At that time, there was a certain ruler whose son was sick at Capharnaum. He having heard that Jesus was come from Judæa into Galilee, went to Him, and prayed Him to come down, and heal his son for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. The ruler saith to Him: Lord, come down before my son die. Jesus saith to him: Go on thy way, thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus had said to him, and went his way. And as he was going down, his servants met him, and they brought word, saying that his son lived. He asked therefore of them the hour wherein he grew better. And they said to him: Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. The father therefore knew that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him: Thy son liveth and himself believed, and his whole house.
Verse 53. Thy son liveth; i.e. thy son is recovered, at this very moment. Wi.
46. So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. 48. Then said Jesus to him, Except you see signs and wonders, you will not believe. 49. The nobleman said to him, Sir, come down ere my child die. 50. Jesus said to him, Go your way; your son lives. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken to him, and he went his way. 51. And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, your son lives. 52. Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said to him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. 53. So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said to him, your son lives: and himself believed, and his whole house. 54. This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judea into Galilee.
CHRYS. On a former occasion our Lord attended a marriage in Cana of Galilee, now He goes there to convert the people, and confirm by His presence the faith which His miracle had produced. He goes there in preference to His own country.
AUG. There, we are told, His disciples believed on Him. Though the house was crowded with guests, the only persons who believed in consequence of this great miracle, were His disciples. He therefore visits the city again, in order to try a second time to convert them.
THEOPHYL. The Evangelist reminds us of the miracle in order to express the praise due to the Samaritans. For the Galileans in receiving Him were influenced as well by the miracle He had wrought with them, as by those they had seen at Jerusalem. The nobleman certainly believed in consequence of the miracle performed at Cana, though he did not yet understand Christ’s full greatness; And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum.
ORIGEN. Some think that this was an officer of King Herod’s; others, that he was one of Caesar’s household, then employed on some commission in Judea. It is not said that He was a Jew.
AUG. He is called a nobleman, either as being of the royal family, or as having some office of government.
CHRYS. Some think that he is the same centurion, who is mentioned in Matthew. But that he is a different person is clear from this; that the latter, when Christ wished to come to his house, entreated Him not; whereas the former brought Christ to his house, though he had received no promise of a cure. And the latter met Jesus on His way from the mountain to Capernaum; whereas the former came to Jesus in Cana. And the latter servant was laid up with the palsy, the former’s son with a fever. Of this nobleman then we read, When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him, and besought Him that He could heal his son: for be was at the point of death.
AUG. Did not he who made this request believe? Mark what our Lord says; Then said Jesus to him, Except you see signs and wonders, you will Not believe. This is to charge the man either with lukewarmness, or coldness of faith, or with went of faith altogether: as if his only object was to put Christ’s power to the test, and see who and what kind of person Christ was, and what He could do. The word prodigy (wonder) signifies something far off, in futurity.
AUG. Our Lord would have the mind of the believer so raised above all mutable things, as not to seek even for miracles. For miracles, though sent from heaven, are, in their subject matter, mutable.
GREG. Remember what He asked for, and you will plainly see that he doubted. He asked Him to come down and see his son: The nobleman said to him, Sir, come down, ere my child die. His faith was deficient; in that he thought that our Lord could not save, except He were personally present.
CHRYS. And mark his earthly mind, shown in hurrying Christ along with him; as if our Lord could not raise his son after death. Indeed it is very possible that be may have asked in unbelief. For fathers often are so carried away by their affection, as to consult not only those they depend upon, but even those they do not depend upon at all: not wishing to leave any means untried, which might save their children. But had he had any strong reliance upon Christ, he would have gone to Him in Judea.
GREG. Our Lord in His answer implies that He is in a certain sense where He is invited present, even when He is absent from a place. He saves by His command simply, even as by His will He created all things: Jesus said to him, Go your way, your son lives. Here is a blow to that pride which honors human wealth and greatness, and not that nature which is made after the image of God. Our Redeemer, to show that things made much of among men, were to be despised by Saints, and things despised made much of, did not go to the nobleman’s son, but was ready to go to the centurion’s servant.
