A Journal Through the Bible - Verse by Verse

A Place to Jot Down My Thoughts and Questions

by J. Scott Nelson

TOC


The Gospel According To Saint John, Chapter 4

John 4:1
John 4:2
John 4:3
John 4:4
John 4:5
John 4:6
John 4:7
John 4:8
John 4:9
John 4:10
John 4:11
John 4:12
John 4:13
John 4:14
John 4:15
John 4:16
John 4:17
John 4:18
John 4:19
John 4:20
John 4:21
John 4:22
John 4:23
John 4:24
John 4:25
John 4:26
John 4:27
John 4:28
John 4:29
John 4:30
John 4:31
John 4:32
John 4:33
John 4:34
John 4:35
John 4:36
John 4:37
John 4:38
John 4:39
John 4:40
John 4:41
John 4:42
John 4:43
John 4:44
John 4:45
John 4:46
John 4:47
John 4:48
John 4:49
John 4:50
John 4:51
John 4:52
John 4:53
John 4:54


John 4:1

1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,

It says therefore, since this debate (about Jesus and his disciples baptizing) was brought to John (John 3:36), the Lord knew that the Pharisees heard that Jesus made more disciples, and baptized more, than John.

So this argument comes up.  And through the debates among the Jews, the Pharisees hear that Jesus is making and baptizing even more disciples than John.  And the Pharisees certainly thought that it was significant that John was making disciples and baptizing people (John 1:24).  And now here is Jesus having more of an impact on even more of the Jews.

Evidently, when Jesus finds out that the Pharisees have heard this, it prompts Jesus to make a decision.

I imagine that Jesus must have known that word would spread and the Pharisees would hear about him eventually.  So he could have been waiting for it to happen.  And he could have already known what he was going to do, once the Pharisees heard about him.  Although, it could just as easily be that Jesus didn't know that he was going to do anything, and the Father had waited until now to tell Jesus what He wanted Jesus to do.

Lord, help me pay attention to you, so that I may always hear your voice.


John 4:2

2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)

It says that, in fact, Jesus himself did not baptize anyone; his disciples did.

Evidently, God thought it was important for us to know that Jesus did not actually perform any baptisms; it was his disciples baptizing people.

Thinking over the stories I've heard about Jesus … he seems to have his followers participating in things, quite a bit.  Except for healing miracles, in every active thing Jesus did (that I can think of), he had many of his disciples directly involved.


John 4:3

3 He left Judæa, and departed again into Galilee.

It says Jesus left Judæa and went into Galilee again.

So here is another simple statement of fact.  Jesus had been in Galilee, in Cana for the wedding, and in Capernaum after that, with his mother and brothers and his disciples.  And now, after being in Judæa for a while, he leaves Judæa and goes back into Galilee.

So, when Jesus finds out that the Pharisees have heard that he is making and baptizing more disciples than John, Jesus decides to leave Judæa and go back to Galilee.  So, the Pharisees have heard of him and because of it, he decides to leave the area.


John 4:4

4 And he must needs go through Samaria.

It says that Jesus must, of necessity, pass through Samaria.

Again, here's another one of those simple statements of fact.  When I run into these statements, it always makes me wonder, why did God feel it was important to include this here?

Why was it necessary for Jesus to go through Samaria?  Was it just because that is the only reasonable way to get to Galilee?  Or was there a need for Jesus to go somewhere in particular, to some people that God wanted Jesus to spend time with?

Lord, thank you for coming to save us.  Even when there are those that most others prefer to avoid, you seem to seek them out.


John 4:5

5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

It says that Jesus, therefore, comes to a city in Samaria, called Sychar.  It is near the piece of land that Jacob (Israel) gave to his son Joseph.

Evidently, this is information that is significant for what is coming up.  I see some upcoming comments refer to this land that belonged to Jacob.


John 4:6

6 Now Jacob's well was there.  Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

It says that Jacob's well was there where Jesus stopped.  So Jesus, tired from traveling, sat on the well.  It says it was around 11:00 - noon (the sixth hour).

So Jesus is tired from traveling.  I assume he had been walking, for a few hours, or more.  And since it is approaching noon, I imagine that it is getting pretty warm, maybe even hot (although I don't know the time of year).

Here is an aspect of Jesus being a man; he is physically tired, and he sits down on a well to rest.  So he is declared to be the Son of God (John 1:34); and having been given everything by God the Father (John 3:35), it would seem that he would have access to unlimited energy through his Father, Almighty God.  Yet, here he is, tired, just like any ordinary man.  That could seem pretty odd to someone who is looking to him as the Son of God.  Or, he really is a man … or, somehow, he's both.  I guess no one would try to claim to understand every aspect of God, whether it's Father or Son.

So, evidently he knows what it feels like to be weary and tired from a long trip.  So, it would seem, he can empathize with us in that.


John 4:7

7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

So, Jesus is sitting on the well, and it says a woman of Samaria comes to draw water; and Jesus says to her "Give me a drink."

I wonder if Jesus watches her as she approaches.

Even though the Jews generally avoid Samaritans, Jesus talks to her like any other person.

