Chapter 4


An Introduction to Christ's Visit to Samaria


4:1. Now when Jesus knew that the Pharisees had heard that he was winning and baptizing more disciples than John.


The Lord realised that news of how more people were coming to him than John, to be baptised as his disciples, had reached the ears of the Pharisees (religious authorities).


4:2. Although Jesus himself was not baptizing, but his disciples were.


Though in fact, as John clarifies, Jesus himself did not baptise but had instructed his disciples to do so. This sets the pattern for everyone who follows Jesus to be baptised in water (Matt. 28:19).


4:3. He left Judea and set out once more for Galilee.


Jesus did not want popularity or the adulation of the crowds. He wanted true repentance and obedience from the hearts of men. Rather than be accused of making a name for himself, and possibly to avoid arrest by the Pharisees, he leaves Judea and heads back for Galilee.


4:4. But he had to pass through Samaria.


It was necessary for Him to pass through Samaria on this journey, that being the shortest route. Christ had no time to waste. God had a plan for his Son in Samaria.


4:5. Now he came to a Samaritan town called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.


Christ reaches the town of Sychar in Samaria. This town was near to the plot of land which Jacob had given to Joseph (Gen. 48:22).


It is significant that those who lived in Sychar (Samaritans) were not true Jews (descendants of Jacob) at all. They were prisoners who were forcibly resettled in Israel by the King of Assyria (2 Kings 17:24). Over a period of time they intermarried with the locals and in some way could claim descent from Jacob (see John 4:12). But they were regarded by Jews as mongrels who did not share the blessings of Israel. They were regarded as almost Gentiles. Their worship was a mixture of Jewish and pagan worship (2 Kings 17:28-33). This accounts for the enmity that existed between the two peoples in Jesus time. Generally speaking they hated each other and although business was conducted, they did not use the same utensils, as this would make the Jew ceremonially unclean (see John 4:9).


4:6. Jacob's well was there, so Jesus, since he was tired from the journey, sat right down beside the well. It was about noon.


When Jesus arrived in town it was noon. Jesus was weary with the journey and sat down just where he was, on the well which years before had been dug by Jacob, whilst his disciples went into town to buy food. (see verse 8).


Christ the Source of Eternal Life


4:7-8. A Samaritan woman came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me some water to drink." (For his disciples had gone off into the town to buy supplies. )


It was an unusual time of day for a woman to be out getting water. There was obviously some reason why this woman wished to avoid the other women of the town, who would have travelled to the well together early in the morning. She would have probably ignored Jesus completely had not he spoken to her and asked her for a drink.


4:9. So the Samaritan woman said to him, "How can you — a Jew — ask me, a Samaritan woman, for water to drink?" (For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.)


Whether the woman's words denote sarcasm or surprise, she knew that no Jew would share a water pot with a Samaritan. "So why are you asking me for a drink?" she replies. Jesus of course was not just any Jew, as he explains to her in the next verse.


4:10. Jesus answered her, "If you had known the gift of God and who it is who said to you, 'Give me some water to drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."


God loved the world and everyone in it, Jew, Gentile, Samaritan, man or Woman - and so he gave a gift to the world so that whoever would believe and receive that gift would have eternal life. The gift was the Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son (John 3:16). If the woman had only understood this, says Jesus, she would have believed and asked him for a drink of living water, by which is meant the eternal life which Jesus gives.


4:11. "Sir," the woman said to him, "you have no bucket and the well is deep; where then do you get this living water?


The woman does not understand. Jesus does not have a bucket, and she is unwilling to share hers. So how are you going to get that living water? It is believed that the well at Sychar was supplied by a fresh spring. It may be that the woman thought Jesus claimed to know the source of this spring, for the same word is used for "spring" and "living" water.


4:12. Surely you're not greater than our ancestor Jacob, are you? For he gave us this well and drank from it himself, along with his sons and his livestock."


Was she being sarcastic? Jacob had to dig to find water here, did Jesus think he was greater than Jacob? Of course, Jesus was greater than Jacob, or any other man who has ever lived, for he is God. He wanted the woman to understand that it was not natural water she needed, but spiritual water, eternal life.


4:13. Jesus replied, "Everyone who drinks some of this water will be thirsty again.


This is a different kind of water. Whoever drinks natural water will be thirsty again and will have to come back to the well for more.


4:14. But whoever drinks some of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life."


But the Person who drinks of the spiritual water that Jesus gives will never thirst again. Why not? Because when Jesus gives spiritual water, he doesn't give a bucket full - he gives a source, a spring which never dries up, for it is the source of eternal life.The message of the gospel is of Christ living in you. Christ is the source and giver of the Holy Spirit. Through the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in believers, who are born of the same Spirit and have the same nature as Christ (John 7:37-38).When we receive the Holy Spirit He does not come and go. He remains within, that he might continually fill us. However, just a note: if the Spirit within us is likened to a well, we do have a bucket! By singing God's word (Eph 5:18-19), giving thanks in everything (Eph 5:20), by speaking in tongues (1 Cor. 14:4), by fellowship with other Christians (Heb. 10:25), by Bible study (Josh. 1:8) and by prayer (1 Thess. 5:17) we can keep full! Keep using your bucket!


