Happy Days at Sychar: Jesus' Ministry Begins

John 4  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 6
John 4
Jesus departed from Judea, being rejected because of the Jews' jealousy regarding baptism. Beginning His ministry with divine grace before Him, it seemed imperative that He go through Samaria. Here we see the whole range of grace opened to us, flowing through Jesus, as coming from the Father.
He came to Sychar, near a parcel of ground that Joseph received of his father Jacob, where Jacob's well was. "Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow" (Gen. 48:2222Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow. (Genesis 48:22)), "and he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hands of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for a hundred pieces of money." Gen. 33:1919And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money. (Genesis 33:19).
The first portion that Jacob gave was the whole land of promise to Israel, this earth and its many blessings. (See Gen. 49.) The one portion that Joseph was promised above his brethren is found in Gen. 48:2222Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow. (Genesis 48:22); it is Shechem.
Jesus is the true Joseph and came to claim that portion at Shechem-at Sychar's well. This is the heavenly portion that the Father gave to Jesus-the Church, of which the Samaritan woman at Sychar's well is a picture. In Eph. 1 we have the double portion, the one above that of Israel.
All who were not true Israelites were heathen, so the Samaritan woman was an outcast. There are only three classes of people on the earth: the Jew, the Gentile (heathen) and the Church of God. One who is not of the Church of God, or of Judea, a Jew, is a heathen. We heathen Gentiles are to be Christ's inheritance in heaven in that coming day (Psa. 2:88Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. (Psalm 2:8); Eph. 1:1111In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (Ephesians 1:11)).
About six o'clock in the evening (our time), just before the coming day (the beginning of Christ's ministry and the day of grace), Jesus, being weary with His journey and thirsty, sat on Sychar's well. He had no means to quench His thirst. A Samaritan woman came to draw water. This was not the usual time for women to be at the well. Jesus needed water to allay His thirst; the woman needed the water of life to allay her spiritual thirst. Here they met, the woman with the means to give water to Jesus, the Savior with the water of life for the Samaritan woman.
Perhaps, because of her deep sin, she felt rejected and came to the well to be alone while she drew water: Jesus was rejected too.
Jesus said unto her, "Give Me to drink." The disciples had left Him to go and buy meat. Jesus was rejected by Israel, but the stream of grace flowed on to find entrance elsewhere. Grace, like water, is a necessity for man, or he will perish forever.
In Israel, the love of Christ was grieved when it could not act on the object (Israel) that He loved. Jesus was now alone with a friendless woman.
Jesus was often alone with souls, healing and teaching, but this is different. He has come to claim the "one portion above [His] brethren" that His Father had taken out of the hand of the Amorite (Satan), with His sword and with His bow.
Would Jesus seek His eternal companion from among sinners? Would His Father give Him such a portion? Sins like crimson? Yes. Such is divine grace, beyond human comprehension. "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I
should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." Eph. 3:88Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; (Ephesians 3:8). Where else would God the Father look for a bride for Christ? He has passed angels by. The elect angels cannot sing praises for sins for-given. They have not sinned. There is no forgiveness for angels who have sinned.
Christ has taken man's nature to be able as man to destroy Satan who held the power of death over sinful man (Heb. 2:14-1614Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. (Hebrews 2:14‑16)). "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Sin is unbearable to the eye of God. It matters not whether it be one sin or many. 'The sinner is condemned except for the grace of Jesus.
Time that we (like this women) have spent alone with Jesus is rich for our souls; it is time to know our guilt and His grace.
Living Water
The woman said, You are a Jew. You have no dealings with a Samaritan, yet You ask me for a drink? Jesus said, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water." Jesus is the gift of God.
The woman was puzzled, because the well was deep, and He seemingly had no means to draw water from it. She asked, "Art Thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well?" Jesus answered, "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
The woman, having a sense of need in her soul, asked for this water of life, having access only to a well of natural water. Jesus said, "Go, call thy husband."
