The Nobleman’s Son

John 4:46-54



We have before us the second miracle of Christ performed in Cana of Galilee.  It is not the second miracle Jesus performed, however, as there were other miracles between the first miracle of John 2 and the second miracle of John 4.  John 2:23 records that Jesus did many miracles while in Jerusalem during the Passover celebrations.  It is important to understand this is not a Biblical contradiction.  It is a misunderstanding on our part.  The Bible is perfect, without error, but many will compare John 2:11, John 2:23, and John 4:54 and believe there is a Biblical contradiction, and throw the entire Bible out the door.  Others will declare the Bible is full of errors, and is completely unreliable, and will cast the entire Bible out the window.  The problem is not the Bible, but us.  We must read exactly what the Bible states, and not read into it what we think it says. 

Why were some miracles recorded in the Bible, while other miracles were not recorded?  John 20:30-31 records And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. 

The people who lived when Christ walked this earth did not need miracles to believe, but Christ gave them some miracles to prove that he is the living God.  Today, we do not need miracles to believe, but Christ has graciously given us the miracles recorded in the gospels to prove to all that he is the living God, the everlasting Saviour, the prince of peace and the giver of everlasting life. 

John also states in John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.  It would be impossible for the world itself to contain all the books written about the things Christ did, but these are written to prove to all that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. 


Verse 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. 

I.    The background. 

A.     This is a nobleman. 

1.       A nobleman is a person who is an officer or minister of a king, or a prince. 

2.       He is subject to the king or prince he is under. 

3.       He could also have been a person of high honor, having such largeness of estate that he was called a “little king.” 

4.       This man also has a family, who he loves dearly. 

B.     In order for this nobleman to travel the 15 miles from Capernaum to Cana, he would have had to get permission from his king or prince, or leave the affairs of his estate in the hands of another. 

1.       The matter was so important to him that he would not send a messenger to Christ, but he would personally travel to wherever Christ was and personally ask him to come and heal his son. 

2.       There are some things that are so important to each of us that nobody but ourselves can take care of it. 


II.    The travels of the nobleman. 

A.     I do not now exactly the route the nobleman took to come to Christ, but the Bible states in John 4:47 that he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee. 

B.     The route Jesus took when he left Cana and returned to Cana. 

1.       John 2:12 – Jesus left Cana and went to Capernaum where he stayed a few days. 

2.       John 2:13 – Jesus left Capernaum, traveling to Jerusalem to attend the Passover celebration. 

a.      John 2:14-22 – At Jerusalem, he cleansed the temple. 

b.      John 2:23-25 – Jesus did many miracles at Jerusalem, which  testified that he was the Christ. 

c.      John 3:1-21 – Nicodemus came to Christ by night, questioning who he was. 

3.       John 3:22-4:2 – Jesus traveled to Judea, where the disciples (the church) baptized believers, and John clarified who Christ was. 

4.       John 4:3-42 – Jesus went to Samaria where the woman at the well was saved and many others believed because of her testimony and the testimony of Christ. 

5.       John 4:43-45 – Jesus went into Galilee, where he was received because of the miracles the citizens had seen at Jerusalem. 

6.       John 4:46 – It is at Cana that the nobleman catches up with Christ to ask him to come and heal his son. 

C.     It could have been, but is not necessarily so, that the nobleman followed Christ from place to place until he finally caught up with him at Cana. 

1.       I think it is more probable that the nobleman heard from different sources where Jesus was.

2.       Probably, when the nobleman heard that Jesus was at Cana, he decided to go to Jesus and ask him to come to Capernaum to heal his child. 


Verse 47 - 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. 

I.    It is always right to seek the help of Christ. 

A.     The nobleman heard. 

1.       It is likely the nobleman was keeping tract of the whereabouts of Christ, so he could go to him. 

2.       It is good to hear the things Christ can do for us, but hearing without seeking, asking, and knocking is vain. 

B.     If the nobleman had not sought Christ, his son would not have been healed. 

1.       I know some folks who believe in absolute predestination will disagree, but their unbelief does not change the truth. 

2.       Jesus expects us to seek, ask and knock.  Matthew 7:7 states, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 

3.       Many that were saved, or received healing from Christ came to him or sought him out in some way.  Some, who could not come to Christ, received healing when Christ came to them. 

