Study Notes

John 4:1-26

4:1-3 He Left Judea

Remember that we read last week that John the Baptist's ministry was decreasing while Jesus' was increasing. But when Jesus heard that the Pharisees knew this, He left Judea. Why?

Undoubtedly they would show up like they had when the crowds were flocking out to John. They had asked John point blank, "Are you the Christ?" Jesus wasn't ready to answer that question directly yet. It was not yet time for Him to square off in a face-to-face confrontation. So He left Judea and decided to go to Galilee.

4:4 Samaria

Between Judea and Galilee lay Samaria.

In the Old Testament, we read that after the deaths of King David and King Solomon, the Jewish kings really went downhill. The nation of Israel was actually split by civil war into two kingdoms: the northern kingdom of Israel, and the southern kingdom of Judah. Jerusalem was the captial of Judah, and Samaria was the captial of Israel.

Both kingdoms had fallen into immorality and idolatry, and were ripe for the judgment of God. The book of 2Kings tells us that the kingdom of Israel was removed first by the Lord for their sins, being exiled into Assyria. The Assyrians populated Samaria with their own people, and the remaining Jews intermarried with them, making a race known as the Samaritans - half Jew, half Assyrian.

Later, when the kingdom of Judah was judged by God and taken into exile by the Babylonians, they did not intermarry with other idolatrous cultures. So the Jews hated the Samaritans with a passion, esteeming them to be half-breeds, traitors, and idolaters. They would not associate with them, avoiding any and all contact.

He Had To Pass Through Samaria.

Now it seems strange then that verse 4 tells us,

John 4:4 ...He had to pass through Samaria.

You see, although Samaria was the direct route between Judea and Galilee, the Jews always took the long way around. They would cross the Jordan River and take the route through Perea. To them, the extra hours on the road were worth not having to set foot on Samaritan soil or have contact with Samaritan people.

Taking the trip through Samaria towards Shechem, the route that Jesus and His disciples took could also prove to be dangerous. In the book of the prophet Hosea, we read,

Hosea 6:9 And as raiders wait for a man, a band of priests murder on the way to Shechem; Surely they have committed crime.

Not the safest route... But Jesus wasn't succeptible to bigotry or fear. So although He didn't physically have to pass through Samaria, mentally, spiritally, and emotionally, He did have to pass through Samaria - it was a divinely ordained missionary journey.

4:5-6 Jacob's Well

Now in Samaria, Jesus comes to the city of Sychar (which is about a mile from Shechem). We learned about this piece of land near the end of Genesis 33. Jacob came to Shechem...

Gen. 33:19 And he bought the piece of land where he had pitched his tent from the hand of the sons of Hamor, Shechem's father, for one hundred pieces of money.

Jacob dug a well on that piece of land - then after his death, the land was given to his son Joseph and his descendants.

Jesus Wearied

We see in verse 6 something that should amaze us: Jesus was wearied from His journey. One of the hardest things for me to grasp about Jesus is not His deity, but His humanity.

Remember last week we looked at the verse in Philippians which told us that although Jesus was God, He emptied Himself, and was made flesh - in the likeness of men. Hebrews 2 tells us,

Hebr. 2:17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest...

Jesus, although 100% God, is also 100% man. He got hungry and thirsty, He got sleepy and weary. One evening, He and the disciples got into a boat to go over to the Gerasenes.

Matt. 8:24 And behold, there arose a great storm in the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves; but He Himself was asleep.

Exhuasted from the day's ministry, He slept while they sailed. On the cross, Jesus said,

John 19:28 ..."I am thirsty."

Here, we see He is weary, tired, exhausted.

The Sixth Hour

In Jewish time, the sixth hour is the sixth hour after sunrise, so the sun would be straight up in the sky, about 12 noon.

4:7-9 A Woman Came To Draw Water

A woman comes to draw water at the hottest time of the day! That seems to defy common sense. Indeed, women drew water in the early morning or cool evening hours. This woman was an outcast from society. Her loose morals and sinful lifestyle had made her ostracized from the community. This was the only time of day that she could avoid the other women of the city.

I Am A Woman

The disciples have walked up to Sychar to buy food. Jesus, resting at the well, asks the Samaritan woman for a drink. She is amazed. Number 1, she is a Samaritan, and we've already discussed the difficulties and differences there.

Number 2, she is a woman. Remember the situation that women were in during this time of history. Women were not considered people or citizens. Plato wrote, "I thank the gods that I am a Greek and not a barbarian. I thank the gods that I am a freeman and not a slave. And I thank the gods that I am a man and not a woman." At this time in India, the teaching of reincarnation was that bad people became dogs, worse people became spiders, and really, really bad people became women! And in Judaism, most men, and certainly all Rabbis, refused to talk to women in public - even their own wives and daughters. Some of the Pharisees wouldn't even look at a women publicly! They would close their eyes if a woman were on the street. This sect became known as the "bruised and bleeding Pharisees", for they were constantly running into walls.

