John 4 Bible Study

John Chapter 4 - Jesus in Samaria

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John 4 Bible Study


JOHN 4:1-6  1 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John 2 (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), 3 He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. 4 But He needed to go through Samaria. 5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

Why did Jesus leave Judea?
Because His ministry was surpassing John's ministry, He knew that the Pharisees would soon be after Him.

Why would the Pharisees be after Jesus?
The Pharisees' claim to fame was codifying the law of Moses into a dizzying array of do’s and don’ts, and then trying to keep them, or at least maintain the appearance of it. In so doing, they lost sight of God’s original intent behind giving the Mosaic laws, became proud, judgmental and hypocritical. As we will see, they could handle neither Jesus' teaching nor His condemnation of their hypocrisy and erroneous theology, and sought to kill Him with increasing intensity.

Was Jesus scared of the Pharisees?
No, and He would eventually leverage the Pharisees' hatred of Him to affect His crucifixion. But the timing for that had to be precise and this wasn't the moment, hence His departure.

Where are "Samaria" and "Sychar" (John 4:5)?
Samaria was the region in the middle of Israel, between Judea to the south and Galilee to the north, and Sychar was a city in Samaria about 30 miles north of Jerusalem.

Who are "Jacob" and "Joseph" (John 4:5)?
The grandson and the great-grandson of Abraham, whom God had chosen from Ur, a city in what is now Turkey to found the Hebrew nation. Genesis chapters 12 to 25 describe what God did with Abraham, and chapters 25 to the end of Genesis describe what He did with Jacob and Joseph.

Why was Jesus "wearied" (John 4:6)?
It was about "the sixth hour" (John 4:6), meaning six hours from sunrise at 6am, or noon. He probably had been walking all morning and the sun was hot at its zenith. The fact that Jesus got tired attests to Him having been fully man, as well as fully God, while on earth.

JOHN 4:7-19  7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” 15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.” 19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.

Why did "Jews have no dealings with Samaritans" (John 4:9)?
The 12 tribes of Jews who settled in Israel eventually split into the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom. When the Northern Kingdom was conquered in 722 BC and exiled to Assyria, Sargon of Assyria re-populated the Northern Kingdom region with people from other countries that he had conquered, who intermarried with the Jews left behind. Rejected as an impure mixed race by the Jews in the South, the Northern Jews - now called "Samaritans" - set up their own temple and religious services on Mount Gerizim, about 10 miles west of Sychar.

Why do you think Jesus asked the woman for water?
If He really had been after a drink, He probably would have driven the conversation toward it.

What is the “living water” (John 4:10) that Jesus is talking about?
John 4:14 says that it is what will lead to "everlasting life", so He is talking about His salvation.

How would you characterize their conversation up to John 4:15?
Jesus is speaking about the spiritual realm, but the woman can’t get past the physical realm.

Why the abrupt change in topic in John 4:16?
Her understanding is blocked by a particular sin, so Jesus pinpoints it to take it out of the way.

What was that sin?
It was adultery. She had "had five husbands" (John 4:18), and the one she was with wasn't her husband.

Being with a man who isn't her husband is self-explanatory but what's wrong with her having had five husbands?
It would be okay if she was a five-time widow but the context and her reaction makes this unlikely. Chances are, she had been divorced a number of times and/or been with men who weren't her husband. The Greek word translated "husband(s)" in this passage is andros, which literally means, "adult male" and appears 215 times in the original New Testament. It is translated into English, "man" or "men" 156 of those times, and "husband(s)" only 50 of those times. So John 4:18 could very well have read, "for you have had five men, and the one whom you now have is not your husband..."

What do you think of her reply in John 4:19? What would the average woman have said at this point?
Instead of lashing out in indignation at a stranger for exposing her sins, she tacitly admits them and humbles herself, and starts to see Jesus in spiritual light: “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet." (John 4:19)

JOHN 4:20-26  20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

After calling Jesus a prophet, why does she all of a sudden bring up a theological issue in John 4:20?
She may have been trying to divert the discussion away from her exposed sins. She is at least now speaking about the spiritual realm as well.

According to Jesus, what is the proper place for worshipping God?
According to Jesus, "true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth," (John 4:23) not in some designated place.

But doesn't the Bible also say that Christians should go to church?
The word "church" is found 120 times in the New Testament and always refers to a gathering of Christians, not a place to go; the Greek word translated "church" is ekklesia, which literally means, "an assembly of people." That a church is not a place is especially clear in 1 Corinthians 14:23, which starts, "if the whole church comes together in one place..."

What about the temple in Jerusalem?
The temple was the place for Jews to sacrifice animals, which ended with Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.

