.Jesus and Abundant Life
A Bible Study of the Gospel of John
The Samaritan Woman and the Second Sign – John 4
John’s gospel is a very personal gospel. In chapter one we are introduced to John the Baptist who introduces us to Jesus, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:19-34). Then we are introduced to the first of Jesus’ disciples: Andrew; Peter; Philip; and Nathanael (John 1:35-51). In chapter two we are introduced to Jesus mother Mary in the intimate setting of a wedding at Cana (John 2). In chapter 3 we see the one on one conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus and further see the character of John the Baptist as he steps aside and points others to Jesus (John 3).
In John 4 we see a one on one conversation between Jesus and a Samaritan woman that leads to her salvation. By observing Jesus’ conversation and the way He ministers to her we gain insight into how we can share the gospel with others. We will also see how the fruit of genuine conversion is to share one’s newfound faith with others. Lastly we will see the second of the seven signs John shares in his gospel that show the Godhood of Jesus.
4 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John 2 (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), 3 He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. 4 But He needed to go through Samaria.
Jesus ministry is becoming more and more popular as people experience Jesus’ power of teaching and healing. Jesus knew when the Pharisees heard of the popularity of His ministry they would jealously oppose Him. Jesus had more pressing things to do so He left Judea and went toward Galilee.
As Jesus leaves Judea and goes toward Galilee it states, “But He needed to go through Samaria.” Why did Jesus have to go through Samaria?
If you look on a map of Israel in Biblical times you will see that Galilee is located in the north, Judea is located in the south, and in the middle is Samaria. Because of the tensions between Jews and Samaritans, a Jew would seldom if ever go from Judea to Galilee directly through Samaria. Instead they would go east and cross the Jordan and go north through Perea. That’s not the route Jesus took. Jesus apparently had a divine appointment to keep with a Samaritan woman and her people.
5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there.
Sychar is called is known as Shechem today. Jacob’s well still stands to this day but is located in the violent West Bank.
This well is located in a plot of ground acquired by the patriarch Jacob, about 300 yards (274 meters) southeast from the traditional tomb of Joseph (Gen 33:19; Jos 24:32; John 4:5–6). The site is about two miles (3.2 kilometers) southeast of modern Nablus, 600 yards (549 meters) southeast of the site of ancient Shechem (modern Balata), and 1,000 yards (914 meters) south of Sychar (modern Askar). Towering over the site on the northwest is Mt Ebal (at the foot of which lies Askar), and on the southwest Mt Gerizim, mountains of cursing and blessing, respectively (Deut. 27:12–13; Jos 8:30–33). Near here Abraham built his first altar, and Jacob his second (Gen. 12:6–7; 33:18–20). Thus the site is one of the most ancient and sacred in the Holy Land.
The well is about 100 feet (30.5 meters) in depth and one yard (.9 meter) in diameter, cut through limestone. Fed by subterranean streams from the adjacent mountain slopes, the water is pure and plentiful, the pride of the villagers. A church has existed on the site from at least ad 380. The Greek Orthodox Church acquired the site in 1885 and built a structure on the site. Access to the well is by steps leading from either side of the church altar to the well curb below. 
Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well.
Jesus is said to have been “wearied” here. Elsewhere Jesus is seen as being hungry (Mat. 4:2; 21:18; Luke 4:2) and in need of sleep (Mat. 8:24; Mk. 4:38; Luke 8:23). In Philippians it states Jesus took the form of a human bondservant and was willing to die even though He is God (Phil. 2:5-8). In Hebrews it states, “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17). Jesus is merciful. He gave His life to pay off our just and deserved death penalty. Jesus left the highest of high places to come into our world of lowest of lows. The God of the universe allowed Himself to be put in a situation where He would be wearied. That’s incredible grace.
And aren’t you glad that we serve Jesus who knows just how we feel when we’re dead tired? Jesus is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Jesus knows exactly what we are going through. He led the way to victory even in times of weakness. Let’s follow Him.
It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Normally women would come to the well to draw water early in the morning. It was better to draw the heavy water in the cool of the morning than the blisteringly hot day sun. This woman drew water at “the sixth hour” or around noon. Why did she come at noon to draw water?
It may have been that she was a woman not given to orderliness. Maybe she had procrastinated about getting her supply of water. Maybe she simply forgot. Maybe she was up late or out late the night before; not a sign of good morals. It’s possible her unusual time of getting water evidenced a life was out of sync, disheveled, unplanned and unkempt. When we see what Jesus says about the woman later in this passage such an observation seems more valid.
Another possibility is that she was trying to avoid the other women who may have frequented the well for water. At noon there would likely be no other women there. Given what we will learn about this woman and her failed relationships she was likely shamed and scorned by the other women around her. She was probably looking to avoid contact with anybody who might ridicule her for her lifestyle.
Women were looked down on by men in this culture. A rabbi would not talk to women in public; not even their own wives at times! And she was a hated Samaritan! She was unredeemable as far as many religious people were concerned. But she was not unredeemable to Jesus.
Something else should be noted here. Jesus, who would miraculously feed 4,000 and 5,000 people with mere scraps, did not perform a self-serving miracle here. The devil tempted Jesus to turn stone sin to bread (Mat. 4:3). But Jesus refused. You’ll never see Jesus perform a self-serving miracle. This should cause us to review our heart and how we pray. If Jesus didn’t use His power to serve self, why are our prayers so often centered on our own needs, wants, desires, and pleasures? This is something for us to think about.
Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink. . . .”
Why didn’t Jesus offer to draw water for this woman? Wouldn’t that be the polite thing for Him to do? There’s an important reason Jesus instead asked this woman for some water. A viable way to enter into a witnessing conversation is not always to do something for someone else. Another way of reaching people is to humbly ask them for help. Allowing people to invest in you or help you is a good way to reach them. That’s what Jesus did here. Sometimes we need to receive first before we can give the gospel.
9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
It was very unusual for a Jewish man to even speak with a woman let alone a Samaritan woman! Jews and Samaritans were at odds with one another historically. Jews looked down on Samaritans as an unwanted presence in what Jews saw as their land. We have a similar situation today with the illegal immigration situation (though Samaritans were not illegally in the land.)
Why this animosity? In 722 BC the Assyrians defeated the 10 northern tribes of Israel and took them into captivity because of the rampant rebellion and idolatry of these tribes. God allows this as a form of discipline. The majority of the people of Israel were taken into captivity and brought to Assyria. A minority of Israelites were left in the land. The Assyrians then sent some of their people to settle into the land of the displaced Israelites. This resulted in intermarriage between Jew and non-Jew, something strictly forbidden by God (cf. Ex. 34:10-16; Deut. 7:3-4). The intermarriage between the remnant of Jews left in the land by the Assyrians and the Assyrians who came to live in the land produced a group of people known as Samaritans. They were looked upon by Jews as being unwanted half-breeds.
10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
Jesus now turns the conversation to the spiritual realm. First Jesus says, “If you knew. . .” This implies the woman is missing out on something because she doesn’t know certain information. Jesus is perking her interest, drawing her more deeply into conversation. We might say when giving out a track, “Did you get one of these?” That perks a person’s interest to receive a track.
What is it that Jesus perks this woman’s interest about? First, He says, “If you knew the gift of God. . .” Jesus is presenting grace to her. We will soon see as the conversation develops that this is a woman in dire need of God’s grace. Her life is in shambles and she needs the touch of God. And speaking about a “gift,” something offered freely would perk the woman’s interest that something was offered for free that she hadn’t received yet. It’s as though Jesus was saying she had missed out on something. As with the tract by saying “Did you get one of these?” we are implying something of worth was offered that the person should not miss out on.
Second, Jesus perks this woman’s interest by saying, “and who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him, . . .” Who was this Man speaking with her? Apparently He was no ordinary Man. Jesus is implying she is in the presence of Someone special, different, worth knowing further. It’s always good to speak to people about Jesus and whether or not they know Him.
Third, Jesus says if this woman knew who Jesus was she would have known to ask Him for water, “and He would have given you living water.” “Living water,” is fresh water as opposed to the sometimes stagnant water that would come from a well. It is water that is the best. It is water from a running river that is clear and cool and most refreshing. It’s always good to offer people something they need to draw them into a conversation that will hopefully lead to meeting their greatest need; receiving Jesus as personal Savior.
Jesus was the Master of reaching people right where they were in life. Jesus called fishermen to be fishers of men (Mat. 4:19). Nicodemus was religious but spiritually dead. So Jesus spoke to him of being born again. He spoke to a blind man about the light of the world (John 9:5). To Mary and Martha who grieved their dead brother Lazarus Jesus spoke of being the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). This woman was drawing water and Jesus spoke to her of “living water.”
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water?
Notice the respectful way this woman speaks to “Sir” Jesus. Jesus has perked her interest in speaking of “the gift of God” and “living water.” She was an observant woman noticing Jesus had no bucket with which to draw water out of the well. She may have been implying that Jesus, who was thirsty, Himself was unprepared to meet His own needs. She is parrying with Jesus.
Jesus’ has successfully drawn this woman to inquire further into what He was talking about. He was a Master of conversation. We should be too.
This woman is interested in the “living water.” “Where then do You get that living water?” He doesn’t have the equipment to draw water from Jacob’s well. She wants living water if she can get it. But something wasn’t adding up. Maybe she is beginning to think, Maybe this Man is speaking of something more than regular water.
12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
The woman pushes back. She asserts the heritage of Jacob for herself. Jews would normally deny this. The woman is taking a stand. She isn’t going to back down from Jesus. Her response is a little bit of “who are you to speak to me about ‘living water’?” But Jesus is leading her from the material realm to the spiritual. It’s not uncommon when witnessing to someone to have them react with a bit of push back. Notice, Jesus isn’t put off by her statement.
When we witness to people we can expect some resistance. It’s normal for a person to resist a stranger’s inquiry. Usually we’re looking for people to be selling us something we don’t want. That’s why offering something freely is helpful to starting a conversation. But, like Jesus we should be gracious and not get flustered or indignant even though we are talking with someone who is lost and may be a social outcast or down and outer.
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,
Jesus points out the limitations of what this woman has been initially seeking. Jesus is offering something more important than what the woman has come to the well to get. Natural water quenches a temporary physical thirst. Drink water from Jacob’s well and you “will thirst again.” You’ll never find true and lasting fulfillment in the natural world. There are more important things to do than live to fulfill your temporal physical needs. Life is more than living to fulfill material needs. That will not fulfill you. It will not last. That is the message of Jesus. Why is this true? Jesus goes on to tell us.
