John 4:1-26

I.                  John 4:1-26

1.                 Attention Grabber: One time I had a friend who was gay. I met him through the philosophy club in college (Uni for you Brits). I would see this guy at University a lot and he had told me he was a backslidden Christian. God loves gay people as much as He loves everyone else, so I showed him the love of God through befriending him. It wasn’t easy and eventually when he asked me about my thoughts on homosexuality I told him what the Bible says about it, that it is a sin and is something you have to repent of. At this he got angry at me and told me “I knew you were just like all the other judgment Christians!!! I don’t think we can be friends anymore.” The next day I ran into him between classes and I went up to him and asked if we could talk, to which he said he didn’t want to talk because he still thought we shouldn’t be friends. I told him that was OK and I respected that then told him that I wanted to give him a big hug because I wanted him to know that God loves him and that I loved him, then gave him one of the biggest hugs I have ever given anyone. It wasn’t easy for me, especially since there is such a stigma against straight guys even talking to gay guys. Days later he sent me a message on Facebook saying well, I have thought it over and we can still be friends and I have continued to minister to him through Facebook till this day. He still hasn’t repented but he has gotten back to reading the Bible and is getting closer and closer every day. Sometimes it is worth it to break social boundaries if it means saving someone’s soul.

B.                In John 3 we saw how Jesus explained the way of salvation to the Pharisee Nicodemus, a highly moral and an extremly powerful and important man. In John 4 we see Jesus spending one on one time explaining salvation to what many Jews considered the scum of the earth, a woman of Samaria. Samarians were half-breeds and had developed their own religious system for worshiping the Hebrew God, including a separate temple for worship. The Jews hated them for this and considered them unclean, and likewise the Samaritan resented the Jews. Not only was she a Samaritan, but she was a woman. Jewish Rabbi’s at the time had said “It is better that the words of the law be burned than be delivered to a woman!” (Wiersbe Bible Commentary, pp. 241).

C.                We see that Jesus was not partial in whom he ministered to and in whom he revealed the way to salvation to. Salvation is for everyone, no matter how rich or poor, religious or sacrilegious, important or unimportant. Also, we see that Jesus doesn’t have a five step method that He used every time he preached the Gospel, He adapted the message to every circumstance and every person individually but kept the truth of the gospel pure every time.

II.               4:1-4 Jesus the Missionary

A.                V1, “Therefore” Why is the therefore there for? It is a connecting word which means the following statement is based on the context previously stated. “When the Lord” Jesus is called Lord by the author the Apostle John, signifying the Apostle John’s acknowledgment at the time when he wrote it that Jesus was/is the Lord God. “…knew that the Pharisees had heard…” The motivation for what Jesus does in verse two directly corresponds with what the Pharisees were doing in causing division amongst the disciples of John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ. It was because Jesus knew what they were doing that he decides to move on from the area of Judea.

B.                V2, Jesus didn’t baptize with His own hands, he delegated the authority and sacrament to His disciples to do on His behalf and in His name. Here we see that Jesus, from the very start, intended to pass on His baptism to His disciples. We see that baptism and communion are the only two sacraments that Jesus did this with, both of which he taught and told us to pass on and keeping doing.

C.                V3, Jesus left Judea because John was already working in that area and he could see that the Pharisees wanted to use John’s declining popularity and Jesus rising popularity to cause division between them. Division is never from the Lord, in fact the Lord considers it an abomination and hates it. Jesus would rather leave the area than give the Pharisees an opportunity to cause division, which is what He does.

D.                V4, Jesus needed to go through Samaria. Devout orthodox Jews would always avoid the area of Samaria, those traveling from Judea to Galilee would often take the long way around just to avoid going through Samaria. Jesus didn’t need to go through Samaria geographically, and he was expected not to being that he was a Rabbi, Jesus needed to go through Samaria because there were souls to save there. In going to Samaria Jesus is going to be showing that saving souls is more important than social or cultural boundaries, and He is willing to break them if it means saving someone. In this moment we see Jesus as a missionary.

