John 4:1-45

the-samaritan-woman-at-the-well-with-christNow when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her,“Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming and is now here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him.

Meanwhile, the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

After the two days, he departed for Galilee. (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.

Understanding And Applying the Text

Jesus was baptizing and making more disciples than John. Jesus left Judea once he learned the Pharisees found this out. The time had not yet arrived to expose Himself to the anger of the Pharisees. So Jesus headed to Galilee. Why not stay? Why not stand and fight for what was right? The answer is simple. It was not the right time. We too should discipline ourselves to fight the fights that matter at the proper time. We must not go beyond what our calling demands.

Jesus’ disciples, not Jesus, performed the physical act to baptizing. The efficacy of baptism does not depend on the minister but on its Author. That is, it depends on the one by whose name it is conferred.

This was a battle fought in the early church. Many priests recanted their faith under persecution. The question was this. Did those baptized by these priests need to be re-baptized? No. The church realized baptism is in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is God who baptizes. The priest was just standing in. It had nothing to do with the priest’s standing. He had nothing to do with the efficacy of the baptism. Baptism, in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, even in an apostate church, is a true baptism.

Jesus left Judea to go to Galilee. He passed through Samaria and came to a town called Sychar. There He stopped to rest. John says Jesus was weary. Jesus did not pretend weariness. He was actually fatigued. Jesus was touched with the feelings of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15).

While His disciples went to buy food, Jesus rested by a well. It was about noon. A woman comes to the well to draw water. Jesus asks her for some water. He does not ask her for water with the intention of teaching her. He asks because he was thirsty. Our Lord, God in human flesh, is human in every respect. Yet, His thrust did not stop Him from teaching her. He desired her salvation.

unmeritedgraceThe woman was surprised Jesus spoke to her. First, because she was a Samaritan and Jesus was a Jew. Second, she was a woman and He was a man. The Jews knew the Samaritans as scum. They were from foreigners. They corrupted the worship of God. They introduced spurious and wicked ceremonies into worship. The Jews regarded them as detestable.

I think the woman’s response to Christ was jeering. “Why are you asking me for water? Since you are a Jew, you think you’re too good to talk to me. Get your own water.” She betrays a self-righteousness of which we are all guilty.

Christ takes this opportunity to preach to her about grace and the power of His spirit. The woman did not deserve it. She did not even deserve Him speaking to her. There was nothing in her deserving Christ’s grace. But by God’s grace, she became a disciple of Christ. Christ shows merit has nothing to do with whom He selects. He passed over many great men in Judea and offers His grace to this woman, a Samaritan prostitute.

Notice the woman’s reaction to the offer of grace. She jeers and mocks Christ. She knows full well Jesus is using water as a metaphor. Yet her response is to mock.

Even though the woman mocks Christ’s, He explains in clearer language want he said. Yet, the woman continues to mock, “Talk is cheap. Show me if you can.” Jesus response is “Ok call your husband.” Again in mockery and contempt, “I don’t have a husband.”

You might think the woman’s taunts would annoy Jesus. Not so, Jesus speaks with tender kindness. “That’s right. You don’t have a husband. In fact, you have had 5 husbands. And the man you have now is not your husband. So you are quite right you don’t have a husband.”

Like this woman, we remain unmoved by God’s grace. Our self-love blinds us to it. But, Christ applies the appropriate cure. He presses harder on the wound. God had given this woman five lawful husbands yet she incited each of them to divorce her. And she prostitutes herself with yet another man. We are no better. We take the blessings of God as if they were His duty. We ignore them and demand more.

The woman’s tone now changes. Some think she is feeling uncomfortable. They thing she tries to change the subject off her onto trivial matters. I would disagree. First worship is not a trivial matter. Second, I think the woman’s eye are starting to open and she wants to know how she is to respond. What is the correct way to worship? Her mind is preparing for doctrine.

She takes a proper course when consulting a prophet. She does not want an incorrect worship of God. So she asks how does God desire worship. Nothing is more wicked than inventing creativity forms of worship. Proper worship comes only from the authority of God’s word.

Oh, that more churches, church members, and pastors would ask this question. We invent different forms of worship today because we do not believe the power of the gospel. We have to invent something new and relevant. We believe we have to entice people to come to church. We do not believe God’s word will draw people to Him.

We make our worship about our preference our likes and dislikes. “I like to sing contemporary music. Hymns are boring.” “Our church is exciting we sing hip hop.” “We are trying to reach a specific group of people. We sing country.” “Our church only sings hymns. That is how I like to worship.”

We no longer believe the word is the power of God for salvation. We think God needs our help to make Himself relevant. We make worship about us not about God. The woman’s concern is about making her worship about God.

Jesus’ reply is to set aside the ceremonial worship prescribed by the law. Jesus says the time has come where there is no fixed place for worship. What He is saying is the method of worship prescribed by Moses was only for a time. The Gospel destroys the barriers to worship so even Samaritans may partake of it.

