John 4:54
This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(54) This is again the second.—The English version has inserted the article, which is not found in the Greek, and has added in italics is and that. Omitting these additions, and remembering that in St. John’s language every miracle has its deeper teaching, the verse will read, “This again, a second sign, did Jesus when he was come out of Judæa into Galilee.” His first presence in Galilee was marked by a sign (John 2:1-11), and this visit is also. There the individual disciples, who were to leave home and follow him, read the lesson the sign was meant to teach. Now for the first time the family is the unit in the Christian life, and the father, himself taught to read the sign, becomes the first teacher, and representative, of the first Christian household.

This miracle of healing naturally brings to the thoughts the healing of the centurion’s servant. See Notes on Matthew 8:5 et seq., and Luke 7:2 et seq. To some minds, from Irenæus downwards, the resemblance has seemed so striking that nothing short of identification could explain it. But there is no a priori reason why two miracles should not be performed under circumstances in some respects analogous, and the knowledge of the healing in this case may well have led to the faith in that. If we bear in mind that the miracle is ever to be regarded as the parable in act, it is probable that the acts of Christ would be repeated. Repetition is a part of the method of every great teacher, and formed a large part in the Rabbinic systems Jesus Christ was, it is true, infinitely above .all human teachers, but His hearers were ordinary men, and His teaching and working must have adapted itself to the constitution of the human mind. A comparison of the present narratives will establish the following points of difference, which in their totality amount, it is believed, to little short of proof, that St. John has added the history of a sign which is not recorded in the earlier Gospels.

(1) It is here a nobleman who pleads for his son; there a centurion for his servant (Matthew 8:6; Luke 7:2).

(2) Here the pleading is in person; there the elders of the Jews intercede (Luke 7:3).

(3) Here the nobleman is almost certainly a Jew; there the centurion is certainly a Gentile (Matthew 8:10 et seq.; Luke 7:9).

(4) Here the words of miracle are spoken at Cana; there at Capernaum (Matthew 8:5; Luke 7:1).

(5) Here the illness is a fever; there paralysis (Matthew 8:6).

(6) Here the father pleads that Jesus will go down with him; there the centurion deprecates His going, and asks Him to command with a word only (Matthew 8:7; Luke 7:7).

(7) Here the Lord speaks the word only, and does not go down; there apparently He does both (Matthew 8:13; Luke 7:6).

(8) Here the Lord blames the half-faith which demands signs and wonders; there He marvels at the fulness of faith, and, it may be in reference to this very nobleman, says, “In no one have I found so great faith in Israel” (Matthew 8:10).

John

THE SECOND MIRACLE

John 4:54
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The Evangelist evidently intends us to connect together the two miracles in Cana. His object may, possibly, be mainly chronological, and to mark the epochs in our Lord’s ministry. But we cannot fail to see how remarkably these two miracles are contrasted. The one takes place at a wedding, a homely scene of rural festivity and gladness. But life has deeper things in it than gladness, and a Saviour who preferred the house of feasting to the house of mourning would be no Saviour for us. The second miracle, then, turns to the darker side of human experience. The happiest home has its saddened hours; the truest marriage joy has associated with it many a care and many an anxiety. Therefore, He who began by breathing blessing over wedded joy goes on to answer the piteous pleading of parental anxiety. It was fitting that the first miracle should deal with gladness, for that is God’s purpose for His creatures, and that the second should deal with sicknesses and sorrows, which are additions to that purpose made needful by sin.

Again, the first miracle was wrought without intercession, as the outcome of Christ’s own determination that His hour for working it was come. The second miracle was drawn from Him by the imperfect faith and the agonising pleading of the father.

But the great peculiarity of this second miracle in Cana is that it is moulded throughout so as to develop and perfect a weak faith. Notice how there are three words in the narrative, each of which indicates a stage in the history. ‘Except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe.’ . . . ‘The man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.’ . . . ‘Himself believed and his whole house.’

We have here, then, Christ manifested as the Discerner, the Rebuker, the Answerer, and therefore the Strengthener, of a very insufficient and ignorant faith. It is a lovely example of the truth of that ancient prophecy, ‘He will not quench the smoking flax.’ So these three stages, as it seems to me, are the three points to observe. We have, first of all, Christ lamenting over an imperfect faith. Then we have Him testing, and so strengthening, a growing faith. And then we have the absent Christ rewarding and crowning a tested faith. I think if we look at these three stages in the story we shall get the main points which the Evangelist intends us to observe.

