Posted 2nd April, 2019

By John Aldworth

John 4:48: Except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe.

It is 29 kilometres from Cana in Galilee (where Jesus turned water into wine) to Tiberias (where King Herod held court) on the Sea of Galilee’s western shore. But it is a journey Jesus never made despite twice being commanded to do so.  And in his refusal to go there, there’s important truth we need to learn.

First, though let’s recap. In the first part of this study, the suggestion was put forward that the Seven Signs found in the Gospel of John are signs that point to how Christ will both save the world and take away its sin in time to come.

The second part asserted that the first such sign (‘miracle’ in the gospel of John should really be translated ‘sign’), the turning of water into wine, was a foretaste of what the Lord will do in the soon coming Day of Christ when He will save the world and rule powerfully from heaven. As a sign of that which is to come the divinely made wine brought joy to the wedding at Cana. The miracle signified that when his kingdom comes the Lord will bring joy not only to marriage but also to every aspect of human life. It was concluded that, as originally made by God, Adam and Eve were joyful and happy but sin robbed them of that. Therefore it will be a priority for Christ Jesus the Lord to fully restore that joy to his people when He comes into his glory.

Now in the third part of this study, we look at the saving from death of the nobleman’s son which took place, again, at Cana. Actually, the story told in John 4:46-54, is that of a ruler meeting a greater ruler and being made to obey him. That may not be how most people see it but that’s what it is. It is also a lesson in learning to walk by faith and not by sight. As Jesus told the ‘certain nobleman’ in no uncertain terms: ‘Unless ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe’ (emphasis mine). As we shall see again later in the healing of the man blind from birth, the feeding of the 5,000 and the resurrection of Lazarus the Lord was teaching that it is only believing before seeing and obeying his word that constitutes real faith.

That said, let us pick up the story. Jesus, having performed several undescribed miracles at the Feast of Passover in Jerusalem (John 2:23, 4:45), returns from Judea to Galilee and is welcomed because of what He had done. It is significant that He returns to Cana where He turned water into wine, perhaps hoping to see evidence of the faith that miracle should have generated. If so, He was disappointed.

For, instead of believers who would trust his word without seeing miracles, there came a ‘nobleman’ – the word means a 'ruler' - in the court of King Herod. This man is presented as a ruler 'with authority', in sharp contrast to the Roman centurion who was a man 'under authority' and who submitted immediately to Jesus as Lord.

At first, the nobleman ‘besought’ (i.e. begged) the Lord to come down (from Cana to Tiberias where Herold held court) and heal his son who was ‘at the point of death’. Evidently, he could not believe, as the more faithful Roman centurion (whose servant was sick) did, that Christ could simply send the word and healing would take place (Matthew 8:5-10). But Jesus does not 'come down'; instead he commands the nobleman to 'come up' by having faith that the Lord could heal simply by speaking a word.

A clash of rulers

To achieve this Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe’ (John 4:48). What did He mean? Well, first that that by now every Israelite should have known that right there in Cana where the two met He had turned water into wine thus proving his status as the Christ, the Messiah and the Son of God. And the Lord expected all Israelites to have faith in what He had done. Secondly, that since He had turned water into wine simply by commanding the servants at the wedding to obey his explicit instructions, then it was by obedience to his word, not necessarily by his presence, that miracles and healings would take place.

What follows is a clash between two men of power, the One with power from on high, the other with power on earth. The nobleman was a 'ruler' in Herod's court; while not the king he evidently was accustomed to commanding others. And so, he commands Jesus, saying, 'Sir, come down ere my child die'. Here the word 'Sir' is not a term of respect but a common appellative. Thus the ruler really commanded Jesus saying, 'Mr., come down before my son dies'.

And that Jesus refused to do, instead commanding the nobleman to, 'Go thy way, thy son liveth'. The matter now becomes a test of faith. Will the nobleman, so used to telling others what to do, do what he is told to do by the Lord, who should be his Lord? Thankfully, he does, demonstrating once more the importance of obeying the word of the Lord rather than vainly trying to get Him to obey ours!

On his way down to Tiberias the ruler is met by servants who repeat the very words of Jesus to tell him, 'Thy son liveth'.  Upon inquiry, the ruler learns that it was at the very hour that the Lord spoke to him that the fever left the boy. The wonderful outcome is that not only the nobleman now believes but also his 'whole house'.

A world of light and health

So in what way is this miracle a signpost to how God will save the world in the next aeon? Answer: In several ways.

Firstly, In the Day of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:7, Philippians 1:6, 2:16, 2 Timothy 4:1) there will be no disease that will not be banished by a simple word from the Lord. 'The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick' (Isaiah 33:24). The Lord's 'saving health' shall 'be known among all nations' (Psalm 67:2).

When God's government takes over there will be light, health and healing for every man, woman and child on earth. Death because of Adam's sin (Romans 5:12) will be abolished.  No one will die because of Adam's sin, only because of their own. There will be 'sin unto death' (I John 5:16-17), but if they confess their sins God will be faithful and just to forgive and cleanse them from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Even the 'rebellious' will benefit ( Psalm 68:18) just as Jesus and his apostles when proclaiming the kingdom healed all who had need without distinction.

It will be a different world, one without hospitals, doctors, nurses, hospices, drugs or supposed remedies. There will be no prisons, police or criminals, no armies, navies or air forces, no arms and no conflicts.  Every sword will have been beaten into a ploughshare (Isaiah 2:4). There will be an abundance of food (Psalm 67:6). No insurance company will survive because there will be nothing to insure against. Now, if this seems too good to be true remember that Christ is 'the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world' (John 1:29). What a wonderful place it will be when He does so.

Secondly, in this wonderful new Day of Christ the word of the Lord will be constantly, instantly in everyone’s heart and mind. He will speak and be broadcast 24/7 with instructions specific to each individual (Isaiah 30:21). Thirdly, there will be only one King, one ruler – the Lord. His kingdom shall never be destroyed; it will break and consume all other kingdoms (Daniel 2:44). As we are told in 1 Timothy 14-15, ‘… at his appearing, which in his times (i.e. the Day of Christ), He shall show (that He is) the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords who only hath immortality …’

To sum up, we can do no better than to quote the promises of God about this new era as related by the Prophet in Isaiah 65:20-25:

There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days; for the child shall die an hundred years old, but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses and inhabit them, and they shall plant vineyards and eat of the fruit of the vine.They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat; for as the days of a tree (some are thousands of years old) are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.And it shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock, and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain (i.e. the Lord’s government)’

To be continued.