Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on John 4:43-54
Posted by Dim Bulb on March 5, 2016
Joh 4:43 Now after two days, he departed thence and went into Galilee.
Joh 4:44 For Jesus himself gave testimony that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.
44. The force of “for,” is seen by supplying the narrative omitted here, and recorded by the other Evangelists, viz., that our Lord passed by Nazareth, His native place, and came to Capharnaum (Matthew 4:13). “A Prophet,” etc. (See Matthew 13:57.)
Some connect it with the preceding, giving “for,” the meaning of although, as if He said: “Although, Jesus Himself gave testimony by word and act, “that a Prophet had no honour,” etc., He may still anticipate some good results from His visit, owing to the miracles they saw Him perform, during the Festival, in Jerusalem.
How these are warranted in giving “for,” the meaning of although, cannot well be seen. It seems somewhat arbitrary. Others, among them, Patrizzi, say, “His own country,” was Judea; and hence, He left it for Galilee. The former interpretation is warranted by the history given in St. Matthew (9), and we learn from St. Matthew 13, Luke 4, that our Lord uttered the words, “a Prophet,” etc., in reference to Nazareth.
Joh 4:45 And when he was come into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all the things he had done at Jerusalem on the festival day: for they also went to the festival day.
45. The Galileans received Him with great honour, as they witnessed His miracles, on the Festival day at Jerusalem. In this the simple and confiding faith of the Samaritans is tacitly commended, who believed, without seeing any miracles. Whether the Galileans believed in Him, is not stated here. They received Him, however, with honour. But the Jews, although witnessing His miracles, neither received Him with honour nor believed in Him. Who these Galileans were, the Evangelist does not mention.
Joh 4:46 He came again therefore into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain ruler, whose son was sick at Capharnaum.
46. “He came again therefore.” “Therefore,” because He passed by His native place, Nazareth; He came again to the place nearest it, as more convenient for remaining; and, moreover, He was there among His friends and relatives. Allusion is made to the miracle performed there, to distinguish it from another Cana, which was far off.
“A certain ruler whose son was sick,” etc. Several conjectures are hazarded, as to who he was. They are, however, only conjectures. Some say, he was of the Royal family, a connexion of Herod Antipas, or, one of the officers of his Court, whether related to him or not. At all events, he must have been a man of high station and wealth, having a retinue of servants (v. 51). Most likely, he was a Jew, as the reproaches commonly addressed to the Jews, “unless you see,” etc. (v. 48) would seem to indicate. Our Lord addresses reproaches to the Jews, for their stubborn unbelief, more frequently than to the Gentiles.
Joh 4:47 He having heard that Jesus was come from Judea into Galilee, sent to him and prayed him to come down and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.
47. The fame of our Lord’s miracle wrought at Cana, and of those performed by Him at Jerusalem during the festival days, rendered Him celebrated all over the country. This ruler, who resided ordinarily at Capharnaum, which was not far from Cana, on hearing of His arrival, besought Him “to come down”—the site of Capharnaum was lower than Cana—“and heal his son.” If this man had any faith at all, it must have been very imperfect and weak, indeed. How different from the Centurion, on another occasion, “on the point of death,” probably despaired of by the physicians, he was so far gone that healing art could be but of little use to him.
Joh 4:48 Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not.
48. Our Lord’s preaching ought to be sufficient to beget faith in him. He also had the testimony of the Baptist, which should be sufficient, especially as the Jews regarded him as sent by God; nay, even some regarded him as the Messiah. Our Lord Himself worked several miracles; and, still, the Galileans were slow in believing; and the Jews utterly rejected and despised Him. On this account it is, that He reproaches the ruler, and the Jews, to whom He refers in addressing Him—hence, using the plural—that unles they see—it won’t do to hear of—a constant succession of signs and wonders, they cannot bring themselves to believe. Our Lord speaks of them not believing, which one would think to be foreign to the object the ruler had in view—viz., the cure of his son; He does so, because, all His miracles, all His works of benificence, such as curing the bodies of the infirm, had for object a greater work of mercy still; viz., to cure their souls and remove the still greater evil of spiritual blindness, nay, spiritual death, from which He meant to resuscitate them by His all-powerful grace.
Joh 4:49 The ruler saith to him: Lord, come down before that my son die.
49. The ruler althogether engrossed with the concern for his dying son, again urges his request to our Lord to go down and save his son from death. His faith, if he had any, must be very weak; he had no idea, that our Lord’s power would restore his son, absent as well as present, and he would seem also to think, that if his son once breathed his last, our Lord could not raise him up from the dead.
Joh 4:50 Jesus saith to him: Go thy way. Thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus said to him and went his way.
50. Our Lord, seeing that His just reproaches had no effect on the ruler, now attaches him to Himself, and induces him to embrace the faith by acts of kindness. He tells him, “Go,” and be of good cheer, that at that very moment, his son was perfectly restored to health; thus, curing him without being present.
“The man believed the word which Jesus said to him.” It is not said he believed in our Lord, but only, knowing our Lord to be a holy, truthful man, he believed that He announced what was true. But he did not seem to believe that our Lord had Himself, by His omnipotent power, effected the cure. This he afterwards discovered after minutely questioning his servants. The result was, that he fully believed (as in verse 53) in our Lord and His Divine mission. The belief referred to in this verse is merely belief in the specific assurance of our Lord, not in His Divinity.
Joh 4:51 And as he was going down, his servants met him: and they brought word, saying, that his son lived.
Joh 4:52 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 ruler, remembering that our Lord has informed him of his son’s recovery, was anxious to know from his servants the precise time at which this took place.
“Yesterday at the seventh hour.” This corresponds with one o’clock after midday, as the Jews had, by this time, adopted the Roman division of time. Their days commenced at sunrise; their night, at sunset; and were divided into twelve equal parts, which varied in length, according to the season of the year. In summer, the hours were longer in day time; shorter, in winter.
Joh 4:53 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.
53. Finding the time of his son’s recovery to correspond exactly with the time fixed by our Lord, the ruler at once recognised our Lord’s power and Divinity in the miraculous cure of his son, though absent; and aided by Divine grace, he, with his entire household, embraced the faith and believed in our Lord’s Divinity.
It is but of trifling importance, to ascertain the hour at which his servants met the ruler on his way home.
Joh 4:54 This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judea. into Galilee.
54. This miracle Jesus performed, it being His second, on His return again from Judea to Galilee. He performed several miracles in Judea (c. 2:25). But, this was His second in Galilee, the conversion of water being his first (c. 2:1–6). The Greek reading is confused. The above is the meaning. “Again,” is to be joined with, “when He was come out again,” on His second return from Judea to Galilee.