DISSECTING THE SCRIPTURES – No. 9

JOHN 4:4-44

BY: DAVE and SHEILA GARNER

APRIL 1, 2008

JESUS AND THE WOMAN AT THE WELL

Jesus and His disciples were returning to Galilee from Judea, they had to pass through the non-Jewish territory of Samaria which was sandwiched between them.  As I was pondering on this particular passage of scripture, I realized, contained within them, rest a truth about the humanity of Jesus which has been passed over by so many.  So many Christians have this false illusion that He never faced the same conditions within His body that other men have to endure.  Somehow they see Him going through life snapping His fingers avoiding all the hardships which natural people have to face.  According to John (the Apostle), He had just walked a long way and He was tired therefore He was resting His physical body.  He felt fatigue within His body just like any other man.  They also had to have traveling money in order to purchase the food as His disciples had to go to a nearby town to buy food so they could eat.  He did not snap His fingers or wave His hand to miraculously keep Himself and His disciples supplied with food every time they felt hunger.

Jesus was by Himself and He was resting, setting on the side of one of Jacob’s wells.  Jesus was a man just like us, who felt hunger, thirst, tiredness, sleepiness, pain, sorrow, joy, and who experienced all of the other feelings, sensations, emotions and conditions which every man and woman have to face during their lifetime upon the earth.  He however, did not allow any of His feelings, emotions or outward circumstances to control His thoughts or govern His actions or affect His purpose.  He knew who He was and where His sustenance came from, and He never doubted or swayed from fulfilling that which He was sent to do. 

Jesus was aware of His surroundings at all times and in this particular case, used a natural situation to teach a message which has since spiritually fed millions of people down through the ages.  When the Samaritan woman arrived at the well, He seized the opportunity to minister a message of life to her.  It is obvious He knew who and what she was before He even began His conversation with her.  At the time He was not concerned with what nationality she was.  His concern for her was not determined by whether she was a Jew or if she was not a Jew, for I am certain He knew before He began speaking to her that what He said would not only minister to her, but would minister to all whom she told it; as well as all of us who would read and grasp its understanding, almost two thousand years later.  I think it is awesome He chose an unclean Samaritan (a Jew imposter) to spread this beautiful message of the abiding life within, upon humanity, but even more fascinating than this is the fact that this Samaritan was a lowly woman.  What a slap in the face to the self-righteous high minded religious (Pharisee and Sadducee), man dominated religious society.  He did not use a trained, educated or even a traditional teacher to spread His message of life.  No one else was there to hear so it had to have been her who spread His message.  No one knew, not even His disciples what He told her; and if she had not gone into town after their meeting and told everyone (specifically the men) what Jesus had said to her, we probably would not have ever heard the message “Out of your bellies will flow rivers of living water.”  He knew what her reaction would be and He also knew the message He spoke to her would spread and that was why He chose to tell her what He had to say. 

Acts 2:38, Then Peter said to them, “Repent (think and act differently) and be baptized (immersed) each of you into the authority (name) of Jesus the Anointed One (Christ) to free yourselves from the sins and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Acts 8:20, 10:45, 11:17; Romans 5:15-18.

What a powerful promise, “If you knew God’s gift and who it is that asks of you, give me a drink, you would ask Him and He would give you living water.”  When Jesus offered this promise to the Samaritan woman, He was really making a much larger offer which extended out much further than just to her.  The Samaritan people were deeply disliked by the Jews and normally the Jews would have nothing to do with them, for they felt they were beneath them.  In this, the Jews represented what was supposed to be the highest on God’s measuring stick, while the Samaritan woman represented what was supposed to be the lowest on God’s measuring stick. For Jesus to tell this to a Samaritan woman who was considered the lowest class of people among the Gentiles, those outside of the Jewish economy, was to say that the gift was available to anyone who asked Him for it, Jew or Gentile, man or woman, rich or poor. The gift Jesus told her about was the Holy Spirit and all the power and life which came with it.  I believe Jesus is saying the same thing to us today.  If we could just know by experience, the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit which has been freely given to us.  If we understood that we could know and hear His voice, the voice of our Savior, we would run to that well asking to be filled with the living water which He is even now offering to anyone who will ask it of Him.

