John 4:1-38 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Jesus Talks with a Samaritan Woman
Comments for Study 5

John 4:1-38
Key verse: 4:7


I. "Will You give me a Drink?" (1-15)

Jesus' Early Travels

>1. Where did this event take place?

* "So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph." John 4:5

* "Sychar" -Sychar was in a valley with two mountains of historical significance on either side; Mount Gerizim (the mount of blessing) and Mount Ebal (the mount of curse). The Israelites camped here. Half of them stood on one mount and proclaimed curses and the other half stood on the other mount and proclaimed blessings. (Due. 27:12, 13)

* "Samaria" -Most Jews did not travel through Samaria (especially the leaders) because of racial hatred between Jews and Samaritans. This hatred went back to the time of Solomon (930 B.C.), the split after Solomon died, the fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.), and the captivity years that followed. The Samaritans (originally the northern kingdom of Israel) intermarried with their captures, while the Jews (originally the southern kingdom) did not. So the Jews called the Samaritans impure blood. Some were possibly converts to Judaism especially during the time of Esther. More on this further down.

* The traditional route, therefore, for a Jew going north, was to go around Samaria along the eastern side of the Jordan River. In this way they totally avoided Samaria. This extra trip took three full days, where going straight through would have taken only one or at the most two.

>How was it that Jesus had come here?

* John 4:1-5 "The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph."

* Jesus left Judea and went to Galilee to avoid a big confrontation with the Jewish leaders. He did not want to get involved in a political debate.

* He knew that if he went through Samaria, they would not follow.

* Jesus wanted to spend more time with his disciples in discipleship training ministry.

>Describe his physical condition.

* John 4:6 "Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour."

* Jesus was tired, hungry, and hot. Jesus was very God and very man. He was not a ghost. He had flesh and bones. He got hot, cold, hungry, and thirsty. Jesus was God in the flesh.

* During the hottest season this area's temperature goes over 100 degrees. Yet, the Bible doesn't say if it was the hot season. Still it must have been hot.

* Jesus always does the work of his Father, even when he is in a bad physical condition.

>Where had his disciples gone?

* John 4:8 "(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)"

* The disciples are often seen around food during their ministry.

* Perhaps they all chose to go instead of just the few needed because they felt uncomfortable around Jesus, or they wanted a little excitement in a town after travelling all day, or they had a small desire to be tourists, or perhaps they didn't trust the other with the food, or maybe Jesus told them all to go.

* But it was God's will because with the disciples gone Jesus could engage in a one-to-one conversation with the women who came to the well. She probably would not have opened up her heart if the disciples would have been there.

>2. What was unusual about a lone woman coming to draw water in the heat of the day?

* The women of the town would come to draw water from the well, which was outside the town, at dawn or dusk because it was the coolest time of the day.

* During this time the woman would socialize.

* But this woman was excluded from that. She was a lonely woman, a outcast.

>What kind of woman was she? (17)

* John 4:17-18 ""I have no husband," she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."

* Even by today's standards this woman lead a very unorthodox life.

* In the Samaritan society this was unusual because they were somewhat legalistic, much more that we are today.

* When she was young she probably dreamed of her knight in shining armor, but by now that dream seemed totally unlikely.

* The more husbands in her life the darker life became.

* Genesis 3:16 talks of women's cursed desire. "To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

>3. When she came, what did Jesus say to her?

* John 4:7 "When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?""

>Why would it be hard for a proud Jews to ask a favor of a Samaritan woman?

* As mentioned above the great history of revelry and hostility between the Jews and the Samaritan go way back. The history behind it is as follows: For the split between Northern Israel and Judea (southern Israel) see 1 Kings 12:1-33. For the Assyrian conquest and the integration and intermarrying of the Samaritans with them see 2 Kings 17:1-40. For the Babylonian captivity of Judea and their keeping racial purity see Nehemiah 4:1-3. During this time the Samaritans wanted to, at first, join in the building of Jerusalem, but the Jews rejected their request. So the Samaritans began to oppose the rebuilding of Jerusalem. This began the great hostility.

* The Samaritans believed the first five books of the Bible was of God. But they did not believe the books of the prophets because they were written by Jewish prophets who among other things prophesied against (Samaria) the northern tribes.

* The Samaritans believed in the God of Moses, but considered the God of the Jews as not true or distorted over their history.

>How did this one, simple request help make a life-giving relationship?

* It opened the chance for a personal relationship. Jesus broke the barriers.