III.           4:5-10 Jesus the Friendly Jew

A.                V5, Sychar was not a very well known city of Samaria, so not only did Jesus go into Samaria but He went into the middle of nowhere in Samaria. The only reason anyone would know about Sychar is it’s location near to the well of Jacob.

B.                V6, Jesus heads over to the well since he was wearied and needed a break from all the traveling, probably hoping to get some water from it. This shows us the humanity of Jesus, for was both God and man in the flesh at once. Jesus just like us, experienced the physical needs of the body. He knows what is like to be human, and for that He can relate to us and have compassion on us.

1.                 “It was about the sixth hour” Depending on which calendar you think the author used in writing this it would have been either 12 noon (Hebrew Calendar) or 6 PM (Roman Calendar). If it was 12 noon that would have been an odd time for her to go get water, being that it was in the heat of the day. If that time is true it is possible she chose to go at that time to avoid the ridicule and shame she might have experienced from the other women getting water. Either way Jesus meets her where she was at, in more ways than one.

C.                V7, The “Bad Samaritan” is here introduced to us. She came to draw water, and likely after doing so Jesus ask for a drink. Jesus initiates the conversation, and he finds a bit of common ground. Something you learn about Jesus when you read about Him is you see that He very rarely ever did anything the same way twice, likely to show us that there is no formula to evangelism or teaching. That said though we can learn a lot of principles for when we want to talk to a stranger about salvation. Start by making conversation, maybe a question or a request.

D.                V8, We see that Jesus is alone here, His disciples had likely taken their bucket in order to buy food so Jesus had no means of drawing water, it was completely appropriate for Jesus to ask this of her.

1.                 Jesus always had his boys around Him and He very rarely ever did anything without them, so this situation is the exception not the rule. Yet, we see here that Jesus is willing to break the social boundary of a man speaking to a woman one on one. Remember that this is something that Jesus didn’t made a habit of going out and doing, it is the exception not the rule. Still though, we learn from Jesus that souls are more important that social boundaries. Don’t get me wrong though I am not endorsing that you throw out conventional wisdom and put yourself in compromising situations, only that sometimes we can’t avoid those situations and we shouldn’t let that stop us from ministering.

E.                V9, The woman is shocked, and probably intrigued that this guy is different than most Jews. The Jews didn’t want to have anything to do with the Samaritans, in fact they considered the very vessels that they ate and drank out of as unclean.  The Samaritan woman knew this, and was shocked that Jesus didn’t mind drinking from what most Jews thought was unclean.

1.                 There was nothing scriptural about avoiding “unclean utensils”, it was only the legalism of the Pharisees that had crept into the Jewish religion. Jesus didn’t mind breaking religious barriers that had no scriptural backing.

2.                 There is something to be said of friendliness, it goes a long ways, especially friendliness that is willing to break social boundaries that are unbiblical.

F.                 V10, Jesus takes the conversation in the directions towards Himself and is going to get her to think beyond just her physical needs. The gift of God is eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, and she was speaking to the very One who could give this gift. Jesus is asking her for physical water, but if this woman knew who Jesus was she would be asking Him for living water. Jesus will go on to explain what living water is in the following verses, but he uses a creative way to get her to start thinking and refocus her on what’s important, Jesus Christ Himself.

1.                 In witnessing to people you will experience this, people will try to take you on rabbit trails. We must always try to direct the conversation back to what is important, back to Jesus.

IV.            4:11-14 Jesus the Respected Man

A.                  V11, The woman here calls Jesus “Sir”. In Greek the word is the same one John translated as Lord in 4:1, but here the meaning is more just as a term of respect. Jesus had brought this woman a little further, he had started with her as just a friendly Jew. Now she is calling him by a term of respect, but she still hasn’t called Him Lord in the sense that John the Apostle called Him Lord. People can do that though, they can have respect for Jesus but not be saved by Jesus.

