Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee. For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they also had gone to the feast.
So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus can come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe." The nobleman said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies!"
Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your son lives." So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, "Your son lives!" Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, "Your son lives." And he himself believed, and his whole household. This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.
- John 4:43-54
On Saturday, we read that as Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well (see the readings from Thursday and Friday), His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, "What do You seek?" or, "Why are You talking with her?" The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" Then they went out of the city and came to Him. In the meantime His disciples urge Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors." And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all that I ever did." So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world."
Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee. For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they also had gone to the feast. The text tells us that Jesus had spent two days with the Samaritans from the town near Jacob's well, among whom He found "the fields white for harvest," that is, many believers. To spend so much time among Samaritans is, again, something shocking for a Jewish man of His time and place, but among these people He found great faith, and those who sought Him out. All four Gospels record Jesus' saying that "a prophet has no honor in his own country," and of this we must make note (see also this saying in Matthew, Mark, and Luke). Here, it is in part an additional explanation for spending His time with the Samaritan believers. Earlier, we were told that many "believed in His name" at the festival in Jerusalem, having seen the signs He did, but that Jesus did not commit Himself to any of them; that is, because He knew what was in the hearts of men, He did not entrust Himself to them (John 2:23-25). This is contrasted with the faith He found in the Samaritans at Jacob's well.
So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus can come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe." Again we are given to understand that faith that relies on signs and wonders is not the kind of faith that Jesus is looking for; it's not truly complete faith. Here Jesus is not addressing the nobleman in particular but rather the people (you is plural both times in this verse). This kind of faith turns to scorn when miracles cease; faith involves trust, love, and devotion.
The nobleman said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies!" Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your son lives." So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, "Your son lives!" Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, "Your son lives." And he himself believed, and his whole household. This man's concern was clearly for his child, for whom (as so many who seek help in the Gospels do) he shows a great love and affection. But his faith in Christ was weak, not understanding that, as my study bible puts it, "Christ is Lord over illness even from a distance." Nor does he grasp that Jesus would have the power to heal even if the child were to die. Finally, he asks about when the healing took place, still seeking a kind of proof of Jesus' authority. Only after this confirmation do he and his whole household believe. My study bible says, "Thus, in healing the child from a distance, Jesus heals not only the body of the child, but the soul of the nobleman."
This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee. In this second sign reported in John's Gospel (the first was at the wedding at Cana, turning the water into wine), Jesus heals a nobleman's son. My study bible invites us to understand that He's already revealed that He can see into the hearts of people from a distance (as with Nathanael, see 1:45-48), here Jesus shows that He heals from a distance. In other words, it is an expression that His divine power knows no earthly limits.
It is interesting to think about the experience of the faith of the nobleman in the story we're given today. There is a great deal of tension expressed here, although as the Gospel is written quite simply and straightforwardly, it may be difficult for us to discern it. Think about what it is to have a dying child or one to whom we are deeply attached in such a circumstance. This is a situation that is dire, perhaps that has come on very swiftly. Yet Jesus asks a kind of patience, first making the statement, presumably before others as well, that "unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe." Perhaps this is a message about the healing, that the faith He seeks is not that which depends upon only such things. The nobleman then pleas again, more desperately this time for Jesus to come immediately; his child is about to die. Jesus tells him, "Go your way; your son lives." But in some sense, the man is still asked for faith. Jesus doesn't come directly and address and resolve the problem; the nobleman has no way of understanding "factually" whether or not this has happened. He has only Jesus' word. He can't see the outcome for himself. So he's asked to live in faith with some kind of tension, a lack of certainty, or proof. As he goes, his servants meet him, and tell him that his son lives. His tension isn't really broken until he asks the servants, seeking to confirm what exactly has happened, the precise time when the child was healed. (The seventh hour is about one o'clock in the afternoon.) What we're given in this brief story is a kind of microcosm of what faith asks of us. Often, our faith calls us simply to wait: to wait amid great tension, the unresolved tension of living with a problem, an evil, a type of affliction, without having a clear understanding of its nature nor of its solution. I find that these are the times of our greatest temptation, and also possibly of our greatest triumph. So much depends upon the faith that we are called upon to cultivate, nurture, and strengthen by simply living with that tension, placing ourselves in the hands of faith, of prayer, of God, and being able to sit in that place without its overwhelming us. This cultivation of detachment through faith is not a question of stoicism. It's not a question of being able to fully control our feelings. It becomes a question of sitting with Christ, turning to God in that time, without an obvious solution or immediate sign or wonder, of being able to hold onto Christ with the tension, even in the midst of it. We may find ourselves in time of prayer able to "let go" -- even momentarily -- in order to cling to Him or to those who also help us in our faith: ministers and fellow faithful, saints and all the hosts who make up the "great cloud of witnesses" in the living body of faith. I find that no matter what the problem is that is facing us, no matter what its nature, the capacity for returning to faith in the midst of sustained tension is where God calls us to be as part of a journey of faith. One may consider the great desire for immediate resolution, for certainty of any kind, and relief of the tension, to be a great temptation, even if it is a natural desire. At that time we may be provoked to all kinds of action, but we are called to faith: to living with the tension as we, step-by-step, place our circumstances and faith in the hands of God. This does not mean we do nothing: this man has sought Christ. Prayer is not "nothing," it can be the source of great inspiration for solutions, or avenues of inquiry or pursuit, when we give ourselves a break from the temptation of panic or being overwhelmed, of hopelessness, or helplessness. But we are always encouraged to find strength in faith without denying what we're feeling, to return to our union and reliance on God, that bond of love, and trust through all things.