* This was not easy to do.

* This meeting between Jesus and the Samaritan women, started with small talk. It shows Jesus' wisdom and shepherd heart for all people.

* In the former chapter Nicodemus came to Jesus and started the conversation, while Jesus came to this women and started the conversation. Different people different action.

>4. What was the woman's first response?

* John 4:9 "The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)"

* This was said sarcastically, but Jesus didn't let that keep him from witnessing to her.

* When Jesus spoke with her it probably surprised her, for she wasn't expecting him to say anything.

* How would we react if someone said this when we made a simple request for something.

* Jesus endured her words because he understood her heart was this way because of sin and the work of Satan.

* Jesus didn't respond to these words at all. This is because he had a point in talking with her.

>What were the human barriers between Jesus and this woman?

* He was a Jew. She was a Samaritan.

* He was a man. She was a women.

* He was a holy person. She lived an adulterous life.

* In reality these barriers were man made.

* In reality are there real barriers between people? No, there should not be.

* How do we react to people who are different than us? Do we witness to them?

>5. How did Jesus respond to her retort?

* John 4:10 "Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.""

* Jesus lead the conversation because he wanted her to believe.

* Jesus wanted to make a personal relationship with her because this meant eternal life.

* "If" -subjective. Jesus suggested the possibility. Jesus planted hope.

* How do we respond to people's retort? A lot of the time men respond hard to hard responses. Jesus did in his account with Nicodemus, but he was a different person, proud and stubborn hearted. Whereas this women was lowly and broken hearted.

>What is the gift he offered to give her? (10; Rom. 6:23b)

* John 4:10 "Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.""

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

* "living water" -Living water is what we receive when we have a personal relationship with Jesus. It is spiritual life from he heavenly Father, the work of the Holy Spirit.

* Jesus offers this to everyone.

>Who is he, that he can give this gift?

* Jesus is the creator God. (1:3)

* Jesus is the giver of life, the light of life. (1:4)

>6. Why was she puzzled by his offer?

* John 4:11-12 ""Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?""

* She thought that Jesus was talking of natural water, when in fact he was talking of spiritual water.

* Jacob (renamed Israel by God) was the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. To her and all Samaritans Jacob was a great man. The Samaritans were very proud of their heritage, as all nations usually are. There is a innate pride in all of man. Even if someone or some nations seems to have nothing to be proud of they are yet proud of their heritage.

>How is the living water that Jesus gives different from the water in Jacob's well?

* John 4:13-14 "Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.""

* Jesus' water wells up to eternal life, for it is for our spirits.

* "never" -We will never be thirsty again.

* Jacob's well represents things of this world.

>How can it quench thirsty souls? (John. 1:4; 7:38; Rev. 22:1)

* John 1:4 "In him was life, and that life was the light of men."/p>

* John 7:38 "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.""

* Revelation 22:1 "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb."

>How did she respond?

* John 4:15 "The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.""

* "Sir" -shows that she had gained more respect for Jesus.

* She began to open up. She became more interested in what Jesus was saying.

* Perhaps she recalled the thirst she always seemed to have.

* Here Jesus displays a good Bible teacher. He keep teaching the word of God. He did not get bogged down with her personal responses and reactions to him and his words or the lack of them.

>What is significant about her asking for his help?

* She was opened for the Messiah's help.

II. Go, Call your Husband (16-26)

>7. What surprising thing did Jesus say to her?

* John 4:16 "He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back.""

* Jesus knew her whole life for he is the Messiah.

* Jesus touched her marriage problem. A marriage problem was trying to fill the emptiness in our hearts, which is caused by a broken relationship with God, with a spouse. In this women's case it was many different men at different times.

* The source of the marriage problem comes from Eve's sin and punishment. Genesis 3:16 says, "To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.""

>Why did he bring up such a painful subject?

* Because it indicated her need for spiritual help, which was to solver her empty heart and broken relationship with God.

* True Bible study eventually deals with practical problems in people's lives. Because of this it is better for men to teach men and women to teach women. A mentoring relationship is important and although in time it becomes less important, it is good to maintain.

* It was a major life problem that stemmed from her main life problem (not having a personal relationship with God through Jesus). It needed to be solved too.

>How did the woman answer?

* John 4:17 ""I have no husband," she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband."

* She tried to avoid the truth with a half truth.

* It is common for people to avoid their life problem, acting as if it isn't there because they don't want to show that they are affected by it and that they can handle it. This of course is not true.

