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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

John 4

Verses 1-54

Chapter 4

Now when the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (though Jesus himself baptized none, but his disciples,) ( John 4:1 )

Now this can mean one of two things. Jesus baptized not, but His disciples, or, He only baptized His disciples; or, He didn't baptize at all, it was only His disciples who were baptizing. So, you have a choice. But when Jesus heard that the Pharisees had heard these things,

He left Judea ( John 4:2 ),

The Pharisees had heard now that He was baptizing even more than John, so He left the area of Judea, the area near Jerusalem, where most of the Pharisees hung out.

and he departed and went again into the area of Galilee ( John 4:3 ).

From Judea, on into Galilee.

And he had to go through Samaria ( John 4:4 ).

For Samaria lies between Judea, Jerusalem and the Galilee. The area of Samaria lies between the two, through the middle part of the country. Now,

He came to a city of Samaria, which was called Sychar [or Shechem], near a parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat on the well: for it was about noon. And there came a woman of Samaria to draw water: and Jesus said unto her, Give me a drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then said the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that you, being a Jew, are asking me for a drink, for I am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that said unto you, Give me a drink; you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water. And the woman said unto him, Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: where are you going to get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his children, and his cattle? And Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. And the woman said unto him, Sir, give me some of this water, so I will never thirst again, and I won't have to come out here and draw water everyday ( John 4:5-43.4.15 ).

Now, up to this point, this woman is being rather saucy with Jesus, sort of pert and cute. She's not a very upright woman. In fact, she's sort of a low-moral character. She's probably very well known in Shechem because of her not-so-illustrious past. She's got a bad reputation. She's probably known as a flirt and available. And probably that kind who is pretty worldly-wise and able to handle men pretty well, and that type which...every man is sort of a challenge. So, when she came to draw water and saw this person sitting there, and He said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" rather than just obliging and giving Him a drink without saying anything, she has to open up the door and ask him, "How come you're asking me for a drink? You're a Jew and I'm a Samaritan, and we're not supposed to have dealings with each other." And Jesus said, "If you knew the gift of God and who it was that was asking you for a drink, you would have been asking Him for a drink."

Now, I'm sure that her motives in talking to Jesus at this point are far different from His. But she continued on in saying, "Why would I ask you for a drink? That well is deep and you don't have anything to draw it with. " She said, "Where are you going to get this living water? Are you greater than Jacob who gave us this well?" Jesus said to her, "Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again."

When Jesus is talking to this woman about water, about living water, she did not understand what He was talking about, even, I'm sure, as Nicodemus did not fully understand what Jesus was talking about when He first said, "You've got to be born again." You know, he got this mental picture of his going back into his mother's womb. Jesus was talking again about spiritual things and she was thinking only of material things. But Jesus said to her, "If you drink of the spiritual water, the living water, you'll never thirst again." "Oh, I'd like some of this water so I don't have to come out here and drink again, so I don't get thirsty any more."

Now, the statement, "He who drinks of this water shall thirst again," there Jesus is referring to that physical water in the well. Carrying it one step further, Jesus, in talking about thirst, spoke not of physical thirst but of spiritual thirst. Man is a threefold being: he is body, mind and spirit. And there are physical thirsts, there are emotional thirsts, and is a spiritual thirst. Jesus said to the woman, "If you're going to drink of this water, you're going to thirst again." That can be said of every physical experience that you might possess or seek or find.

There are always those who feel, "If I could just..." and you fill in the blank. "...then I would be happy and satisfied." What's in your blank? "If I just had blank, I would be satisfied and happy!" It seems that man is always setting out a goal or a thing whereby he feels that, "If I could just achieve, if I could just attain, if I could just have, then I would be satisfied. I wouldn't be thirsty any more!" Jesus said, "Not so! You drink of this water and you will thirst again."

Now, you ought to be able to prove that in your own mind, because surely in times past, you have set those temporary goals that you felt, "If I could just have a new bicycle I wouldn't want anything again as long as I live." I know there was a time when I lusted after a bicycle. And I thought, "If I could just have that bicycle, oh, I would just be so happy. I would never want anything again as long as I lived." And, I got that bicycle. But it wasn't long before..."If I just had a speedometer on this bicycle, I wouldn't want anything again, you know." And then, "If I just had a headlight with a generator, oh, I would never want anything again." So, there have been those intermediate goals that I have achieved and attained, but you know what? I thirsted again. They didn't fully satisfy me. As Jesus said, "Drink of this water, you're going to thirst again." And it has been true in my life, as I have achieved those goals, those intermediate goals that I had established, and I thought, "Oh, if I could just have," and I then had, but it didn't satisfy. I thirsted again. But Jesus said, "If you drink of the water that I give, you'll never thirst again. It'll be like a well just springing up inside of you." The woman said, "Sir, I'll take some of that water."

And Jesus said, Well, first go call your husband. And she said, I don't have any husband ( John 4:16-43.4.17 ).

I'm available.