C.     The manner with which the nobleman asked. 

1.       Remember the nobleman is not used to begging or asking. 

2.       He is used to telling others what to do. 


II.    The asking by the nobleman. 

A.     See the tender regard for his child. 

1.       The nobleman did not send a servant, or any other member of his household to Christ, but came himself. 

2.       The nobleman would spare nothing, if it were possible to save the life of his child. 

B.     See the great respect of Christ. 

1.       The nobleman came in his authority to ask Christ for the special favor of healing his child. 

2.       He did not order or demand Christ to come, but comes in humility. 

3.       Every person must come before Christ with humility, regardless of their station in life, or what kind of authority they possess. 

C.     See the sincerity of his request. 

1.       He is a nobleman, therefore probably had access to the best doctors, but the best doctors could not help his son. 

2.       He sees the desperate situation his son is in with his illness, realizing the child is going to die without Christ’s help. 

3.       He believes Christ can heal him, as he either personally witnessed the miracles at Jerusalem or heard of them and believed. 

D.     See the frailty of his request. 

1.       He believed Christ would heal his son, but not at a distance. 

2.       It seemed the nobleman believed Jesus could only heal by a touch, no other way. 

a.      It is likely this is what he heard or saw at Jerusalem, therefore he never thought of another way. 

b.      I remember a preacher who traveled about 100 miles to pray over a person in a hospital because the people believed their preacher had to be personally present with them to pray for them. 

c.      In Matthew 8:5-13 the centurion desired Christ to heal his servant, but when Jesus said he would come and heal him said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.  (verse 8) 

1.)    Jesus did not travel to Capernaum, nor did he travel to the centurion’s house to heal. 

2.)    Jesus healed both at a distance, but there was no rebuke for the centurion, as there was for the nobleman. 

3.)    Both the nobleman and the centurion, however, believed Christ would heal. 

4.)    The nobleman believed when he heard his son was healed, but the centurion believed before his servant was healed. 


Verse 48 - Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. 

I.    This rebuke is not just for the nobleman, but for all. 

A.     Jesus spoke to the nobleman, rebuking him because he wanted to see a miracle before he would believe. 

1.       Jesus knows this man’s heart, just as he knows all hearts. 

2.       Outward appearances do not reflect that the nobleman desires to see a miracle before he will believe, but Christ sees his heart and knows. 

B.     Some disciples seem to need a miracle to believe. 

1.       John 2:11 – the disciples of Christ believed on him because of the miracle of turning the water into wine. 

2.       John 2:22 – the disciples did not understand the words of Christ concerning the resurrection of the temple (body) until after his resurrection. 

3.       John 2:23-25 – Jesus performed miracles at Jerusalem, but he did not commit himself to men because he knew all men. 

4.       John 3:1-21 – Nicodemus came to believe Jesus was from God because of the miracles he did. 

C.     Those who believed without a miracle. 

1.       John 4:29 – the woman at the well believed because of the words of Christ. 

2.       John 4:42 – The Samaritans believed because of the testimony of Christ without any miracles. 

3.       I must say that many believed the message of John the Baptist, who came with only preaching the gospel message, and not doing any miracle. 

D.     The Samaritans were the only ones who did not need a miracle to believe! 

1.       The Jews believe the Samaritans are despised of God because they are half Jew/half Gentile. 

2.       Often, those we believe God should hate, he loves, and those we think God should love, he hates. 

3.       Grace is when God grants his eternal favor upon those that do not deserve it. 

4.       Grace is what each of us needs. 

E.      Christ refused to perform a miracle for some. 

1.       1 Corinthians 14:22 states, Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. 

a.      Those that believe do not need a miracle to prove their belief, preaching is enough for them. 

b.      Those that do not believe will not hear preaching, but desire a sign to prove to them they should listen. 

2.       Matthew 16:4 – A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed. 

a.      If these people will not believe that Jonah was in the whale’s belly for three days and three nights, they will not believe Jesus will rise from the dead after three days and three nights. 

b.      If these people will not believe what the Bible says, they will not believe whatever miracle was shown to them. 

3.       Luke 23:8 – And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. 

a.      Herod only wanted to see a miracle as some sort of wondrous thing he could talk about and say he had personally seen Christ perform. 

b.      Herod had no thought at all of believing or trusting in Christ, therefore Christ performed no miracle for him. 

4.       Some will only believe by the means they have devised. 

a.      John 20:25 – Thomas declared he would not believe until he had seen the print of the nails and put his finger into the print of the nails, and thrust his hand into the side of Christ. 

b.      Christ willingly agreed to Thomas’s demands, and gently led him on to fuller belief. 

