John 4:27-42

Read John 4:27-42

Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman of questionable reputation caused the disciples returning from the town to “marvel”. Jesus’ conversation with the woman was undoubtedly a cultural taboo if there ever was one – perhaps even more so here because the disciples thought Jesus was trying to solicit her.  Jesus often associated with people of low standing society. When Jesus called Matthew to be his disciple, the Pharisees raised eyebrows at him, asking him why he associated with sinners. Jesus says that it is the sick that need a doctor, not the healthy. Jesus calls sinners to repentance, not the righteous (Matthew 9:9-13). He was overcoming cultural taboos and reaching out to the ones who need forgiveness the most. In any case, the woman was amazed by Jesus, and she left her water pot and went back to the city to tell about what she had heard from Jesus and they came out to see him.

As the people were coming out, the disciples offered the food that they purchased. Jesus, in typical fashion, uses the common to communicate spiritual truths that confuses his audience. He says his food is to do the will of the one who sent him and accomplish the one’s work. John 5:36 says that Jesus was sent by the father and Jesus explains in John 3:16-18 that his mission was to save the world. Jesus looks out at the ones coming to see him. He declares that they are the harvest. Unlike a natural harvest, a spiritual harvest is not something that is formulaic or even timely in season. Jesus says he had sent them to reap what they did not labor, and they enter into the labor of another, perhaps a reference to what the prophets and John the Baptist before had done. Paul expounds on this in 1 Corinthians 3:4-9 when he is resolving the conflict. The argument is that is does not matter who sowed and who harvested, it is God who gives the growth. This is demonstrably shown when the crowds come to Jesus and see him for themselves. They tell the woman that it is not because of her that they believe, but that they have seen for themselves that Jesus is the savior of the world. Jesus stayed there for two more days before returning to Galilee.

The Samaritan woman probably did not wake up the morning she met Jesus thinking that she was going to be instrumental in her village coming to faith in Jesus, but the Samaritan woman met the Messiah, and she went and told others, who came and met the Messiah. She was a fellow laborer in harvest, much like every Christian alive today.  The Lord of the Harvest is Christ, and Christians the sowers and reapers. In any case, it is God who gives growth. It is enough that Christians do the will of the Father as Jesus did, because spiritual harvests can come in and out of season. It is not the job of Christians to decide who can and can’t come to Christ – that’s God’s job. For this reason, Christians should be willing to break cultural norms and go to the hard places to tell people about him. The personal witness one person can draw people to Jesus, but it is even more awesome when a person encounters Jesus for themselves and believes in him!

Lord, I’m a worker in your harvest. Help me to concern myself with my task and not about things I have no control over!

John 4:19-26

Read John 4:19-26

Apparently, the woman at the well did not understand the “living water” that Jesus was talking was not actual water, rather a metaphor to speak of the sort of life that comes from salvation. Water is a common metaphor used in scripture because of its life-giving properties (Psalm 1:1-6, Psalm 36:8-9, Isaiah 12:1-3, Isaiah 44:3, Revelation 7:17, Revelation 22:1-2, Revelation 22:17). Jesus calls himself the source of this living water and the one who drinks it will have a spring within him welling up to eternal life. The difference between a well and a spring would have been obvious – rather than having to do the laborious work of drawing water out of a well, the water is brought to the surface by a spring. Jesus also uses the same metaphor in John 7:37-39. The promise here is that all who believe in him will have rivers of living water. John notes that this is the Spirit of God living in the life of believers, but the Spirit had not been given because Jesus had not been glorified.

It would seem that Jesus is trying to change the subject in John 4:16, but this is probably not the case. Jesus was trying to reach her. He knew she had no husband, but she had had five previously – a clear demonstration of Jesus’ omniscience. When the woman realized that Jesus knew so much about her, she calls him a prophet and drops a theological question pertaining to the temple’s location. The Samaritans had built a temple similar to the one in Jerusalem on Mount Gerizim that was probably within eye sight of where they were at the well. The woman claimed that “our fathers”, that is the common ancestors of the Jews and Samaritans, worshiped on that mountain. This was perhaps a true statement sense Abraham passed through there in Genesis 12:6 and Jacob bought the plot of land on which the well sat in Genesis 33:18-19. The Jews said that worship was to be Jerusalem at the temple per the command in Deuteronomy 12:1-15 to seek the place God will choose a site for sacrifice, and this was fulfilled in 2 Chronicles 7:10-12.

Jesus’ answer is probably no clearer to her than his previous answer, but it does answer the question. The Samaritans worship what they do not know, but the Jews worship what they do know. The schism between the Samaritans and the Jews had apparently caused the Samaritans to go astray in that they were worshiping something other than God, something other than the truth. But the Jews had the clearer revelation because salvation came from the Jews (Romans 3:2, Romans 9:5) – that is they had the truth.  Jesus says a day is coming and it is then and now when no one will worship in Jerusalem or on the Mount Gerizim. They will worship in “spirit and in truth”, and God is seeking such worshipers because. Because God is spirit, true worshipers must worship in spirit and truth. Worshiping in the truth would be the worship of the saved, which is all who believe in Jesus. Worshiping in spirit would be worshiping in the same manner of who God is. The contrast here is similar to the contrast between the well and the spring. The worship at the mentioned temples was ritualistic and laborious like drawing water from a well. But worship in spirit and truth is like the spring – it’s driven by the Spirit of God.

The woman at the well did get one thing right: she knew that when the Messiah came he would tell “all things”. Perhaps she was counting on the Messiah to set the record straight on who had the right place for the temple or maybe she realized that what Jesus had told her about her past was something only a prophet, or perhaps the Messiah, could do. Whatever her expectations were for the Messiah, Jesus was able to speak the truth about her past and about all things about true spiritual worship. Jesus then declares that he is the one of whom she spoke.

Believers in Christ are the true worshipers that God is seeking. The spring of living water that comes from the Holy Spirit abiding in one’s heart is what compels the believer to worship. It is often the desire of Christians to want to do something for God by going to church, tithing, or doing good things. While these things are not bad, what God wants more than deeds is a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Psalm 51:10-17). In addition to humility, God wants justice and mercy too (Micah 6:6-8). God can work with people who come to him in humility and accept is grace and forgiveness. He can fill them with the Holy Spirit and give them a well spring of living water!

Lord, I want your living water! Take my heart and renew it! Fill me with your Spirit so I can have the well spring of water in my life!