I heard someone say that it is unusual for a woman to come to draw water in the middle of the day, when it is hot.  They usually come to draw when the day is cooler.  So she must be coming to draw now to avoid others.  If so, she must have some reason to avoid them.  The other Samaritans must disapprove of her or something.

So she's trying to avoid people; and now here is a man, a Jew no less, talking to her … perhaps the last thing she expected.

Does it seem odd, that here is the Son of God, and of all things to say, he starts out with some totally mundane thing.  And he doesn't just start a conversation, he takes a step to interact with her, to have her come over to him, to bring him a drink.

Is that the way the Lord approaches us?


John 4:8

8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

It says that Jesus' disciples had gone to the city to buy meat.

So, it would seem, there is nobody else there, just Jesus and this Samaritan woman.  Every single disciple had gone into town, leaving Jesus by himself.  They left, to go into town, instead of staying and spending time with the Son of God.  And it doesn't say that he sent them away.  Interesting.

Though, maybe God gave them all the urge to go into town, for the sake of this woman, and the people of her city.  Maybe this woman would not have been comfortable if the disciples had been there, and she would not have had this conversation with Jesus.  And she would not have gone to get those from her town and told them about Jesus.

Could be.  God knows.


John 4:9

9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, "How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?" for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

It says that the woman replied to Jesus, and she asks him how is it that he asks for a drink from her, when she is a woman of Samaria, and he is a Jew; Jews have nothing to do with Samaritans.

Evidently she is surprised that Jesus would bother asking her for anything.  Since he is a Jew and she is a Samaritan.  And more than that, she doesn't just say she is a Samaritan; she points out that she is a woman of Samaria.

So from her view, here is a Jew, a man, talking to a Samaritan, a woman.  And he's not just making some side comment, or even striking up some light conversation to pass the time.  He's actually asking her to do something for him, to come over to him, to bring him something.  There are no insults, no arrogance.  He's doing something out of the ordinary, unexpected.  For a Jew, he's going out of his way.  And, I imagine, in some way, she recognizes that.  It may even intrigue her.

And, it would seem, she is being drawn into a conversation.  The Son of God, having a conversation with a Samaritan woman, someone the Jews consider an outcast.  The Son of God is reaching out to an outcast.


John 4:10

10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

It says that Jesus replied, saying to her that, if she knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to her "Give me a drink," then she would have asked him, and he would have given her living water.

She wants to know what's going on, for here is a man of the Jews talking with a woman of Samaria.  Jesus' reply, on the face of it, seems big, grand even.  It's like he's saying, don't worry about all that friction between Jews and Samaritans.  That's not important.  If you knew the gift of God and who you are talking to, you would have no problem talking to me.  It would not have even occurred to you to consider race or gender an issue.  And you would have started the conversation yourself, because you would have known to ask me for a drink.  And (to top it off) if you had asked me, I would have given you, not just any water but, living water.

He starts out by saying that you don't know the gift of God, and you don't know who you're talking to.  And if we take the statement from Romans 6:23, it says "... the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

So it seems to come down to this:  If you really knew that the guy standing in front of you was the Son of the God of the universe, and you knew that through Him you can have eternal life, and all you had to do was ask, the fact that he is in the form of a Jewish man (or any race or gender, for that matter) would be irrelevant.

The bible tells us that God does not change (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8).  So you can still have eternal life, through Jesus.  And all you have to do is ask.


John 4:11

11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?

The woman says to Jesus that he has nothing to draw water, and the well is deep; and she asks him, so then, where do you get that living water?

OK, so here is this Samaritan woman.  She goes out to get some water.  And she runs into this Jewish guy.  Not only does he seem to have no problem talking to a Samaritan (and a woman, at that), but he's making what could be considered an outlandish claim, relating himself with the gift of God.

I doubt she took him seriously; any more than you or I would take it seriously if a complete stranger (from a group of people that are usually arrogant and dismissive, or even hostile) was making outlandish claims, relating himself to God.  By her response, she seems to think he's messing with her.  It's like she's saying "OK, mister smarty pants, you don't have a bucket to draw water, and the well is too deep for you to reach.  So where do you get this so called "living water?"  I can even imagine her using a bit of a teasing tone in her voice; like "yeah, let's see you squirm out of this one."

Thinking about her responding with some playful banter, it made me wonder.  Could Jesus be offering this gift and be playfully messing with her at the same time?  Maybe he knew this was a good way to reach her, to get her to lower her guard a little.

How often do we think of Jesus as being playful?  I don't tend to think that way when I read the bible.  Maybe he was, and is, more playful than we think.


John 4:12

12Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

The woman continues, asking Jesus, is he greater than their father Jacob, who gave them the well and drank from the well himself, as well as his children and cattle?

I'm not sure what she is asking when she says, are you "greater" than Jacob.  How does being greater relate to being able to provide water?  Would someone need to be greater than Jacob to provide water?  But, of course, Jesus is claiming that he will provide, not just water, but "living water."  So Jacob provided water for himself, his family, and his flocks and herds, for generations.  So maybe she is using the word "greater" to ask if Jesus is claiming to be able to provide something more significant, more powerful, with greater impact on her life than this well.  It certainly makes sense for her to think about how this could impact her and her life.

