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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

John 4

Verses 1-30

  1. INTRO:
    1. One who drinks from the wells of the world will thirst again, for sinful pleasures never satisfy. “Love, success, wealth, fame - these were but a few of the countless springs at which men had stooped to drink, only to rise from them to find that they offered no lasting inward satisfaction, no enduring personal fulfillment.” (Zane Hodges)
      1. Read - Eccl.2:1-11.
      2. Jesus offers another drink! Not merely for time, but for eternity!
      3. So vital, so transforming, so satisfying; with just one sip of faith, our deepest thirst is quenched!
  2. SPIRITUAL DEHYDRATION!
    1. LIQUID WATER VS. LIVING WATER! (1-15)
    2. (1-3) Jesus departs to avoid a popularity contest w/John’s ministry, Jesus turned to Galilee. But on the way He had an important appointment.
    3. (6) Wearied - Jesus truly human. {He experienced weariness, hunger, thirst}
    4. (7) Here His unsuspecting appointment arrives at a Samaritan well(1/2 m. out of town). A thirsty sun-parched woman, carrying a water-pot on her head.
    5. Women normally drew water at dawn & dusk, the cooler hours of the day. It was time to visit & exchange news.
      1. But here we are at noon, the hottest time of the day, which hints to her reputation. Maybe braving the brazen sun to avoid the searing stares of the more reputable.
    6. She comes bearing an empty waterpot, a telling symbol of her parched, barren heart.
    7. Give Me a drink - The One who spoke forth Niagara; the One who shaped the Nile w/his finger nail in the sand; the One who could bring forth gallons of wine...now sits thirsty?
    8. (9) How is it a Jew talks to me? - Most Jews looked down on Samaritans because:
      1. Ethnicity - 1/2 breed; Assyrian invasion 720bc would intermarry to cause loss of racial purity
      2. Religiously - only held to the 1st 5 books of Moses; also, different style of worship.
      3. Geographically - Most Jews went out of their way to avoid Samaria (3 days to cut across vs. 6 days around the Jordan)
      4. But not Jesus, Samaria was part of His mission.
    9. (10) Jesus doesn’t always answer our questions...but our needs!
    10. He will give her living water if she does what? Just “asks”!
    11. (11) Nothing to draw with, & the well is deep - She was right. Today it is 75’ deep.
      1. This of course before it was glamorized & enshrined in marble, then wrapped w/a cave around it, topped off w/a Greek Orthodox church on top of it.
      2. This well is actually supplied 2 ways, through underground sources (making it a true well, & by percolated surface water) (The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible; pg.388)
      3. Mr. Jesus Sir, you have no bucket or rope!
    12. She tries to mildly put Jesus in His place w/her “who-do-you-think-you are” question.
      1. Jesus patiently appeals to her immediate desire for physical water.
      2. In doing so He appeals to her greater, though less obvious, spiritual thirst.
    13. (13) Will thirst again - Love, success, wealth, fame but a few of the countless springs at which men had stooped to drink.
      1. Imagine a handful of stickers that read “will thirst again!” & placing them everywhere you went. On the TV set; on bars & pubs; on bottles of alcohol; on a joint; on a prostitute; on the desk of the business exec who made it to the top… “you will thirst again!
      2. It seems like we all have to “test the waters” ourselves though.
        1. No, we can’t learn from Adam & Eve who tried the forbidden fruit that didn’t satisfy...it made them thirst again!
        2. Samson saw a woman in Timnah(“go get her for me”); took a Gaza strip harlot; then Delilah...and still died a thirsty man.
        3. We don’t know if Solomon ever quenched his thirst? (700 wives; 300 concubines)
    14. (14) Fountain of water - Here is the love of God coming down like the Amazon River rushing down to water one flower!
      1. ​​​​​​​Rev 21:6 I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.
    15. Well(11,12) a man made cistern; Fountain(14) a running spring.
    16. (15) She wants it. She recognizes her thirst. But now sin must be dealt with.
