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Significance of the healing of the royal officer's son and of the centurion's servant
“7. Says John, ‘But the sign You worked at Cana on the son of the royal officer (GGJ I, chp. 90/ John 4: 47-53) does not seem to be greater and more important than what You did for the centurion outside Capernaum (GGJ I chp. 97/ Matt. 8:5-13)?’
8. Say I, ‘If you think this, you are quite wrong, for the son of the royal officer represents the entire, extremely depraved world and how it is now given help from a distance through My teaching and My spiritual influence. The servant of the centurion, however, represents for the present just the palsied servant whom I healed and only then also some community or society in My name which because of all kinds of political considerations completely lacks activity according to My teaching in one or the other point and thereby gradually becomes inactive also in the other points. That is then also a palsy of the souls which can be helped only by a firm belief in My word.
9. Behold, My dear brother John, that constitutes a considerable difference between the two signs. The first one represents the entire world’s condition of spiritual sickness, and I tell you, in an even more profound sense also of all infinity. The second sign, however, represents only that which I have just explained to you. Thus you now know what you have to describe and what Matthew.’” (GGJ I, chp. 100)
Healing of the Son of a royal nobleman. [John 4: 47-53] (chp. NR)
47. There was a royal nobleman whose son was lying ill at Capernaum. When he (the sick son’s father) heard that Jesus had come from Judaea into Galilee, he came to Him (to Cana) and begged Him to go down (to Capernaum) and help his son who was dangerously ill.
"1. As we were on the point of setting forth on our way a man of royal descent and a close relative of the commander, who a few days ago had gone to Capernaum, came hurrying towards Me almost out of breath for he had learnt from the commander that I had again returned to Galilee from Judaea. This royal nobleman had an only son who suddenly had been attacked by a bad fever and the physician in Capernaum had realised as soon as he saw the patient that he was quite beyond help. The father was in despair and did not know what to do in his grief. Then Cornelius, the commander, came to him and said, ‘Brother, there is a way. It is less than an hour’s brisk walk from here to Cana, where the famous healer Jesus of Nazareth is staying. I myself met Him there and spoke to Him on my journey here. He will surely still be there for He promised me to come from there directly to Capernaum and visit me. What He promises He also keeps without fail, and since He has not yet come to me He is definitely still in Cana. Therefore, hurry to Him personally and beg Him to come to your son and help him. And I can assure you that He will come immediately and help your son.’
2. Having heard this from his brother Cornelius, the royal nobleman hurries to Cana and, as already mentioned, arrives there quite out of breath as I was just setting forth on My way. On reaching Me, he falls at My feet begging Me to hurry with him to Capernaum as his only son who is everything to him was dying and no physician in Capernaum was able to help him. If I did not come quickly to Capernaum, his son would die before I got there if he had not died already.
48. And Jesus said to him: “Unless you see signs and miracles, you will not believe!”
3. Say I, ‘Behold, My friend, it is not easy with you people, for unless you see signs and miracles already in advance, you do not believe. I help only those who believe even if they have not seen any signs and miracles beforehand. For where I am approached with unconditional faith, I also heal surely and certainly.’
49. The nobleman said to Him: “Sir, come down before my son dies!”
4. Here the royal man exclaims, ‘O Sir, do not discuss this at such length with me poor man; you can see that I do believe or I would not have come to you. I beg you, O Sir, just to enter my house and my son will live. But if you delay, he will die before you arrive. Look, I have many servants, and if I say to one or the other: do this or do that, he will do it. If I did not believe in you, O Lord, completely, I would have sent one or the other of my servants to you. But since I am filled with the firmest faith, I came myself. For my heart told me: “If only I find and see you, my son will become well. Lord, I also confess that I am not worthy to have you under my roof, but if you would only say one word, my son will become well and live.’
50. Jesus says to him: “Go home, you son will live!” The man believed what Jesus said and went home.
5. Say I, ‘Friend, such a faith I have not found anywhere in Israel. Go home confidently; you will receive according to your faith. You son will live.’ - And the nobleman went home in tears of gratitude and joy, for he believed My word without any doubt, but I still spent the night and the following day in Cana to the great joy of the host.
51. When he was on the way down (towards Capernaum) his servant met him with the news: “Your child lives!”
6. As the nobleman - who was much respected in Capernaum, on the one hand because he, like the commander Cornelius, was related to the ruling house in Rome and, besides, was a high-ranking officer appointed by Rome - approached the town his numerous servants were coming towards him announcing loudly, ‘Master, your son lives and is perfectly well.’
52. He asked them what time it was when he (the son) began to recover. They said, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him!”
7. Then the man almost fainted with joy and asked at what time he had recovered. And the servants told him unanimously, ‘Yesterday at the seventh hour the bad fever left him.’
53. The Father noted that this was the exact time when Jesus had said to him: “Your son will live!” And he and all his household became believers.
8. Hearing this from his servants he began to work out the time and found that it must have been the exact time when I had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he walked home at ease, and when he arrived the commander Cornelius already led the completely healthy and happy son towards him, saying, ‘Well, brother, did I send you to the proper healer or not?’
9. The royal man, however, said, ‘Yes, brother, through your advice you have restored my life tenfold. But this healer Jesus of Nazareth is obviously more than an ordinary healer who ever so skillfully knows how to cure diseases by means of medicinal herbs. Just imagine! Without ever having seen my son, he simply said, ‘Your son will live, and the boy recovered at once. Listen, this is of great significance. I tell you: This is not possible to any man, but only to a god. And from now on I believe, and so does no doubt my whole household, that this Jesus is beyond any doubt a true god and for the salvation of all men walks among them in a human form and heals and teaches them. When he comes here he must be shown divine veneration.’
10. Says Cornelius, ‘I know Him already as that and am fully convinced, but He does not allow people to approach Him like that.’
11. Says the father of the healed boy, ‘Brother, where one has such evidence in hand, I think, one cannot do too much.’
12. Says Cornelius, ‘I fully agree with you, but as I have already told you it is a fact that He is a declared enemy of public and external marks of respect. As far as I know from His earliest childhood, only the silent, innermost mark of respect expressing itself in the love of the heart is acceptable to Him. All that is only external He even regards as irksome and if He came here, as he promised me, you might by a public worship drive Him away from this place forever. Therefore, do whatever you wish within your heart, but avoid all public ceremonies; for I know Him already since His birth in Bethlehem and have heard and seen much of Him since that time.’
13. Says the royal man, ‘All right, I followed your advice yesterday by day and will, therefore, listen to you and follow it also now at night.’
14. (In order to avoid giving cause to hair-splitting, there should here be added a brief explanation regarding the word “yesterday”. A day - in particular in Galilee - lasted only until the respective sunset and after the sun had set actually the next day already began a few minutes after sunset the previous day was already described as “yesterday”. With the sunset began the first nightwatch for the coming day. A nightwatch, however, was a period of three hours and an hour of day was in summer equivalent to almost two of today’s hours and in winter to not quite one, for the daylight time had to have always 12 hours whether the day was short or long. If here it says that the nobleman walked from Capernaum to Cana in one hour, it would nowadays amount to almost two hours. - This brief explanation is all the more necessary as some things in this gospel could hardly be correctly understood, since the respective time references were only according to those times and not according to the present chronology.)' (GGJ I, chp. 90)
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