14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
Notice Jesus says what He is offering is available for, “whoever.” Just as in His conversation with Nicodemus Jesus again asserts the accessibility and availability to all of what He is offering. The living water Jesus offers is for whoever will take and drink it. Aren’t you glad God offers all of us this living water? Thank You Lord for Your gracious generosity!
Jesus is the One who gives this water. He says, “the water that I shall give him.” Jesus is the Source of living water. Jesus is the One who gives. You ask Jesus for this water. When we see the word “give” here, we should see grace. This woman didn’t go seeking Jesus. Jesus purposely went into Samaria for this divine appointment. When this woman awoke that day she had no idea she would meet this Stranger and enter into a conversation with Him. Jesus was seeking her out. God seeks us out. That is grace.
It’s always good to point out to people you witness to that the conversation you are having with them is not an accident. Your conversation with them is a God incident; a divine appointment. The Lord is seeking them out by various circumstances in life. They should be asking, “Why me? Why are you having this conversation with me?” The answer is that Jesus is seeking them out because He cares for and loves them. The answer is because Jesus has something of eternal worth He wants to share with them. This is the grace that goes before; prevenient grace; God in Christ reaching out to a lost world.
Jesus emphasizes the value of what He is offering. This woman has come to the well for ordinary water that will only have a short lasting effect. Jesus is offering something of eternal worth that will do something to the woman that will be permanent; eternal life. Jesus has a beautiful way of painting a picture of what He is offering. At noon when the sun is hot there wasn’t a more perfect picture than the thought of “a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” Water from Jacob’s well could quench a physical thirst temporarily. The water Jesus was offering would meet all needs eternally.
The water Jesus is offering quenches an eternal thirst. God creates humanity with “eternity in their hearts” (Eccl. 3:8). We are created with a yearning thirst for God. It’s true; every human really does have a God shaped hole in their heart that only He can fill. A personal saving relationship with God in Christ is the only way to satisfy our thirst for eternal fulfillment.
There are some in the church today who present Christianity as a means to broker and bargain for material prosperity. That is selling eternity for a pittance. Nothing material will ever satisfy the thirst of a soul. Ever feel distant from God and dry spiritually? It’s probably because you’ve gone back to some of your old watering holes. You’ve left ministry, neglected God and His word, and aren’t living as subjects in God’s kingdom.
15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
The woman wants the living water Jesus is offering. Jesus has gotten this woman’s interest. Jesus has entered into a patient and measured conversation. She is seeking more. She understands what Jesus is saying. She understands what He is offering has permanent value, eternal value. Jesus will reel in this human fish. But she still sees in terms of alleviating some of her work – “nor come here to draw.” She is not adequately positioned to receive Jesus’ living water yet. There is one more step this woman has to take before she can experience the living water Jesus is talking about.
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
There is no genuine conversion without conviction of sin. This is so important. There is no true conversion without repentance. There is an aberrant teaching that presents the gospel as mere belief in Jesus. That sounds good but it is not the gospel. Demons “believe” and shudder with condemnation and fear of their eternal destiny awaiting them (James 2:19). When we look at the gospels we see numerous occasions where demons addressed Jesus and knew who He was (e.g. Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34), but demons are not saved! Demons may know Jesus, but they certainly haven’t repented of their sin. Is your faith demonic? Demonic faith is a mere assent or statement of fact without heart repentance.
True and genuine conversion unto salvation involves being personally convicted about one’s sin and through faith in Jesus repenting and leaving sin behind. It involves living and following the Spirit who comes to reside within when we are born again.
Five terminated marriages. Think of the brokenness involved with that. Think of the sorrow, the disappointment. Maybe her husbands died. Maybe they divorced her. Maybe it was a combination of both. There was pain there, failure there. Jesus pointed out and opened the wounds. That’s the only way healing can come. This woman was thirsty. Jesus was going to help her quench her thirst. Jesus gently but firmly speaks reality and truth to this woman. He affirms that the woman has spoken honestly in admitting she has no husband. The truth of God always brings conviction to the sinner. Jesus speaks the truth in love. We should too (e.g. Eph. 4:15).
Jesus has deduced through observation that this woman was likely an outcast. Perhaps by the way she was dressed He further deduced that she was not a woman of high moral standards. He may too have deduced from their conversation that she had a seductive spirit about her. Or perhaps her reputation had preceded her. Perhaps she was known to be an immoral woman. Or Jesus may have received from the Holy Spirit discerning insight or a word of knowledge about this woman. What we need to learn hear is to earn the opportunity to take the conversation deeper, into a more personal discussion of the person’s sin problem. Jesus did this by being polite, unexpectedly respectful, caring, and loving. That’s what we should be like too! We speak God’s truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
Jesus uses the Law to bring conviction of sin to this woman. We should too. The Law of God is like a tutor that convicts the sinner of their sin and points them to the cross for redemption (Romans 7:7; Gal. 3:24). The Law is to expose sin and help the sinner see their sinfulness (1Tim. 1:8-11). Here the portion of the Law Jesus uses is the seventh commandment prohibiting adultery (Exodus 20:14). And she is living with but not married to a man; that’s fornication (Eph. 5:3-7). This woman is living in sin. She must realize her sinfulness and repent of it and trust Jesus as her Savior.
