John 4:46 Commentary - Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New TestamentIn this last paragraph of the chapter, we find our blessed Saviour performing a second miracle in Cana of Galilee, curing a nobleman's son that was sick of a fever. This nobleman apprehended Christ to be a prophet, and believed that if he were bodily present with his son, he might possibly cure him: but he did not believe him to be the Messias, who was true God, and every where present; therefore to give him infallible proof that he was so, he tells him his son was cured by the word of his mouth, even at that distance. By which miracle he cured not only the child of his fever, but the father of his unbelief.
From the whole, we note, 1. The person that here applies himself to Christ; a nobleman. We do not find Christ oft attended with nobility. Have any of the rulers believed on him? Yes; here is one: the sovereign grace of God is free: and he has his numbers among all orders, ranks, and degrees, of men. And though not many nobles are called, yet some are.
Note, 2. The calamity which befell this noble person, his son was sick; yea, dying. Earthly greatness is no defence against afflictions; great men are in trouble as other men; neither the wealth and riches of this nobleman, nor his power and authoriy, nor his honour in his country, nor his favour with his prince, could keep off God's hand either from himself or from his son; but the father feels as much by sympathy, as the child by sense.
Note, 3. The cause and special occasion, which brought this nobleman to Christ; it was in general, an affliction; and in particular, the sickness of his child.
Learn hence, That great is the fruit and profit of afflictions to the children of men. Many, with this nobleman, never come to Christ till they be driven by the cross; and particularly, God sanctifies the sickness and death of near and dear relations, (children in special) to bring persons nearer to himself.
Note, 4. This nobleman was neither faithless nor faithful: had he been quite faithless, he had not taken such pains to come to Christ: had he been faithful, he had not limited the Son of God, by saying, Come down and heal my son ere he die. Come down, as if Christ could not have cured him absent; ere my son die, as if the same power required to heal him being sick, could not raise him being dead. Lord heal my son, had been a proper suit to him who was the great Physician: but Come down, and heal him; was to teach Christ how to work. He who doth whatsoever he will, must do it how he will, and when he will. It is for us to crave and receive, not to prescribe and appoint.
Note, 5. The meekness and great condescending goodness of Jesus Christ; notwithstanding the infirmity of this poor man, our Lord says, Go thy way, thy son liveth. Worthiness in the creature, is not the motive that rules Christ. Should we measure our hopes by our worthiness, there was no blessing to be hoped for; but if we measure them by Christ's bounty and compassion, there is no blessing to be despaired of.
Note, 6. How Christ not only answers the desires, but exceeds the expectations of this distressed person. His request was only, Come and heal my son. Christ's answer was, Go thy way, thy son liveth. Our heavenly Father, when he doth not give us what we ask, gives us better than we asked. We ask what we think best, but God gives what he knows to be best. Christ here gave a greater demonstration of his omnipotency than was craved.
Note, lastly, With one word doth Christ heal two patients; the son of his fever, the father of his unbelief. It was a low degree of faith that brought the father to Christ; it was a higher dignity that sent him back to his son; but highest of all, when finding his son healed, he himself believed and his whole house.
Learn hence, That a weak faith may be true, but a true faith is always growing and increasing: It is like the path of the just, that shineth more and more until the perfect day.
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Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament
William Burkitt (1650 - 1703) was a Church of England clergyman, bible expositor, and devotional writer.
Volume 1: Matthew - John, was published in 1700.
Volume 2: Acts - Revelation was published 1703.