I. First, then, we have here our Lord lamenting over an ignorant and sensuous faith.

At first sight His words, in response to the hurried, eager appeal of the father, seem to be strangely unfeeling, far away from the matter in hand. Think of how breathlessly, feeling that not an instant is to be lost, the poor man casts himself at the Master’s feet, and pleads that his boy is ‘at the point of death.’ And just think how, like a dash of cold water upon this hot impatience, must have come these strange words that seem to overleap his case altogether, and to be gazing beyond him-’Except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe.’ ‘What has that to do with me and my dying boy, and my impatient agony of petition?’ ‘It has everything to do with you.’

It is the revelation, first of all, of Christ’s singular calmness and majestic leisure, which befitted Him who needed not to hurry, because He was conscious of absolute power. As when the pleading message was sent to Him: ‘He whom Thou lovest is sick, He abode still two days in the same place where He was’; because He loved Lazarus and Martha and Mary; and just as when Jairus is hurrying Him to the bed where his child lies dead, He pauses on the way to attend to the petition of another sufferer; so, in like calmness of majestic leisure, He here puts aside the apparently pressing and urgent necessity in order to deal with a far deeper, more pressing one.

For in the words there is not only a revelation of our Lord’s majestic leisure, but there is also an indication of what He thought of most importance in His dealing with men. It was worthy of His care to heal the boy; it was far more needful that He should train and lead the father to faith. The one can wait much better than the other.

And there is in the words, too, something like a sigh of profound sorrow. Christ is not so much rebuking as lamenting. It is His own pained heart that speaks; He sees in the man before Him more than the man’s words indicated; reading his heart with that divine omniscience which pierces beyond the surface, and beholding in him the very same evil which affected all his countrymen. So He speaks to him as one of a class, and thus somewhat softens the rebuke even while the answer to the nobleman’s petition seems thereby to become still less direct, and His own sorrowful gaze at the wide-reaching spirit of blindness seems thereby to become more absorbed and less conscious of the individual sufferer kneeling at His feet.

Christ had just come from Samaria, the scorn of the Jews, and there He had found people who needed no miracles, whose conception of the Messiah was not that of a mere wonder-worker, but of one who will ‘tell us all things,’ and who believed on Him not because of the portents which He wrought, but because they heard Him themselves, and His words touched their consciences and stirred strange longings in their hearts. On the other hand, this Evangelist has carefully pointed out in the preceding chapters how such recognition as Christ had thus far received ‘in His own country’ had been entirely owing to His miracles, and had been therefore regarded by Christ Himself as quite unreliable {John 2:23 - John 2:25}, while even Nicodemus, the Pharisee, had seen no better reason for regarding Him as a divinely sent Teacher than ‘these miracles that Thou doest.’ And now here He is no sooner across the border again than the same spirit meets Him. He hears it even in the pleading, tearful tones of the father’s voice, and that so clearly that it is for a moment more prominent even to His pity than the agony and the prayer. And over that Christ sorrows. Why? Because, to their own impoverishing, the nobleman and his fellows were blind to all the beauty of His character. The graciousness of His nature was nothing to them. They had no eyes for His tenderness and no ears for His wisdom; but if some vulgar sign had been wrought before them, then they would have run after Him with their worthless faith. And that struck a painful chord in Christ’s heart when He thought of how all the lavishing of His love, all the grace and truth which shone radiant and lambent in His life, fell upon blind eyes, incapable of beholding His beauty; and of how the manifest revelation of a Godlike character had no power to do what could be done by a mere outward wonder.

This is not to disparage the ‘miraculous evidence.’ It is only to put in its proper place the spirit, which was blind to the self-attesting glory of His character, which beheld it and did not recognise it as ‘the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father.’

That very same blindness to the divine which is in Jesus Christ, because material things alone occupy the heart and appeal to the mind, is still the disease of humanity. It still drives a knife into the loving heart of the pitying and helpful Christ. The special form which it takes in such a story as this before us is long since gone. The sense-bound people of this generation do not ask for signs. Miracles are rather a hindrance than a help to the reception of Christianity in many quarters. People are more willing to admire, after a fashion, the beauty of Christ’s character, and the exalted purity of His teaching {meaning thereby, generally, the parts of it which are not exclusively His}, than to accept His miracles. So far round has the turn in the wheel gone in these days.