Jesus doesn’t take this woman into any deep psychotherapeutic digging into her past. I like what Jon Courson says here:
Notice also Jesus didn’t say, “You’ve had five husbands. Let’s talk about Husband number one: Sam. Then, we’ll talk about why you left George in session two. Come next week, and in the third session, we’ll talk about Pete. In session four, we’ll discuss Harry.” No, it didn’t take Jesus five sessions to discuss the five husbands. He didn’t delve into codependency or into the woman’s past iniquities. Yes, Jesus revealed her sin—but He didn’t revel in it. Big difference. I think it is dangerous for people who mean well to start reveling in the past sin of another—talking about it, exploring it, pursuing it. Jesus does not model this for any minister of the gospel or for any servant of the kingdom. He simply says, “I know you’re a sinner. You know you’re a sinner. Now, let’s go on from there.”
I like that, “Jesus revealed her sin – but He didn’t revel in it.” We should identify a person’s sin and clarify the consequential condemnation due because of sin in people, but then we should focus on Jesus as Savior from that sin. The Holy Spirit is the One who uses the Law to convict the sinner of their sin. The appropriate response of the sinner to being convicted of their sin is a godly sorrow. This is not merely feeling sorry for yourself. This is godly sorrow that regrets the sin and has genuine remorse for committing it. True godly sorrow leads a person to repentance (2 Cor. 7:10). Some people feel sorry but not sorry enough to turn from their sin to Jesus for forgiveness and life change to live holy for Him. Again, there is no conversion without conviction. And true conviction includes godly sorrow, repentance from sin, and trust in Jesus as Savior.
Some testimonies revel in telling the darkness of the past. Some people like to torture others with dwelling on their sin. They may even be misguided by thinking a person has to go back and relive their past in order to resolve it. That is simply not the case. It isn’t modelled by Jesus. It isn’t supported by scripture.
Are you thirsty for more? Are you broken? Jesus has water that will mend your broken heart and quench your thirst forevermore. And He offers this living water to whoever would turn from their sin and trust in Him as Savior. Thirsty? “You talkin’ to me?” Yes, Jesus is talkin’ to you who are thirsty. Come drink from the streams of life He provides.
19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.
The woman has gone from pushing back at Jesus initial remarks to addressing Him respectfully with the word, “Sir.” Now she sees Him as a “prophet.” She is beginning to have the light in her turned on by the Spirit. That always leads to an accurate understanding of who Jesus is. And she will be shown that Jesus is more than a prophet.
20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
Samaritans were barred from the Temple in Jerusalem. Because the Samaritans were prohibited from worshipping in the Temple in Jerusalem they built their own temple on Mount Gerizim. The Samaritans for the most part believed in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the OT). But they changed the Bible stories to suit their situation. They taught the Garden of Eden was on Mount Gerizim. They taught Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Gerizim. And they taught that Abraham offered Isaac on Mount Gerizim. This irked the Jews to see God’s word twisted like this. They were cultish. This resulted in intense animosity.
Someone who is being convicted by their sin will often try to evade the personal issue by raising a hot button issue of the day. For this woman it was about right worship. She raised the hot button issue of worship on Mount Gerizim or in Jerusalem.
Today people under conviction may ask, “What about those in the jungle regions who haven’t heard about Jesus? What will happen to them on Judgment Day? Will it be fair for God to send them to hell if they don’t believe in Jesus who they never heard of?” Or, “Did Adam have a belly button?” Or “Where did Cain get his wife?” Or, “How did all the animals fit into Noah’s ark?” Or, “How can a just God allow innocents to suffer?”
There are some Christians who hide behind theological debate to avoid a closer encounter with Jesus. It has been said that some people are like porcupines; they have so many points that no one can get close to them, especially Jesus! Sometimes we use “theology” or questions to keep Jesus at arm’s length. People debate and argue instead of living out the substance of a scripturally sound relationship with Jesus. The Lord’s servant should not be quarrelsome but instead gentle, patient, and humble in sharing the word with others (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Instead being known for arguing and debating we ought to embrace Jesus and be known for the love we show (cf. John 13:35).
There are always going to be things we don’t understand or even misunderstand. We need to learn to embrace Jesus by faith even in times of lack of understanding, misunderstanding, confusion, trials or darkness nights of the soul. When you come to something you don’t understand or don’t know about, lean on what you do know. We do know God loves us (John 3:16). We do know God is righteous and just (Psalm 97:2). We know God is faithful and will show us the way through temptation and trials (1 Cor. 10:13). Some things we aren’t able to understand (Deut. 29:29). But we are blessed to know God in Christ and that should get us through anything we encounter in life (e.g. Phil. 4:13). Thankfully Jesus is patient with us. He is always there for our embrace.
Don’t be swayed by those who try to evade; stay on topic. Jesus didn’t allow the woman to evade the issue. He addressed her question but kept on topic and discussed an area of spirituality, worship. It is interesting that this woman does bring up the topic of worship. Perhaps she was thirsting for something more; something more with God.
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.
The woman spoke of “our fathers” and worship. Jesus drew her to the more accurate issue of “worship the Father.” Jesus is aiming at the inherent desire to know and worship God that God created in us.
22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
It is possible to “worship what you do not know.” Don’t be an ignorant worshiper. There are people who “worship” who do not know what or who they are worshipping. Jesus’ words “for salvation is of the Jews” is reference that Messiah comes from the being Abraham’s Seed (Gen. 3:15; Gal. 3:29) and is a descendant of King David (Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8). And it also can mean that the Holy Scriptures which are Gods revelation of His divine plan of redemption were entrusted to the Jews and came through those of Jewish heritage (Rom. 3:1-2). The scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16-17). To worship without first referencing God’s word and seeking understanding of God’s word by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:9-14) results in ignorant worship. When worship involves behavior and liturgy unsupported by scripture it becomes ignorant worship. True informed and God pleasing worship is therefore, in Spirit and the truth of God’s word.