CHRYS. Or thus; In the centurion there was confirmed faith and true devotion, and therefore our Lord was ready to go. But the nobleman’s faith was still imperfect, as he thought our Lord could not heal in the absence of the sick person. But Christ’s answer enlightened him. And the man believed the word which Jesus had spoken to him, and went his way. He did not believe, however, wholly or completely.
ORIGEN. His rank appears in the fact of his servants meeting him: And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, your son lives.
CHRYS. They met him, to announce what had happened, and prevent Christ from coming, as He was no longer wanted. That the nobleman did not fully believe, is shown by what follows: Then inquired he of them at what hour he began to amend. He wished to find out whether the recovery was accidental, or owing to our Lord’s word. And they said to him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. How obvious is the miracle? His recovery did not take place in an ordinary way, but all at once; in order that it might be seen to be Christ’s doing, and not the result of nature: So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said to him, your son lives; and himself believed, and his whole house.
AUG. If he only believed when he was told that his son was well again, and had compared the hour according to his servant’s account, with the hour predicted by Christ, he did not believe when he first made the petition.
BEDE. So, we see, faith, like the other virtues, is formed gradually, and has its beginning, growth, and maturity. His faith had its beginning, when he asked for his son’s recovery; its growth, when he believed our Lord’s words, Your son lives; its maturity, after the announcement of the fact by his servants.
AUG. The Samaritans believed; on the strength of His words only: that whole house believed on the strength of the miracle which had been brought in it. The Evangelist adds, This is again the second miracle which Jesus did, when He was come out of Judea into Galilee.
CHRYS. The second miracle, he says markedly. The Jews had not come to the more perfect faith of the Samaritans, who saw no miracle.
ORIGEN. The sentence is ambiguous. Taken one way, it means that Jesus after coming to Galilee, performed two miracles, of which that of healing the nobleman’s son was the second: taken another, it means, that of the two miracles which Jesus performed in Galilee, the second was done after coming from Judea into Galilee. The latter is the true and received meaning. Mystically, the two journeys of Christ into Galilee signify His two advents; at the first of which He makes us His guest at supper, and gives us wine to drink; at the second, He raises up the nobleman’s son who was at the point of death, i.e. the Jewish people, who, after the fullness of the Gentiles, attain themselves to salvation. For, as the great King of Kings is He, whom God has seated upon His holy hill of Sion, so the lesser king is he, who saw his day, and was glad, i.e. Abraham. And therefore his sick son is the Jewish people fallen from the true religion, and thrown into a fever in consequence by the fiery darts of the enemy. And we know that the saints of old, even when they had put off the covering of the flesh, made the people the object of their care: for we read in Maccabees, after the death of Jeremiah, This is Jeremias the prophet of the Lord, who prays much for the people. Abraham therefore prays to our Savior to succor his diseased people. Again, the word of power, Your son lives, comes forth from Cana, i.e. the work of the Word, the healing of the nobleman’s son, is done in Capernaum, i.e. the land of consolation. The nobleman’s son signifies the class of believers who though diseased are yet not altogether destitute of fruits. The words, Except you see signs and wonders, you will not believe, are spoken of the Jewish people in general, or perhaps of the nobleman, i.e. Abraham himself, in a certain sense. For as John waited for a sign; on Whom you shall see the Spirit descending; so too the Saints who died before the coming of Christ in the flesh, expected Him to manifest Himself by signs and wonders. And this nobleman too had servants as well as a son; which servants stand for the lower and weaker class of believers. Nor is it chance that the fever leaves the son at the seventh hour; for seven is the number of rest.
ALCUIN. Or it was the seventh hour, because all remission of sins is through the sevenfold Spirit; for the number seven divided into three and four, signifies the Holy Trinity, in the four seasons of the world, in the four elements.
ORIGEN. There may be an allusion in the two journeys to the two advents of Christ in the soul, the first supplying a spiritual banquet of wine, the second taking away all remains of weakness and death.
THEOPHYL. The little king stands for man generally; man not only deriving his soul from the King of the universe, but having Himself dominion over all things. His son, i.e. his mind, labors under a fever of evil passion and desires. He goes to Jesus and entreats Him to come down; i.e. to exercise the condescension of His pity, and pardon his sins, before it is too late. Our Lord answers; Go your way, i.e. advance in holiness, and then your son will live; but if you stop short in your course, you will destroy the power of understanding and doing right.