But although the form is entirely different the spirit still remains. Are there not plenty of us to whom sense is the only certitude? We think that the only knowledge is the knowledge that comes to us from that which we can see and touch and handle, and the inferences that we may draw from these; and to many all that world of thought and beauty, all those divine manifestations of tenderness and grace, are but mist and cloudland. Intellectually, though in a somewhat modified sense, this generation has to take the rebuke: ‘Except ye see, ye will not believe.’

And practically do not the great mass of men regard the material world as all-important, and work done or progress achieved there as alone deserving the name of ‘work’ or ‘progress,’ while all the glories of a loving Christ are dim and unreal to their sense-bound eyes? Is it not true to-day, as it was in the old time, that if a man would come among you, and bring you material good, that would be the prophet for you? True wisdom, beauty, elevating thoughts, divine revelations; all these go over your heads. But when a man comes and multiplies loaves, then you say, ‘This is of a truth the prophet that should come into the world.’ ‘Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.’

And on the other side, is it not sadly true about those of us who have the purest and the loftiest faith, that we feel often as if it was very hard, almost impossible, to keep firm our grasp of One who never is manifested to our sense? Do we not often feel, ‘O that I could for once, for once only, hear a voice that would speak to my outward ear, or see some movement of a divine hand’? The loftiest faith still leans towards, and has an hankering after, some external and visible manifestation, and we need to subject ourselves to the illuminating rebuke of the Master who says, ‘Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe,’ and, therefore, your faith that craves the support of some outward thing, and often painfully feels that it is feeble without it, is as yet but very imperfect and rudimentary.

II. And so we have here, as the next stage of the narrative, our Lord testing, and thus strengthening, a growing faith.

The nobleman’s answer to our Lord’s strange words sounds, at first sight, as if these had passed over him, producing no effect at all. ‘Sir, come down ere my child die’; it is almost as if he had said, ‘Do not talk to me about these things at present. Come and heal my boy. That is what I want; and we will speak of other matters some other time.’ But it is not exactly that. Clearly enough, at all events, he did not read in Christ’s words a reluctance to yield to his request, still less a refusal of it. Clearly he did not misunderstand the sad rebuke which they conveyed, else he would not have ventured to reiterate his petition. He does not pretend to anything more than he has, he does not seek to disclaim the condemnation that Christ brings against him, nor to assume that he has a loftier degree or a purer kind of faith than he possesses. He holds fast by so much of Christ’s character as he can apprehend; and that is the beginning of all progress. What he knows he knows. He has sore need; that is something. He has come to the Helper; that is more. He is only groping after Him, but he will not say a word beyond what he knows and feels; and, therefore, there is something in him to work upon; and faith is already beginning to bud and blossom. And so his prayer is his best answer to Christ’s word: ‘Sir, come down ere my child die.’

Ah! dear brethren, any true man who has ever truly gone to Christ with a sense even of some outward and temporal need, and has ever really prayed at all, has often to pass through this experience, that the first result of his agonising cry shall be only the revelation to him of the unworthiness and imperfection of his own faith, and that there shall seem to be strange delay in the coming of the blessing so longed for. And the true attitude for a man to take when there is unveiled before him, in his consciousness, in answer to his cry for help, the startling revelation of his own unworthiness and imperfection-the true answer to such dealing is simply to reiterate the cry. And then the Master bends to the petition, and because He sees that the second prayer has in it less of sensuousness than the first, and that some little germ of a higher faith is beginning to open, He yields, and yet He does not yield. ‘Sir, come down ere my child die.’ Jesus saith unto him, ‘Go thy way, thy son liveth.’

Why did He not go with the suppliant? Why, in the act of granting, does He refuse? For the suppliant’s sake. The whole force and beauty of the story come out yet more vividly if we take the contrast between it and the other narrative, which presents some points of similarity with it-that of the healing of the centurion’s servant at Capernaum. There the centurion prays that Christ would but speak, and Christ says, ‘I will come.’ There the centurion does not feel that His presence is necessary, but that His word is enough. Here the nobleman says ‘Come,’ because it has never entered his mind that Christ can do anything unless He stands like a doctor by the boy’s bed. And he says, too, ‘Come, ere my child die,’ because it has never entered his mind that Christ can do anything if his boy has once passed the dark threshold.

And because his faith is thus feeble, Christ refuses its request, because He knows that so to refuse is to strengthen. Asked but to ‘speak’ by a strong faith, He rewards it by more than it prays, and offers to ‘come.’ Asked to ‘come’ by a weak faith, He rewards it by less, which yet is more, than it had requested; and refuses to come, that He may heal at a distance; and thus manifests still more wondrously His power and His grace.