Mostly, this sounds like just her way of getting Jesus to explain himself.  He has made what sounds like an outlandish claim, relating himself to some gift of God.  And she wants to know, what is he talking about.  What is this gift of God?  What is this "living water?"  Just who is he claiming to be?

And again, I can imagine her using a teasing playful tone.  Though, it may be a bit toned down in this question.  She may be getting the sense that either this guy is just crazy, or this could be something more serious.


John 4:13

13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

It says Jesus answered her, saying to her that whoever drinks of this water, from the well, will be thirsty again.

So she seems to be asking him what he's talking about; what is this gift of God; what is this "living water"?  And he pretty much gives her a straight answer.  He says that anyone who drinks of the water from this well is just going to get thirsty again.  It is not going to completely satisfy your thirst.  What it provides is only temporary.  You will always have to keep coming back to get more water.

So, it appears, he is setting this up to contrast it with living water.


John 4:14

14 But whosoever drinketh 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.

Jesus continues, saying that whoever drinks of the water that Jesus will give them will never get thirsty.  But the water that Jesus will give them will become a well of water inside them, springing up into eternal life.

He says "whoever" drinks of the living water.  So it doesn't matter who they are or what they've done, or what they are currently doing, or even what they will do in the future.  This applies to anybody who drinks of this living water that Jesus gives.

And, it would appear that, one must drink of the living water.  I'm not sure how that works, but I guess if you ask for it but then you don't drink it, you don't get the benefit.

Jesus said before (John 4:10) that if you ask, he will give you "living water".  And it says here again that Jesus himself gives this water.

It says those who drink this living water will never thirst … never.  I think it is safe to assert that even the most faithful believers (e.g. the apostle Peter and Paul) were thirst for something to drink, now and then.  So I'm pretty sure Jesus is talking about something other than a physical liquid drink.  He's most likely using water to represent something spiritual.  I don't know the bible well enough to know if water is commonly used for some particular spiritual concept.  I know that water was mixed with blood for some temple sacrifices.  So water had some meaning in that case.  And Jesus told Nicodemus (John 3:5) that unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  So does that somehow relate water with the Holy Spirit?  I'm not sure -- could be.

Whatever this spiritual thing is, it has the power to become a continuous source of living water.  It's so powerful that it "springs up" into eternal life.  The term "springs up" is kind of interesting.  If this is going to provide a source of eternal life, to anyone and everyone who asks, it must be a major gusher -- more like a giant fire hose than, say, a garden hose.

And we have access to this never ending spring of "living water", this source of eternal life.  All you have to do is ask; and Jesus will give it to you.

Father in heaven, thank you for this gift of eternal life.  Thank you for giving your son.  Despite the way we turn our back on you, you continue to pursue us.


John 4:15

15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

It says that the woman replied to Jesus, saying "Sir, give me this water, so I don't get thirsty, and don't come here to draw water."

So there's something about Jesus that got this woman thinking, something about what he said or how he said it, or her intuition; probably several things.  This guy isn't so much a wacko, making outlandish claims.  There might be something to all this.

I'm sure I would react the same way, if I really thought there was a possibility of some truth to the claims being made by this guy standing in front of me.  I would want to say to this guy, "if you really do have this 'living water', free for the asking, then I want some."

I think I saw a comment somewhere, by Dr. C. I. Scofield, that you could consider this a prayer.  It's kind of an interesting thought.  She is talking to the Son of God.  She is letting him know her request (Phil 4:6).

So, evidently she sees something in Jesus, even though he's making this odd claim, offering some kind of "living water".  She's compelled to express her desire for this water -- water that somehow becomes a well to eternal life.


John 4:16

16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

It says that, in reply to her stated desire, Jesus tells her to go, call her husband, and come here.

So she says that she wants Jesus to give her that living water.  But he doesn't just give it to her directly.  Instead, Jesus tells her to go back home, or to wherever her husband is.  And that she is to get her husband and then they are to come back here to Jesus.  Well, at least, she is to come back here.  It doesn't explicitly say that the husband has to come here with her; the husband could absolutely refuse.  But I get the feeling that it is implied, particularly in that male centered culture.

I wonder what was important about sending her away to get her husband.  Or did Jesus know that this would lead to a conversation that would bring up an issue that she needed to deal with, or something that had gained a foothold in her life, from which she needed to be set free.  Was Jesus leading her somewhere that she needed to go?

So here is this guy, making outlandish claims.  And now, it would seem, he's saying, "Trust me."

I wonder, how often does the Lord say to us, "Trust me."


John 4:17

17The woman answered and said, I have no husband.  Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:

It says the woman answers Jesus, saying that she has no husband.  And Jesus says to her that she has well said that she has no husband.

So when Jesus says for her to go get her husband, she tells him that she has no husband.  I wonder if she was embarrassed to admit that, or if she was afraid she would be judged because of it.

But Jesus does not come down on her for it.  In fact, it seems like he compliments her for telling the truth.  I wonder how unexpected that was for her.

How often do we judge others for their mistakes, instead of trying to build them up.


John 4:18

18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

Jesus continues by saying that she has had five husbands.  And that the man she has now is not her husband.  And Jesus tells her that in that she has told the truth.