Jesus identifies Himself as Jewish when He says “we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. Jesus was Jewish. God’s word came through the Jew (Rom. 3:1-2). Jesus is the “Seed” that will crush the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15). He was a descendant of Abraham (Mat. 1:1; Luke 3:34). He was of the line of David, a Jewish king (2 Sam. 7:16; Mat. 1:1; 21:19). Messiah was from the lineage of Jews. Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies of the Old Testament identifying Him as the fulfillment of Messiah promised by God.
There is an unfortunate movement in the church today that attempts to replace the role of Israel with the church. The church and its role in God’s prophetic plan is separate and distinct from the role of Israel in God’s prophetic plan. We live now in the church age when God’s primary instrument is the church, composed of Jew and Gentile who have received Jesus as their Savior, Messiah, Christ and Lord (Eph. 2). God is not finished with Israel. The reinstituting of Israel in our day is an incredible fulfillment of God’s prophetic plan as well as a sign of the times we are living in. With Israel established as a nation once again on May 14th, 1948, we have clear evidence for this being the latter days.
Some contend that Israel is a purely secular entity and should not be seen as part of God’s prophetic plan. Ezekiel 37 illustrates God’s resurrection of Israel in terms of dry bones being brought back to life. We should note that the dry bones are brought to life gradually. Ezekiel prophecies God’s word over them. Then they first the bones come together sinew by sinew, then flesh, and finally God breathes into the bones and brings them to life. I believe the first stage of the dry bones being brought together is a secular stage. There will be subsequent stages that will culminate in “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me who they have pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zech. 12:10). I believe that will be at Jesus Second Coming and that it will be at this time that “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26).
Now if we cut Israel out of scripture we no longer have the verification of Jesus as Messiah. If we cut Israel out of scripture we lose the fulfillment of God’s prophetic word; an incredible piece of evidence verifying the authority and inspiration of scripture itself. If we remove Israel and God’s covenant with them God’s then His gifts and calling become revocable (Rom. 11:29) and God is no longer faithful or reliable. Salvation, as Jesus said, is of the Jews. We shouldn’t be so quick to remove the Jew from God’s revelation of His salvation plan. The consequence would be fatal to the gospel.
This woman was mistaken about worship. The natural or unsaved person can’t understand the things of the Spirit because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:9-14). True worship involves the eternal life that comes through the eternal life giving Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit inspired Holy Word of God. This is where Jesus is leading the Samaritan woman. Jesus shares the truth about worship with this still unbelieving woman. We should too.
23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth;
Why did this woman bring up the issue of worship? She may have been trying to evade the issue of her sin; to try and get out from under the conviction for her life of sin. But she also may have been expressing an inner desire about worship. Maybe her conversation with Jesus hit the nail on the head of something she had always yearned for; a worshipful relationship with God.
True worship involves the Spirit and truth. Some churches emphasize being in the Spirit in worship. To them this is defined as unchecked unbridled emotions. It exhibits itself in a great deal of unchecked out of control emotional outbursts. When the Spirit does in fact move He does so in an orderly way (cf. 1 Cor. 14:33, 40). Others focus on the truth of God’s word to the extent that they worship in legalism and rigidity that is so restrictive that it quenches the Spirit. That is not of the Spirit either. True worship, worship that is right, is balanced being in the Spirit according to God’s truth.
Jesus will later say in John’s gospel account, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). Imbalanced worship will quench the life the Spirit is trying to bring forth. Looking at Jesus words, God’s words, will lead us in the right direction.
for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
Feel distant from God? Searching for His presence? God the Father is “seeking such to worship Him.” Start worshipping the Father and He will find you! This is an incredibly powerful and practical truth. Worship can be a weapon against the enemy, against depression, discouragement, dryness, discord. Worship the Lord and He will come into your life circumstances. The Father loves those who worship Him in Spirit and truth. Want to bless God and be in His presence, worship Him (e.g. 2 Chronicles 20).
24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
In John 3 we looked at three “musts.” A person must be born again. Jesus must be lifted up on the cross. And the one serving God must decrease and God must increase. Here is a fourth “must.” We must worship God who is Spirit “in spirit and truth.” We must worship God in our spirit and according to the truth of His word.
What is “worship”? The term “worship” is proskyneo in the original Greek. This word is derived from the prefix pros which means at, unto, to, with, up against and the term kyon which is the Greek word for dog or hound. The idea in its most basic sense is that of to kiss like dog licking his master. From this we get the picture of one who bows before, fawns over, crouches before, prostrates oneself before, does reverence to, or adores. The word picture is one in an inferior position paying homage to one who is their superior. A dog licks its master’s hand and face because his master provides for them, interacts lovingly with them, protects them and has their best interests at heart. From this we think of the loyalty of a dog to its master. We can picture how a dog is always eager and happy to welcome his master’s homecoming. To worship is to lavish kisses on our Lord. How do we do that?