According to the Jewish historian Josephus (Book 9, Chapter 14, Sect. 3), the Samaritans were actually the descendants of the people from the Persian country of Cuthah.  The king of Persia had the Cuthahnite people moved from their original homeland into the land of Israel to care for the land after he had left it empty when he destroyed Israel and carried off the people to make them slaves.  After the Cuthites or Samaritans in the Greek language, arrived in the land of Israel they suffered a great plague, so they came to the conclusion that it must be because they were not honoring the God of the land.  Therefore, they sent to the king of Persia asking him to send them some of the Israelite Levi priests, who were being held captive in the Persian Empire, so they could instruct the new inhabitants of the land in the ways of the God of Israel.  The king honored their request and sent them the Levite priests and the Levite priests began to teach them how to observe the Jewish traditions and worship the God of Israel.  Over the years as the population began to increase, they gradually began to lose their own identity, beliefs and knowledge of their own bloodline, and were totally integrated into the Jewish teachings and religious culture.  So much so, they began to claim their lineage to be of Jacob, and the same as the bloodline of the Jews.  By the time Jesus began His ministry, the common Samaritan had became totally integrated into the Jewish religious system, but the Jews themselves saw any Samaritan as unclean and the lowest form of being upon the earth, and would have nothing to do with them.  So when Jesus began talking to the woman, it was a total breech of the Jewish protocol of His day.  

She immediately related the water which He was telling her about, to the water in the well, for it was the only water she was acquainted with.  She wanted to know how He could give her this living water if He did not have anything with which to draw the water out of the well.  Her question, “Are you greater than our father Jacob who gave us the well that he himself, his children, and his cattle drank from,” opens up a much deeper inquiry than what appears on the surface.  Jacob was the one who dug the well and he represented the natural house of Israel which was chosen of God.  All of her life she had drank water from this well; after all, it was their father “Jacob’s” well; it had been there a long time and was the only water available.  Her question, asking Him if He was greater than Jacob was not an accusation or slur, but a sincere desire to know.  Did He have better water than what Jacob had provided for them?

The response Jesus made to her question, left no doubt that He was not talking about water which could be drawn from a natural well.  The water she was drinking from Jacob’s well, could never satisfy her thirst no matter how many times she continued to draw water.  Jacob’s well was no longer the source for drawing water, and if she would drink of the water that He would give her, she would never thirst again, as it would turn into a gushing fountain of everlasting life.  The life He was talking about was the life that came forth from within her, and not out of a thousand year old traditional lifeless well (dry religious system).  It was a well which would continually satisfy her thirst and she would never have to draw water again; this is Spirit water which only Jesus (the Living Word of Life) can give.  All she had to do is ask and she would receive. 

After He told her about His water which He would give her, she said, “Sir, give me this water so I will never thirst again and I will not have to come here anymore to draw water.”  He did not say in response, “no you cannot have this water because you are not a Jew,” nor did He refuse her because she was a woman.  He knew very well to whom He was speaking, for what He said to her next confirmed in her that He very well could be the “Messiah” they had been looking for, and this is the reason He said what He said.  For He knew she would go into the town and declare His message of living water to anyone who would hear it, and that life, living water would flow out from her when she did so. 

Jesus said if she asked it of Him, He would give her living water; this was not an empty promise.  When she asked Him to give her some of the living water she understood it was available to her right then, not at some distant time in the future.  He had to produce the living water for her, to make His assertion that He would give her living water a reality, or she would not have believed Him.  When Jesus said, “Go, get your husband and return back here,” He knew she had no husband and was living with a man.  He used this statement to open the doorway of her mind to enlighten her to what He was offering her.  When He told her that He knew she had no husband, but she had had five husbands, and the one to whom she was living with then, was not her husband, she immediately said, “Sir, I perceive you are a prophet.”  At that moment in time, she began to see Him as more than just a man, and what He said next opened her understanding of who He was even more.  Jesus said to her, “Believe me woman; the hour comes when you will not worship the Father in this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you see not, we worship what we see because from this is the Jews salvation. But the hour comes and now is, when the true worshippers, will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is Spirit and they who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

His statements were in response to those things she had said, and were not just abstract or idle conversation.  He clearly told her the time had arrived when neither her fathers nor the Jews would worship the way they had been accustomed to worshiping.  The Samaritan’s and the Jew’s ritualistic worship would no longer hold any relevance before God, as He was not seeking for those who worshiped in this way, but for those only who worshiped Him in spirit and in truth.  Those who worshiped in spirit and in truth would neither worship in the mountains nor in Jerusalem.  He was (still is) seeking those who worship Him from within, in and out of their spirit and in truth not just with their mouth or through ritual performances.  Everyone can do all kinds of ritualistic performances of outward worship, and still totally ignore the life of God within them.  The Jew’s ritualistic performances would no longer be their salvation, for He desired their hearts and minds, not their sacrifices. 