F.      What do we need to believe? 

1.       Do we need a miracle, or some special sign? 

2.       Or can we believe because of the word of God? 

G.     For IBC: 

1.       Did we believe God could provide the fellowship hall for us before we saw it finished and paid for? 

2.       Do we believe God will provide a meeting place for us before we see any physical evidence of its completion? 

3.       Once we determine the will of God, do we believe by faith, or do we believe by sight? 

4.       I trust God will forgive our unbelief, and cause us to see with eyes of faith. 


II.    Jesus is here referring to a lack of faith in the Word of God. 

A.     It would be so much better for us if we believed the Bible instead of having to see results before we believe. 

B.     Hebrews 11 gives a great record of all those faithful in Christ who believed without seeing the results. 


Verse 49 - The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. 

I.    The nobleman repeats his request for Christ to come to Capernaum to heal his son. 

A.     The nobleman addresses Christ as sir.

1.       The word sir means lord, or master, referring to the person to whom he belongs, or who has power to decide. 

2.       It is a wonderful thing to be told of our faults, to take it patiently without malice. 

B.     This is not repetitious praying. 

1.       An example of repetitious praying is saying the same thing over and over again in a ritual. 

2.       It is not wrong to ask Christ the second time for the same thing. 

3.       Jesus said for us to ask, seek and knock. 

4.       Elijah prayed three times for God to send rain. 

C.     I don’t think the nobleman dismissed the statement of Christ, but accepted the rebuke. 

1.       The nobleman is a person of authority, yet he took the reproof correctly. 

2.       Often a person in authority does not know how to receive reproof or orders, as they are accustomed to giving orders and reproof. 

D.     The nobleman seems to think Christ must be in the presence of the child to heal.

1.        He might have this idea because all of the miracles Christ has performed to this point have been done in his presence.

a.      John 2:1-11 – Jesus was present when the water was turned into wine. 

b.      John 2:23 – Jesus was present when he preformed the miracles at Jerusalem.

c.      No other miracles have been performed to this time.   

2.       We often believe things will be done as they have been done. 

E.      The nobleman believed Christ could heal the child, but could not raise him from the dead. 

1.       It might have been that Christ had healed others, therefore the nobleman knew Christ could also heal his child. 

2.       There is an infirmity in our faith when we believe there are some things God can do, yet there are other things he cannot do. 

3.       Often, during times of stress, we forget what we know about the power of Christ. 

4.       The nobleman might have forgotten, if he ever knew, about Elijah and Elisha raising the dead to life. 

5.       Elijah and Elisha lived at a different time than Christ, therefore the nobleman might not realize that Christ had given Elijah and Elisha the power to heal and to raise the dead. 


II.    It might have been that “anguish of soul” in the nobleman did not let him hear the rebuke of Christ. 

A.     Exodus 6:9 declares, And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage. 

1.       This verse refers to Exodus 6:1-8, where God spoke to Moses of all the blessings he was ready to give to Israel. 

2.       Exodus 6:1-9 happened after Pharaoh had doubled the tale of bricks and refused to provide straw. 

3.       Sometimes the anguish of this life so clouds our minds that we cannot hear the promises of God. 

B.     I am thankful God takes over during these kinds of times and fulfills his promises to us. 

1.       There are terrible times when we cannot pray. 

2.       We cannot even think of what to pray. 

3.       We hardly know who to pray to. 

4.       Yet God is continually gracious to us and takes up where we cannot, and fulfills all things for us. 


Verse 50 - Jesus 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. 

I.    The nobleman’s prayer was not answered the way he expected, but his prayer was answered. 

A.     There was no rebellion at the words of Christ, but complete acceptance. 

1.       Christ did not say what the nobleman wanted to hear, but he received the peace of God regardless. 

2.       Often we visualize the solution we desire of God, yet he often answers in vastly different ways. 

3.       It takes only one word from Christ for all our anguish to be turned into relief, pece and full tranquility. 

B.     Notice the power of God. 

1.       Christ did nothing, said nothing, ordered nothing to be done, did not visit, yet the child was healed. 

2.       Christ does things so much better, because the child was healed much quicker than if Christ had traveled to Capernaum to heal. 


II.    The nobleman believed.

A.     Inward belief caused outward action. 

1.       The nobleman believed the words of Christ, received his peace and went his way. 

2.       Often there are those who say they believe the words of Christ, yet never find any peace, and never act on what they say they believe. 

3.       James 2:17 - Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 

B.     The nobleman received a personal word from Christ.

1.       It is one thing to hear a “general” word from God, and even though that word is truth, there is no peace because those words are not personal. 