      1. Before the cleansing water must come the confessing daughter!
      2. No conversion w/o conviction!
    17. Feeling the conversation is beginning to meander down a dead-end path, Jesus points to her personal life. [He pulls out a full length mirror, forcing her to take a good hard look at herself]
      1. Like the sobering reflection that greets you when you first wake up!
      2. The woman’s glimpse of herself makes her flush w/embarrassment.
        1. She’ll try to tilt the mirror away, but Jesus makes her look head-on to face the emptiness of her heart.
    18. We all know the story of the Good Samaritan...this is the story of the Bad Samaritan!
    19. THE BAD SAMARITAN! (16-18)
    20. Oh, I guess living together doesn’t constitute marriage!
      1. But we love each other! It feels right! We were married “in the sight of God”! Oh! Sure doesn’t seem like it here. [Is that you? come talk to us, we’d love to help]
    21. Allow God to expose you & cleanse you!
    22. THE CLEVER SAMARITAN! (19-26)
    23. (19,20) Christ’s sharp perception pricks her conscience...squirming, she shifts to more comfortable conversation. [Let’s argue religion technique]
      1. What about the heathen in Africa? What about them Pygmy’s in Pygmy-land How can a good God, allow suffering & evil? What about creation & evolution? Sprinkling or immersion? Wine or grape-juice? King James or Living Bible?
        1. This is her Red Herring that she hopes will hide her blemished soul, from His penetrating gaze. So she drags a smoked herring across her trail to cover up her scent, as they use to in England to throw off tracking dogs from the fox.
        2. However, this Vixen wont get away from this Terrific Tracker though!
    24. (21-24) Jesus contrasts real worship with ritual worship!
    25. Here we see the intent of Jesus’ ministry: to bring people to a realization of the state of their life; in order to lead them to repentance; & a new life in him; where they would honor & worship God; in Spirit & Truth daily.
    26. (23) (Message) But the time is coming - it has, in fact, come - when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter. “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before Him in their worship.
    27. Not the Location of worship but the Object of worship. Not Where you worship but How you worship. Not just How you worship but ultimately Who you worship!
      1. Q: Why should we do Missions & Evangelism? A: Because the Father is seeking such to worship him! {Let’s give Him what He deserves!}
      2. Sincere & Spiritual Worship = the submission of all our nature to God;It’s the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose. (Shepherds notes; John; pg.26.)
    28. You don’t need to find God in a special place, true worship finds Him in every place!
      1. True worship is not a certain place, a certain time in the week, or a certain format. True worship is a relationship.
    29. (25) Now Jesus brings the conversation to such a burning focus that her very soul is on the verge of igniting! (Swindoll)
    30. Look at her progress, she saw Jesus as: a Jew(9); a Sir(11); greater than Jacob(12); a prophet(19); Messiah(25); Christ(29).
    31. (26) Now she knows! - see vs.10(if you knew...)
      1. There wasn’t too many people who received this straight of an answer.
    32. Then right at this dramatic cliff-hanging moment, guess who shows up with the burgers & fries? The disciples in a very awkward situation for everyone - well, except for Jesus.
    33. THE FOCUSED SAMARITAN! (27-30)
    34. The woman left her waterpot - The jar she came to fill stands empty, but the heart she had not come to fill now overflowing with living water! (Hodges; pg.18)
      1. Earlier Jesus turned tepid water into the most festive of wines; He now takes the emptiest of lives & fills it full. (Swindoll; John; pg.57)
    35. He can do that with your life too!
      1. No matter how stagnant the water...no matter how empty the pot.
      2. All it takes is one sip of faith to be spiritually hydrated!!!
        1. He freed a Woman from habitual immorality; He freed Worship from the limitation of place. He desires to free you today from a dehydrated, parched, barren, sin filled life.

Verses 31-54

  1. INTRO:
    1. During WWI there was a great wheat harvest in Australia that rotted in the fields. Because so many men had responded to the call of the colors, nobody was left to gather in the grain harvest. It was a case of “reap or rot”.
      1. This is exactly the situation we face in our churches today: a plentiful harvest, and few reapers. The vast needs of the world stand as a fresh call to prayer.
      2. Christians have been commissioned to the high task of being co-laborers with God in His harvest. In so many nations, it is ripe to be gathered. It is a harvest for which God gave heaven’s best. He is not about to let it rot in the fields.
  2. SOUL WINNING IN SYCHAR! (31-42)
    1. PICNIC! (31-33)
    2. (31-34) Meantime the disciples have their minds in a more pressing matter...food!
