HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea 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. –John 4:46-47
The Beginning of His Ministry
It is to be noted that all the miracles in this Gospel, with the exception of those of the loaves and the walking on the sea, are found in this Gospel only. We know that if all the works which Jesus did were written, the world itself could not contain the books thereof, and John was led to choose for us such deeds and such words of Jesus as should embody great principles in themselves and should not overlap the testimony of others. The life of Jesus is like the world we live in; there is room in it for the joyful use of all our gifts, and when we are rooted and grounded in love, as this apostle was, we shall have little heart to interfere with others. The miracle of Cana was the beginning of the showing of His glory. This miracle is a beginning too–it is the beginning of the Galilean ministry. A thing well begun is half-done, we say–note the noble beginnings of our Saviour’s ministry. Observe, too, that our Lord began exactly as He meant to go on. I have known folk beginning with enthusiasm, but in a little while how listless and dull they grew! Remember that whether it be in work or play, that is not the spirit of our Master. All through His life, and all through the after-centuries, our Lord has been turning the water into wine; He has never ceased to respond to the cry of faith nor to be a healer of worse sicknesses than fever. It is no chance, then, that with such displays of power His glory and His Galilean ministry began.
Illness May Lead Us to Christ
So Jesus was at Cana of Galilee again, and you can hardly wonder that the people received Him eagerly. You may depend upon it that the servants who had borne the waterpots, as they sat of an evening in the inn at Cana, would never weary of recounting what had happened when they had filled the vessels with water to the brim. The news of this mystery had travelled far; it had entered the doors of the palace of Herod Antipas, and some had wondered, and some had scoffed, and some had jestingly wished they had been there. But there was one courtier, or king’s officer, at Herod’s court, who pondered deeply on this so marvelous story, and when rumors came of Jesus in Judaea and of all He had done at Jerusalem during feast-time (John 4:45), he sifted them out and dwelt on them in secret, until at last, in the court of Herod Antipas (one of the unlikeliest places in the world), there was a heart that had begun to clamber upwards into the first glimmerings of faith. And then the son of this nobleman fell ill; physicians were useless; he was at the point of death. How vapid and vain was all the showy court life when there rang through it, in a voice he loved so well, the wild and delirious cries of raging fever! So oftentimes an illness may be used to tear away the tapestries around us and to lead us from the chamber of our worldly hopes into the presence of the living Christ. The nobleman came to Cana and we know what followed. If there is life in a look, there is life too in a word. The smoking flax was handled as only Christ could handle it until the flame of faith in this strong heart burned clear. The incident took place at one o’clock; the courtier set out for Capernaum immediately. The sunset and a new day began, for with the Jew the day begins at sunset. And then his servants met him with faces of such radiance that the father had not to ask what was their news; and “Yesterday” they said (or as we should say “Today”), “at one o’clock the fever left him.” That was an hour (to use the words of Jesus) when Capernaum was exalted unto heaven. In one of its homes, at any rate, that evening there was a very heaven of joy and love and gratitude. It was the second miracle which Jesus did in Galilee, and it also was a turning of water into wine.
Our Neglect of Christ in Our Quiet Years
Note first, then, as springing from this matchless story, how we may neglect the evidence of quiet years. “Except ye see signs and wonders,” said Jesus to the courtier, and as He spoke He would turn to the people also–“Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” Now what, think you, did Jesus mean by that? I think He meant something of this kind. “I was among you,” He meant, “during my years of childhood. I spent my opening and my ripening manhood here, and I was the same then as I am today had you only had spiritual eyes to recognize Me, but you would not receive Me. I had no honour among you till I went to Judaea and wrought these mighty deeds, and now (though I am the same yesterday and today) you welcome Me gladly for the signs and wonders.” Let us learn than to have an open eye in the years when God is moving among us quietly. Let us not wait for occurrences that startle ere we give a welcome to the Light of men. In the countless providence’s of the common week, in the texts we read in the quiet of eventide, in the hymns we sing, in the preaching we hear, in all God’s daily love and kindness to us, there is a call to every one of us, “My son, give Me thine heart.”
True Faith Is Followed by Activity
Then note, as signally illustrated here, how true faith is followed by an activity. It was a journey of faith from Capernaum to Cana; it was not less so from Cana to Capernaum. All the love in the world for the poor boy would never have led the father Cana-wards unless within him there had been some spark of faith in the power and willingness of Jesus. Remember then that when a faith is real, working by love it will go forth in action. Remember too that there is no such source of action, nor anything so sure to make it high and noble, as an underlying faith in God’s dear Son. It matters not what the children are going to be–sailors, soldiers, teachers, mechanics, nurses–whatever it is, they will do it all the more worthily, with purer motives, with more victorious gladness, if they begin life with the prayer of him who cried, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”