And the Jesus said to her, You have well said, I have no husband: for you have had five husbands; and you've finally just moved in with a man without marrying him ( John 4:17-43.4.18 ).

Now, notice the whole switch of her attitude. No longer is she a cute little flirt. Her mask has been ripped off. You know, a lot of people go around wearing masks. They have a cute, clever exterior. "I can handle myself, I know how to get around, I don't need any help, I've got it made." But when that mask has been removed, underneath there is a great thirst and a great need, and the thirst and the need that man has is for God, every man, no matter who they are. You may try to pretend that you don't need God. "That's for weak people! I don't need to commit my life to God, I don't need God, I can handle it, I'm able to make my way in life. The battle is for the strong and I'm strong. I don't need help." And you may put up a very tough, formidable front, a mask. But deep down inside every man's heart is crying out for God. No matter what kind of a front you may be putting up. And when Jesus took away her mask, when suddenly she realized she wasn't kidding this fellow, "He's looking right inside of me and He knows what is inside of me. He knows the truth about me. I'm not fooling Him at all." The mask was gone. Her spirit was open and naked and revealed; and she knew it. And so, suddenly, the whole attitude and tenor changes, and what is her question?

Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and you say, in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship ( John 4:20 ).

The question was, "Where do I find God? Our fathers said we find God in this mountain, you say we find God in Jerusalem. Where can I find God?" And down deep inside of every man there is that haunting question, "Where can I find God?" Because we all need God, no matter what kind of a front we may be putting up to others. Down deep inside all of us need God, and there is that cry of our hearts, "Where can I find God?" And so her whole attitude changed, "Sir, I perceive you're a prophet."

"Our fathers say we are to worship God in these mountains," that is in Mount Gerizim, which is there in Samaria, the mountains upon which the tribes of Israel stood on the top and pronounced God's blessings when they came into the land, opposite to Mount Ebal, where the curses were pronounced.

And so, the Samaritans, those people who inhabited the northern province after the Syrian captivity, those who were not accepted into Judaism when the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity, because they could not prove the purity of their lineage, who had intermarried with the people brought into the land by the Assyrians, sort of half-breeds, were called Samaritans. And because they were not allowed by the Jews in Jerusalem to help with the temple or to enter into the worship there, they began to establish their own worship center on Mount Gerizim, making their own sacrifices there and creating quite a breach between the Jews and the Samaritans, not dealing with each other. And they began to say that it was on Mount Gerizim that Abraham had offered Isaac. And they also affirm that on Mount Gerizim, Solomon had built the temple, that this is the place to worship God. And they would discourage the Samaritans from going to Jerusalem to worship God. God is found in this mountain, God is worshipped in this mountain.

Now even to the present day, the Samaritans, and, of course, they have dwindled, there are only about twelve hundred Samaritans left in the world. And they are fast passing off the scene, because of the inbreeding, most of them are sort of on the lunatic fringe, because they won't marry outside of that close knit group, and so the intermarriages are too close and there's not been the infusion of outside blood, so you've got idiocy going among them now. And they are fast passing away. But to the present day, they still offer a sacrificial lamb on Gerezim to the present day. They still affirm, those Samaritans that are left, that Gerizim is the place where men find God. But basically her question is, "Where can I find God?" and that's the question that burns in the heart of every man.

Jesus said, Woman, believe me, the hour is coming, when you will neither in this mountain, nor at Jerusalem, worship the Father ( John 4:21 ).

And then He said something that is very revealing.

You do not know what you worship ( John 4:22 ):

How true that is of so many people today. They really don't know what they are worshipping. He said,

we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and even now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father is seeking such to worship him. For God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth ( John 4:22-43.4.24 ).

Where's God found? He's found wherever you are. He surrounds us. God is not localized, nor can you localize God. So often in our minds we make that mistake of localizing God. How glorious it is to gather tonight in the presence of God here in the sanctuary. Well, that's true in a sense, but yet, in another sense, God doesn't just dwell here in the sanctuary. God dwells in your car as you're driving to the sanctuary. God dwells in your house as you're yelling at your kids getting ready to go to the sanctuary, because they're not getting dressed fast enough. We need to become more conscious of the all-prevailing presence of God wherever I am. God is a spirit; I am surrounded by Him. For in Him we live and we move and we have our being. And you cannot localize Gerizim, or Jerusalem, or in any other locality. He doesn't dwell there any more than any other place. God dwells in the hearts and in the lives of every child of God, and He surrounds us all. In Him we live, we move, we have our being. God is a spirit, and if you want to worship Him, you've got to worship Him in spirit. That's spiritual worship of God and in truth.

So the woman said unto him, I know that when the Messiah comes, which is called Christ ( John 4:25 ):

The word Christ is a Greek word. It is the translation into Greek of the Hebrew word Messiah. And so, you have the Greek word Christ, but it is a word that is the translation of the word Messiah. So John points that out here. "I know that when the Messiah comes," which in Greek is called Christ, Christos.

when he is come, he will tell us all things. And Jesus said unto her, I who speak unto you am he ( John 4:25-43.4.26 ).