4:15. 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."


Like Nicodemus, the woman does not understand. She is interested in having living water so that she will not thirst and have to keep coming to the well each day. Jesus next draws her attention to the problem which separates her from God and stops her understanding spiritual things. Her sin.


4:16. He said to her, "Go call your husband and come back here."


By saying, "go, call your husband" Jesus wanted to expose her sin to this woman. He knew all about her life, for nothing is ever hidden from the eyes of God (Heb. 4:13).


4:17. The woman replied, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "Right you are when you said, 'I have no husband.


The woman replies, "I have no husband" which was true, but Jesus knew the full story.


4:18. For you have had five husbands, and the man you are living with now is not your husband. This you said truthfully!"


You've had five husbands, that is she had first married and then divorced five different men. And she was not married to the man she was now living with. God had made man and woman to be one (Gen. 2:24). Jesus said "What God has joined let no man separate". The woman had broken God's command. she needed to see how her sin that separated her from God. Only by being sorry for her sin and turning to God in repentance could she find forgiveness. God still loved her and was willing to forgive her, but she needed to admit the fact that she had sinned. This is what we all need to do. Our sin may not be the same as this woman's sin, but it is equally bad (Rom. 3:23). We must confess to God that we are sinners and ask for His mercy. When we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ we will be saved and receive the gift of God which is eternal life.


4:19-20. The woman said to him, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you people say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem. Because of Christ's knowledge of her, the woman realised that he was a prophet. In fact he was more than a prophet, for he was God manifest in the flesh. Surely he would be able to answer her question about God. Some commentators suggest that the woman is trying to put Jesus off by changing the subject from her sin to the worship of God. Rather, when the woman realised that she was a sinner who needed forgiveness, she inquired about God - for who could forgive her but God? Her question relates to how she is to come to God? Where should she worship, that she might return to God?


4:21-24. Jesus said to her, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not know. We worship what we know, because salvation is from the Jews. But a time is coming — and now is here — when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers. God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."


Jesus detects the stirring of her heart and answers her question. It does not matter where one comes to God, but it does matter how. Empty religion will not do her any good. Nor will ignorant religion. God is by nature Spirit. To worship God we must know Him as he is and to do that, we must share in His nature. We must be born of the Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of Truth. God seeks such worshippers for he seeks to make men and women his children through faith in Jesus Christ. Those who gather in church or temple without this relationship to God in Christ can never be pleasing to Him.The Jews worshipped in the Temple at Jerusalem, all the promises of the Saviour's coming had been given to them, but without faith in Christ they remained ignorant of God's salvation (2 Cor. 3:14-15).The Samaritans worshipped God in Mt. Gerazim, but were even more ignorant of God, not having his word as the Jews did, for their Bible consisted only of the five books of Moses. We who are born of the Spirit can worship God anywhere for we are his children and know Him (John 17:3).


4:25. The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (the one called Christ); "whenever he comes, he will tell us everything."


The knowledge Christ has of God leads the woman to enquire further about the purpose of God for her life. She had heard that one day Christ would come who would show the people the way of salvation.


4:26. Jesus said to her, "I, the one speaking to you, am he."


Jesus ends the conversation with a simple statement "I am He." The woman now starts to believe and goes to bring the men of the city for further confirmation of what she hopes is an amazing discovery, "could this be the Christ?"


Now is the Time of Harvest


4:27. Now at that very moment his disciples came back. They were shocked because he was speaking with a woman. However, no one said, "What do you want?" or "Why are you speaking with her?"


At this point his disciples returned and were amazed to see him talking to a married woman (gune, the word used for woman is specifically used for a wife). There was a rabbinical rule: "Let no one talk with a woman in the street, no, not with his own wife" (Lightfoot). None of the disciples asked the woman or Jesus about their conversation, for Jesus was their master the one who taught them with authority and therefore they had complete trust in Him.


4:28-30. Then the woman left her water jar, went off into the town and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Surely he can't be the Messiah, can he?" So they left the town and began coming to him.


In her excitement the woman left her waterpot and went into the city to tell the men that she had met a man who knew everything about her. She is already convinced that Jesus is the Christ so her question is given to the men to arouse their curiosity. So then went out to meet Jesus.


4:31-32 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, "Rabbi, eat something." But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."


While this was happening his disciples who had brought food back with them beseeched him to eat. He further astounds them by saying that He had food to eat which they knew nothing about.


4:33. So the disciples began to say to one another, "No one brought him anything to eat, did they?"


The disciples naturally thought that Jesus was referring to food for the stomach and began to ask among themselves if someone else had brought him food. Remember in verse eight the disciples had gone to get food.


4:34. Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to complete his work.


