Vv 1-3: Jesus was "afraid", not for himself, but for his new
followers -- as yet untested.
WAS GAINING AND BAPTIZING: Note the tense: the work of
Christ and of John was at this time simultaneous, yet Christ was excelling John
(Joh 3:26,30). Christ knew this would antagonize the Pharisees, and he did not
trust these Judeans (Joh 2:23).
LEFT: "Aphiemi" = strongest poss word in Greek: to
forsake or abandon.
HE HAD TO GO...: Not for geographical, but rather for
typical reasons: to foreshadow preaching to Gentiles. Or, poss, he considered
this route safer than to risk being arrested by Herod's men at southern end of
Gennesaret (WGos 102). ("Had to", Gr "dei", often refs to will of God: Joh
3:7,14,30; 4:4,20,24; 9:4; 10:16; 12:34; 20:9).
SAMARIA: The Samaritan race, and their temple: Neh
13:28n. (Even today, some few hundred Samaritans live in Nablus, the modern
Shechem: LB 477; HVM 159-165.) Many Judeans circled through Perea (the long way
around), rather than simply travel through Samaria -- so great was their hatred
of the Samaritans. "May I never set eyes on a Samaritan... May I never be thrown
into company with one" (Rabbis). To partake of their bread was like "eating
swine's flesh" (Eder 1:401).
SYCHAR: Or Shechem: a city of refuge (Jos 21:21),
symbolic of Christ (Heb 6:18-20). The first Joshua was in Shechem (Jos 24:1; cp
THE SIXTH HOUR: Women carried water in cool of morning
or evening. By Heb time, 6th hour = approx noon. Why did she choose such a time?
Perhaps to avoid contact with other women? (But in Joh 19:14, John uses Roman
Blessings given in the path of home duty: shepherds at night
(Luk 2:8-20), Moses keeping flock (Exo 3:1,2), David in sheepfolds (Psa 78:70),
Gideon threshing (Jdg 6:11,12), Abraham in tent-door (Gen 18:1), and a woman
coming to draw water (Joh 4:7,26).
Christ met woman at well, as other faithful men before him had
met their future wives at wells: Eleazar (for Isaac) in Gen 24:10,62; Jacob in
Gen 29:2,9,10; Moses in Exo 2:15-21.
Jesus and the Samaritan woman: "At the beginning of the
conversation he did not make himself known to her... but first she caught sight
of a thirsty man [v 7], then a Jew [v 9], then a rabbi [vv 13,14], afterwards a
prophet [vv 17-19], last of all the Messiah [vv 25,26]. She tried to get the
better of the thirsty man, she showed her dislike of the Jew, she heckled the
rabbi, she was swept off her feet by the prophet, and finally she adored the
Messiah" (Tatian). See Lesson, How to tell a woman she's wrong.
"This strange conversation (Joh 4:7-26) is more than a passing
incident in Christ's journey through Samaria. It discloses the nature of the
intercourse which takes place between God and every true seeker after Him. Our
relationship begins with a demand from our Father to do something for Him. Our
natural feeling is that there is nothing we can possibly do. He is the Creator
and Sustainer of all things, we are puny creatures of His handiwork utterly
dependent and unworthy. Yet the demand persists, and with it comes the
understanding that our service conceals a far greater gift from Him. As the
nature of that gift is unfolded in His word, so our desire for it grows, and
although we can never appreciate it in its fullness, we plead for it. But it has
its own demands. It requires us to expose all those things that are unworthy and
demands that we share the gift with those around us. We cannot effectively
accomplish the second without deliberately facing anything in our life which
will impede our communion with God ... This is all brought to a focus in the
person of Jesus Christ, and our surrender is complete when we truly believe his
saying: 'I that speak unto thee am he' " (MP 79,80).
WILL YOU GIVE ME A DRINK?: The Good Shepherd asks drink
from a "black sheep"!
YOU ARE A JEW: Jesus is clearly recognized as a Jew.
Why? (1) His speech; (2) his general appearance; or (3) the fringe or border of
blue on his garment (Num 15:38)?
JEWS DO NOT ASSOCIATE WITH SAMARITANS: John's
explanation. Nor do they associate with women of any nation (cp v 27)!
THE GIFT OF GOD: Christ is the gift of God (Joh 3:16)
-- his life (Joh 10:11), example (Joh 13:15), Spirit of truth (Joh 14:16), word
LIVING WATER: God's Word (Jer 2:13; Isa 55:1-3; 49:10).