So Jesus reveals that he knows something about her, something significant.  In fact, this may be the primary reason she has come out to draw water, in the middle of the day, when no one else does, avoiding others.  There are probably several reasons why he would let her know this.  But it at least shows her that he knows this and he still does not reject her.  I think we readily judge a woman who has had five husbands.  How much more so did they judge her back then?

I find it interesting the way Jesus refers to the man she has now.  She has a man.  So, in the words of Jesus, a woman can "have" a man … interesting.

And finally, he confirms that he knows that she told the truth.  So many of us would have lied to hide the truth, in an attempt to protect ourselves.  I imagine she would have preferred to hide this truth.

And in all this, even though he knows this about her, Jesus does not condemn her; he offers her a gift, of living water, eternal life, just like he said before (John 3:16-17).

Jesus, the son of God, said that he was not sent here to condemn us, but he offers us a gift, of eternal life.


John 4:19

19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

The woman says to Jesus that she sees that he is a prophet.

So for some reason she has decided that Jesus is a prophet.  I guess someone could argue that it is obvious from what he said.  He could not know these things about her.  But is that it?

Is there some universal set of attributes, that everyone knows, that tell you that someone is a prophet?  Is it just what he said?  Or is it also his manner or some other set of, perhaps subtle, clues?

If you were to ask me what a prophet is, I would say that a prophet is known by two main things.  1) It is someone who is able, at times, to foretell events of the future, which always happen, every time.  And 2) they have the ability to speak truth about a situation, even when there's no way for them to know the details.

But, looking at it from her viewpoint, I guess I would also include: knowing things they should not know.


John 4:20

20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

The woman continues, saying to Jesus, "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; but you all say that the place where men ought to worship is in Jerusalem."

This seems odd to me.  It's almost as if she is switching topics.  She has come to the conclusion that Jesus is a prophet.  And the first thing she brings up is their place of worship.  And, at least for the moment, she seems to have dropped the idea of her request for the "living water".

As one would expect, the prophet is readily identified with God.  And that seems to include a strong connection with worshiping God.  So it would seem that she has some doubts about what she has learned about worship.  And she seems to have a genuine desire to know the right way to worship God.

I wonder if that is one of the main reasons God had Jesus meet up with her, because of her desire for that connection with God.

Is worship one of our primary ways to connect with God?  How often do we take advantage of the opportunity to use worship as a way to connect with God?

Father in heaven, help us see the immense value of connecting with you through worship.  Show us how to truly worship you.


John 4:21

21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Jesus replies to her comment about their place of worship, saying that a time is coming when they will worship the Father somewhere other than this mountain, and not in Jerusalem either.

It occurred to me that Jesus did not say "You will not worship the father in this mountain ..."  Someone could have mistaken that to mean that they would not worship the Father, as if their worship would cease.  But Jesus did not say that, which seems to imply that worship will not cease, ever.

This also tells us that at some point there would no longer be a requirement to worship God in the temple in Jerusalem.  And since Jesus includes both Jerusalem and "this mountain", he seems to say that worshiping God would not require any particular location.

You know, I'm not sure there was ever a requirement to worship only in the temple.  Maybe it was always arranged such that the sacrifices, and a few other rituals, were the only things that were required to take place in the temple ... at least, for the people other than the Levites and priests.

I wonder why Jesus bothers to tell her this.  Why is it important for her to know about this change in worship?  I wonder if it is simply so that people would not be bogged down, having to be sure they are in the "right" place, when they worship God -- so people would know they have the freedom to worship anywhere.

Lord, help us remember that we are free to worship you anywhere.


John 4:22

22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

Jesus continues, telling her that they (the Samaritans) don't know what they worship.  And he says that the Jews know what they (the Jews) worship.  And Jesus says that they know, because salvation is of the Jews.

So, Jesus begins by telling her that a time is coming when worshiping the Father will not be at a particular place.  And here he follows that statement by contrasting their object of worship, for the Samaritans and the Jews.  So, it's like Jesus is removing barriers, in this case, barriers having to do with place, like he doesn't want there to be distractions from the true point of worshiping the Father.  He's refocusing back to God as the proper object of worship.

Jesus says that the reason the Jews know what they worship, is because salvation is of the Jews.  I had to think about that for quite a bit.  If salvation is of the Jews, how does that bring the Jews to a knowledge of what they worship?  If I am a Jew, and we are the conduit of salvation, how does that provide me knowledge, or what knowledge does it contain, so that I know what I worship?

Seems to me, for the Jews to know that salvation is of the Jews, it has to have been made known to them, somehow.  And for them to know about the salvation that God has planned, God had to tell them about it.  And for them to believe that God's salvation is real, that it's not just more talk from yet another religion, not unlike so many others in the world, God had to let them know about Himself.  God had to show them something of the power that is behind it, and show them what He is like, and how He's so very different from what they've known.

Lord, reveal yourself to us, even more.  Let us see you in our own lives.  Give us your view of the truth, so we know what we worship.


John 4:23

23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

Jesus continues his comments about worshiping the Father, saying to her that a time is coming, and in fact it has already begun, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.  And, Jesus says, that it is this way, for those are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks, to worship Him.