But Jesus created women just as He created men. He never refrained from talking with women publicly - He always reached out to them compassionately. Christianity has gotten a bum rap from feminism saying that it oppresses women. It is exactly the opposite: Christianity freed women. Paul wrote in Galatians,

Gal. 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Christianity freed women, recognizing them in society as people, as citizens of the kingdom of God. Remember that although a woman's eyewitness testimony meant nothing in court, Jesus made sure that the first people He appeared to after His resurrection were women.

4:10-14 The Gift Of God

Jesus answers her amazement with,

John 4:10 ..."If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."

First question: What is the gift of God? It is the free salvation that is available to all who believe.

Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Eph. 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God;

With that free salvation also comes the gift of the Holy Spirit coming to live inside of you when you are saved. You may remember in Acts 8 that the apostles were laying hands on people and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. A sorcerer named Simon said to them,

Acts 8:19-20 ..."Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!

Paul also encouraged Timothy in 2Timothy 1,

2Tim. 1:6 ...I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

So the gift of God is free salvation for you and the Holy Spirit inside you. The woman at the well knew nothing of this. She also did not know that the man she was talking to was the one who was responsible for giving that gift.

Living Water

If she had known these things, her response would have been, "You want well water from me? I want living water from You!" What is this living water? The woman didn't know. We'll see clearly in chapter 7, when Jesus says,

John 7:38-39 "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'" But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive...

He differentiates the water in the well to the living water that is the Holy Spirit. You know what water is like. You're thirsty, you step up to the drinking fountain, and ahh... it's wonderful, it's satisfying, it's everything you hoped it would be... for about five minutes. Then you've got to go back... you're thirsty again. People are so spiritually thirsty, and they drink from every fountain that they can find to see if any of them will satisfy their thirst.

They turn to drugs and alcohol. To sex and relationships. To money and posessions. To alternative lifestyles and eastern religions. But none of these things ever satisfy forever.

Before I was a Christian, I had achieved and exceeded every goal that I had set for myself. I had a six-album record contract, on a record label which was in the business of launching bands to stardom. Fan mail coming in every day from all over the world - South America, Europe, and Australia - telling me how awesome I was. All the pot I could ever hope to smoke. But I was always thirsty for something more...

There is a proverb that says, "The eyes of a man are never satisfied." (Prov 27:20) Too much is never enough. Ask any millionaire how much money is enough, and he'll tell you, "Just a little more." There's a thirst that only salvation can satisfy - an emptiness that only the Holy Spirit can fill.

4:15-18 Call Your Husband

She's sold on the idea of living water. She doesn't understand it, but she knows that t sounds good and that He can provide it. This would be a time that most of us would say, "Great! Just ask Jesus into your heart and you'll be saved!"

But we need to remember something. Right know this woman only has half the story. She's only been provided with half the message of the gospel. She's heard about the gift of God, about living water, but she hasn't been convicted of her sin.

Repentance and sin aren't popular to talk about in America. Many people present the gospel as "Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." But the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ is "You have sinned."

John the Baptist preached repentance. Jesus preached repentance. He told the disciples to preach that men should repent. Peter wrote,

2Pet. 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

God wants all to come to repentance. So we need to be faithful to preach repentance. Every person is a sinner who needs a Savior. No one can be converted unless they are first convicted.

So Jesus cuts to the chase by addressing sin in her life. He tells her to bring her husband. Why? Because she'd already had five husbands, and she was now living with a man who was not her husband.

4:19-26 Worshipping God

When a person begins to be convicted by their sin, they will often throw up intellectual barriers by asking theological questions. "How did the animals all fit into the ark?" "Where did Cain's wife come from?" "What about the pigmies in Africa?" Questions like that can often discourage and distract you from the task at hand - leading a person to salvation in Christ. How can you deal with it? Just like Jesus did.

Answer the question quickly and accurately, then direct the focus right back to the Lord. The thing that I always try to remember when sharing the Lord with someone is what Paul told the Corinthians:

1Cor. 2:1-2 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

It's not about having answers to every difficult question. It is about being able to turn the subject right back to Jesus Christ: who He is, what He did, and what He said.

This Mountain

In all fairness, this was a genuine question in her mind. You see, when the Jews rejected the Samaritans, they were not welcome to worship at the temple in Jerusalem. So they constructed their own temple at Mouth Gerizim. The conflict between the Jews and Samaritans widened as the Samaritans rewrote the biblical accounts, replacing the holy Mt. Zion with their own Mt. Gerizim. Since she recognizes that he is a prophet, she asks Him for the real truth.

Worship In Spirit And In Truth

Spiritually, the Samaritans were worshiping. But they weren't worshipping with true knowledge. The Jews as a whole worshipped with the truth of the Word of God, but they weren't worshipping in Spirit. Today, we are called not to Mt. Zion or to Mt. Gerizim, but to worship God in Spirit and in truth. Unfortunately, the same division seems to affect God's people today.

The church seems to be split down the middle with the same division. On one side, we people who adhere to the Word of God, having the true knowledge ofit. But more often than not, these folks do not know what it is to worship God in Spirit. On the other side, we have extremists who worship God in Spirit, but have no idea about the truth found in the Word of God. No idea how He commands in the Scriptures that He be worshipped.

We are called to worship in the truth of the Word of God, and in the heart and emotion of the Spirit of God.

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