      1. While they’re passing the falafel’s & pita Jesus teaches them a vital lesson about another kind of food.
      2. Jesus is saying, “you should concentrate not on our picnic, but on those people coming across the fields of Sychar, led by the woman I was talking to.
    3. PEOPLE! (34,35)
    4. (34) The Samaritan woman needed water. The disciples, already quenched from water, needed food.
      1. The sinners greatest need it the free gift of salvation.
        The believers greatest need is to understand & do & finish the will of God.
    5. (35) Lift up your eyes - What would have they seen? A whole group of Samaritans coming across the fields! (w/white headdress?)
      1. Note: vs.31-38 is sandwiched between vs.29,20 & vs.39.
    6. PARTNERSHIP! (36-38)
    7. Evangelism is a partnership. Each role is essential. We must be ready to fulfill either.
      1. What did Jesus mean, “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored”?
        1. He meant, He had been witnessing to the Samaritan woman, & she had been witnessing to her friends & neighbors & now they were coming to the well.
        2. It would be the disciples privileged to reap them (i.e. teach them more about Jesus & establish them in the kingdom & family of God)
    8. No ministry competition!
      1. Jesus gives us the grace to receive Him, but also the opportunity of serving with Him in ripened fields.
      2. Whether you dig, plant, water, or pick the crop, there should never be a competition. All will share in the joy of seeing the kingdom of God advanced!
      3. Des always uses the Lighthouse analogy: No matter how many lighthouses you have protecting a coast line, they are never in competition w/one another. Each simply warns & protects a different piece of the coastline for travelers.
    9. PICKING! (39-42)
    10. (39) Like a stone dropped into water, Jesus’ words of life fall into the Samaritan woman’s heart & then ripple through the city.
      1. A solitary seed has been planted, & w/in the time it takes to eat lunch, an entire field of humanity becomes ripe for harvest, for the kingdom of God. (Chuck Swindoll; John; pg.57)
    11. (42) The term “Savior of the world” often was used of the Roman emperor [LKGNT; pg228]
    12. Jesus was clearly on a mission, one that was, God informed & God directed.
      1. That mission was to: confront people with the truth of Himself!
      2. All people, even Samaritan's.
  3. SOUL WINNING IN CANA! (43-54)
    1. Back to Galilee! (43-45)
    2. HARVESTING IN A DIFFERENT FIELD! (46-54)
    3. This is the 2nd miracle(54). (1st was water to wine) [7 in John]
      1. 1st, salvation is through the Word; the 2nd, salvation is by faith.
    4. The Physical restoration of the boy! (51-53a)
    5. (46) Nobleman/Royal Official - Basilikos (“King’s man”). A person of prestigious rank. Probably one of Herod’s trusted officers.
      1. But his rank means nothing to him now. His son’s life is at stake.
      2. He doesn’t go to Herod; He goes to Jesus, the very source of life.
        1. Infirmity often draws people to Christ faster than prosperity does!
    6. (47) We can’t help but empathize with this troubled father.
      1. I’m sure he tried the best physicians money could buy.
      2. Every exotic medicine recommended by the professionals, & every folk remedy suggested by the servants.
      3. But all his wealth, rank, privilege means nothing now.
    7. Implored/requesting - verb is the imperfect tense, continuous action.
      1. Paraphrase, “He kept on begging Him over & over”.
      2. Something uncharacteristic for a man of his position.
    8. (47) Let’s not overlook 2 things:
      1. Don’t tell Christ how to handle a situation (come down - simply lay His problem at His feet & allow Jesus to handle it His way!)
      2. Present yourself before presenting the need (simply lay himself at His feet)
    9. (48) Now it seems Jesus came down pretty hard on this desperate father.
      1. But understand that a “circus” atmosphere was developing around Christ.
      2. He was fast becoming a traveling sideshow. “Come one, come all! See the Galilean Miracle Worker!” (Swindoll; pg.62)
    10. Jesus laments the fact the people demand He perform miracles before believing him.
      1. The contrast is that he Samaritans believed because of His own word(41); The Jews believed because of seeing “miraculous signs & wonders”
      2. Jesus would later say, “blessed are those who have not seen & yet believe.”
    11. (49) His persistency wins him a hearing before the true King.
    12. (50) Why didn’t Jesus go to Capernuam Himself?
