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Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
THE Galileans who returned from the Passover brought back the report of the wonderful
works of Jesus. The judgment passed upon His acts by the dignitaries at Jerusalem opened
His way in Galilee. Many of the people lamented the abuse of the temple and the greed and
arrogance of the priests. They hoped that this Man, who had put the rulers to flight,
might be the looked-for Deliverer. Now tidings had come that seemed to confirm their
brightest anticipations. It was reported that the prophet had declared Himself to be the
But the people of Nazareth did not believe on Him. For this reason, Jesus did not visit
Nazareth on His way to Cana. The Saviour declared to His disciples that a prophet has no
honor in his own country. Men estimate character by that which they themselves are capable
of appreciating. The narrow and worldly-minded judged of Christ by His humble birth, His
lowly garb, and daily toil. They could not appreciate the purity of that spirit upon which
was no stain of sin.
The news of Christ's return to Cana soon spread throughout Galilee, bringing hope to the
suffering and distressed. In Capernaum the tidings attracted the attention of a Jewish
nobleman who was an officer in the
king's service. A son of the officer was suffering from what seemed to be an incurable
disease. Physicians had given him up to die; but when the father heard of Jesus, he
determined to seek help from Him. The child was very low, and, it was feared, might not
live till his return; yet the nobleman felt that he must present the case in person. He
hoped that a father's prayers might awaken the sympathy of the Great Physician.
On reaching Cana he found a throng surrounding Jesus. With an anxious heart he pressed
through to the Saviour's presence. His faith faltered when he saw only a plainly dressed
man, dusty and worn with travel. He doubted that this Person could do what he had come to
ask of Him; yet he secured an interview with Jesus, told his errand, and besought the
Saviour to accompany him to his home. But already his
sorrow was known to Jesus. Before the officer had left his home, the Saviour had beheld
But He knew also that the father had, in his own mind, made conditions concerning his
belief in Jesus. Unless his petition should be granted, he would not receive Him as the
Messiah. While the officer waited in an agony of suspense, Jesus said, "Except ye see
signs and wonders, ye will not believe."
Notwithstanding all the evidence that Jesus was the Christ, the petitioner had determined
to make his belief in Him conditional on the granting of his own request. The Saviour
contrasted this questioning unbelief with the simple faith of the Samaritans, who asked
for no miracle or sign. His word, the ever-present evidence of His divinity, had a
convincing power that reached their hearts. Christ was pained that His own people, to whom
the Sacred Oracles had been committed, should fail to hear the voice of God speaking to
them in His Son.
Yet the nobleman had a degree of faith; for he had come to ask what seemed to him the most
precious of all blessings. Jesus had a greater gift to bestow. He desired, not only to
heal the child, but to make the officer and his household sharers in the blessings of
salvation, and to kindle a light in Capernaum, which was so soon to be the field of His
own labors. But the nobleman must realize his need before he would desire the grace of
Christ. This courtier represented many of his nation. They were interested in Jesus from
selfish motives. They hoped to receive some special benefit through His power, and they
staked their faith on the granting of this temporal favor; but they were ignorant as to
their spiritual disease, and saw not their need of divine grace.
Like a flash of light, the Saviour's words to the nobleman laid bare his heart. He saw
that his motives in seeking Jesus were selfish. His vacillating faith appeared to him in
its true character. In deep distress he realized that his doubt might cost the life of his
son. He knew that he was in the presence of One who could read the thoughts, and to whom
all things were possible. In an agony of supplication he cried, "Sir, come down ere
my child die." His faith took hold upon Christ as did Jacob, when, wrestling with the
Angel, he cried, "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me." Gen. 32:26.
Like Jacob he prevailed. The Saviour cannot withdraw from the soul that clings to Him,
pleading its great need. "Go thy way," He said; "thy son liveth." The
nobleman left the Saviour's presence with a peace
and joy he had never known before. Not only did he believe that his son would be restored,
but with strong confidence he trusted in Christ as the Redeemer.
At the same hour the watchers beside the dying child in the home at Capernaum beheld a
sudden and mysterious change. The shadow of death was lifted from the sufferer's face. The
flush of fever gave place to the soft glow of returning health. The dim eyes brightened
with intelligence, and strength returned to the feeble, emaciated frame. No signs of his
malady lingered about the child. His burning flesh had become soft and moist, and he sank
into a quiet sleep. The fever had left him in the very heat of the day. The family were
amazed, and great was the rejoicing.
Cana was not so far from Capernaum but that the officer might have reached his home on the
evening after his interview with Jesus; but he did not hasten on the homeward journey. It
was not until the next morning that he reached Capernaum. What a homecoming was that! When
he went to find Jesus, his heart was heavy with sorrow. The sunshine seemed cruel to him,
the songs of the birds a mockery. How different his feelings now! All nature wears a new
aspect. He sees with new eyes. As he journeys in the quiet of the early morning, all
nature seems to be praising God with him. While he is still some distance from his own
dwelling, servants come out to meet him, anxious to relieve the suspense they are sure he
must feel. He shows no surprise at the news they bring, but with a depth of interest they
cannot know he asks at what hour the child began to mend. They answer, "Yesterday at
the seventh hour the fever left him." At the very moment when the father's faith
grasped the assurance, "Thy son liveth," divine love touched the dying child.
The father hurries on to greet his son. He clasps him to his heart as one restored from
the dead, and thanks God again and again for this wonderful restoration.
The nobleman longed to know more of Christ. As he afterward heard His teaching, he and all
his household became disciples. Their affliction was sanctified to the conversion of the
entire family. Tidings of the miracle spread; and in Capernaum, where so many of His
mighty works were performed, the way was prepared for Christ's personal ministry.
He who blessed the nobleman at Capernaum is just as desirous of blessing us. But like the
afflicted father, we are often led to seek Jesus by the desire for some earthly good; and
upon the granting of our request we rest our confidence in His love. The Saviour longs to
give us a greater blessing than we ask; and He delays the answer to our request that He
may show us the evil of our own hearts, and our deep need of His grace. He desires us to
renounce the selfishness that leads us to seek Him. Confessing our helplessness and bitter
need, we are to trust ourselves wholly to His love.
The nobleman wanted to see the fulfillment of his prayer before he should believe; but he
had to accept the word of Jesus that his request was heard and the blessing granted. This
lesson we also have to learn. Not because we see or feel that God hears us are we to
believe. We are to trust in His promises. When we come to Him in faith, every petition
enters the heart of God. When we have asked for His blessing, we should believe that we
receive it, and thank Him that we have received it. Then we are to go about our duties,
assured that the blessing will be realized when we need it most. When we have learned to
do this, we shall know that our prayers are answered. God will do for us "exceeding
abundantly," "according to the riches of His glory," and "the working
of His mighty power." Eph. 3:20, 16; 1:19.
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