So there evidently has been a transition of some kind, where before, people worshiped the Father, not so much in spirit and in truth, but in some other way.  Maybe worship had more to do with ceremony and ritual, before.  Or, at least, that is the way it turned out.  But maybe it's not the way God set it up, the way He intended it.  Maybe that is why Jesus quotes the prophet Hosea (Hosea 6:6), in Matthew 9:13 and Matthew 12:7, saying "I desire mercy, not sacrifice."  It is not about the ceremonies and the rituals; those are just a kind of symbolism or imagery for true worship, which is done 'in spirit'.  And now there is going to be a change, the hour has begun, and it will be different.

So, this seems to say, that worship is not about this outward stuff, the visible display of ceremonies and rituals; it is really an inward thing.  Jesus says worship will now be done in spirit.  Is He making a distinction between spirit and flesh, or spirit and something else?  I don't know.  I'm sure there is a much deeper meaning than I understand.  It seems clear that worshiping God does not require any physical activity.  Worshiping the Father is centered in our spirit.  It certainly does not say that worship is void of any physical action.  In fact, I think worship, more often than not, is expressed outwardly.  Though the outward expression can be different for everybody.  And, since true worship is in spirit, no outward expression is required for it to be true worship, and certainly not any specific outward expression.  But, however it manifests itself, the source of worship is in our spirit, and focused on God.

Jesus also says the true worshipers will now worship the Father in truth.  So, to truly worship the Father, there can be no lies, no deception, no falsehood of any kind.  Anything other than the complete truth is not true worship.  When you think about it, it seems rather absurd anyway to be deceptive with God, since God already knows the truth.  In fact, He knows the truth even when we don't.  And it seems to me that being able to be totally open and honest with God is rather liberating.  In our routine interactions with people, it is common for us to show a kind of facade, in the hopes that it makes us look better.  And that takes work, and ends up being a burden, having to watch what you say and how you say it.  And, in the end, it's just a form of deception.  Well, there is no need for that with God.  And it serves no purpose, since He sees right through it, anyway.  So, in our worship of the Father, we can lay that burden down, be our true selves, and be at peace.

I find it interesting for Jesus to say that the Father seeks true worshipers; almost as if he doesn't already know where they are, and He can't find them.  But, since God obviously knows where they are, I gather that 'seek' is used here more in the sense of 'sought after', meaning they are desired (e.g. honest, hard working employees are sought after), not that there is an active search underway.  I guess it is no surprise that the Father desires true worshipers, any more than we like to be around people who are always being deceptive, or fake; much less those who will blatantly lie to us.

Lord, show us how to worship in spirit and in truth.  Help us avoid the rituals that distract us from true worship.  And keep us mindful of the freedom we have to be ourselves when we come to you.


John 4:24

24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Jesus says that God is a Spirit and that the people who worship must worship God in spirit and in truth.

So, Jesus says God is a Spirit.  I'm not sure what is significant about that.  It seems like that would be obvious.  Since the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity, which is God.  What would it mean to us if God was not a Spirit?  That could be worth thinking through.  Knowing the significance if God were not a spirit may give us some insight into the significance of Him being a spirit.  It could also give some insight into us and our spirit.  Also, it does not say that God has a Spirit.  It says God is a Spirit.  Actually, the NASB and NIV translations say "God is Spirit" … it's something to think about.

I notice that this statement is directed at those people who worship God.  That might seem obvious, but I am learning that what the bible says often has a much deeper meaning that what you see on the surface.

If worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth, does that imply that there is an 'or else'?  I guess, in the sense that there are consequences, there is always an 'or else'.  As in, if you don't worship this way, then you miss out on the inherent benefits; you forfeit the blessings that come from a relationship with the God of the universe.

What does it mean to worship 'in spirit and in truth'?  After thinking about this for a while, just what I can see so far is a rather large subject.  Working through what it means to worship, is itself rather sizable.  And then you add to that what it means to be in the spirit, or do something in the spirit, like, say, walk in the spirit, plus you add the idea of worshiping in truth, and you will have more than enough to keep you busy for quite a while.  That is basically a full bible study on its own.  I'll add that to my (growing) list.

Lord, keep teaching us what it really means to worship, and how to really worship in spirit and in truth.  And show us the blessings that come from worshiping you.


John 4:25

25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

It says that, in response to Jesus, the woman says that she knows that the Messiah is coming some day.  And she says that when the Messiah arrives, he will tell us everything.

So Jesus has just finished telling her that a time is coming, when they won't worship in the mountain nor in Jerusalem.  And that they don't even know what they worship.  But a time has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.  In fact, that's how the worshipers must worship the Father.

It sounds like she's not sure about all this stuff that Jesus is telling her.  And that's why she says that she knows that the Messiah is going to come, and he is going to explain it all.

She seems to be looking toward the coming of Christ.  Maybe even hoping for it.  She certainly has been taught something about the coming of Christ.