Running water, used to cleanse leprosy (Lev 14:5).
Both the learned Jew (Nicodemus) and the ignorant woman of
Samaria had much to learn from Jesus!
ARE YOU GREATER THAN OUR FATHER JACOB?: Surely
AND HIS FLOCKS AND HERDS: If cattle may drink of
Jacob's well, may not Samaritans and Gentiles drink of the "well of living
Fleshly pursuits satisfy, but we thirst again... and soon this
WHOEVER DRINKS THE WATER I GIVE HIM WILL NEVER THIRST:
"He who is a believer in Jesus finds enough in his Lord to satisfy him now, and
to content him for evermore. The believer is not the man whose days are weary
for want of comfort, and whose nights are long from absence of heart-cheering
thought, for he finds in religion such a spring of joy, such a fountain of
consolation, that he is content and happy. Put him in a dungeon and he will find
good company; place him in a barren wilderness, he will eat the bread of heaven;
drive him away from friendship, he will meet the 'friend that sticketh closer
than a brother.' Blast all his gourds, and he will find shadow beneath the Rock
of Ages; sap the foundation of his earthly hopes, but his heart will still be
fixed, trusting in the Lord. The heart is as insatiable as the grave till Jesus
enters it, and then it is a cup full to overflowing. There is such a fulness in
Christ that he alone is the believer's all. The true saint is so completely
satisfied with the all-sufficiency of Jesus that he thirsts no more -- except it
be for deeper draughts of the living fountain" (CHS).
A SPRING OF WATER WELLING UP: Cp also John 7:37,38;
19:34: References to "springs" of living waters invokes such passages as Psa
36:9; 46:4; 87:7. Also, Isa 12:1; Zech 13:1; Ezek 47:1-5; Rev 22:1. (The latter
two Psalms passages probably referred, in the first instance, to Hezekiah's
Conduit, and the Gihon spring.)
// Joh 7:37-39.
Jesus takes the most direct course to convince this rather
simple woman of his Messiahship.
YOUR HUSBAND: Irony: Jesus IS her "husband", IF she
will accept it!
I HAVE NO HUSBAND: An immoral suggestion? 'I am
unattached at the moment!'
YOU HAVE HAD FIVE HUSBANDS: The Pentateuch were the
only holy books accepted by the Samaritans. Yet, even now, they had not been led
to the true "husband", the Messiah.
A PROPHET: Or "the prophet", of Deu 18:15-19.
A TIME IS COMING: Notice Jesus does not add, "and has
now come", as he does in v 23. It was even then poss for men to worship in
spirit and truth, but until Christ's sacrifice Jerusalem remained the only true
place to worship God formally.
ON THIS MOUNTAIN: Mt Gerizim, and Mt Ebal: cp Deu
27:11-26; Jos 8:33. (All Samaritan texts had been altered to substitute
"Gerizim" in Gen 14:18; 22:2: WGos 104. The Samaritan texts made no mention of
YOU SAMARITANS: The NIV adds "Samaritans" (not in
orig), but added to indicate that the verb is plural -- ref more than the single
SALVATION IS FROM THE JEWS: Or "comes from the Jews"
(ISV). Everyone sees the world through the lens of his own experience. We
perceive our world from a particular time and cultural background. It is easy to
assume that Jesus and his disciples were much like ourselves. In our movies
about Jesus he is often portrayed as a "hippie" with blonde hair and blue eyes.
It is not as easy to see Jesus as a homely, middle eastern Jewish rabbi who
spoke Hebrew and went by the name "Yashua Ben Yoseph". If we want to understand
Jesus and his message in its original context we have to try to understand the
world from his point of view. The most natural assumption in the world is that
we put ourselves in the mindset of a first century Jew. If we read the Gospel
from this perspective, does the message change? An intellectualized Gospel of
the 20th century North American or a Social Justice Gospel which resonates so
well in Third World today may miss the message found in a 1st century story of a
Long ago, God chose a special people for Himself. He promised
Abraham and his descendants that through them would come a redeemer who would
bless all nations. So it was that Israel looked forward to the coming Messiah
(anointed one). Jesus was very clear in regard to the spiritual authority God
had bestowed upon the Jews. We see this in his remark to the Samaritan woman.
The Samaritans worshipped the God of Abraham too, but they worshipped him
according to their own standards.