His gentle and wise treatment is telling; and he who was so sense-bound that ‘unless he saw signs and wonders he would not believe,’ turns and goes away, bearing the blessing, as he trusts, in his hands, while yet there is no sign whatever that he has received it.

Think of what a change had passed upon that man in the few moments of his contact with Christ. When he ran to His feet, all hot and breathless and impatient, with his eager plea, he sought only for the deliverance of his boy, and sought it at the moment, and cared for nothing else. When he goes away from Him, a little while afterwards, he has risen to this height, that he believes the bare word, and turns his back upon the Healer, and sets his face to Capernaum in the confidence that he possesses the unseen gift. So has his faith grown.

And that is what you and I have to do. We have Christ’s bare word, and no more, to trust to for everything. We must be content to go out of the presence-chamber of the King with only His promise, and to cleave to that. A feeble faith requires the support of something sensuous and visible, as some poor trailing plant needs a prop round which it may twist its tendrils. A stronger faith strides away from the Master, happy and peaceful in its assured possession of a blessing for which it has nothing to rely upon but a simple bare word. That is the faith that we have to exercise. Christ has spoken. That was enough for this man, who from the babyhood of Christian experience sprang at once to its maturity. Is it enough for you? Are you content to say, ‘Thy word, Thy naked word, is all that I need, for Thou hast spoken, and Thou wilt do it’?

‘Go thy way; thy son liveth.’ What a test! Suppose the father had not gone his way, would his son have lived? No! The son’s life and the father’s reception from Christ of what he asked were suspended upon that one moment. Will he trust Him, or will he not? Will he linger, or will he depart? He departs, and in the act of trusting he gets the blessing, and his boy is saved.

And look how the narrative hints to us of the perfect confidence of the father now. Cana was only a few miles from Capernaum. The road from the little city upon the hill down to where the waters of the lake flashed in the sunshine by the quays of Capernaum was only a matter of a few hours; but it was the next day, and well on into the next day, before he met the servants that came to him with the news of his boy’s recovery. So sure was he that his petition was answered that he did not hurry to return home, but leisurely and quietly went onwards the next day to his child. Think of the difference between the breathless rush up to Cana, and the quiet return from it. ‘He that believeth shall not make haste.’

III. And so, lastly, we have here the absent Christ crowning and rewarding the faith which has been tested.

We have the picture of the father’s return. The servants meet him. Their message, which they deliver before he has time to speak, is singularly a verbal repetition of the promise of the Master, ‘Thy son liveth.’ His faith, though it be strong, has not yet reached to the whole height of the blessing, for he inquires ‘at what hour he began to amend,’ expecting some slow and gradual recovery; and he is told ‘that at the seventh hour,’ the hour when the Master spoke, ‘the fever left him,’ and all at once and completely was he cured. So, more than his faith had expected is given to him; and Christ, when he lays His hand upon a man, does His work thoroughly, though not always at once.

Why was the miracle wrought in that strange fashion? Why did our Lord fling out His power as from a distance rather than go and stand at the boy’s bedside? We have already seen the reason in the peculiar condition of the father’s mind; but now notice what it was that he had learned by such a method of healing, not only the fact of Christ’s healing power, but also the fact that the bare utterance of His will, whether He were present or absent, had power. And so a loftier conception of Christ would begin to dawn on him.

And for us that working of Christ at a distance is prophetic. It represents to us His action to-day. Still He answers our cries that He would come down to our help by sending forth from the city on the hills, the city of the wedding feast, His healing power to descend upon the sick-beds and the sorrows and the sins that afflict the villages beneath. ‘He sendeth forth His commandment upon earth, His word runneth very swiftly.’

This new experience enlarged and confirmed the man’s faith. The second stage to which he had been led by Christ’s treatment was simply belief in our Lord’s specific promise, an immense advance on his first position of belief which needed sight as its basis.

But he had not yet come to the full belief of, and reliance upon, that Healer recognised as Messiah. But the experience which he now has had, though it be an experience based upon miracle, is the parent of a faith which is not merely the child of wonder, nor the result of beholding an outward sign. And so we read:-’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.’

A partial faith brings experience which confirms and enlarges faith; and they who dimly apprehend Him, and yet humbly love Him, and imperfectly trust Him, will receive into their bosoms such large gifts of His love and gracious Spirit that their faith will be strengthened, and they will grow into the full stature of peaceful confidence.