1.                 She was still thinking literally, she hadn’t caught on yet as to what Jesus was talking about.

B.                V12, What better water could there be than the water from the well of Jacob? This was her main point. “Don’t you know Jesus, Jacob was the man, you can’t find any better water than his water.” And so we think of our worldly passions and lusts. We tell God it can’t get any better than this, getting drunk is as good as it gets in this life. There is no way you can have something better than that.

C.                V13, Whoever drinks from Jacob’s well is going to get thirsty again, and that’s the problem with the well’s of the world. They only quench your thirst for a little while then you come back thirsty again. The wells of this world don’t satisfy you for very long.

D.                V14, Jesus was offering something that would solve her thirst once and for all, everlasting life. She would never have to drink from the wells of the world again once she drank from the living water that Jesus had. Jesus used water as parable to describe the eternal life that He gives. There are five things that Jesus uses throughout the book of John to describe to us what His eternal life looks like; air, bread, life, light and water. All of these things are physical necessities for life, but all of the necessities for eternal life are found in Jesus. Jesus is life, and so to have true life you must have Jesus. Once you drink from His life you don’t need to keep drinking, you never thirst again. Once your saved you are always saved.

V.                4:15-18 Sin Blinds Us

A.                V15, The woman is still not understanding what Jesus is trying to tell her and she is still thinking of her physical needs. How patient Jesus is with us and how slow we are in understanding Him. So many times our physical needs and worries are the things that are preventing us from understanding Jesus, when all along He has in His hands what we really need more than anything else.

B.                V16, Jesus is going to have to bring up her sin, because her sin is preventing her from understanding the truth. Sin blinds us and prevents us from understanding God’s word, and it takes us realizing our sin, confessing it and repenting it to God before we can receive the gift of God, the living water of eternal life. Jesus does this very gently, allowing her to be the one to confess her sin and bring it up by asking her a simple question, and He does this with her in private. God is so gentle with us.

C.                V17-18, The woman tells the truth, but she doesn’t tell the whole story. This is when Jesus has to confront her. Jesus could have started with this statement, but He talked to her first and gave her a chance to bring it up herself. Finally though, He had to confront her with her sin knowing that she wasn’t going to confess it on her own.

1.                 When we witness to people and we see that they are not yet ready to admit to being a sinner we may have to gently confront them about it. This is hard, but it is love, because without conviction of sin there can be no conversion. To be saved you must first admit you need saving.

VI.            4:19-24 Jesus the Prophet

A.                V19, The woman has now gone from seeing him as just a friendly Jew, to giving him a term of respect, to now perceiving that He is a prophet. It may take a while for saving faith, faith that Jesus is more then all these things and is God Himself, to be born in the heart of people. We must be patient with people as Jesus was patient, it might take a while for them to see who Jesus really is.

B.                V20, The woman sidesteps Jesus’ statement about her having five husbands, she can’t deny that it is true since she calls Jesus a prophet, knowing that He has supernatural knowledge, yet no one likes to talk about their sin so she changes the subject. She attempts to start a theological debate with Jesus about the correct place of worship. The Jews believed worshiping in Jerusalem was correct, while the Samaritans had set up Mount Gerizim as their place of worship.

1.                 We need to be careful of getting into useless theological debates with people, or even philosophical debates that are really just another rabbit trails. It is easy to get distracted from what is really important when you are witnessing, but just keep bringing it back to Jesus.

C.                V21, Jesus answers her question, but not how she expects. Jesus was saying the hour is coming when neither place will be the place of worship for the Father.

D.                V22, Jesus does give her the answer she was seeking and tells her who is right in the debate, though he will quickly redirect her to what she really needs to know moments later. In this sentence though we see that salvation is of the Jews, meaning that the Messiah would come through the Jews and that going to the God of the Jews is the only way to be saved. Here Jesus refutes the ideas that all religions are equal. All roads do not lead to God. There are many who worship what they do not know, things that do not exist and are not really gods.