What He said turned this woman’s whole understanding of God, completely around.  No longer was she bound by the fact that she was a woman, nor was she hindered from worshiping the true God because she was not a Jew.  She no longer had to go to the mountains nor did she have to go to Jerusalem to worship, she could just worship God right where she was, from within, in truth.  Even more, when she did worship from her heart, with all of her spirit, rivers of life would begin to flow out of her, ministering life to all with whom she came in contact. She had some idea of what He was referring to as her next statement clearly indicates, “I know the Messiah comes, the one called the anointed one.  Whenever He comes He will tell us absolutely everything.”  She was not just speaking about herself, she included everyone she knew.  They had been waiting in expectation for His appearance.  

We have no way of knowing the tone with which Jesus said, “I am He who is speaking to you,” but I am certain He spoke with all the authority of the heavens, as it caused her to leave her water bucket and immediately go to town.  She had the living water, and she no longer needed the natural water from Jacob’s well.  She believed enough in what He said, that as soon as she got there she excitedly told the men “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did.  Could this not be the Messiah (Christ, anointed one)?” They had to have felt the energy of the excitement coming from her, as they immediately got up and went out to see this man who might be the coming Messiah.  For them to go out to see Him, they had to have heard more than just the words she said; they had to have felt the living water (life) flowing out of her inner being, for they would not have received what she said unless they saw something more, after all she was a woman and even more, a woman who had been married five times and was currently living with a man.  In and of herself she had no motivating force to compel the men of her city to listen to what she had to say, much less for them to believe in it enough to go out and see Jesus.  I am persuaded there was a lot more said than what is recorded in John, for he wrote that many of the Samaritans of the city of Sychar believed in Jesus because of what she said.  She must have gone about the city telling anyone who would listen, about the arrival of the Messiah.

When the disciples, who were Jews, had returned from town and saw Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman it must have caused them some concern, but scriptures declare they kept their thoughts to themselves.  Soon after the disciples returned they prepared the food they had brought from town and when it was ready they asked Him to come and eat.  But His reply that He had food to eat of which they did not know, caused them to question among themselves if someone else had already brought Him food to eat.  Jesus had just watched the Samaritan woman leave to go into town and He already knew what would happen when she told the people about Him, for He was fully aware of the power of His word and the impact it would have upon those to whom it was delivered.  The food He would be partaking of would be from the harvest which He was about to reap from ministering life to the woman.  He was doing (about) His Father’s will which was declaring the arrival of the Kingdom of God in the hearts and minds of the people by bringing the message of life to the lost and the hungry.  He knew the people would come out from the town to see Him and He was going to enjoy partaking of the fruit from the harvest He was about to receive.

He told His disciples open their eyes and to look around, for the field was ready for harvest.  I am sure at this stage in their spiritual understanding they were looking at natural fields which were in need of harvesting, but He was not talking about natural vegetation.  He was speaking about harvesting the hearts of the people, to open their understanding to the life of God within them and to establish His Father’s kingdom upon the earth, for this was the work He had been sent to accomplish.  The hearts of the people were ready, they were the field ready to be harvested and He was preparing to send the disciples out to gather in a harvest they had not worked in.  He had planted the seeds in the field and they were about to enter into His labor by harvesting the field.  The woman said the Samaritan people had been looking for the appearance of the Messiah, so their hearts were ready to receive the seeds the woman planted into their hearts by what she told them.  The disciples themselves were about to join into the labors of He who had come before them and planted the seed into the field.  As they harvested the field they would gather fruit to eternal life which was the reward for harvesting the field.   As they harvested, He who planted and they who harvested would rejoice together over the abundance of increase. 