The Gospel has become many things in the name of "spirit and
truth" (Joh 4:23), yet God chose to bring forth salvation from within a Jewish
context. Jesus cannot be properly understood apart from OT Judaism. Despite this
reality, the Christian world has generally abandoned the Jewish context in which
the Gospel was born. Gentile believers, in a reaction against Jewish
"traditionalism", commonly discard all things Jewish as obsolete. As a result,
Christian traditions have replaced the old Jewish ones. Over the centuries, the
Church developed a version of faith which accommodated its own cultural
expressions. This is most readily illustrated by noting the many pagan practices
that have been "christianized" and assimilated into our faith experience. It is
just as revealing to note how little Jewish tradition was adopted. These "new"
traditions are now so embedded we can hardly imagine Christianity without them.
Imagine trying to live without Christmas or Easter, both pagan in origin, now
fundamental centerpieces of the Christian experience. There has been a paradigm
shift from a Middle Eastern Jewish Messiah to a Western Greco-Roman Christ. So
much so, in fact, that Christianity today bears little resemblance to the
religion Jesus participated in on the earth. In the minds of most Christians,
Judaism may as well be a different religion altogether. But Judaism is not a
"different" religion. Rather, Christianity and Judaism are two perspectives of
One God. Christianity is no more complete without its Jewish heritage than
Judaism is without the Messiah. It is good to remember that the foundation for
"Jewish" culture was established directly by God Himself. Judaism is the
original backdrop of the Gospel story. The Jewish Torah is our own beloved
Christian OT. Our God is One, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Christians
should take pride in the fact that this is Jewish heritage as it is ours as
well. Even we Gentiles have a just spiritual claim to all things promised to the
Jew through Jesus our Messiah.
"The Lord looked forward eagerly to the time when men would
shed the swaddling clothes of Mosaic ritual for the true reconciliation and
worship possible through him" (HAW).
AND HAS NOW COME: In ct v 21, this spiritual worship is
IN SPIRIT: Joh 6:35,63. Thus, spiritual worship, in ct
IN TRUTH: Sincerity and truth: Joshua's exhortation in
Shechem: Jos 24:14. Thus, the "true" (ie real, substantial) sacrifice, in ct the
"typical" or "figurative" sacrifices of Law.
GOD IS SPIRIT: God Himself is not immaterial; He has a
Spirit-body (ie 1Co 15:44-54; Heb 1:3,7; Mat 28:2-4), a Being full of Spirit
power, a body with parts.
IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH: The fruits of the Spirit-word,
the qualities of righteousness and love (Gal 5), rather than the typical
ordinances and rituals of either temple or system (cp Rom 2:26-29; 2Co 3:6; and
Joshua's words in Jos 24:14).
HE WILL EXPLAIN EVERYTHING TO US: Cp Deu 18:18: " I
will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put
my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command
I WHO SPEAK TO YOU AM HE: The first time Jesus directly
proclaimed his Messiahship was to a woman, a Samaritan and a sinner! The devout
Pharisee traditionally prayed, "I thank thee that thou didst not make me a
Gentile, but a Jew... not a woman, but a man." But Paul proclaimed that in Jesus
there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither male nor female (Gal 3:28)! All,
whatever their social status or race or sex, may share equally in the blessings
of the Messiahship of Jesus. Do we believe this?
See VL: Disciples, awe of Jesus. Other misunderstandings: Joh
14:5; Mat 15:15; 16:7,22. "Their blundering literalism, in sharp ct to the
Samaritan woman's insight, does them little credit" (WGos 106).
AND TO FINISH HIS WORK: Christ's work is to finish his
Father's work of creation, which is an ongoing work! Here is the beginning of
the gospel's extension to the Samaritans (Act 1:8).
DO NOT SAY, 'FOUR MONTHS MORE': 'Do not be lulled into
a false sense of security, as though there is nothing to do.'
OPEN YOUR EYES AND LOOK AT THE FIELDS: "Jesus uses
words which recall Isaiah's language concerning the gathering of Zion's children
in the day of her exaltation: 'Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all
these gather themselves together, and come to thee' (Isa 49:18). Even then the
Lord himself was realizing the joy of sowing and reaping, and gathering fruit
unto life eternal. He was the sower, and he called them to be fellow labourers
with him. The work is one of toil and sometimes hardship. The clouds and the
rain may discourage going out into the fields; but it has to be done at the cost
of present advantage and comfort. It may even entail the suffering of present
loss for future gain" (CJo 72,73).