Jesus says those who worship God or lavish kisses on the Lord, “must worship in spirit and truth.” Religious ritual or ceremony that is performed without a person having been born again is like the affection of a lizard. When I was a boy I had a pet horny toad. I don’t remember the name I gave him. Maybe it was “Harry.” After I got used to the peculiar look of the creature Harry really became quite boring. A horny toad has a lot of horns. But a horny toad is expressionless. A horny toad doesn’t smile. Harry didn’t smile or welcome me when I looked at him in his tank. A horny toad doesn’t have fur to pet. Harry had no hair. Harry never really showed me any affection or licked my hand. Harry the horny toad did appear to get excited when I fed him mealy worms, (at least he would move a bit, until I fed him too many and the mealy worms at him!). Harry just didn’t have the capacity to be warm or loving, show affection or “worship.” An unregenerate person has no spirit; they have a Harry-the-horny-toad-heart. They don’t have the capacity to relate to God who is Spirit. Without the Spirit there is no relationship between God and the individual. There can be therefore no worship, no true living interaction.
After Harry the horny toad my parents got my sister and I a miniature Schnauzer. We named him “Freddy.” Freddy was lots of fun. He ran all over the place. He always wanted to play. Schnauzers don’t shed hair and if we were delinquent in getting Freddy groomed he didn’t care. He loved us. He was always happy to see us. We knew that because he always barked when we came home, ran to us, jumped on us, and yes, licked us profusely. Freddy was the exact opposite of Harry. Freddy had a heart to worship his masters. Freddy loved us and we knew it by how he “worshipped” us.
When we got older and had less time for Fred, we began to see him as more of a nuisance. If we took out our anger from life problems on him he still loved us. We weren’t interested in him as much as we got older. We didn’t take him out to play or go for a walk. Maybe we growled at him more than we talked to him. We weren’t always the best “masters” but he never stopped loving us, no matter what. God is our Master. But He, unlike we were to Freddy, is the perfect Master. He never gives us reason to not love or lavish our affection on Him. He is always looking out for our good. What He allows in our lives we may not always understand, or like, or even appreciate, but He always loves us. There is never a reason for us to not lavish kisses on our Master.
What is truth? “Truth” (Greek aletheia) refers to that which is in agreement with reality, that which agrees with the facts or evidence. If something is truly true, it is true all the time. Truth needs to be reliable, trustworthy. God’s truth is objective and absolute. Man’s “truth” is subjective and relative. God’s truth always trumps the opposing “truth” of humanity. The opposite of truth would be superstition or that which is a fantasy concocted by imagination and not in line with reality, facts or evidence.
The person who is born again is spiritually regenerated. They have the Holy Spirit living within them (Rom. 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 6:19-20).. The Holy Spirit within them is their contact with God. The Spirit gives life (John 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:6). The Spirit also provides the inspired, literally God-breathed word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Jesus says God’s word is truth (John 17:17). The word of God is our manual for life. It is reliable verifiable history. It tells us His story from the beginning to the end. It is God’s revelation to humanity. It is His love letter to us. It is authored by the All-knowing God. Therefore it communicates to us truth, things we couldn’t know on our own. But God’s word provides us with enough truth to trust in Him for salvation.
Later in John’s gospel Jesus will tell Pilate, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:37). Pilate brushed off Jesus’ words by saying, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Truth is found in God’s word and in the life testimony of Jesus. If we want to have a correct and truthful world view or understanding of reality, we need to base our understanding on Jesus and God’s word. Our faith must be based on and guided by Jesus and God’s word. It is by Jesus and the word of God that we should, “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21).
Before a person is born again they are devoid of the Spirit and because of that they don’t have the capacity to comprehend the truth of God or His scriptures (1 Cor. 2:14). The unregenerate person doesn’t speak the language of the Spirit or God. The unregenerate person, doesn’t hear their master’s voice, understand their master’s language, know their master’s touch, or even care to lavish kisses on their master. God is their Master, but they live like a stray dog who has run away from home and left the relationship with their loving master. The master is calling for His dog to return home.
“God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” You must be born again to worship God in “spirit and truth.” Do you have a heart to worship God? Is your heart like Harry the horny toad or like Freddie the dog? Have you been born again? He’s calling stray dog humanity to come home. Do you hear His voice? Will you follow Him? (cf. John 10:27).
25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
This woman did know something about the Old Testament. She did know “that Messiah is coming.” And she had a high view of “Messiah.” She said, “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” When the Messiah comes He would tell us all things. The Spirit has been preparing this woman to receive Jesus. Think of the preparatory work of the Spirit in this woman’s life. The Spirit has been working in the woman preparing the way for her conversation with Jesus.
The people of the Old Testament were taught an expectation of a Messiah Who would liberate them from oppression. They looked at Messiah as “His Anointed” who would defeat their enemies (Psalm 2). But they glanced over the prophetic idea of Messiah as a Suffering Servant who would give His life a ransom for their sins according to the testimony of the sacrificial system (cf. Isaiah 53). This was due to their inclination to focus on political oppressors and how they could regain the benefits of God’s kingdom on earth. They ignored the redemptive aspect of Messiah not realizing that they needed to be saved from their sins before they could enter the kingdom of God (cf. John 3). Rabbis saw the two aspects of Messiah in the Old Testament. The King Messiah they referred to as “Messiah ben David” (i.e. “Messiah Son of David”). The Suffering Servant they referred to as “Messiah ben Joseph” (i.e. “Messiah Son of Joseph”). The Messiah was often referred to as “Son of David” (e.g. Matthew 1:1). David was Israel’s greatest King. The rabbis were confused over the meaning of the Suffering Servant. Jesus came to clarify and reveal the two aspects of Messiah. Messiah Jesus the Suffering Servant would come first to redeem people from their sins. He will come again to establish His Kingdom (Compare Revelation 4-5 and 19).