The field the seed had been planted into through the woman was the people of Sychar.  Their hearts were white, ready to be harvested.  John said many of the Samaritans who came out to see Him, believed in Jesus because of what the woman had told them about Him.  Others said they believed after they heard what Jesus said for themselves.  He and His disciples stayed with the people of Sychar for two days, and afterwards many of the people told the woman they not only believed because of what she said, but now they believed because they had seen and heard the words of the Savior themselves and were convinced He surely was the Messiah, the Savior who was to come.  They were looking no more for Him to come for they had found Him and now they believed.   I am certain the disciples labored in this field for the whole two days, and they all rejoiced together over the harvest which was reaped from the seed of life that was planted into the heart of a lowly, divorced several times over, unworthy Samaritan woman, out of whose heart gushed rivers of life which forever changed the lives of the people of Sychar. 

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE: JOHN 4:4-44 

To return to Galilee Jesus had to go through Samaria.  As He was going through Samaria it was about the sixth hour of the day when He came to the town of Sychar, close to the parcel of land Jacob had given to his son Joseph. He was by Himself since His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.  Jacob’s well was there and Jesus, being tired from His journey He was sitting on the side of the well and a woman of Samaria came to the well to draw up water. He asked her, “Give me a drink?” 

The woman asked Him, “How is it, you being a Jew ask me, who am a woman of Samaria for a drink?” For the Jews did not communicate or deal with the Samaritans. 

Jesus answered saying, “If you knew God’s gift and who it is that asks of you give me a drink, you would ask Him and He would give you living water.” John 7:37-38

The woman asked Him, “Sir, the well is deep and you have nothing to draw the water, where then do you have this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob who gave us the well that he himself, his children, and his cattle drank from?”

Jesus answered her, “Whosoever drinks of this water will thirst again.  But whosoever drinks of the water which I will give him will never thirst, because the water I give will be in him a well of water gushing up into everlasting life.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water so that I will never thirst again, nor have to come here to draw water. 

Jesus said to her, “Go, get your husband and return back here.”

The woman answering said, “I have no husband.”    

Jesus said to her, “You have rightly said you have no husband for what you said is true, you have had five husbands and the man you now have is not your husband.” 

The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive you are a prophet.  Our fathers worship here in this mountain, but you yourselves say it is in Jerusalem that we need to worship.”

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me the hour comes when you will not worship the Father in this mountain nor even in Jerusalem. You worship what you see not, we worship what we see because from this is the Jews salvation.  But the hour comes and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is Spirit and they who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” 

The woman said to Him, “I know the Messiah comes, the one called the anointed one.  Whenever He comes He will tell us absolutely everything.”

Jesus said to her, “I am He who is speaking to you.”

While Jesus was talking to the woman His disciples returned from buying food and were surprised to see Him talking to a Samaritan woman, yet none of them asked what do you seek or why do you talk to her.

The woman then left her water-jar and went back into the city and told the men, “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did.  Could this not be the Messiah (Christ, anointed one)?” The men of the city then came to see Jesus. 

In the meanwhile, His disciples asked Him to come and eat and He replied, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” Therefore His disciples asked one another if someone had brought Him food to eat. 

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to complete (accomplish) His work.  Do you yourselves not say there is yet four months until the harvest comes?  Behold, I say to you lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are white and ready for harvest. Matt 9:37-38; Luke 10:2 He who reaps receives wages and gathers fruit unto (to, into) eternal life so both he who plants and he who reaps may rejoice together.  And here in is the saying true, ‘One plants and another reaps.’  I send you to reap a harvest upon a field where you performed no labor, but others labored and you have entered into their labor.  Matt 9:37-38; Luke 10:2; Rev 14:14-20

Many of the Samaritans of the city of Sychar believed to (into) Him because of what the woman had said, when she testified that He had told her everything she had ever done.  So when the Samaritans came to where He was they pleaded with Him to stay with them and He remained two days. And many more believed because they heard His word and they told the woman they now believed, not only because of what she said, for now they had heard Him themselves and knew for certain He was indeed the Messiah (anointed one), the Savior of the world.  Now after the two days were ended, He departed and went into Galilee.  

Jesus Himself testified, a prophet has no honor (not regarded, respected) in His own country. John 4:4-44 (Matt 13:57; Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24-27)

 

 

 

JOHN No. 9 [Dave-Sheila Garner] 4-1-08 ~ BIBLE STUDY          1

 

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