THE MINISTRY OF MESSIAH (10)
The Healing of the Nobleman’s Son and the Galilean Ministry
In our last study, we considered Christ’s opening ministry and the cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem. In this ministry, the first named convert was not one of the common people of Israel, but Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee, those who were the leading class in Israel and who eventually plotted to crucify Jesus. But this man came to Jesus by night to hear him. The other named convert was the woman of Samaria, a woman who was a sinner. Truly Jesus “came unto his own (his own people, the nation of Israel) and his own received him not”. Many believed just because of his miracles, but a greater faith than this was needed. Hence the Master’s words in John 2:23-25:
“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man”.
The people of Samaria believed without signs and wonders, simply because they saw that Jesus was a prophet. An appreciation of these things leads us into the next phase of the Master’s ministry, namely, his return into Galilee from Samaria, which we read of in John 4:43.
We then read of the healing of the nobleman’s son. We should note at this stage that the gospel of John is unique in that only eight miracles are recorded. Everything is significant in God’s word. Seven signifies perfection or completeness, eight a new beginning. We believe there is a deeper meaning in these miracles, for they are teaching us things concerning the nation of Israel when they shall make a new beginning at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. At this stage we shall consider the miracle or sign without going into its deeper significance. Before doing so let us read John 4:44-45:
The Galileans received Jesus because of his mighty works, unlike the Samaritans who recognised that he was a prophet and believed on him without the demonstration of miracles. Hence his words that a prophet hath no honour in his own country. He comes again to Cana of Galilee where he made the water into wine. Cana comes from a Hebrew word which means a reed or a branch. It is rendered branch in Exodus 25:33, where it is applied to the seven branched lampstand, and reed in Ezekiel 40:3 where it is applied to the man with the measuring reed. So the very name of the place points to Christ, as the lampstand, the Light of the world and as the measure or reed, against whom we should measure ourselves if we would attain to the house of God (Ephes. 4:13).
Possibly the nobleman was typical of other Galileans, only coming to Christ because of his mighty works. Hence, Jesus’s reply in verse 48. Then the nobleman changes. He shows respect to Christ for let us note the words that he spoke to Jesus in verse 50:
He now believed without seeing mighty works so much so that he does not return until the following day. When his servants meet him to tell him that his son lived, he learns that he was healed at the seventh hour, the very hour in which Jesus had said unto him, “Thy son liveth”. So we read in verse 53, “and himself believed and his whole house”. Could it be that he remained behind with Jesus to learn of him, to the end that he became a disciple and was able to teach the truth to his household so that they became his disciples. How otherwise could he have taught his household the truth. So we read in verse 54:
Suffice it to say that the seventh hour when the son was healed points to the seventh day of a thousand years, namely the millennium, when Israel who at this time, as a nation was at the point of death, will be revived spiritually at the return of Christ. The miracle or sign pointed forward to this.
Jesus then comes to his home city, Nazareth and we read of this in Luke 4:16:
In his early years he had gone into the synagogue every Sabbath. He stands up to read as though it was customary for them to call upon Jesus to read, and they deliver to him the book of Isaiah from which Jesus reads:
We then read in verses 20-22:
The words Jesus reads are found in Isaiah 61:1, where we read:
Let us note that Jesus stopped in the middle of verse 2. This shows that his mission, which was to begin in Galilee, was to preach the gospel. The meek and the brokenhearted were mainly found among the common people who responded to this words. The captives and those bound in prison wee those who were in bondage to the law and who were bound in their sins (Jn. 8:31-36). The recovering of sight to the blind referred to in Luke were those who were in spiritual darkness and needed Christ, the light of the world, to open their eyes (Jn. 9:39). The last words in Luke 4 that Jesus quoted are rendered in the Emphatic Diaglott: “to dispense freedom to the oppressed”. It is significant that Jesus quoted these words on the Sabbath day and many of his miracles were performed on the Sabbath, thus fulfilling Isaiah 58:5-7, which reads:
Jesus did these very things as we shall see from our studies and how important it is that we do them also.
All the response of the people was, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”. They saw no more than this. What did they mean by verse 23? They had perhaps heard of the healing of the nobleman’s son in Capernaum, and wanted Christ to do similar miracles there. It is as though they considered Jesus needed to be healed, not them. This reminds us of the words of the onlookers when the Master hung on the stake (Mt. 27:40). He then shows that in the days of Elijah, he was not sent to a widow in Israel, but to a stranger in Sidon. Similarly, Elisha did not cleanse anyone in Israel, but healed Naaman a Syrian. So it was now. They did not want Christ so he did not many mighty works there, as we read in Matthew 13:58:
This filled them with wrath and they attempted to cast Christ down from the edge of the hill, but he escaped through their midst. His time was not yet come. This situation is very true to life. If we don’t want the truth, God will take it away from us. They did not want Elijah so he was taken away from them. They did not want Christ, even trying to kill him. So he was taken away from them. What a terrible experience for the Son of God, in the very town in which he was brought up.
Jesus therefore goes down to Capernaum and this becomes a centre of his preaching. Let us turn to Matthew 4:13-16:
This confirms what we said earlier, namely that Christ was brought up in a despised area of the land, so that Nathaniel said, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” It was a cosmopolitan area where many battles were fought in the history of Israel. It was “the land of the shadow of death”, yet Christ “the light of the world” was brought up there. Hence the words in Isaiah 8:18:
The people had been deluded and blinded by the traditions of the Pharisees and Sadducees and walked in darkness, but now Christ, the fulfilment of the law and the testimony was in their midst.
Therefore we read in Matthew 4:17:
Jesus, the Royal Majesty of Heaven was in their midst. This is the meaning of the word kingdom which originates from the Greek basilia . Jesus now begins to call his apostles, namely Simon Peter and Andrew his brother, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, with the words, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They had already been acquainted with Jesus as we can see from John 1:40-to42, Andrew having also been a disciple of John the Baptist. Andrew and Peter had no doubt spoken to James and John about Christ which prepared them when Christ invited them to leave their nets and follow him. Nevertheless this was an act of faith commended by Jesus in Matthew 19:27-29:
Although we don’t literally leave those closest to us, the Lord Jesus Christ must be obeyed before all. We think of the words of Psalm 45:10:
How true these words were of these men, the first of the Apostles.
So we read in Matthew 4:23-25:
Mark describes how when Jesus was in Capernaum on the Sabbath, he healed a man with an unclean spirit. We read of this in Mark 1:23-28:
It is noteworthy that this man recognised Jesus. It was after this that the Master left the synagogue and went to the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John where he healed Simon’s wife’s mother and then we read in Mark 1:32-34:
We see how tireless the Master was. But even then, when one would have thought he needed rest we read in verse 35;