The Spirit had prepared her to receive the information and fulfillment of the Old Testament prophetic scriptures in Jesus. When you witness to people you will often be astounded to find that the Holy Spirit has already been working on the very person you are speaking too. That’s evidence that salvation is a work of God’s grace. God is always seeking reasoning with the sinner about their sinful state. And when that sinner shows any inkling of interest the Lord builds on that and draws them closer to salvation in Jesus. No one comes to the Jesus without the Father drawing them (John 6:44). That is prevenient grace.
There are some who claim Jesus never said He was Messiah. This would be a good verse to respond with when such a false claim is made. Jesus says very clearly that He is the Messiah. There is no doubt about who Jesus is saying He is.
This is the first of Jesus’ “I am” statements. The word “He” is in italics because it is not found in the original manuscripts from which our translation was made. Literally, Jesus said, “I who speak to you am.” Jesus clearly and unequivocally states the Messiah the woman speaks of is in fact the One who she is talking to; that is, Jesus!
Observe how Jesus has brought this woman from initial resistance to His conversation, to addressing Him first as a “Jew,” then respectfully as “Sir.” Then she sees He’s more than that, perhaps a “prophet.” But now Jesus brings her to His true and highest identity, “Messiah.”
27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”
The disciples knew better than to question their Master. They had grown to trust Him. We should trust Jesus too as He leads us in conversations with the lost. And we should be prepared for interruptions. It says, “And at this point His disciples came.” The word “point” is in italics indicating it is inserted by the translators and not in the original manuscript. But it is inserted for good reason. A point is being made here.
It was at just the right point in the conversation that the disciples arrived. It’s important not to overwhelm or inundate with facts the one to whom God has led us to witness. There is a point to end the conversation. There is a point where we have said enough and what has been said is given time to sink into the heart and mind of the one we are witnessing to. Witness in the Spirit and He will show you this point.
28 The woman then left her waterpot,
The woman left her water pot. She set her symbol of material temporal thirst quenching because she had found something that would quench her eternal spiritual thirst. She also may have been making a statement to Jesus of appreciation. She may have been saying with her actions – Jesus, you gave me living water, take my water pot of earthly water and quench your physical thirst even if it is temporal. It was her way of thanking Jesus and perhaps saying, “Take everything I have, it’s Yours.”
There is a principle illustrated here. Jesus quenches our spiritual thirst. Our response is to show our loving appreciation by serving Him in this material world. We give materially. We serve here and now. We do not serve to gain Jesus’ favor. We serve because Jesus demonstrated His love and favor by going to the cross when we did not favor Him (e.g. Rom. 5:8).
went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
What is a prime sign of genuine conversion? The person who is genuinely saved and has come to know Jesus as Savior will want to tell others about Jesus. Sharing your faith and salvation with others is a spiritual outflow of one who has received new life in Christ. If you had what you had been told by doctors was an incurable disease and then someone provided you with a miracle cure, wouldn’t you rejoice in your newfound life? I would think so. And that is what happens in salvation. We pass from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, from death to life (e.g. Acts 26:18; 1 John 3:14). Jesus didn’t have to instruct or prod or urge this woman to go tell others about Him. She just couldn’t contain or keep to herself the experience and news of “a Man who told me all things that I ever did.” She knew Jesus was her Savior and she had received His living water.
She said, “Could this be the Christ?” Hindsight is 20/20. We read in the gospels all the accounts of Jesus and in the rest of the New Testament all that Jesus by the Spirit did to powerful begin the church and impact a lost world. We have the luxury of a wealth of information. (That’s one reason why the least in the kingdom is greater than the great John the Baptist – Mat. 11:11). This woman though knew of the promise of Messiah and was encountered by Jesus as the One who fulfilled that promise for the first time. So it would be natural for this woman to comment, “Could this be the Christ?” That she considered Jesus as possibly the Christ is an indication of her faith.
Why did she go specifically “to the men”? It’s probably because she was shunned by the women in her community.
30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
Her faith and testimony were contagious. Those she spoke to just had to go and see for themselves who this Jesus was. Experiencing Jesus firsthand is always the best.
31 In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”
Jesus wasn’t hungry anymore. Why? Because He had been ministering to the woman and Himself been filled and revived by what had happened. And what is sad is that Jesus says to His disciples, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” They should have been more concerned with eternal rather than mere temporal things. While they were away tending to temporal things they had missed out on the conversation on eternal things between Jesus and this woman by the well.
How do we know of this conversation then? Perhaps Jesus, as was His practice, when alone with the disciples, shared with the disciples the content of this conversation with the woman. Perhaps later John had interviewed this Samaritan woman and she had shared about the conversation. John had paid particular attention to noting this account. John is the Apostle of love; the one who emphasizes relational aspects of the gospel account of Jesus. I am so glad the Spirit moved him to do so!
34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.
Jesus food, His nourishment, came from doing the will of His Father and finishing His work. Jesus shows us that ministry nourishes. Bible study, fellowship, prayer and serving all nourish us spiritually. But the application of those three in actual service and ministry is necessary for a true balanced spiritual diet. What nourishes you? What do you feed on?
35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!