Conscience is the means of not only learning truth, but also of learning ourselves. Jesus touched the con-science and heartstrings of the woman (conversion of heart is seen in John's gospel) with a sense of His grace flooding her soul. At the same time she looked back over her wicked life, wasted and without fruit for God, knowing that her sins were great. Still, she had a sense of peace where there otherwise could be no peace, grace having come in the Person of Jesus. This is God's love in Jesus, reaching down to rescue His depraved creature from an eternal hell. Her sins must be taken away or she would be lost.
With a stirring in her conscience, but with a sense of His grace and not understanding why, she answers, "I have no husband." Jesus tells her that she had had five husbands, and the one that she now had was not her husband. The woman said, "Thou art a prophet." Having much to learn, she is in the presence of One who knows all and is, Himself alone, the truth. The woman found herself in a new position.
We are surrounded with the blessings that Christianity outwardly supplies. So we may not feel the position that the woman was entering into-from an appalling life of degradation into the realm of sovereign grace and deliverance from the so great death that her sins deserved.
She was alone with the One who judges the quick (living) and the dead, yet she was not under condemnation, but grace. This inspires her confidence, although she does not as yet know who Jesus is. She was not alarmed in His presence; she trusted Him, not knowing why. Her soul had been brought back to God in peace.
The subject of worship came up. Being estranged from Israel, this mixed multitude of Jews and heathen, having given up idols, set up worship in Mount Gerizim. She said, "Ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." Jesus answered, 'The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." She said she knew that Messias would come, called Christ, who would make known all things. Jesus said, "I that speak unto thee am He."
As the disciples returned, they marveled that He talked with the woman of Samaria.
Leaving her waterpot, she now had found a new Object. Entering the city she called to the men, "Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" The men of the city came out to Him.
Having bought food, the disciples asked Jesus to eat. He answered, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of." They did not understand. It was not only that Jesus came to do the Father's will, but that His will was Jesus' life, dispensing life and health where needed. This was His joy to see souls taken out of darkness into light.
The One who had been rejected by Israel had been received by a Samaritan woman. Her thoughts of Jesus and His grace took away all the bitterness of her past sins. Since His goodness had produced honesty in her soul, she did not hide her sin.
You need not wait four months, Jesus told His disciples. If you would look up, you would see the fields white to harvest now. The Old Testament prophets have sown and nurtured the seed; now the disciples gather the fruit. The Old Testament sets forth God's government. This, through exercise of soul, prepares each to hear the gospel. Some receive it and some reject it. It is those who receive it that Jesus speaks of as being white to harvest. The one who reaps receives wages, gathering fruit unto eternal life. Then both the one who sows and the one who reaps may rejoice together.
Some of the people believed because of the woman's testimony. Many more believed, having heard Him themselves as He remained with them for two days. They owned that He was the Christ, the Savior of the world.
In this chapter we have an overall picture of the working of grace. The humility of grace breaks down barriers. The woman is in the presence of God in Jesus who searches her heart. She discovers a new relationship. The conscience is the door to understanding. There has been a thorough change, a whole range of grace opened to one whose conscience was searched. Only by grace, flowing from Christ, does the individual, knowing God in Christ, worship the Father in spirit and in truth. This worship is not confined to a set time on Lord's Day, but should be a constant, daily thing with each believer. Judaism is no more, to one who knows Christ in grace.
Return to Galilee
After two days, Jesus returned to Galilee and the people received Him, having seen Him at the feast. At Cana a nobleman besought Jesus to heal His son who was at the point of death. The Lord said, "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe."
Here we have a principle that we need to notice. Unless we, by faith, break through Satan's barriers, which he sets at such a time as this when the soul is in the presence of Jesus, there will not be fruit.
The nobleman answered, "Sir, come down ere my child die." Jesus said, "Go thy way; thy son liveth." He believed, his servants having confirmed it, and his whole house believed.
In this chapter grace blossoms out to all: to the Samaritan women first, but then to the nobleman of Israel in the healing of his son. The Lord had left the nation of Israel, because He was rejected, but He continues to bless all, whoever they may be, Jew or Gen-tile, rich or poor.