1.                 We as Christians though worship what we do know. We know and have the only way to salvation, the only way to worship God correctly through Jesus.

Someone might say that is unfair, but at the very least they can’t call themselves Christians and disagree with that.

Truth though is not relative, truth is absolute. Jesus was willing to tell the truth, however so gently, since He knew it was the only way for people to have salvation. A great example of how truth is absolute and how it is important to tell it even when it offends can be seen in an example of a boy walking to school. Imagine you are a father and your son is going to walk to school, he tells you that he has decided to cross over the freeway on foot since it is a more direct route and he likes it better anyways. Fearing for your son’s safety you inform him that it is not a good idea because there are a lot of cars and if you get hit by cars you will die. The son replies, well I don’t believe in cars so I am ok; that is your truth not mine. Knowing that cars exist you tell your son it doesn’t matter what you believe, it is true for everyone that if they get hit by a car at a high velocity they will die, and therefore you cannot take the route over the highway to get to school. It might have seemed slightly offensive for the son to hear from his father that cars do exist, but the father still had to tell him because it was true; more than that he had a moral obligation to tell his son that it was true lest his son be hit by a car and die. So we too must tell the truth, even if it offends, because the eternal death of souls are at stake.

E.                V23, Jesus told this woman that the time would come, and in fact was here, when it won’t matter where you worship God. Jesus did tell us though that how you worship was important though.

1.                 First, you had to be worshiping God, and not some Samaritan concept of God since salvation was of the Jews.

2.                 Secondly, you must worship God in spirit. For years the worship of God had been done in the flesh, through giving sacrifices at the temple. Jesus had come though to do away with the entire sacrificial system itself, and in order to truly worship God you would need to believe in Jesus Christ as the only sacrifice for your sin. You have to be born again and receive the Spirit of God in order to worship God. Non-Christians cannot worship God until they are first are born of the Spirit.

3.                 Thirdly, you must worship God in truth. God will not accept a song as worship if your life doesn’t match the words you are singing. It will mean nothing. We worship God in truth by doing so without any hypocrisy and we worship God in truth when we worship how God’s Word says we should worship. You can’t just worship God however you want to worship Him, in the flesh, through hypocrisy or through ways that are clearly anti-biblical, because that is not worshiping God in truth.

4.                 What is amazing is that God is seeking people to worship Him like this. God seeks those to worship Him who care not where to worship Him but how to worship Him, from the heart and in truth.

F.                 V24, God is Spirit, so to worship Him  you must do so in spirit (from your heart and in sincerity, being born again of the Spirit) and in truth (without hypocrisy and in obedience to how His word tells us to worship).

VII.         4:25-26 Jesus the Christ and God Himself

A.                V25, The woman, like some of us, seems to not understand still what Jesus is talking about. So she just says, “Well someday the Messiah will come and clear up all these issues for us.”

B.                V26, Jesus point blank tells her that He is the Messiah. Not only that though, Jesus says that He is also God. In the original language He was not added, it helps us to understand what Jesus meant but it wasn’t part of the original text. Jesus’ literal response to her was “I that speak to thee, I am” (The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, pp. 241). The phrase “I am” is one of the key themes of the book of John and when Jesus says it He is claiming to be “I am” or Yahweh, the holy name of God.

1.                 Jesus has taken this woman’s understand of himself from Him being just a friendly Jew, to a man deserving of respect, to a prophet, to revealing to her that He is the Christ and God Himself.

VIII.     Conclusion

A.                Witnessing to people might take time, and you might have to work with them until you bring them to a correct understanding on who Jesus is. Don’t get sidetracked by pointless debates and discussions, you can answer their questions but always try to bring them back to Jesus, ever leading them to Him as the only source of knowing God and worshiping God in Spirit and Truth.

B.                “…If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37b-38.

1.                 Are you thirsty? Come to Jesus and He will satisfy your thirsty heart. You won’t find it anywhere else but in Jesus.

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