She says she knows that the Messiah is coming.  And she is talking about how he will tell us everything when he arrives.  It's like she expects Him to arrive during her lifetime.  She does not seem to be of the opinion that it will be way down the road, long after she is dead.  She talks like it is imminent.  And from the way it looks, it has been hundreds of years since anyone has heard from God at all.  No prophets have appeared.  I wonder how many more people had this view that the coming of the Messiah was imminent, despite the lack of any word recently.  We know of Simeon (Luke 2:25-26) and Anna (Luke 2:36-38), who were looking for the Messiah to come soon.


John 4:26

26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

It says that Jesus tells her that he is the Messiah.

As far as I know, this is the first time Jesus actually claims to be the Messiah.  And the person he tells happens to be a woman, and a woman of Samaria.  I wonder if he did that on purpose.  God certainly knew that it was going to happen that way.  But did God plan it that way on purpose?  If so, I wonder, what was the purpose?

Verse 4 sure seems to point to there being some particular reason that Jesus needed to come this way, when most Jews seemed to want to avoid Samaria altogether.  Did God purposefully select this woman and her town, to send Jesus there?  It sure looks that way.  It makes me wonder; why her, why here, in Samaria, why now?

When this epistle from John was being read in the house churches in the coming years, I wonder what kind of impact it made on those people who heard it.  Did it highlight the different way Jesus treated men and women?  That culture sure seemed to assign little value to women.  And here is Jesus, coming to this place, and talking to this woman, before anyone else in her town.

I wonder how we would see people, if we saw them the way Jesus does.

Lord, open our eyes, so that we are able to see people they way you see them.


John 4:27

27 ¶ And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?

It says, that, just when Jesus told her that He is the Messiah, his disciples arrived.  And it says his disciples were very surprised that Jesus was talking with the woman.  But none of them asked Jesus what he wanted or why he talked with her.

So, here is Jesus, talking with a Samaritan woman.  And his disciples arrive, and they are surprised, and they are wondering why he is talking with her.  But they don't say anything about it; they don't ask Jesus about her, or about the topic, or "what did she want", or anything.  If they did talk to Jesus, they seem to have acted like the woman wasn't even there.

There seems to be something important about the fact that the disciples are surprised, but they don't ask Jesus about this.  I can imagine their surprise, since the Jews avoided the Samaritans, plus I understand that women in their culture were generally regarded as having a low status.  But why are we told that they did not ask Jesus about it?  Would that have been unexpected in that culture?  Or just the opposite; would the audience, hearing this story, have been nodding their heads, because, of course you don't question the master.  Or, are we to understand that this would have been considered embarrassing in some way; so the disciples are uncomfortable?  Or is it just expressing the level of respect that the disciples had for Jesus?  Or maybe it is just some combination of all of that.  Or maybe I'm missing something.  Maybe the following verses will shed some light on it.

Maybe (probably more common that not), we don't ask Jesus about things that are going on, either.  And maybe we should.  If we asked more often, we would likely hear more often.  I think that, too often, I tend to think about something, trying to figure it out on my own, instead of taking it to the Lord.  In fact, I should really come to Him first.  I imagine that is a major attribute of the person who is considered to be 'walking' with God.


John 4:28

28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,

It says that the woman left her water-pot there at the well, and went back into the city.  Where she said something to the men of the town.

So, the woman leaves here water-pot there at the well.  Is she commonly that forgetful?  Or were Jesus' statements that surprising to her?  Or was it really no big deal to leave personal property behind?  Or did she fully intend to come back later, and she could get it then?  As usual, it's probably some combination.  No doubt she would be surprised at anyone claiming to be the Messiah.  And it could very easily be, that she wanted to come back to hear more of what he had to say.

Also, why does it matter that she left her water-pot?  Why tell us that?  She still went to town and told them about Jesus.  And, according to later verses, the people did come out to see Jesus.  God does seem to be fond of including these kinds of details in the bible.

When she got back to town, it says that, what she had to say, she said to the men.  It doesn't say she told "them", or told "the people".  She told the men.  I could see where this could very well be common practice in those days; where anything significant would be brought to the men.  I imagine that it would be the men at the gate, or some other place where the prominent men of the town would congregate.

So, it would seem, that this was not some humorous triviality to be included in some chit chat with her friends and acquaintances, later on.  She seemed to consider it important enough to take to the men, immediately.  I'm not sure why they would even believe her.  It is a pretty major claim, to be the Messiah.  Though, I'm not really sure why not believe her, either.  Other than there being a generally low view of women.  And possibly they have a particularly low view of this woman.  Either way, she did seem to consider it important.

When we read things in the bible, or even more so, when we hear the Lord tell us something, do we take it seriously?  Is it important to us?  And if so, do we act like it?  If not, why not?

Lord, help us see the truth of what you tell us.  Show us the real importance of it.  And forgive us for dismissing you and what you say.


John 4:29

29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

It says that the woman said, to the men, to come with her to see a man who was able to tell her all the things that she had ever done.  And she asked them, isn't this the Christ?

So she is back in town, there before these men of the town, and she is urging them to come with her, to go see Jesus.  Because he was able to tell her all about her life.  Seemingly, these are things that he should not have known about her.  This sounds like one of those things where, if it happened today to one of us, and there's this guy we don't know telling us things about our own life that he shouldn't know, we would be saying things like "Do I know you? -- How do you know that? -- Who told you?".  It would likely feel rather uncomfortable.