      1. Maybe to stretch the faith of this official. Standing by & watching as another brings healing requires little faith.
      2. But to believe w/o being there, w/o seeing for yourself...that takes faith!
      3. If your salvation is based on feelings, dreams, visions, voices, or any other fleshly evidence, then you are on dangerous ground. It is faith in the Word alone that gives us assurance of eternal life.
        1. 1 Jn.5:9 We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which He has given about His Son.
    13. Faith is not a sense, nor sight, nor reason, but simply taking God at His word. (Streams in the Desert; Jan.4th; by Christmas Evans)
      1. The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety. George Mueller
    14. (51) Saying - indicates continual action. Apparently the servants were jumping up & down w/joy, repeating over & over, “your son’s alive...he’s living...he’s well!”
    15. (52) 7th hour(1pm) - You might think when he went his way(50) that he headed immediately home. Nope! He left Jesus’ presence absolutely assured that His words formed a promise. And in that promise he rested.
      1. Looks like he stayed in Cana for the night.
      2. The healing was at 1pm “yesterday”. Cana is 17-20 miles from Capernaum. Easily done in a day, only 4/5 hours for a man in a hurry. He could have been home by dark.
      3. Such faith in Jesus’ promise that he didn’t return home until the next day…That’s Faith!
    16. Miracle, healing at a distance. He is the Master of distance & space.
      1. We should be comforted, He doesn’t need to be physically standing right next to you, to heal you.
    17. We will never learn faith in comfortable surroundings!
      1. God gives us promises in quiet hours, seals our covenants with great & gracious words, & then steps back, waiting to see how much we believe.
      2. He then allows the Tempter to come, & the ensuing test seems to contradict all that He has spoken. This is when faith wins its crown!
      3. This is the time to look up through the storm, like the trembling frightened sailors that were with Paul on that ship in Acts 27:25 & declare, “I have faith in God that it will be as He told me.”
    18. The Spiritual redemption of the household! (53b,54)
    19. He father, heard (47); believed (50); & knew (53) [the normal Christian experience]
      1. The son he now held in his arms…& the Savior he now held in his heart!
    20. Application for fathers:
      1. A father isn’t too independent to admit his needs!
        1. How vulnerable are you? How honest are you about your needs?...with yourself? With God? With your wife? With others?
      2. A father isn’t too busy to know his children!
        1. He didn’t send his wife, “Honey, you take care of it, I have a lot of work stacked up at the royal office!” He went himself. He was involved in his home.
        2. Men, do you delegate too much responsibility to your wife? [If so, she may find it hard to believe you really care]
      3. A father isn’t too proud to believe God’s Word!
        1. Maybe, at this very moment, you are separated by distance from a situation you are concerned about. Will you trust God to be there? Will you take Him at His Word?
        2. Maybe, God has you waiting flat on your back or away from home..forcing you to believe him. {I’m speaking to those listening in on radio, podcast; on the web overseas}
      4. A father isn’t too logical to walk by faith!
        1. Father’s are you a pacesetter in spiritual things? When members of the family need counsel, do they turn to you? Do you promote Christian activities or are you a barrier to them?
      5. A father isn’t too serious to enjoy life with his family!
        1. Is this you? “You kids shut up!...Turn off those lights...Get that room cleaned up...It costs too much. You think money grows on trees?”
        2. God didn’t create you to be a sergeant, or the home to be boot camp, or your children to be Marine Corps recruits. He gave you a family to nurture...as a gardener nurtures his plants. And not only to nurture, but to enjoy as well!
      6. Ps.128:1-4 How joyful are those who fear the Lord - all who follow his ways! You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be! Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home. Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table. That is the Lord’s blessing for those who fear him.
      7. Fathers will your children remember their childhood as being fun or frantic? The world outside your front door is cold enough! Warm up your house!
    21. Jesus won the woman at the well; the woman won many Samaritans; the father won his whole household. Are you busy with the harvest? He won’t let it Rot in the field!
      1. ​​​​​​​I pray we can present Christ in an appealing, enthusiastic & attractive way, that will result in others wanting Him also.
    22. Adversity are not stones thrown to hurt me but stones that serve to get my attention (to tap on the window of my comfortable estate & remind me that this is not my home!) (Ken Gire; Incredible Moments.)
      1. Prayer: Lord, use these rocks in my life, to pave a road directly to YOU!
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on John 4". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/john-4.html. 2017.