By calling God Father Jesus is contrasting Him with the Fathers the woman mentioned. Jesus indicates God is the Father of all. All nations will worship Him in all places.

Jesus told the woman she worshiped what she do not know. He is charging her with a superstitious worship. I have talked with many lazy Christians who refuse to study the word of God. They will say,”Isn’t it enough to love Jesus? What good is it to study and learn theology?” They have the same superstition. What they believe is true but they do not know it to be true. They just believe it without knowledge. Jesus was not and is not satisfied with that type of worship.

“You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know.” Jesus is teaching we are not to approach religion in a random manner. It is to be with knowledge. Otherwise, we are not worshiping God. We are worshiping a phantom or idol. Good intentions are not a substitute for knowledge. We err when we let our opinion guide us without God’s word or command.

We can only worship God by faith. Faith is only produced by the word of God. We fall into idolatry when we follow our imagination. When we create ways to worship, we substitute ourselves for God.

What is wrong with changing the form or method of worship? That is a good question. And like all questions, it has behind it an assumption. The assumption is the form of worship is worship. God only accepts worship that only comes from faith. The Law’s purpose was that the people cleave to God with faith. So true worship has not changed and will never change. True worship is through faith. We do not worship God when we base its form on convenience, desire or familiarity. We worship only through faith.

God is Spirit and we must worship Him in Spirit and truth. This ought to constrain us from fanciful worship. God is so far from being like us that the things which please us most are the things he abhors.

The woman admits she knows little but the Messiah will explain it all when he comes. By this statement, we know she realizes there is something better than the Law. She excepts Christ to interpret the Father and teach godliness. She believes we do not need anything more than His teachings.

When Jesus disciples return their reaction to seeing Jesus talk to the woman is surprise. It was improper conduct for a man to speak with a woman alone. Not only was Jesus talking with a woman, he was talking with a Samaritan woman.

Yet we should notice they did not question their Lord. We ought to learn from their behavior. When we find something troublesome in God’s word, we should hold out tongue.

The woman left her pitcher and went back into town. We should notice who Christ chose to bring the good news to the town of Sychar. He did not choose a civic leader. He did not choose a religious leader. He did not choose someone with great influence. He chose a prostitute.

Sharing the knowledge of God is natural. We too have prostituted ourselves. We have been with other gods. Yet when we become receive faith we share with others the knowledge of God. We cannot help ourselves. That knowledge does not and cannot lie buried and inactive in our hearts.

The woman was not qualified to go into the mysteries of God. She could not give answers to all the questions. All she could do is give objective evidence “He told me everything I had ever done.” Then she brings her fellow-citizens to Christ so He can teach them. She tells them to check it out for themselves. She could only persuade them to inquire. She could not convince them Jesus was the Christ.

That is our limitation we can only tell others what we know. We can point them to the objective evidence and persuade them to seek. Christ is the one who changes hearts.

Jesus’ disciples tried to get Jesus to eat. But Jesus is too excited to eat. He is changing hearts and doing the Father’s will. The disciples were not improper in their concern. But, they did not have the proper perspective. We should prefer the kingdom of God to physical comforts.

Jesus tells His disciple now is the time to harvest. The Law and the prophets sowed. They planted the seeds for the Gospel. Now is the time of harvest.

What is interesting is Jesus delivered this message in Samaria. He appears to say the sowing extended beyond the borders of Israel.

When John said, “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.” The word, “believe” does not refer to a saving faith. The woman’s claims intrigued them. They were curious enough to check it out. They acknowledged Christ as a prophet. Just as she did in their journey to saving faith. Faith grows from a mind that is prepared to receive the doctrine.

The evangelist then goes on and says, “Many more believed because of his word.” Here the word “believe” is use in a different sense. Here the evangelist uses it to mean, not only were they prepared for faith, they had a proper faith. Their faith came from the word of God itself.

John’s  mission was to prepared the way. All we can do in evangelism is prepare the way. Faith comes from hearing the word of God. (Romans 10:17)

Jesus stayed and taught for two days. Then he continued his journey to Galilee.

Jesus understood those in Nazareth would not accept Him. So he went to Galilee. Verse 44, “For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.” was a common proverb and as a proverb, we should not understand it in a rigid sense. Proverbs are rules of thumbs. They are not always true. The Galileans received Jesus. They saw the miracles He had performed in Jerusalem. This points out the purpose of miracles. They prepare the way for doctrine.

chosenAs we reflect on the Samaritan woman we need to understand we are not better than she. She was a prostitute. We prostitute ourselves with other gods and even raise ourselves up as a god. But God chooses us. He stoops down and raises us up. Jesus passed over many religious and powerful men in Judea and chose this prostitute. He chooses us not because of who we are or what we will become. He chooses us for His glory.

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