings & thoughts of nonpeaceful character, irritation, condemnation, offence etc. or simply tired & complaining. For this person, as a healing, I kept several books on the shelf in a visible place, so that I can turn to them any moment (like the Ladder, Makary of Egypt, John of Kronstadt “My Life in Christ”…), and at such “non ideal” states of mind I took the book from the shelf, opened it (often – at any page without thinking) & read a small portion. And – “the medicine” worked! I saw myself in the lines of this book, and smiled & thought: “What a fool you are, Natasha.” Really, thanks God for such an energency remedy!

    LITURGY:

    Deborah, thank you!
    and – very few understand. IT IS. and – impossible for full realisation.

    NOBLEMAN:

    I also always realised that His faith surpasses mine in innumerable times. and – speaking about me – I do not really realise that his faith was weak. He also seemed to me a person of humility. and in such a stressful, dramatic moment of his life he thought of Jesus, he relied on Him fully. This means much. He appeared to be a “doer”. I always admired him. and I wish I once can learn to behave like this when I am in crisis. or at least passing over a dramatic period of life. or just when things go on not as I prefer them to go.

Leave a Reply