2.       Sinners cannot be saved if all they hear is a “general” gospel call. 

3.       Every sinner is saved when they receive a personal gospel call. 

4.       Every saved person received a personal call from God to be scripturally baptized. 

5.       Likewise, every preacher, pastor, or missionary received a personal call from God for that particular ministry. 

6.       When that personal call is received, God also gives his eternal peace. 

C.     Jesus told the nobleman his son lives. 

1.       The fear of the nobleman was that his son would die from his illness. 

2.       Jesus told him his son would not die and included in the reply is that the child would be healed. 


Verse 51 - And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. 

I.    With great relief, the nobleman headed toward home. 

A.     Thy son liveth.  The servant used the exact same words Christ used. 


Verse 52 - 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. 

I.    The seventh hour is probably 1:00 in the afternoon, but some believe John calculates time differently, therefore the seventh hour would be about 7:00 in the evening. 

A.     Assuming the seventh hour is 1:00 p.m. 

1.       It is approximately 17 miles between Cana and Capernaum. 

2.       Walking at three miles per hour, it would take almost 6 hours to walk from Cana to Capernaum. 

3.       If the nobleman left Cana at 1:00 p.m., he would arrive home about 8:00 p.m. that evening. 

4.       It is obvious the nobleman did not rush home to check on the health of his son, but remained all night somewhere along the way home. 

5.       If he had left Capernaum at 7:00 a.m. that morning, walked all the way to Cana, found Christ and talked to him, he already had a big day before he started back to Cana. 

B.     Assuming the seventh hour is 7:00 p.m. 

1.       The 17 mile trip from Cana to Capernaum would still take nearly six hours, walking at three miles per hour. 

2.       If the nobleman left Cana at 7:00 p.m., he would arrive at Capernaum about 1:00 a.m. the next day. 

3.       Because the nobleman had probably left Capernaum the same day he spoke to Christ, he would probably rest somewhere along the way toward Capernaum, then continue his trip home the next morning. 

C.     The above calculations reveal to me that the nobleman probably spoke to Christ about 1:00 p.m., and left immediately for Capernaum, instead of speaking to Christ about 7:00 p.m. in the evening. 

1.       If the nobleman spoke to Christ about 7:00 p.m. in the evening, and began to travel home, the servants telling him his son was healed “yesterday” destroys the time line. 

2.       If the nobleman would arrive home about 1:00 a.m. the next morning, the servants would have had to met him after midnight and before he arrived home. 

3.       It is much more likely they met the next day, thus the servant told the nobleman his son’s fever left him “yesterday”. 


II.    Regardless of the time Christ spoke to the nobleman, it was the next day before he met the servants who told him of the fever leaving his son. 

A.     It is obvious the nobleman stopped somewhere along the route home and spend the night. 

B.     He had great peace that his son was healed, whereas the previous day, he was filled with anxiety. 

C.     God is very capable of giving us great peace in the midst of the storms of our life. 


Verse 53 - 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. 

I.    The nobleman believed unto salvation, whereas in verse 50, he believed his son would live. 

A.     There is a lot of difference between believing what Jesus said about a particular thing and believing unto salvation. 

B.     Believing a particular thing is different from believing about everything. 


II.    Every person Jesus healed was not saved. 

A.     Luke 17:11-19 records the healing of ten lepers. 

1.       All of these lepers came to Christ and heard him concerning how they could be healed of their leprosy. 

2.       All of the lepers headed toward the priests to show themselves, and as they were going, all of them were healed. 

3.       Nine of the lepers continued on toward the priest, but one of the lepers turned back to Christ to glorify God, and to thank Christ for his cleansing. 

4.       In verse 19, Jesus said, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole. 

5.       I believe the leper was saved at this point. 

B.     There are many examples of people who were healed, but not saved. 


Verse 54 - This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee. 

I.    We have before us the second miracle of Christ performed in Cana of Galilee. 

A.     It is not the second miracle Jesus performed.

1.       As there were other miracles between the first miracle of John 2:11 and the second miracle of John 4:46-54. 

2.       John 2:23 records that Jesus did many miracles while in Jerusalem during the Passover celebrations. 

3.       This is the second miracle Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. 

B.     It is important to understand this is not a Biblical contradiction. 

1.       It is a misunderstanding on our part. 

2.       The Bible is perfect, without error, but many will compare John 2:11, John 2:23, and John 4:54 and believe there is a Biblical contradiction, and throw the entire Bible out the door. 

3.       Others will declare the Bible is full of errors, and is completely unreliable, and will cast the entire Bible out the window. 


II.    The problem is not the Bible, but us. 

A.     We must read exactly what the Bible states, and not read into it what we think it says. 

B.     There are many misunderstandings and many errors in this religious world because we “read into the Bible” our misconceptions, and do not accept Jesus’ words.