The way to increase faith is to exercise faith. And the true parent of perfect faith is the experience of the blessings that come from the crudest, rudest, narrowest, blindest, feeblest faith that a man can exercise. Trust Him as you can, do not be afraid of inadequate conceptions, or of a feeble grasp. Trust Him as you can, and He will give you so much more than you expected that you will trust Him more, and be able to say: ‘Now I believe, because I have heard Him myself, and know that this is the Christ, the Saviour of the world.’4:43-54 The father was a nobleman, yet the son was sick. Honours and titles are no security from sickness and death. The greatest men must go themselves to God, must become beggars. The nobleman did not stop from his request till he prevailed. But at first he discovered the weakness of his faith in the power of Christ. It is hard to persuade ourselves that distance of time and place, are no hinderance to the knowledge, mercy, and power of our Lord Jesus. Christ gave an answer of peace. Christ's saying that the soul lives, makes it alive. The father went his way, which showed the sincerity of his faith. Being satisfied, he did not hurry home that night, but returned as one easy in his own mind. His servants met him with the news of the child's recovery. Good news will meet those that hope in God's word. Diligent comparing the works of Jesus with his word, will confirm our faith. And the bringing the cure to the family brought salvation to it. Thus an experience of the power of one word of Christ, may settle the authority of Christ in the soul. The whole family believed likewise. The miracle made Jesus dear to them. The knowledge of Christ still spreads through families, and men find health and salvation to their souls.Himself believed - This miracle removed all his doubts, and he became a real disciple and friend of Jesus.

His whole house - His whole family. We may learn from this,

1. That sickness or any deep affliction is often the means of great good. Here the sickness of the son resulted in the faith of all the family. God often takes away earthly blessings that he may impart rich spiritual mercies.

2. The father of a family may be the means of the salvation of his children. Here the effort of a parent resulted in their conversion to Christ.

3. There is great beauty and propriety when sickness thus results in piety. For that it is sent. God does not willingly grieve or afflict the children of men; and when afflictions thus terminate, it will be cause of eternal joy, of ceaseless praise.

4. There is a special charm when piety thus comes into the families of the rich. and the noble. It is so unusual: their example and influence go so far; it overcomes so many temptations, and affords opportunities of doing so much good, that there is no wonder that the evangelist selected this instance as one of the effects of the power and of the preaching of the Lord Jesus Christ.

50. Go thy way; thy son liveth—Both effects instantaneously followed:—"The man believed the word," and the cure, shooting quicker than lightning from Cana to Capernaum, was felt by the dying youth. In token of faith, the father takes his leave of Christ—in the circumstances this evidenced full faith. The servants hasten to convey the joyful tidings to the anxious parents, whose faith now only wants one confirmation. "When began he to amend? … Yesterday, at the seventh hour, the fever left him"—the very hour in which was uttered that great word, "Thy son liveth!" So "himself believed and his whole house." He had believed before this, first very imperfectly; then with assured confidence of Christ's word; but now with a faith crowned by "sight." And the wave rolled from the head to the members of his household. "To-day is salvation come to this house" (Lu 19:9); and no mean house this!

second miracle Jesus did—that is, in Cana; done "after He came out of Judea," as the former before.

His turning water into wine John 2:1-25 was the first, this was the second, and so in order of time before any of those miracles which he wrought in Galilee, of which we read, Matthew 4:23. This is again the second miracle that Jesus did,.... That is, in that place, in Cana of Galilee; for otherwise, in Jerusalem and Judea, he had done many miracles, between the former and this; see John 2:23; and so the following words explain it:

when he was come out of Judea into Galilee; this was the first he wrought, after his coming out of Judea into Galilee, this time, and was the second that he wrought in Cana of Galilee; see John 2:11.

This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 4:54. τοῦτο πάλιντὴν Γαλιλαίαν. πάλιν δεύτερον a common pleonasm, “again a second”; cf. John 21:16. In Matthew 26:42, πάλιν ἐκ δευτέρου; and Acts 10:15. By this note John connects this miracle with that at the wedding, John 2:1-10, of which he said (John 2:11) ταύτην ἐποίησε ἀρχὴν τῶν σημείων ὁ Ἰησοῦς. It does not mean that this was the second miracle after this return to Galilee, although the words might bear that interpretation. Why this note? Bengel thinks that attention is called to the fact that John relates three miracles wrought in Galilee and three in Judaea. Alford supposes that John wishes to note that as the former miracle had called forth the faith of the disciples, so this elicited faith from a wider circle.

