Scripture Study: John 4

John 4  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Verses 1-26 The Lord would not let the jealousy of the Jews hinder Him, nor would He dispute about their questions about purifying, but knowing that He was rejected in Judea, He departed to Galilee, and He must needs go through Samaria. It was considered by the Jews an unclean place. They had set up a worship of their own, independent of the true temple of Jehovah at Jerusalem. The Jews would hurry through it, lest they be defiled, but Jesus must needs go through Samaria, not only because it lay on His road to Galilee, but because He, the Son of God, would meet a wretched outcast woman there, to whom in His love He would bring salvation, and reveal the Father. The disciples were ignorant of His purpose of grace, and He, by His divine overruling, had disposed them to go into the city to buy food, so that He was alone, sitting on Jacob’s well at Sychar, as a wearied traveler taking a rest, when this woman arrived with her water pot to draw water. Little did she think of whom she was to meet, and of what blessing He had with which to fill her heart, and drive away her misery, and to deliver her from a life of sin. But here she is, and Jesus, to gain an audience, said unto her, “Give Me to drink.” Strange indeed that a Jew should say so, but stranger still would she think it afterward when she found Him out to be the Son of God, the Lord of life and glory.
But she asks the question, “How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?” He answers her, “If thou knewest the gift (or the free giving) of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, ‘Give Me to drink,’ thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.” He did not speak condescendingly, but as a lowly man, willing to drink out of her water-pot, that He might give her a well of living water in herself. Words like these should surely strike her attention; but her poor, sordid mind did not yet rise up from earth, and she questioned how He could do what He said. She replied, “Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence, then, hast Thou that living water? Art Thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?”
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.”
And we wonder why such plain, blessed words are not listened to even now, and why men and women turn to the broken cisterns and brackish waters of the pleasures of sin, that are only of a moment’s duration, and forsake Him who is the Fountain of Living Waters, who gives pleasures forevermore and who still says up to the last moment of this time, “Now is the day of salvation,” “Now is the accepted time” (2 Cor. 6:22(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) (2 Corinthians 6:2)). “And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:1717And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17)).
This daughter of Samaria is no exception, and only sees in His words a convenience for this life, and answered as if she did not understand, as surely she did not, yet the words would come back to her. She said unto Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.”
Now He becomes deeply personal. He has come in grace, but also in truth, and He is God, and she is a sinner, and she must learn it, so He says, “Go call thy husband, and come hither.” She replied, “I have no husband.” Jesus said unto her, “Thou hast well said, I have no husband; for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.”
But how did He know? Her mind owns that God has something to do with this. And she says, “Sir, I perceive that Thou art a prophet.” He has brought God before her conscience, and perhaps she thinks she might divert Him to the difference of their religion, saying, “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and Ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” But the Lord must treat both as departed from God; the dead formality of the Jews, and the willful independence and uncleanness of the Samaritans, and answers her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what; we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers 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.” Thus He taught her that she must have to do with God, and whether it were Jew or Samaritan, there must be reality of worship, “in spirit,” and for this a sinner must be cleansed, a man must be born again, “and in truth.” They must know a holy God as the Father.
The poor, wretched woman has come to an end of her self-defense. She can only think of one thing more, and that is the very thing she needed, the long promised Messiah. The One Isaiah 9:6, 76For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6‑7), and 53:4-6 spoke of, who was wounded for our transgressions, and who was indeed to be the Son of God, God Himself come down in flesh in grace. She said, “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things.”
The Lord does not withhold the good news one moment longer, but says, “I that speak unto thee am He.” O, what a flood of light and love flows into her soul! The Holy One, God, and yet the Saviour of the world, is before her. How she would forever ponder the words He spoke to her, and gradually her blind eyes would see into their depths, depths of love and condescending grace, that could cleanse and forgive all her sins which He knew so well, and make her feel at home in the Father’s presence to worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Verses 27-30. Upon this came His disciples, and marveled that He talked with the woman: yet no man said, “What seekest Thou?” or, “Why talkest Thou with her?” And the woman took no notice of them. Her mind and heart were full of a newfound joy, of a bliss divine. Her old wretched, sinful life was gone, she knew the Saviour, the Man who told her all things that ever she did, and she thus has a new object in life. She is, as it were, a new creature. She left her waterpot. The shame of her past life does not hinder her now, and the satisfaction of her heart must find vent in telling the story to others, and down in the city, among the men of Samaria, she tells it out, “Come see a Man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” Her fervent story takes effect upon them, and out of the city they flock to hear Him for themselves.
Verses 31-38. In the meanwhile His disciples prayed Him, saying, “Master, eat.” But He said unto them, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” They said to one another, “Hath any man brought Him aught to eat?” Jesus answered, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.” Blessed Master! ever ready to serve. His weariness finds rest in serving others. His spirit drinks in the joy of meeting the need of others. His food is to do the Father’s will, and to finish His work. And His heart goes out to the need of others.
“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor: other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors.” His heart took in the great need, the fields white unto harvest. The sowers and the reapers would rejoice together. Other men labored, and now the apostles were but following up their labors, and each would receive his wages and would gather fruit unto life eternal. Blessed encouragement to speak the Word for Him.
Verses 39, 40. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, “He told me all that ever I did.” And they were bold enough, because of His love and grace to them, to beseech Him to tarry with them. But what will the self-righteous Jews say or think? That does not matter to Him. He was there to do the Father’s will, and to seek the good of souls. He was not defiled, but brought cleansing to them. And He abode two days with them.
Verses 41, 42. And many more believed because of His own word; and said unto the woman, “Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” Another writes, “Those two days at Sychar were to Him a little of the joy of harvest. They were some of the most refreshing which the wearied Son of God ever tasted in this world of ours. For He found here some of the brightest faith He ever met with; and it was only the faith of sinners that could ever have refreshed Him here. Nothing in man could ever have done this—nothing but that faith which takes man out of himself.
Verses 43, 44. After two days he departed and went into Galilee among His own people, and well knowing, as He said, “That a prophet hath no honor in his own country.”
Verse 45. The Galileeans received Him, having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.
Verses 46-54. Here He is back to where He made the water into wine, filling their joy full in that scene that expressed their full restoration to the Lord. And though rejected in the meantime by His own, in obedience to the Father’s will, glorifying Him and to fulfill His purposes, He ministers still among the little remnant who receive and believe on Him, and works the second sign to heal and save the life of that one who was ready to perish. He fulfilled the desire of faith, in restoring the nobleman’s son, a faith that rested on Him before the eyes could see the blessing that was promised. “Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:2929Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (John 20:29). This is the faith of the Jewish remnant, before the Lord appears.