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whose son was sick at Capernaum '-possibly, as by some has been supposed,' Chuza, 'Herod's steward, whose wife, remarkably enough, appears among the holy women that ministered to the Lord of their substance (Luke viii. 3; cf. ver. 53). Only some mighty and marvellous work of this kind would have drawn a steward of Herod's, with his family, into the Gospel net. Others have suggested Manaen, the foster-brother of Herod (Acts xiii, 1). But whether one of these, or some other not elsewhere named in Scripture, “when he heard that Jesus was come out of Judæa 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. From a certain severity wbich speaks out in our Lord's reply, 'Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe,' we conclude that this petitioner was one driven to Jesus by the strong constraint of an outward need, a need which no other but He could supply (Isai. xxvi. 16), rather than one drawn by the inner necessities and desires of his soul; one who would not have come at all, but for this.? Sharing in the carnal temper of the Jews in general (for the plural,‘ye will not believe,' is meant to include many in a common condemnation), he had (hitherto, at least) no organ for perceiving the glory of Christ as it shone out in his person and in his doctrine. “Signs and wonders' might compel him to a belief, but nothing else; unlike those Samaritans whom the Lord has just quitted, and who, without a miracle, had believed because of his word' (John iv. 41). But
family;' Georgian, "government officer; ' Slavonic, courtier;' AngloSaxon, 'under-king.'
1 Lightfoot, Chemnitz, and others.
2 Augustine (In Ev. Joh. tract. xvi.) takes a still more unfavourable estimate of the moral condition of this suppliant, classing him with those who asked of the Lord a sign, tempting Him: Arguit hominem in fide tepidum aut frigidum, aut omnino nullius fidei : sed tentare cupientem de sanitate filii sui, qualis esset Christus, quis esset, quantum posset. Verba enim rogantis audivimus, cor diffidentis non videmus ; sed ille pronuntiavit, qui et verba audivit, et cor inspexit. But coming in that temper, he would never have carried away a blessing at the last.
'the Jews require a sign’(1 Cor. i. 22), and this one, in the poverty of his present faith, straitened and limited the power of the Lord.
Christ must come down,'' if his son is to be healed; he cannot raise himself to the height of those words of the Psalmist, “He sent his word, and He healed them.'?
And yet, if there be rebuke in the Lord's answer, there is encouragement too; an implied promise of a miracle, even while the man is blamed, that he needed a miracle, that less than a miracle would not induce him to put his trust in the Lord of life. And so he accepts it; for reading no repulse in this word of a seeming, and indeed of a real, severity, he only urges his suit the more earnestly, “Sir, come down 4 ere my child die. Still, it is true, he links help to the bodily presence of the Lord; is still far off from his faith and humility who said, 'Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.' Much less does he dream of a power that could raise the dead : Christ might heal his sick; he does not dream of Him as one who could raise his dead. A faith so weak must be strengthened, and can only be strengthened through being proved. Such a gracious purpose of at once proving and strengthening it we trace in the Lord's dealing with the man which follows. He does not come down with him, as he had prayed; but sends him away
1 Gregory the Great (In Ev. Hom. xxviii.): Minus itaque in illum credidit, quem non putavit posse salutem dare, nisi præsens esset in corpore.
Bengel lays the entire emphasis on iðnte in our Lord's answer : Innuit Jesus se etiam absenti reguli filio posse vitam dare ; et postulat ut regulus id credat, neque profectionem Jesu postulet suscipiendam cum ipso sanationem apud lectulum visuro. Others have done the same: see Köcher, Analecta (in loc).
Bengel: Simul autem miraculum promittitur, fidesque prius etiam desideratur, et dum desideratur, excitatur. Responsum externâ quâdam repulsa specie et tacitâ opis promissione mixtum, congruit sensu rogantis ex fide et imbecillitate mixto.
Karáðnes, Capernaum lying upon the shore, and lower than Cana, where now they were.
with a mere word of assurance that it should go well with his child : “Go thy way; thy son liveth'' (cf. Matt. viii. 13; Mark vii. 29). And the father was contented with that assurance; he believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way,' expecting to find that it should be done according to that word. The miracle was a double one -on the body of the absent child ; on the heart of the present father; one cured of his sickness, the other of his unbelief.
A comparison of the Lord's dealing with this nobleman and with the centurion of the other Gospels is instructive. He has not men's persons in admiration, who will not come, but only sends to the son of this nobleman (cf. 2 Kin. v. 10, 11), Himself visiting the servant of that centurion.? And there is more in the matter than this. Here, being entreated to come, He does not; but sends his healing word; there, being asked to speak at a distance that word of healing, He rather proposes Himself to come; for here, as Chrysostom explains it well, a narrow and poor faith is enlarged and deepened, there a strong faith is crowned and rewarded. By not going He increases this nobleman's faith; by offering to go He brings out and honours that centurion's humility.