Not only Strauss, Baur, and Keim but also Weiss and Sanday suppose that this is the same healing as is recorded in Matthew 8:5-13. But the differences are too great. In the one it is a Gentile centurion whose servant is paralysed; in the other it is the son of a (probably Jewish) court official who is at the point of death from fever. In the one the centurion insists that Jesus shall not come under his roof; in the other the supplicant beseeches Him to do so. The half-faith of the father is blamed; the extraordinary faith of the centurion is lauded.

Chapters 5–11 depict the growth of the unbelief of the Jews. In this part of the Gospel three Judaean miracles and one in Galilee are related in full, and the impulse given by each to the hatred of the Jews is pointed out. These miracles are the healing of the impotent man (chap. 5), the miraculous feeding (chap. 6), the cure of the man born blind (chap. 9), and the raising of Lazarus (chap. 11). This section of the Gospel may be divided thus:—

1. Chaps. 5 and 6, Christ manifests Himself as the Life first in Judaea, then in Galilee, but is rejected in both places.

2. Chaps. 7 to John 10:21, He attends the Feast of Tabernacles and manifests Himself by word and deed but is threatened both by the mob and by the authorities.

3. Chaps. John 10:22 to John 11:57, Jesus withdraws from Jerusalem but returns to raise Lazarus, in consequence of which the authorities finally determine to slay Him.54. This is again the second, &c.] Rather, This again as a second miracle (or sign) did Jesus, after He had come out of Judaea into Galilee. Both first and second had similar results: the first confirmed the faith of the disciples, the second that of this official.

The question whether this foregoing narrative is a discordant account of the healing of the centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5; Luke 7:2) has been discussed from very early times, for Origen and Chrysostom contend against it. Irenaeus seems to be in favour of the identification, but we cannot be sure that he is. He says, ‘He healed the son of the centurion though absent with a word, saying, Go, thy son liveth.’ Irenaeus may have supposed that this official was a centurion, or ‘centurion’ may be a slip. Eight very marked points of difference between the two narratives have been noted. Together they amount to something like proof that the two narratives cannot refer to one and the same fact, unless we are to attribute an astonishing amount of carelessness or misinformation either to the Synoptists or to S. John.

(1) Here a ‘king’s man’ pleads for his son; there a centurion for his servant.

(2) Here he pleads in person; there the Jewish elders plead for him.

(3) Here the father is probably a Jew; there the centurion is certainly a Gentile.

(4) Here the healing words are spoken at Cana; there at Capernaum.

(5) Here the malady is fever; there paralysis.

(6) Here the father wishes Jesus to come; there the centurion begs him not to come.

(7) Here Christ does not go; there apparently he does.

(8) Here the father has weak faith and is blamed (John 4:48); there the centurion has strong faith and is commended.

And what difficulty is there in supposing two somewhat similar miracles? Christ’s miracles were ‘signs;’ they were vehicles for conveying the spiritual truths which Christ came to teach. If, as is almost certain, He often repeated the same instructive sayings, may He not sometimes have repeated the same instructive acts? Here, therefore, as in the case of the cleansing of the Temple (John 2:13-17), it seems wisest to believe that S. John and the Synoptists record different events.John 4:54. [95] [96] Δεύτερον, the second) He had wrought miracles at Jerusalem, ch. John 2:23. This, therefore, is the second, which was wrought in Galilee, when He had come thither out of Judea. [This it seems is the method of John, that he moves in a ternary way [selecting incidents by threes]. He relates three miracles accomplished in Galilee: first, at the marriage, ch. 2; the second, on the nobleman’s son, in this passage; the third, in feeding five thousand men, ch. 6. Three also in Judea: the first at the feast of Pentecost, on the impotent man at Bethesda, ch. 5; the second, after the feast of tabernacles, on the blind man, ch. 9; the third, on the dead man Lazarus, before the Passover, ch. 11. So also after the Ascension, he has described in all three appearances, in which the Saviour exhibited Himself to the disciples: ch. John 21:14, “This is now the third time, that Jesus showed Himself to His disciples, after that He was risen from the dead.”—Harm., p. 174, etc.]

[95] ἑβδόμην, the seventh) Immediately after mid-day. And one cannot suppose that either the nobleman or his servants delayed: therefore he had set out a long journey to Jesus.—V. g.