* In avoiding the truth of ourselves with ourself, we avoid the truth with others and before God.

* This woman felt that someone else would find out her past and avoid and mock her as so many other people had done.

* In our hearts we are afraid to come before God with sin because we are afraid of condemnation and judgment.

>What did Jesus say?

* John 4:17 ""I have no husband," she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband."

* Jesus didn't criticize her and say that she was a liar.

* Instead, Jesus comforted her because he understood her heart.

* Jesus affirmed and accepted her response positively.

* What is the normal response to someone that evades the truth?

* Jesus, full of grace and truth, is displayed here.

>How did this show his deep understanding of her?

* His response of gentleness and comfort.

* Jesus understands all women as well as men.

* Jesus is the Messiah.

* Jesus is full of gentle truth.

* When the word of God is applied to our personal life it means more to us.

* Jesus didn't really want to talk to her husband or boy friend. Instead he wanted to show her that she in fact did need the spiritual water that he was talking of. He dealt with her personal problem so that she could come to God with personal faith.

* In this conversation or the one's that followed Jesus never solved her husband problem, for it was solved through a personal relationship with God first and foremost. It can be speculated that later, because she learned how to pray, God solved her husband problem.

* Her husband problem was only a symptom of the real problem.

* Jesus knew how to deal with his sheep.

>8. When she realized that he really wanted to help her, what did she say about him, and what did she ask him?"

* John 4:19-20 ""Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.""

* "You are a prophet" -Her respect and trust in Jesus grew.

* Prophet's word
    1) brings the message of God concerning a specific problem to the people so they can change
    2) predict the future by bringing God's revelation in the Bible to a person.

* Before this time she sought to worship man.

* The worship problem was an ancient problem between the Jews and the Samaritan's. It became a political problem as well. It started by Jeroboam (Northern Israel's first king) saying that a Israelites didn't need to worship in Jerusalem (In Judea, southern Israel). He then set up two places of worship in Israel. In this way Northern Israel would be totally free from dependence of Judea.

* In a way this is a common problem today. People often wonder what church to go to and how to hold a worship service. The Apostles had to deal with this problem, first among the Messianic Jews just after Jesus' ascension, and then later when Gentiles began to accept Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah and Lord.

>9. What did Jesus tell her about God who seeks people like her?

* John 4:21-24 "Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.""

* "Spirit" -with heart not just outwardly.

* "Truth" -in the way God wants us to worship, which is through Christ according to his word. This is not a general truth but a specific truth.

* "Must" -it is not a option and both are needed.

>About the only one worthy of her worship?

* God.

>About the way of salvation?

* Salvation is from the Jews because the Messiah would come from them.

* From Jesus.

>What did she say?

* John 4:25 "The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.""

>What does this show about her?

* She did know about the Messiah very well, but she did know that the Messiah would have authority.

* She knew that when the Messiah would come than the matter of worshiping would be settled.

>What revelation did Jesus make that enabled her to drink the living water?

* John 4:26 "Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he.""

* What mattered the most to her was that God, the Messiah, had accepted her.

* Everyone has this desire.

* What means the most to me?

IV. Look at the Fields (27-38)

>10. What shows that she was no longer thirsty? (28)

* John 4:28 "Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,"

* She was full of joy.

* She dropped everything.

* "leaving her water jar" -this symbolized that she left the water of the world and had accepted Jesus, the Messiah.

>How did she witness to the villagers? (28,29)

* John 4:28-29 "Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?"

* She told of what Jesus did for her.

* What did Jesus do for me?

>What happened because of her witness?

* John 4:39-41 "Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers."

>11. How did Jesus explain his loss of appetite to his wondering disciples?

* John 4:27 "Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, "What do you want?" or "Why are you talking with her?""

* John 4:34-37 ""My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true.""

* To do God's work is spiritual food.

>Who are the sowers and the reapers?

* Christ was the sower and the disciples would reap.

* The principle of harvest:
    1) Sowers and reapers are usually different people. Ex. Prophets sowed for the women knew of the Messiah. Ex. Jesus sowed and the disciples would reap.
    2) So we are constantly sowers and reapers if we have faith.
    3) Sometimes this is not easy to accept.
    4) Point: engage in the work of God and we will find satisfaction.

* Don't be self centered.

* 35a-refers to when you plant.

* 35b-Jesus planted the word in the women's heart and the whole town is ready for harvesting.

* Luke 11:23

* John 3:21

>Why did he tell them to look at the ripe harvest fields?

* To see the work and joy of God.