John Chapter 4 deals primarily with the Samaritan woman at the well and Jesus returning to Cana of Galilee, where He had previously turned the water into wine at the wedding feast. Jesus had left Judea and was returning again to Galilee . There were two routes to Galilee, the shorter of the two was to literally go through Samaria. The longer route was to avoid going through Samaria by following the Jordon River. Jesus chose to go through Samaria, which was contrary to what most Jews did, when travelling to Galilee from Judea.
It’s really important that one understand how the Jews came about viewing the Samaritans as they did and the reasoning behind the distain they held for anyone from Samaria.
The hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans went back to the days of the exile. Samaria was the region between Judea and Galilee. When the Northern Kingdom was exiled to Assyria, King Sargon repopulated the area with captives from other lands. The intermarriage of these foreigners and the Jews who had been left behind during the exile, complicated the ancestry of the Samaritans. The Jews hated the Samaritans and considered them to be no longer “pure” Jews.
In addition, the Jews rightly insisted that the exclusive place of worship was Jerusalem. But the Samaritans had set up a rival worship site on Mount Gerizim, which was the cause of additional animosity between the Jews and Samaritans.
These were NOT minor obstacles yet we see Jesus deliberately interacting with the Samaritan woman at the well and also spending two days ministering to the Samaritans. The fact that Jesus did this is highly significant and I can’t help but think it has current day applications when it comes to “some” Christians “writing off” groups of people who deviate from orthodox Christianity or hold different political perspectives than we do. It definitely doesn’t mean that we entertain accepting deviant Christian doctrines but it does show us that we should always be willing to speak to anyone, irrespective of their affiliation, about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
One would also do well to remember the parable of the “Good Samaritan” that Jesus deliberately used as an example, that compared a Samaritan with a priest and a Levite. I also, can’t help but think, that our “tolerance” for others, who may think differently than us, is also being called into question. If God, through the person of Jesus, demonstrated “tolerance” with regard to the Samaritans, what indeed does that say to us today? Truth is not to be compromised but untruths held by individuals, are not shown as being viable obstacles to speaking the truth to them. Food for thought.
Note that in John 4:2 it states that Jesus Himself did not baptize but rather His disciples did.
Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit because He is from our Heavenly Father, His disciples baptize with water, like John the Baptist did, earthly men. Jesus will and does baptize, with the Holy Spirit, after His death and resurrection.
John 4:10 NASB, where Jesus lets this woman know who it is that she is actually speaking with, and what He alone can offer her, is profound. She hears what Jesus says about “living water” but still connects it to a physical reality because, as she points out, Jesus has nothing to draw water from the well with.
John 4:13-14 NASB provides more of the profound. Spiritual realities, contrasted with the physical realities. The spiritual realities that Jesus speaks of start to flow in the new birth, when we are born again of the Spirit. Spirit gives life to spirit, continuing on into eternal life with God. But the woman still connects this spiritual reality with the physical and thinks if Jesus gives it to her, she will not need to come to well to draw water again.
John 4:16-19 NASB Jesus doesn’t pursue this any further but switches to another line of reasoning that she CAN comprehend. Physical reality. Call your husband and come back. She responds with honesty and Jesus confirms it with specific detail and she begins to comprehend that Jesus is a prophet.
JOHN 4:20-21 NASB – The Samaritan history unfolds and Jesus tells her of what is to come.
The spiritual realities that Jesus speaks of are not always easy to grasp, yet these are indeed the realties that Jesus came to tell us of. God is spirit, worship MUST be in spirit and in truth.
YOU CAN’T GET MUCH CLEARER THAN THAT.
“I who speak to you am He.” Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus knew who He was and now the woman knows who He says He is.
John 4:27-30 NASB – the woman leaves Jesus and goes to her city and tells what has happened and the people in the city come out themselves to see Jesus.
Spiritual application to physical reality. Jesus CONSTANTLY does this, contrasting a spiritual reality to a physical reality. Jesus just finished doing this with the woman regarding the “living water”, now here He does it again with the “spiritual food”. Would you say that Jesus was “focused”? Totally – and one cannot help but sometimes sense a level of His frustration with regard to His disciples not comprehending the significance of truth that Jesus was conveying.
We understand some of what is recorded in the Scriptures because we have the example of the lack of understanding of His disciples to guide us through the conceptual movement that took place between Jesus and His disciples. The disciples didn’t have the hindsight 20/20 option like we do. Even the fact that their lack of comprehension is recorded for us to be aware of, is, in and of itself, kind of amazing, that this amount of detail is included.
I like to remind myself that Jesus is fully aware of when I don’t get it. He understands the limits of my comprehension better than I do. There are many spiritual concepts that I’ve had to take the same classes on, repeatedly, until the concept finally took root. And when I say “classes”, I mean things that God has had to show me over and over again. And then of course, just to make it interesting, there are the class “annexes” that I wasn’t even aware of when I was taking the initial class. The scripture verse Isaiah 28:10 KJV comes to mind:
John 4:35-38 NASB is another example of a spiritual concept being taught upon another spiritual concept.
Jesus said that His spiritual food was to do the will of His Father and to complete His work.
Our spiritual food should also be to do the will of God which should also include His work. And the work that God would have us finish, it is already underway, already planted, so that it is ready to be reaped.
John 4:39-43 NASB confirms that Jesus was asked to stay with the Samaritans for two days (which He did) and that many believed because of His word and that after that, Jesus went into Galilee.
More to follow . . .
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!