By J.R. Miller
"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." After leaving Sychar, Jesus seems to have gone at once to Cana. He never rested. When His work was done in one place He hastened to another. He was never in a hurry, never flustered, never feverish in His haste--but He never loitered nor lost a moment's time. If we keep our heart at peace, and live according to God's laws, there is little danger of our injuring our health by too much work. Then, even if duty demands serious toil and self-denying labor--it is Christlike not to withhold ourselves from it. "For whoever will save his life--shall lose it." Taking too good care of oneself--is the way to make the least of one's life.
Jesus was no exception to the well-known rule that "A prophet has no honor in his own country." It is a common saying that no man is a hero to his own servant. Those who live in familiar relations with the great or the good, are the least likely to recognize the elements of greatness or goodness in them. Many of the men whose names shine in the galaxy of fame, and whose work lives in the world with undying influence--had little honor from those among whom they walked, and perhaps would have little honor today if they were to return and live in the old relationships. We often fail to recognize the true excellence of our best friends, while they stay with us. It is not until she is gone out of a home--that a mother's real value is appreciated. The same is true of each member of the household and of each friend upon whom we lean much, and whose life is a great deal to us. Jesus walked among the people in Judea, taught, produced His miracles, and lived out His sweet, beautiful life of love in their midst--but they failed to recognize the Messiah in Him. "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him--and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own--and His own received Him not" (1:10, 11). We are in danger in these very days of failing to appreciate the blessings of Christianity, because they are so familiar to us.
Sickness and suffering are everywhere. No one is exempt from them. Even the mansions of the noble are not sheltered from the invasions of disease. There is no charm in wealth or rank or power--to keep fever away. Into the home of this nobleman suffering came. It was only a child, too, who was sick. Even to the youngest, illness comes--as well as to the old.
Trouble often sends to Christ, those who would not have gone--if the trouble had not touched them. It was the sickness of the nobleman's child, that sent him to Jesus. He had heard of the great Healer--but probably had never sought Him, nor even thought of seeking Him. But when his child was stricken down and seemed about to die--he remembered what he had heard about Jesus that He was able to heal the sick and even bring back to life those who were near death. So this great man hastened away all the long distance to Cana--to find this Healer. We all owe far more than we know to our troubles. We do not recognize our need of divine help--until we are in some sore distress when human help can do nothing for us. Then we turn to God. If we never had a sense of sinfulness, we would never seek Christ as our Savior. If we never realized our powerlessness in the midst of temptation, we would never turn to Christ as our helper. Indeed, the Bible becomes a new book to us--in times of trouble. Many of the best things in it we never would have found--had it not been for some great need which made their meaning real to us. We do not turn with our heart's cravings to God--until we realize the insufficiency of this world's friendships and blessings.
The child seemed about to die. The record says "he was at the point of death." The point of death is a point to which all of us must come sometime in our life. We must pass through this world along many different ways--but every one of us comes at last to the point of death. All earthly roads pass that way. No matter how bright the path is on which our feet are now walking, somewhere on it, perhaps far away yet, perhaps closer than we think--awaits this point of death. We should learn to live so that if at any sudden hour we find ourselves facing death--we would not be troubled nor disturbed.
In this nobleman's earnest pleading we have a revelation of a father's heart. He pleaded, "Come down before my child dies!" We do not realize the value of father-love as an impulse in this world. The secret which sends thousands of men every day to their tasks, their struggles, their heroisms--is back in the homes from which they come, where children stay. We idealize mother-love, not overmuch--but perhaps sometimes to the exclusion or at least to the forgetting of father-love, which has scarcely a less powerful motive in the inspiring of the noble things of human life. The sickness of a child sent this nobleman miles away to plead with Christ.
There was a great faith also in the father's heart--he believed that Jesus could save his child's life. He seems not to have thought, however, that even the Master, with all His power, could do anything without journeying all the way to his home. He thought the Healer's presence necessary to the putting forth of His power. So he insisted on having Jesus go with him to his home, where his child lay dying.
Jesus recognized the father's faith and assured him at once that his child would recover. "You may go. Your son will live." More than twenty miles off the sick boy lay--but the power of Jesus healed him there just as easily as if He had been at the bedside. The word of power flew through the air all that long distance like an electric flash, and on his couch of pain, the suffering child suddenly felt a thrill of health. A moment later, and the fever was entirely gone and the child was altogether well. This miracle should have much comfort for us. We cannot now bring Christ in bodily presence to the room where our loved one is lying--but we can pray to Him, and He can heal our friend just as easily from His heavenly home--as if He were present where he lies. We can also ask God to bless our friend twenty miles away from us, or a thousand miles away--and He can do it just as easily as if the friend were close by our side when we pray.
The father hastened home, and on the way learned that his request had been granted. "While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living." Ever after that day, when he looked upon this child, the father would remember that his boy's spared life, was an answer to a prayer. The child would always know, too, that he was living in the world--because his father had thought about him one day when he was very sick, and had gone all the way to Cana to speak to Jesus on his behalf. Children do not know how many blessings they are enjoying, because their parents, teachers, pastors, and other friends have gone on errands to Christ for them, in the days of their need.
The manner of the answer to this nobleman's prayer made a deep impression on the father. He compared the time and learned that the beginning of the child's recovery, was at the very moment when Jesus had said that the boy would live. He believed before--now his faith was confirmed. He found it just as the Master had said it would be. There were many other cases in which the words of Jesus were put to the test at once--and proved to be exactly true. He told the woman of Samaria all about her past life. He told Peter that the coin would be in the fish's mouth with which to pay the temple tax. He told the disciples they would find a colt tied, and rehearsed the conversation that would take place with the owner--and it all came out just as He said it would. He told the disciples, again, that they would meet a man bearing a pitcher of water, who would conduct them to the guest room; and the words came true.
From these illustrations in common life, we learn that every word of Christ will be found to be true. He promised salvation and eternal life to those who will believe on Him, and everyone who believes and commits his life to Him--will find this promise fulfilled. He said that in His Father's house are many mansions, and that He will come again, to receive to Himself each believer; we shall find this word true. When we pass into the valley of the shadows, we shall find ourselves in the personal care of Christ, and shall be led by Him home, to enter the mansion which He has been preparing for us.