[96] Ver. 53. καὶ ἡ οἰκία αὐτοῦ ὅλη, and his whole house) What can be imagined more gratifying than such an announcement!—V. g.Verse 54. - This is again a second sign which Jesus did, when he had come out of Judaea into Galilee. The point is that each return from Judaea to Galilee had been charged with special emphasis by the occurrence of a "sign." We are told (John 2:23; John 3:2) of slams wrought in Jerusalem, and, consequently, it could not be meant to be the second sign wrought by him. The πάλιν refers to the ἐλθὼν clause, i.e. to the repetition of his entrance on work in Galilee. The first sign was the transformation of the water; the second, under similar conditions, was the healing a dying child by his word (so Godet, Lunge, and Westcott). This passage of St. John's Gospel which we have now reviewed is a distinct period of our Lord's life and ministry, concerning which the synoptists were silent; and it is marvellously complete in itself. It is an epitome of the whole life of the blessed Lord, and presents an outline and specimen of his method and his work. The disciple unnamed seems always at the side of the Lord. A mighty spell had fallen on him; and he was beginning already to discern in him the characteristics which ultimately directed him to compose the prologue. The penetration of the hidden secrets of all hearts - first his own, then those of Cephas and Nathanael, and the motives of Mary, and the spirit of Nicodemus, the intentions of the Pharisees, the secret life of the Samaritaness, and the inchoate and imperfect faith of the nobleman. Jesus is presented to us in marvellously different, yet mutually complementary, relations.

(1) Gathering susceptible spirits to himself, and judging men by the reception they were giving or not giving to his word; e.g. Nathanael, Nicodemus, the Jews, the Samaritans, the Galilaeans.

(2) Accepting or revealing the mightiest and most enduring names - "The Son of God," "the Lamb of God," the Baptizer with the Holy Ghost, "the King of Israel," the Opener of the kingdom of heaven, the Creator of all things, the Head of the theocracy, the Rebuilder of the temple of his body, the Teacher of the teacher of Israel, the "Son of man," the Saviour, the Giver of eternal life, the Light, the Bridegroom of the true bride, the Object of the eternal Father's love, the Revealer of the Father in his most essential features and most perfect will, the "Prophet that should come into the world," the "Saviour of the world," the "Christ of God."

(3) We see him, in the majesty of his omnipotence, hiding himself, as the Almighty always does, behind and in his works; we see him hallowing and heightening the joys of nuptial love, and again purifying the house of God from all contaminating adjuncts; we see him in his exalted mood consumed by holy zeal, and also weary and thirsty by the well, asking for water from an alien, and making to her the most astonishing revelations, hushing the pride, as they have secured the reverence, of all after ages by their spirituality and refinement.

(4) We have specimens of every kind of reception and non-reception accorded to his teaching. Some at once perceive his extraordinary claims, and pour forth their homage; others are silent, and pass out of sight forever. Some are cold and reserved, critical and puzzled; others glow and gush with instantaneous conviction. We see in these chapters the shadow of the cross, and gleams also of the crown of Jesus.

(5) We have, moreover, remarkable forthshadowing of the immense human personality which is sustained, not only by what follows in this Gospel, but by what was well known and widely circulated when this Gospel was written, e.g. the impression which he spontaneously gave of reserves of power and truth. A necessity seems imposed upon him of speaking in parabolic, enigmatic language. He continually rises from the commonest incident and material to the Divinest truth; utilizing for his purpose the fig tree, the wine cup, the temple courts and sanctuary, the roaring wind, the flowing water, the rising corn, and the coming harvest. One remarkable aspect of this preliminary ministry is the light it throws upon the profoundly difficult passage in the synoptics, descriptive of the temptation of Jesus - a subject on which this evangelist says nothing. Later on, indeed, he tells us that Jesus said, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me;" and, "Now is the crisis of this world: now is the prince of this world cast out. And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men to me" (John 12:31; John 14:30). In these chapters the evangelist records certain events which correspond in a remarkable way with the threefold temptation of the devil, which we know to have preceded the public ministry in Galilee. Thus,

(1) over against the devil's temptation to make stones into bread for his own sustenance, and as proof of his sonship to himself, we find that Mary his mother said to him, at the marriage feast, "They have no wine." His reply was, "Not in the way which you propose will I make myself known to the world." "Mine hour [for that] is not yet come." He did, however, in a manner baffling to all but his disciples, turn water into wine for the behoof of poverty and the hallowing of earthly joy, and the manifestation, not so much of the glory of his power as of the fulness and sweetness of his love. Compare with this his asking for water from the well for his own refreshment as a weary, thirsting man, and also the spirit of his reply to his disciples, "I have meat to eat which ye know not off;" "My meat is to do the will of him who sent me."

