This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee. (John 4:54)
Men often boast about their abilities, but when it comes time to show what they can do, they fall far short of even their own expectations. Jesus not only demonstrated His deity by His claims, but He performed inexplicable acts attributable only to supernatural power. In the previous post, we looked at Jesus’ first sign – that of turning simple drinking water into a highly complex solution i.e. wine. The low-key act called no attention to Himself, and He accomplished it by the will of His divine mind. He simply thought it, and it was done.
Jesus performed His second sign in much the same way. His first sign demonstrated His power over matter. The second sign demonstrated His power over life itself.
After the wedding in Cana where Jesus turned water into wine, Jesus went down to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover (John 2:13). This was the first Passover celebrated during His three-year ministry. John, unlike the Synoptic Gospels, records the first time that Jesus “cleansed” the Temple by chasing out the merchants and money changers (John 2:14-17). While there, Jesus intrigued a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Knowing that Jesus was sent from God, “for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:2), Nicodemus met with Jesus in secret to learn what He had to say. Jesus gave him the greatest lesson that anyone has ever heard, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, emphasis mine).
When the Passover concluded, Jesus returned to the region of Galilee by way of Samaria. There He met with a Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well (John 4:12), and He gave her “living water” (John 4:10) that became in her “a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). She was “born again” and became an instant evangelist taking the “good news” to her village (John 4:28-30). “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did” (John 4:39).
Jesus remained with the Samaritans two days before returning to Cana of Galilee (John 4:43). There a “certain nobleman” met Him with an urgent request (John 4:46). That he was a “nobleman” indicates that he probably served as a “courtier” or officer in the king’s court. The Greek word translated “nobleman” is basilikos, which means, “belonging to, or befitting the sovereign.” At any rate, he was not of the “common” folk.
His son was deathly ill, and “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” (John 4:47). At first glance, Jesus seems somewhat annoyed with the request. “Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (John 4:48). Although Jesus addressed the nobleman’s request, His response was not directed at the man. After all, the he came a long way from Capernaum down to Cana only because “he heard Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee,” and he believed only Jesus could save his son from certain death.
One of the reasons I appreciate the “old” King James Bible is for the distinction it makes between the singular and plural second person personal pronouns – thee, thou, thine and you, ye, your – as expressed in the original languages (Hebrew and Greek). All the latest modern translations simply use “you” which can be either singular or plural, which adds ambiguity to the text. The distinction is important here, because in responding to the nobleman’s request, Jesus does not address him directly otherwise the text would read, “Except thou seest signs and wonders, thou wilt not believe.” However, that is not what Jesus said. He said, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” “Ye” – in Texas we would say “y’all.” Jesus addressed the crowd around Him.
John reported this as Jesus’ second miracle, but actually, Jesus had already performed many miraculous acts as recorded by the other Gospel writers. The curious crowd followed Jesus because He gave sight to the blind, opened deaf ears, healed the lame, cleansed the leprous, cast out demons, etc. It was in this same region that He entered the synagogue in Nazareth and announced, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19). Applying the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-2 to Himself, the incensed crowd attempted to throw him over a cliff (Luke 4:28-30). “You claim to be Messiah,” they probably thought, “show us what you can do!”
In spite of all He had done, they would not believe. Jesus knew this, but He was not there for their entertainment. The nobleman was not a curiosity seeker nor did he come to be entertained. He had a serious need that only Jesus could meet. He believed this. “The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die” (John 4:49). Only Jesus could save his son’s life. “Jesus [desiring not to perform for the crowd] 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.” (John 4:50, emphasis mine). Unlike the crowd who need to “see signs and wonders” in order to believe, the unnamed nobleman took Jesus at His word, by faith, and returned to his home believing that his son would live.
Capernaum was a day’s journey north of Cana on foot. As the man neared his home, his servants ran out to meet him with the news that his son had recovered and was well. “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. 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” (John 4:52-53, emphasis mine). The “seventh hour” would have been around one o’clock in the afternoon.
Interestingly, John remarks that the nobleman “himself believed, and his whole house.” Is it that he was unbelieving until he witnessed firsthand his son’s recovery? Perhaps that was true for “his whole house,” but certainly not for him. In the first place, consider that he believed enough to seek Jesus out in the first place. In the second place, he took Jesus’ word that his son was healed, and he returned home without question. He did not need to “see” to believe. What I believe John is saying is that his faith was confirmed when he realized that his son was healed the very instant that Jesus said, “Thy son liveth.” His “whole house” believed due to his testimony.
John records this as “the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee” (John 4:54, emphasis added), but as noted above, that is not exactly true. What prompted John to make that statement? Dr. Henry M. Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Research, offers an excellent explanation:
Jesus actually had done many miracles in or near Jerusalem (John 2:23; 3:2) since the miracle of turning the water into wine. This is called the second miracle, either because it was the second done in Galilee or else because John was specifically counting only the seven great signs (all of these being miracles of creation) described in detail in order to win men to Christ (John 20:30,31).  (Emphasis mine)
I believe the latter to be the case. John’s purpose in writing his Gospel was to testify that Jesus was God in the flesh. He opens his Gospel with, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).
As in the miracle of turning water into wine, Jesus performed this miraculous act telepathically, i.e. by the mere power of His mind He made it happen. All it took was for Him to say, “Thy son liveth,” and it was so, even though He was miles away from where the sick lad lay. However, this was a small thing compared to when He called Creation into being by the mere power of His Word, “Let there be … and it was so.” This second miracle was nothing less than an act of God – Jesus.
 Jesus’ Seven Signs in John (1)
 Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Henry Morris Study Bible, (Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2012), 1577.
3 responses to “Jesus’ Seven Signs in John (2)”
This part was especially helpful: “One of the reasons I appreciate the ‘old’ King James Bible is for the distinction it makes between the singular and plural second person personal pronouns – thee, thou, thine and you, ye, your – as expressed in the original languages (Hebrew and Greek). All the latest modern translations simply use ‘you’ which can be either singular or plural, which adds ambiguity to the text. The distinction is important here, because in responding to the nobleman’s request, Jesus does not address him directly otherwise the text would read, ‘Except thou seest signs and wonders, thou wilt not believe.’ However, that is not what Jesus said. He said, ‘Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.’ ‘Ye’ – in Texas we would say ‘y’all’. Jesus addressed the crowd around Him.” The Scriptures are jot-and-tittle perfect, so we should be careful about the details whenever we study, obey, and/or teach God’s Word. Thanks for this clarification, Ernie — and, by the way, our [“our” here means my wife and me, as well as your friends at ICR] immediate prayer is for your complete post-surgery recovery.
Thank you for the prayers, Jim, and for the encouragement.
Sure thing — we need you healthy, Ernie.