Then what does this mean for the billions of dollars spent to build towering cathedrals and gleaming church buildings?
They contradict Jesus' teachings and are often driven by the ambitions and/or pride of men. God cares about neither the location nor the physical beauty of buildings.

What does He care about?
That we “worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23).

The “spirit” is God the Holy Spirit, but where do we find “truth”?
In the Bible. In John 14:6, Jesus declared that He is the truth, and John 1:1 & 14  declare that Jesus is the Word.

What does this mean for "churches" today?
They should ascribe “success” to themselves based neither on the size of the church building, which is unbiblical, nor the number of worshippers, for only God knows how many of them are truly His, nor the amount of money, for all of it belongs to God, but based on the degree to which they preach and remain faithful to His Word.

What does Jesus mean by salvation being "of the Jews" in John 4:22?
The word translated "of" more precisely means, "from" or "out of". So Jesus is telling her that the Savior will arise  from the Jewish people.

Does she understand?
Her reference to the Messiah in John 4:25 indicates that she does, to which Jesus reveals in the next verse, "I who speak to you am He.”

JOHN 4:27-30  27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?” 28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.

Why did the disciples marvel that Jesus "talked with a woman" (John 4:27)?
Jewish piety warned men not to talk much with women, both because of temptation and because of what others might think.

What do you think was her demeanor when she uttered her words in John 4:29?
Most likely, excited.

How do we know?
She left behind her waterpot, and this is another evidence of the Bible lacking dramatic embellishments.

What three identities did the woman sequentially ascribe to Jesus?
"Jew" in John 4:9.
"Prophet" in John 4:19.
"Christ" in John 4:29.

And what is the first thing she did thereafter?
Tell others about Jesus.

Was she formally 'trained' for the task?
No.

So what did she do?
She told them as much as she knew - doubts and all - and then invited them to "Come, see" (John 4:29) for themselves.

Does God ask Christians to do anything more than she did?
No, and neither does He ask for anything less.

JOHN 4:31-38  31 In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” 33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”

How does Jesus' attitude toward doing God’s work, including telling people about Jesus, differ from that of many if not most "Christians" today?
Jesus considers it His "food" (John 4:32). The latter consider it a chore.

How often do we eat?
Everyday, and hopefully a few times a day.

So how often should we take up God’s work?
Everyday, and hopefully a few times a day.

What does Jesus mean by, "Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’"?
Given the fertility of Israel, there are two planting seasons per year and four months is the time between planting and harvest. Jesus is telling them not to wait around, for the fields are "already white for harvest!" (John 4:35)

What does John 4:36-37 imply?
The person who "sows" or first tells someone about Jesus may not be the one who gets to witness that person accept Jesus' as his or her personal Savior. But both the sower and the reaper will "rejoice together" in heaven if not already on earth.

Does Jesus’ comments to the disciples sound congratulatory or admonishing?
Admonishing.

Why?
Between them and the woman, who was more qualified to tell the villagers about Jesus?

JOHN 4:39-42  39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word. 42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

Why did the “many” (John 4:39) Samaritans believe in Jesus?
Many believed simply based on the woman’s account.

Why might they have been intrigued by what she had to say?
Since she was on her sixth "husband" (John 4:18), she may have had a reputation around town, and for her to declare, "He told me all that I ever did" (John 4:29) may have perked some ears. This also means that she risked or took on personal embarrassment for a chance to tell people about Jesus. Would you?

Why or when did “many more” believe in Jesus?
After having heard "His own word" (John 4:41) or themselves. It's very important for what we believe to be grounded in the Word of God. The destiny of your soul is too important to be outsourced to any human being. You must take ownership of your relationship with God, not piggy back on someone else’s.

JOHN 4:43-45  43 Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee. 44 For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. 45 So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they also had gone to the feast.

When had Jesus testified that "a prophet having no honor in his own country"?
"When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief." (Matthew 13:54-58)

So why did the Galileans receive Him this time?
John 4:45 says that some of them had seen His miracles in Jerusalem.

Are they now true followers of Jesus?
Not necessarily, but they're interested in Him do some miracles for them too. There is a difference between a follower and a consumer of Jesus.

Which are you?

JOHN 4:46-54  46 So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” 49 The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. 51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!” 52 Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household. 54 This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.

When did the fever leave the nobleman's son?
"Yesterday at the seventh hour" (John 4:52), meaning 1pm of the day before his servants confirmed the healing.

What did the nobleman do until he was able to confirm what Jesus had said?
He "believed the word that Jesus spoke to him" (John 4:50) and kept walking as Jesus instructed.

Should we do any differently?

  
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