Jesus Heals The Royal Official’s Son


‘After the two days, he left for Galilee. (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honour in his own country.) When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there. Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.” Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So, he and his whole household believed. This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.’ John 4:43-54

Jesus completes His journey to Galilee after a two-day stopover teaching the Samaritans and He is now heading for Capernaum, Matthew 1:12-13 / Mark 1:14-15 / Luke 4:14.

A large group of people living in the same house was not unusual and we often see the same today with Indian and Pakistani families in Britain, there may be as many as 16-20 relatives all living under the same roof.

The statement of the proverb ‘A prophet has no honour in his own country’, could well be referring to Bethlehem in Judea as opposed to Galilee, Matthew 3:57 / Mark 6:4 / Luke 4:24.

All are aware that Galilee is in fact his home, but He was now leaving Judea in favour of a Galilean ministry. In Judea, the Pharisees were causing too much trouble for Jesus and He didn’t want to provoke a premature confrontation, John 4:1.

Perhaps John is implying that the non-Jews were in general more responsive to the Messiah. Despite this fact, Jesus goes to Galilee because He came to die for the salvation of all. John 4:45 tells us that it started good, His welcome in Galilee seems to support this idea.

Jesus must have made a lasting impression on the Jews at the time. He drove the money changers/traders out of the temple and because of other signs they may have seen him do. But their popularity is based on Him being a miracle worker who could amaze Him and not on the reality of His being the Messiah who could save them.

Jesus is later to rebuke them for their hollow faith when they realise that He is not going to feed them and clothe them but rather that He is going to ask them for commitment and even perhaps to give their lives for Him. When He begins to talk of discipleship being difficult, they leave and reject Him, John 6:15-66 / Matthew 13:57 / Mark 6:4 / Luke 4:24.

The royal official mentioned here could have been a nobleman in his own right, or he could have been an official ‘basilikos,’ of royal connection or a civil or military officer in service at the court of Herod Antipas, Tetrarch, ruler of four sections of Galilee and Perea, son of Herod the Great, Matthew 14:19 / Mark 6:14.

The man travelled from Capernaum to Cana 16 miles to where Jesus was, without bringing the boy. He seemed to know Jesus as a miracle worker, perhaps he had been in Jerusalem for the Passover, John 2:23-35.

He begs Jesus to return with him, ‘begged’ is in the continuous tense, he kept on begging, and the man’s faith is evident, even though brought on by necessity, as is often the case with us.

While walking, the boy is ill, at the point of death and so he asks Jesus to ‘come down’. Cana was a hillside country as opposed to Capernaum on the other side of Galilee, all the geographical details mentioned in the Bible are accurate.

The word, ‘son’, ‘padion’ means a little child, John 16:21 / 1 John 2:13. He clearly thought that Jesus had to be present, and if He didn’t go, the child would die. Jesus expresses disappointment at the official’s need to see a healing.

‘Unless you see signs and wonders!’ ‘you’ is plural. Jesus is describing the attitude of the group represented by the official’s attitude.

Signs, ‘symion’ means with purpose, to point the way. Wonders, ‘teras’ describes the effect of a sign, an amazing thing. The phrase ‘will not believe’ is a conviction about Jesus based on signs alone is not enough, John 2:23-25. Perhaps Jesus was testing the man’s faith, Mark 7:24 / Matthew 8:1-4.

The man isn’t deterred, he persists in his plea but changes his attitude, the official responds in a more controlled and respectful manner, ‘Come down Sir, before my boy is dead,’ John 4:49.

In John 4:52 we read about the cure, ‘Your son will live’. Jesus healed the boy immediately and without seeing the boy. He begins to mend, as in a slow process, but immediately.

The official shows great faith, his son’s life is in danger yet the official leaves without pressing Jesus any further, returning to his son’s bedside. He finds that his son is recovering and that the turn in his son’s health came at the seventh hour, the time when Jesus said, ‘Your son will live’.

A comparison between today’s modern healings and that of Jesus will show today’s versions sadly lacking as pointed out earlier. Both the first and second miracles recorded and detailed by John occurred in the Cana of Galilee. Notice the growing faith of man.

He believed in Jesus’ power to heal, John 4:47, shown by his request. He believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, John 4:50. He finally believes that Jesus is all He claimed to be.

Not only he but all his household, when they hear and understand, like the household in Acts 16. Family and servants, ‘oikia’, all heard, all believed, all rejoiced.