In verse 32 the word used for food is 'brosis'  which means 'eating' here Jesus uses the word 'broma'  signifying what is eaten. In effect the Lord Jesus Christ was saying that he receives nourishment that sustains Him by doing the will of His Father in Heaven and accomplishing the work He was sent into the world to do.  "The mind may be so absorbed in doing the will of God as to forget all other things. Intent on this, we may rise above fatigue, and hardship, and want, and bear all with pleasure in seeing the work of God advance." (Barnes)


4:35. Don't you say, 'There are four more months and then comes the harvest?' I tell you, look up and see that the fields are already white for harvest!


Jesus uses a proverb that was familiar to his disciples to bring home to them that a spiritual sowing and reaping was not the same as the farmers. The common time from sowing the seed to the harvest, in Judea, was about "four months." The meaning of this passage may be thus expressed: "The husbandman, when he sows his seed, is compelled to wait a considerable period before it produces a crop. He is encouraged in sowing it; he expects fruit; his labor is lightened by that expectation; but it is not "immediate" - it is remote." (Barnes). When the Word of God is sown an harvest can be expected immediately as with this woman that Jesus met. That is why He tells his disciples to open their eyes and see that souls are ready for bringing into the Kingdom.


4:36. The one who reaps receives pay and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that the one who sows and the one who reaps can rejoice together.


Therefore the one who is gathering in the harvest of souls unto eternal life is already receiving his reward in doing so. The reaper and the planter rejoice at the same time.


4:37-38. For in this instance the saying is true, 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap what you did not work for; others have labored and you have entered into their labor."


In this matter the saying is true one is a sower and another is the reaper. The Lord Jesus Christ had commissioned His disciples to preach the Gospel just as He has us. He sends into fields that have already been prepared by those who have laboured before in sowing the Word and prayer. Just as the prophets and John the Baptist had prepared the way for Christ. Those who come after reap in the harvest of souls from their work. So it is with us we labour now in sowing and preparing hearts and others will reap in from our work. But we are also reaping in now what others have sown.


A Harvest Gathered In


4:39-41. Now many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the report of the woman who testified, "He told me everything I ever did." So when the Samaritans came to him, they began asking him to stay with them. He stayed there two days, and because of his word many more believed.Here was proof of this discourse Jesus had with His disciples for at that moment the men from the city who believed the witness of the Samaritan woman came to Jesus and asked Him to stay with them and He stay two days.  Many more in the city believed and accepted Jesus as the Christ.


4:42. They said to the woman, "No longer do we believe because of your words, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this one really is the Savior of the world."


While it was the woman whom first brought them the good news that the Christ had come and they came to seek Jesus because of this it was through the words of Jesus Christ that they came to believe that He is the Christ and Saviour of the world.


Believing the Word


4:43-44. After the two days he departed from there to Galilee. (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.)


After staying in Sychar for two days Jesus went to Galilee but not to His home town ofNazareth.   This saying "a prophet has no honor in his own country" was used by Jesus on a number of occasions and was used by Him in reference to Nazareth (Mark 6:4-5).  


4:45. So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him because they had seen all the things he had done in Jerusalem at the feast (for they themselves had gone to the feast).


The Galileans who had been in Jerusalem to keep the feast and had seen the miracles that He did (John 2:23) gladly welcome Jesus.


4:46. Now he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had made the water wine. In Capernaum there was a certain royal official whose son was sick.


He went back to Cana where He had done His first miracle of changing the water into wine. A royal official was there whose son lay sick in Capernaum about a days journey from Cana.


4:47. When he heard that Jesus had come back from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and begged him to come down and heal his son, who was about to die.


This man must have already heard a great deal about Jesus Christ and the miracles he had done. For as soon as he heard that Jesus was back in Galilee he went to beseech Him to go down to Capernaum and heal his son who was dying.


4:48. So Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders you will never believe!"


Although the man believed that Jesus was able to heal his son he did not believe that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God. Therefore, the Lord said to him and the crowd around "unless you see signs and wonders you will not by any means believe".


4:49. "Sir," the official said to him, "come down before my child dies."


The nobleman was not put off by the words of Christ. His anxiety for his son was so great that he was not willing for Jesus to delay for a moment. He believed that Jesus had to be present with his son in order to heal him.


4:50. Jesus told him, "Go home; your son will live." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and set off for home.


The words that the Lord Jesus Christ spoke to this man imparted to him an absolute assurance and faith to believe that as Jesus said these words "go your way; your son lives"  that it was so. He did not delay but made his way back home.


4:51. While he was on his way down, his slaves met him and told him that his son was going to live.


Before he reached home his servants met him with the good news that his son lives.


4:52-53. So he asked them the time when his condition began to improve, and they told him, "Yesterday at one o'clock in the afternoon the fever left him." Then the father realized that it was the very time Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live," and he himself believed along with his entire household.


On hearing this he inquired as to what time the fever had left his son and was told that it was yesterday at the seventh hour. The father knew that this was exactly the time that Jesus had said to him "your son lives".  Now this nobleman really believed that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God and his entire household.


4:54. Jesus did this as his second miraculous sign when he returned from Judea to Galilee.


This was the second miracle that Jesus did after He had coming from Judea to Galilee.    

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