Can you imagine what she must have felt at that moment? "I was flirting with Him?" "I who speak unto you am He."

And upon this the disciples returned, and they marveled that he was talking with the woman: yet none of them said, What are you seeking? or, Why are you talking with her? And the woman then left her waterpot, and went her way unto the city, and said to the men ( John 4:27-43.4.28 ),

The women probably wouldn't talk to her.

Come, and see a man, which told me everything I ever did: is not this the Messiah? And they went out of the city, and come unto him. And in the meantime his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat that you don't know about. Therefore said his disciples one to another, Has someone brought him something to eat? And Jesus said unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work ( John 4:29-43.4.34 ).

And interesting, the phrase "to finish His work." The work of redemption was not yet finished. Later, on the cross Jesus will cry, "It is finished." But God's work of redemption was not yet complete. And so, "I came not to do my own will, I came to do the will of Him who sent Me." Jesus was a man on a mission, sent by the Father to finish the Father's work, the work of redemption of mankind.

And then He said,

Don't say, There are four months, and then the harvest will come? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields ( John 4:35 );

Now at this point, the men of Shechem were coming out through the fields to the well where Jesus was. And most of them wore these white turbans, and so, as you looked on the fields you saw these white turbans, all of them, descending from the city towards the well. And Jesus said to His disciples, "Don't say four months and the harvest will come. Look unto the fields right now."

behold they are white unto harvest ( John 4:35 ).

Hungry souls searching for God. Where can you find God?

He that reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit unto life eternal: and both he that sows and he that reaps may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One sows, another reaps ( John 4:36-43.4.37 ).

Paul said, "One plants, one waters. God gives the increase."

I sent you to reap whereon you bestowed no labor: other men labored, and you are entered into their labors. And many of the Samaritans believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me everything I ever did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they begged him that he would stay with them: and so he remained there for two days. And many more believed because of his own word; then they said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of what you said: for we have heard him ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Now after two days he departed from there, and went into Galilee. For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet has no honor in his own country. And when he was come into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all of the things which he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast. So, he came again to Cana of Galilee ( John 4:38-43.4.46 ),

Now Cana was a little village there in the valley as you're coming from Nazareth, up over the top of the hill, you drop into this little valley and Cana sits there in the valley, and it's on the road from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee. So, as He came to Cana, it's probably twenty miles from the Sea of Galilee to Cana. And so, He came unto Cana of Galilee,

where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum ( John 4:46 ).

Now Capernaum was at least twenty miles from Cana.

And when he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea back to Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: because he was at the point of death ( John 4:47 ).

He's asking Jesus to go from Cana down to Capernaum, twenty miles, to heal his son. Of course, if you've got a son that's dying and you're the dad, you're going to be desperate. You're going to do your best if you feel that, "Here's a man that can help my dying son."

And Jesus said unto him, Except you see signs and wonders, you will not believe. And the nobleman said unto him, Sir, come or my child is going to die. And Jesus said unto him, Go your way; your son lives. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken to him, and he went his way ( John 4:48-43.4.50 ).

He believed the word so much he didn't even go home. He just believed it. Because, the next day

As he was going down, his servants met him, and said, Your son is alright. And he inquired and he said, At what hour did the change take place? And they said, At about one o'clock in the afternoon. And he knew that that was exactly the time that Jesus said, Your son lives ( John 4:51-43.4.53 ):

Now you see, if it were one o'clock in the afternoon and he was really concerned for his son, he would have taken off for Capernaum and probably could've made it there by evening on a fast jog. But he wasn't worried any more. He believed the word of Jesus. And so the father knew it was the same hour in which Jesus said unto him, "Your son lives."

and himself believed ( John 4:53 ),

That moment Jesus said it, and he believed it and it was.

and his whole house believed. This is again the second miracle that Jesus did [that is in Cana], when he was come out of Judea into Galilee ( John 4:53-43.4.54 ).

Now, in chapter 5, we leave Galilee and we go back to Jerusalem and to the pool of Bethesda and the events that were there. And John concentrates the most of his gospel with the ministry of Jesus around Jerusalem. It tells little about the ministry in Galilee, where the other gospels concentrate most on the Galilean ministry. So, John doesn't leave us long in Galilee before we go back to Jerusalem to the feast of the Jews there in Jerusalem. And so, we'll get into that next week, as we continue chapters 5 and 6 next week of the gospel according to John.

May the Lord be with you and bless and keep you in His love, and may your life be enriched daily this week as you study the Word and as you worship God in spirit and in truth. For God is seeking such to worship Him. May your life in Christ grow, be enriched and developed more and more, day-by-day, that you might come to that fullness that God would have you to experience, the fullness of His grace and love towards you through Jesus our Lord. So, may the Lord bless and keep, strengthen and guide, and give you just a totally beautiful week, walking in the Spirit and the love of Jesus Christ. "

Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on John 4". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.