And she appears to have reason to believe that Jesus could be the Messiah, or she may already think he really is the Messiah.  I doubt she would speak up about something that significant, in front of these people that she knows, and risk looking foolish, if she didn't have a very strong conviction about it.

The only reason she gives them for coming to see this man, is because, basically, he knows things he should not know.  That, and she raises the idea that the Messiah himself could possibly be here.  So, she simply gives them a quick single-statement synopsis of what just happened to her, when talking with this man.  And then prompts them with a question, which touches at the core of a commonly held belief.  From what I can remember, it seems like that was a common way for the apostles to share the Gospel: to describe something that happened to them, almost always involving Jesus, and to ask the listener a question about what they believe or about something central to how they live their life.

That could possibly be a good model for us to use when sharing what the Lord has done in our lives.


John 4:30

30 Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.

It says that the men, once they heard what she had to say, left town and headed out to where Jesus was.

So, she says what she has to say, and it evidently was compelling enough to convince these men to go out and see this guy.  And there seems to have been no delay.  They went right then.

I wonder what it was that was so compelling.  It was either her, and her standing in this town (for some reason that seems unlikely), or it was what she told them about what Jesus said, or it was the possibility that the Messiah himself was here.  Or, certainly, it could have easily been some combination of those.  And if they thought her claims were dubious, then the thought of the presence of the Messiah would have to be even more compelling.

I wonder how this would go over, if it happened today (meaning, still before His death on the cross).  If somebody came up to you and made these claims, particularly if you thought the person's reputation was suspect, what would you do?  Would you go check this guy out?  How important is Jesus to you?


John 4:31

31 ¶ In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.

It says that, while the woman had gone back into town, the disciples of Jesus were urging him to eat.

Evidently, Jesus was not eating.  Even though his disciples had just returned from going into town.  And it seems like they went into town specifically to buy food.  So they are urging him to eat, and very likely wondering why he is not eating.  It makes me wonder why he was not eating.  Was he thinking?  Was he talking to his Father?  Was he interceding for the people of the town?  Maybe a bit of all of it?

I also wonder why all of the disciples went into town together, leaving Jesus alone.  He is the master, the miracle worker; wouldn't someone stay to attend to him?  Wouldn't at least one want to stay with him?  Did he insist that they all go?  Did he want to be alone so he could talk to this woman without interruption?  Did the Holy Spirit give them all a sudden urge to go into town?  Or was it simply that they were all very hungry and did not want to wait for the others to come back with the food.  Maybe they had urged Jesus, initially, to come with them into town; and he preferred to stay and rest, instead.  Maybe it's not all that odd.


John 4:32

32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

It says that, in response to them urging him to eat, he tells his disciples that he has food to eat that they don't know about.

I wonder what Jesus was saying to them the whole time they've been urging him to eat -- "No thanks", "Not right now".  Or was Jesus just silent up to this point.  Not that it's important, just curious.

And, from looking at the next verses, it seems like Jesus said this merely to get their attention, for what he was about to say next.  And whatever Jesus says next, evidently, is going to tell us about something that he considers to be food, something that can provide nourishment to a person -- to me, and you.  Because Jesus says that what he has is food "to eat".

And this food that Jesus has, is it important where he got it, or how he got it?  And is there anything significant about him saying that he has 'meat' to eat; or is that the generic word, in Greek, for food?


John 4:33

33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?

It says that the disciples asked each other if anyone had brought Jesus anything to eat.

So Jesus has stated to them that he has food that they don't know about.  And then they turn to each other and ask if anyone has given Jesus something to eat.  Which would mean that someone would know about the food that Jesus has, even though Jesus already said that they don't know about the food that he has.  But, I guess they didn't think of that.

It seems like such a mundane thing to include this statement.  It seems like it could be skipped and it could just continue with the next statement by Jesus about the food he has.  It's like this is here just because it's part of the story, to show that these are real people, who react as you would expect.  This kind of story telling seems quite common in the bible.


John 4:34

34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

It says that Jesus told them that his meat is to do the will of (him) the one that sent him, and to finish 'his' work, the work of the one who sent him.

So, this meat (or food) that he has, that his disciples did not know about, is actually for him to be doing something.  And not just to be doing it, but to finish it.  This implies that the work he is doing is acting as a form of meat, or sustenance.  So, that would seem to indicate that, since it can act to sustain Jesus, then doing the will of the Father will also be able to sustain us.

The idea that work itself is able give you sustenance is certainly counter-intuitive.  And most likely it is not just any work that can do this.  In fact, from this statement that Jesus makes, we can deduce only that the work of the Father is able to sustain us in this way.

And Jesus is telling his disciples; he's not just keeping this 'meat' to himself.  Evidently Jesus wants them to know about this 'meat'.  Which implies that he wants them to make use of it, too.  He's not just going to dangle it in front of them, like "ha ha, I have this and you don't get any".  So, Jesus wants them to be involved in this work, too.

This also makes me think that this 'meat' provides sustenance that can sustain us in various ways, not just one way.  Not just with physical energy, but it can sustain us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and maybe other ways.

And in this statement, Jesus tells them that this work is not his.  He did not decide to do this stuff.  This work was decided and arranged by the one who sent him.