(2) Over against the devil's temptation to descend in splendid supernatural effect from the pinnacle of the temple upon the astonished multitude, trusting in the mean while to the hands of angels to hold him up, we have John's account of his sudden appearance in the temple, when, consumed by holy zeal for its purity, instead of loud acclaim, he encountered the first muttering of the storm which culminated on Calvary, and made it evident that he only looked to victory over their prejudices by eventually building up that temple of his body which they, by their obtuseness, were beginning to destroy.

(3) Over against the temptation to win the powers of the world and the glory of them by a sinful compromise, i.e. by admitting the legitimacy of the power of the devil in human polity, John tells us that Jesus, by uncompromising fidelity to his great mission as spiritual Healer, waved off the half-homage of the ruler of the Jews and master of the schools, and pointedly declared his need of personal, individual regeneration. Then we read that he quietly began his humble career of persuasion, that he grappled with and discarded the presumptuous claim of nationality, and announced the nature of spiritual worship. Not by the pomp of national homage won by truckling to the power of evil, but by the conversion of the simple hearts of Samaritans through their personal conviction that he was indeed the Saviour (not the Caesar) of the world, he would win the world. Such obvious comparisons are not fortuitous. These events set forth, on a magnificent scale of converse and action, the deep lessons of the temptation, and show, as. the synoptists tell us, that he was filled with the Holy Ghost (see Introduction). Yet, notwithstanding all this, it were a great mistake to suppose that he had exhausted his resources or his teaching; he has simply uttered the alphabet of the whole gospel which he is about to disclose. The teaching of the valedictory discourse is prodigiously in advance of this introduction to his ministry. The truths absolutely revealed are the need of a complete purification of man and temple, the imperative necessity of heavenly birth, of spiritual worship, of implicit faith in the Father's love, and of patient waiting for God. We have two incidents of the Lord's ministry in Galilee, but also impressive hints of the adaptation of his gospel to that world of strangers and outcasts that he has come to seek and save. Our great difficulty is in the silence which the Fourth Gospel preserves concerning the continuous ministry of our Lord in Galilee after this preparation for it. In John 6:4 we learn that the Jews' Passover was at hand, and we find ourselves in the midst of a group of facts in which some chronological hints may be gained. The multiplication of the loaves, the walking upon the sea, are events which are recorded by the synoptists, and which appear there to have followed the execution of John the Baptist, and the conclusion of the trial mission of the twelve disciples. We must, therefore, conclude that, between the Passover of John 2:13 and John 6:4, one year must have, at least, elapsed. (It is true that Browne, in his 'Ordo Saeculorum,' has endeavoured to obliterate this reference to the Passover as a gloss, but without any authority from codices, or versions, or other diplomatic evidence.) This period, moreover, includes a vast amount of incident in the synoptic narrative; all that, e.g., which is recorded in Mark between John 1:14 and John 6:56. Now, it is obvious that, after a period of general response to his claims, our Lord encountered (according to the synoptists) an organized opposition from the Pharisees (see Mark 2, 3, and parallels, and especially from John 2:23 to John 3:6), in particular a bitter and deadly persecution on the ground of his heterodoxy of word and conduct with reference to the rabbinic interpretation of the sabbatic law. There are also other indications of a rising storm of indignation, even in Galilee, to modify the popular enthusiasm. Concerning this John says nothing, but he does record the origin of the storm in the metropolis in his account of a journey to Jerusalem taken in the course of this period. It was his obvious purpose to detail the history of the conflict with the hierarchical party at Jerusalem. The metropolis was the great focus of the antagonism to Christ, and John describes those scenes which appeared in Jerusalem to have stimulated the assault, and thereby, elicited the self-revelation of Jesus.



This is again the second miracle, etc.

Literally, this did Jesus again as a second sign. The pleonasm in again, the second, is only apparent. Other miracles had indeed been wrought between these two; but John emphasizes these two as marking Jesus' coming from Judaea to Galilee. The healing of the nobleman's child was the second miracle, only in respect of its taking place upon Jesus' withdrawal from Judaea into Galilee. Hence the again. He wrought a miracle again, when He again came into Galilee, and this miracle was the second, as marking His second coming.

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