* And as he was now going down, his servants met him, saying, Thy son liveth. Though faith had not struck its roots quickly in his soul, it would appear to have struck them strongly at last. His confidence in Christ's word was so great, that he proceeded leisurely homewards. It was not till the next day that he approached his house, though the distance between the two cities was not so great that the journey need have occupied many hours; but he that
1 For this use of tijv as to be healed of any sore sickness, all sickness being death beginning, see Isai. xxxviii. 1; 2 Kin. i. 2.
% Thus the Opus Imperf. in Matt. Hom. xxii. : Illum ergo contemsit, quem dignitas sublevabat regalis ; istum autem honoravit, quem conditio humiliabat servilis.
believeth shall not make haste.' • Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend,'' to be a little better; for at the height of his faith the father had looked only for a slow and gradual amendment. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. It was not merely, they would imply, that at the hour they name there was a turning-point in the disorder, and the violence of the fever abated; but it left? him’ altogether; just as it was in the case of Simon's wife's mother, who at Christ's word ó immediately arose and ministered unto them' (Luke iv. 39). "So the father knew that it was at the same hour in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth:8 and himself believed and his whole house. This he did for all the benefits which the Lord had bestowed on him, he accepted another and the crowning benefit, even the cup of salvation; and not he alone; but, as so often happened, his conversion drew after it that of all who belonged to him ; for by consequences such as these God will bring us unto a consciousness of the manner in which not merely the great community of mankind, but each smaller community, a nation, or as in this case a family, is united and bound together under its federal head, shares in his good or in his evil (cf. Acts xvi. 15, 34; xviii. 84).
1 Κομψότερον έσχε = meliuscule se habuit. Κομψός from κομέω-so in Latin, comptus, for adorned in any way. Thus in Arrian (Diss. Epict. iii. 10) copyūs ēxas = belle habes (Cicero) are the words of the physician to his patient that is getting better.
Ammonius (in Catend): Ου γαρ απλώς, ουδέ ώς έτυχεν, απηλλάγη της ασθενείας το παιδίον, άλλ' αθρόον, ώς φαίνεσθαι μή φύσεως ακολουθίαν είναι το θαύμα, αλλά της ενεργείας του Χριστού.
3 A beautiful remark of Bengel's: Quo curatius divina opera et beneficia considerantur, eo plus nutrimenti fides acquirit.
4 The Jews have their miracle, evidently founded upon, and in rivalry of, this. Vitringa (De Synag. p. 147) quotes it: Quando ægrotavit filius R. Gamalielis, duos misit studiosos sapientiæ ad R. Chanina, Dusæ filium, ut per preces pro eo gratiam divinam implorarent. Postquam eos vidit, ascendit in cænaculum suum, Deumque pro eo avit. Ubi vero descendit, dixit, Abite, quia febris illum jam dereliquit. . . . Illi vero considentes, signate annotârunt illam horam, et quando reversi sunt ad R. Gamalielem, dixit ipsis, Per cultum! Nec excessu nec defectu tem
But did he not believe before ? Was not this healing itself a gracious reward of his faith? Yes, he believed that particular word of the Lord's; but this is something more, of faith, the entering into the number of Christ's disciples, the giving of himself to Him as to the promised Messiah. Or, admitting that he already truly believed, there may be indicated here a heightening and augmenting of his faith. For faith may be true, and yet most capable of this increase. In him who cried, 'Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief' (Mark ix. 24), faith was indeed born, though as yet its actings were weak and feeble. After and in consequence of the first miracle of the water made wine, Christ's disciples believed on Him’ (John ii. 11), who yet, being disciples, must have believed on Him already.' Apostles themselves exclaim, 'Lord, increase our faith'(Luke xvii. 5). The Israelites of old, who followed Moses through the Red Sea, must have already believed that he was God's instrument for their deliverance; yet of them we learn that after the great overthrow of Pharaoh and his host, they believed the Lord, and his servant Moses' (Exod. xiv. 31). The widow whose son Elijah had raised from the dead, exclaims, “Now by this I know thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth' (1 Kin. xvii. 24). Knowing him for such before (ver. 18), she now received a new confirmation of her faith (cf. John xi. 15; xiii. 19); and so we must accept it here. Whether, then, we understand that faith was first born in him now, or, being born already, received now a notable increase, it is plain in either case that the Lord by those words of his, ' Except ye see signs and wonders ye will
poris peccâstis, sed sic prorsus factum : eâ enim ipsâ horâ dereliquit ipsum febris, et petiit a nobis aquam potandam. Cf. Lampe, Com. in Joh. vol. i.
i Beda: Unde datur intelligi et in fide gradus esse, sicut et in aliis virtutibus, quibus est initium, incrementum, et perfectio. Hujus ergo fides initium habuit, cum filii salutem petiit: incrementum, cum credidit sermoni Domini dicentis, Filius tuus vivit; deinde perfectionem obtinuit, nuntiantibus servis.