|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verse 48. - Then said Jesus to him - as representing the whole class whose faith rested upon, and was nourished, by, the outward sign, with a certain amount of reproof if not of irony in the strength of his phrase - Except ye see (there is no special emphasis laid on the ἴδητε, as distinct from the mere report or testimony of such things) signs and wonders, ye will by no means believe. This is the only occasion in John's Gospel where these two terms are conjoined. They are frequently brought together in Acts (Acts 2:22, 43; Acts 4:30; Acts 5:12, etc.), and used in conjunction in Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; Romans 15:19; 2 Corinthians 12:12. John ordinarily uses (ἔργα) "works" to denote those objective tangible facts which were "signs" (σημεῖα) of the Lord's higher nature and claims. Here τέρατα, a word meaning "portents," remarkable, inexplicable events out of the common order, accompanies "signs," to complete the notion. The craving for "signs and wonders" did absorb the higher life of Judaism. "The Jews require a sign" (1 Corinthians 1:22), and minds that are yet in the Jewish stage of partial discipline, for spiritual revelation, still do the same. There is still in many of us the weak faith which needs the stimulating diet of the "sign" before there is any full recognition of the Divine fulness of blessing. Christ does not condemn, though he mourns over, this spiritual babyhood; and while he says (John 10:38; John 14:11; John 15:24) that belief for the works' sake may lead up to true faith, yet the language addressed to Thomas, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed," reveals his deepest thought of their comparative worth. The demand for "signs and wonders" in Galilee contrasts with the ready reception which the Samaritans had given to his word. Many of the difficulties of these narratives arise from the obvious fact that they are so closely compressed. Weiss has a hard task to make what he calls this "harsh answer" tally with Matthew's account of the reception of the centurion, and of the "great faith" which in his case preceded the miracle. A single sentence in the urgent request of the nobleman, implying that at Capernaum they needed the same kind of proof that had been given at Jerusalem of the Lord's prophetic claims, would account for all the emphasis laid upon the inperfect faith of the Galilaeans. He who "knew what was in man" knew in what way to rouse in this suppliant an adequate recognition of the Divine in himself.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then said Jesus unto him,.... With some degree of roughness in his speech, and severity in his countenance, in a way of reproof for his unbelief, as if he could not heal his son without going down to Capernaum along with him:
except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe. This was the cast of the Jews every where, both in Judea and Galilee; they required signs and miracles to be wrought, in confirmation of Christ's being the Messiah, and which indeed was but right; and Christ did perform them for that purpose: but their sin of unbelief lay in this, that they wanted still more and more signs; they could not be contented with what they had seen, but required more, being sluggish and backward to believe. Our Lord seems to say this chiefly for the sake of the Galilaeans, that were about him; who, though they might be acquainted with his former miracles, when among them, of turning water into wine, and had seen his wondrous works at the feast at Jerusalem, yet were very desirous of seeing more, and perhaps very pressing for this cure.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
48-54. Except ye see signs, &c.—He did believe, both as his coming and his urgent entreaty show; but how imperfectly we shall see; and our Lord would deepen his faith by such a blunt and seemingly rough answer as He made to Nicodemus.
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