THEY ARE RIPE FOR HARVEST: The harvest, or ingathering
of all God's children (Isa 49:18), even from Gentiles (cp Joh 4:25,28,29). Jesus
is pointing out the approaching Samaritans (Joh 4:40).
ONE SOWS AND ANOTHER REAPS: This came true: Jesus
sowed, and Philip reaped (Act 8:5-17)
OTHER MEN: Moses, Abraham, the prophets. Cp the words
of Joshua at Shechem: Jos 24:13.
Many Samaritans drink of the living waters. Were they
Ct the Jewish attitudes in Mat 8:34; Luk 4:29; 13:31. See also
Later, when Samaria received the word, Peter no doubt visited
Shechem (Act 8:14-25), and Sychar (v 5), a village nearby.
SAVIOR OF THE WORLD: Including Samaria!
Typical: 2 days (2,000 years) preaching to Gentiles, then a
return to Israel.
A PROPHET HAS NO HONOR IN HIS OWN COUNTRY: Explaining
why the Samaritans would listen so eagerly, in ct many Jews.
GALILEE: He did not go to Nazareth, but to Galilee in
the narrower sense -- ie Capernaum and the area immediately around the Sea of
Galilee (WGos 108). Perhaps he went to Nazareth first, and then removed
permanently to Capernaum (Mat 4:12,13).
THE GALILEANS... HAD SEEN ALL THAT HE HAD DONE IN
JERUSALEM: But the Samaritans had greater faith: they believed because of
what they heard, not what they saw!
ROYAL OFFICIAL: "Basilikios" = either one of royal
blood, or a sympathizer or a servant of Herod, tetrarch of Galilee (who in the
NT is called a king, Mat 14:9, Mar 6:14-29). Capernaum was a border town, and
prob there were many administrative officials living there.
TO COME AND HEAL HIS SON: That is, in the only way he
thought possible, ie by actual physical presence. But Christ can heal at a
distance; even now, he can bring life, by his word (Psa 119:93; 2Ti 1:1; Joh
"UNLESS YOU PEOPLE SEE MIRACULOUS SIGNS AND WONDERS," JESUS
TOLD HIM, "YOU WILL NEVER BELIEVE": "Many nowadays must see signs and
wonders, or they will not believe. Some have said in their heart, 'I must feel
deep horror of soul, or I never will believe in Jesus.' But what if you never
should feel it, as probably you never may? Will you go to the grave out of spite
against God, because He will not treat you like another? One has said to
himself, 'If I had a dream, or if I could feel a sudden shock of I know not
what, then I would believe.' Thus you undeserving mortals dream that my Lord is
to be dictated to by you! You are beggars at His gate, asking for mercy, and you
must needs draw up rules and regulations as to how He shall give that mercy.
Think you that He will submit to this? My Master is of a generous spirit, but he
has a right royal heart, he spurns all dictation, and maintains His sovereignty
of action. Why, if such be your case, do you crave for signs and wonders? Is not
the gospel its own sign and wonder? Is not this a miracle of miracles, that 'God
so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth
in Him might not perish' [Joh 3:16]? Surely that precious word, 'Whosoever will,
let him come and take the water of life freely' [Joh 7:37] and that solemn
promise, 'Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out,'[Joh 6:37] are
better than signs and wonders! A truthful Saviour ought to be believed. He is
truth itself. Why will you ask proof of the veracity of One who cannot lie?"
Power of faith and intercession of others: Mat 8:13; 9:32;
15:28; 17:14-18; Luk 8:50; Joh 4:49; Jos 6:17; Gen 7:1; 18:32; 19:12; Act
YOUR SON WILL LIVE: Israel is the "son" of God (Mat
2:15), miraculously healed by word on third day (cp v 43): cp Eze 37; Mat
23:37-39; Joh 7:31; 16:27.
AS TO THE TIME WHEN HIS SON GOT BETTER: The father
might have thought that Jesus was "merely" a prophet, who knew that his son had
been healed, and not the agent which caused it!
THE SEVENTH HOUR: The millennial hour!
SO HE AND ALL HIS HOUSEHOLD BELIEVED: A measure of
faith becoming a greater faith: cp Joh 1:14 with Joh 2:11; Exo 14:31; 1Ki