So, it sounds like Jesus is letting them know that the Father has some work that He wants done.  And Jesus seems to be offering an invitation for the disciples to participate in this work.  And, at the same time, Jesus is letting them know that the Father has set it up, such that this work is able to be sort of self sustaining.

So, if I have decided to be a disciple of Jesus, does this mean that this invitation is open to me, too?  Sounds like something to ask Him.

Heavenly Father, I do ask you, please let me know if this work of yours, which has a way to sustain the worker, is being offered to me.


John 4:35

35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

Jesus continues, by first asking them a question.  He asks them if they don't say that there are four months from now until harvest.  And then He tells them to lift up their eyes and look out onto the fields.  Because, Jesus says, the fields are white and ready right now for harvesting.

Jesus seems to be continuing his comment about there being work to do.  He is making a comparison to the work during harvest time.  But, though the work of harvesting the food crops will not occur for another four months, Jesus is saying that there are some other kinds of fields that are ready right now for harvesting.

So, since the food crops are not ready for harvesting, what kind of harvest would Jesus be talking about?  My mind immediately jumps to people, meaning, the harvest is people.  And I would assume that most people would jump to that idea.  But, at the same time, it makes me wonder … is it really that simple?  I don't mean to say that people are simple (even 'simple' people are very complex).  I'm talking about the idea of a harvest; and whether it is too easy to glance over it and cover the whole idea by simply stating that the harvest is people.  Is it more involved than that?  Is there something important here?  If so, I don't want to miss it.

So, if I think about what it means for there to be a harvest, then what does that entail?  You have to go out to where the fruit is; it's not going to come to you.  There are likely some tools that are needed, whether that is just a ladder and a container, or a digging tool or cutting tool, or whatever.  Then you have to actively move the fruit from the plant to the barn, or wherever it's supposed to go.  And that can involve various steps, like cutting the fruit off the plant, putting it in some kind of container, then carrying that to the barn.  It could even mean climbing a ladder or even climbing a tall tree.  So the work involves steps that are often different for different kinds of fruit.  And it involves exertion, real work.

Can this work, that the Father has prepared for workers to do, be described, at least in a general sense, as some kind of harvesting?  If I look at the idea of the work of a harvest, what can I take from that; what might that mean for this work that the Father has for us to do?  Here are some ideas.

Also, it sounds like Jesus is telling them that the harvest is ready, as if it is assumed that they are to do something about it.  It's like it is assumed that they are supposed to go help bring in this harvest.  And Jesus is saying that it is ready right now.  So, if they are to go out to work in the harvest, and it is ready right now, and yet they are here with Jesus, and they are committed to traveling around with him, helping him with whatever he has for them to do, does that mean that the work they are doing is part of the work of the harvest?

Lord, I ask that you open my eyes and ears.  So that I will know and understand what it means when you say that the harvest is ready.  And I ask you to show me what it is you want me to do.  Show me my part in this work that you have for us to do.


John 4:36

36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

Jesus continues, saying that those who are doing the reaping receive wages and they gather fruit to eternal life; so that both the sower and the reaper may rejoice together.

Again, Jesus seems to be continuing with the idea of a harvest.  He's making some kind of statement about the rewards for those who are doing the work of reaping.  He says that they not only are earning wages for this work, but they are also collecting fruit, and this fruit somehow applies to eternal life.  And Jesus says, they are given these rewards so that the sower and the reaper may rejoice with each other and celebrate together.

Jesus is telling us that there are rewards for this work.  And not just wages for the work itself, but there is also a reward that applies to eternal life.  And he says the workers receive these rewards, so that they can rejoice.  So, he seems to be saying that it is not just to be satisfied or happy, but delighted and celebratory.  And not just by yourself, but with other workers, as well.  So, basically, the workers are receiving these rewards so they can have a party.

Plus, there is no requirement for God to give us any rewards.  He created us, and He can do what he likes.  He gives rewards of his own will and for his own reasons.  Are these rewards mainly for motivation, or is there more to it than that?  If the rewards are for the workers to rejoice together, then the rewards are, at least partly, simply for the workers' enjoyment.

For some reason, Jesus wants the disciples to know that there are rewards for the workers doing the reaping.  If Jesus is telling them this, it must be important.

Lord, I ask you to open the eyes and ears of my heart, that I may know and understand the importance of the rewards you give to us for doing the work you have for us to do.


John 4:37

37 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.

Jesus says that in this the saying is true, when it says that one sows and another reaps.

Jesus seems to be referring to a saying that says something about how someone sows but someone else reaps. And, in this -- this idea of sowing and reaping, like in harvest -- the saying is true. But I'm not sure what he's trying to say. What is significant about the idea that someone does the work of sowing, and someone else does the work of reaping? Is it always God who does the sowing; or do those who follow Jesus do the sowing sometimes?

Also, Jesus says that the saying is true in this. So that seems to indicate that the saying is not always true in every case. I'm not sure if that is important here, though.


John 4:38

38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.


John 4:39

39 ¶ And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.


John 4:40

40 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.


John 4:41

41 And many more believed because of his own word;


John 4:42

42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.


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