Picture in your mind what is going on here. The Samaritan woman has gone to her village and enthusiastically told the men of One who told her about her life and could be the Messiah. So the men launch out to see for themselves. Dressed in white robes and white turbans they must have looked like wheat swaying in the wind. Jesus said, “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” Jesus was very possibly pointing to the men of the village as a harvest ready to be harvested and coming their way.
Look around you. Look at the crowds of lost people, their heads bobbing up and down as they walk. They are like stalks of wheat ready to be harvested. Do you see them? Are you ready to harvest?
36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.
It takes a wise person to win souls (Prov. 11:30). We need to study Jesus ways of witnessing. We need to be empowered for ministry by the Spirit. And then we need to get out there and talk to people like Jesus did. When we do that we will receive “wages.” Our wages will be deposits in our eternal account. And when we see souls saved it will fill us with joy and we will “rejoice together.”
37 For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”
The Samaritans were an outcast and looked down upon people. They were barred from the Temple in Jerusalem. Now Jesus was pointing His disciples to this people group as a field to harvest. These people were unloved and marginalized. Those who are broken and outcast are ready for harvesting in the gospel. Where are the outcasts around you that are ready to be harvested? Search them out and begin to harvest.
Paul was inspired to write, “So neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who give the increase” (1 Cor. 3:7). Remember, what Jesus has been talking to the woman about is “the gift of God” (John 4:10). There are those who sow seeds of God’s word and the gospel. There are others who reap when those seeds are fertilized by the Spirit. We work as a team. God is the One who brings the increase. Salvation is a “gift of God.” Salvation is a product of God’s grace. We are part of that process to save the lost and we serve as God directs us in the Spirit.
39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.”
We can’t all be as skilled as Jesus was in speaking to people about their spiritual condition. But we can be like the Samaritan woman. God took her heartfelt efforts and used her to lead others to Jesus. Jesus will use what we offer to Him. Remember that.
40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word.
When people come into contact with Jesus, they want more and more of Him. Jesus stayed there and shared with them. And as He shared “His own word” they believed. The word of Jesus wins souls. That’s an important lesson to learn. We should always rely on God’s word in sharing the gospel with others. God’s word is powerful (Heb. 4:12). We are to sow and share “the word” (Mark 4:14). The Spirit will take His word and convict the sinner of sin and draw them to God in Christ (1 Peter 1:23). Our witness will be powerful in proportion to the amount of God’s word we rely on.
We should know God’s word so that we can share it. Sometimes we will quote it. Other times we may not recite the scripture chapter and verse, but we explain in conversation the concept and sense of God’s word. If we do that in a way that is accurate to the truth of God’s word, the sinner will be provided the gospel and an opportunity to be powerfully saved.
42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”
The woman first saw Jesus as another Jew. Then she grew to respect Him calling Him “Sir.” Then she saw something more. She saw Jesus as, “a prophet.” Then Jesus was “Messiah.” And Finally Jesus is “Savior of the world.” Jesus is not only the messiah of the Jews. Jesus is the Messiah, Savior of the world; of everyone who will believe. Salvation is not offered to a select few by God. Salvation is offered to “the world.”
The comments of the returning men identifying Jesus as, “Indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world” speak to us of their newfound belief in Jesus as well as the woman’s. Their words give us a clearer picture of what the woman had said to them initially. The men came back and confirmed “what you [this woman] said.” They now said Jesus is the Messiah Christ and Savior of the world. That indicates this woman had told them the same thing though not mentioned earlier in this passage. They heard her words and cared enough to go verify the truth of them for themselves. That’s wisdom. From their face to face encounter with Jesus both the men and this women trusted that Jesus was “the Savior of the world.” That statement and their actions are prime evidence of genuine salvation.
These people show a spiritual hunger. And God always feeds the one who is hungry spiritually (e.g. Mat. 5:6). Through Jeremiah the prophet God said when we seek God with all our heart He will be found by us (Jer. 29:11-14). How are you seeking God? Half –heartedly or with all your heart? Are you thirsty for more? Are you thirsty for Jesus? Come to Him and have your thirst quenched forever!
43 Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee. 44 For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.
In fulfillment of prophecy Jesus went into Galilee, a place of relative darkness (cf. Isaiah 9:1-2; Mat. 4:12-16). Jesus knew He was Messiah and walked in obedience to the prophecies that spoke of Him. Jesus was a doer of the word. Jesus walked in obedience to the prophetic word that spoke of Him even when it wasn’t easy. We too should learn from this; to walk as Jesus walked means to obey even when the way becomes difficult (1 John 2:6).
45 So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they also had gone to the feast.
Those in Galilee were more interested in the signs Jesus did than what those signs actually meant. That is always the danger of focusing on miracles.
46 So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum.
One commentator states, “This nobleman was popular, prominent, and powerful—a courtier in Herod’s court. Yet the saying of Jesus’ day is still true today: “The black camel of grief kneels at every man’s gate.” It doesn’t matter how rich, powerful, or successful one might be. Sooner or later, we all experience sorrow and tragedy.” 
47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.
This nobleman was thirsty for healing for his son. He came to Jesus. There is a saying, “Man’s extremities are God’s opportunities.” When a child is at the point of death, that’s about as extreme as it gets for a person. Think of the worry, concern, fear, trepidation this father was experiencing. Situations like these are tailor made for Jesus. It’s always best to go to Jesus in times of crisis.
48 Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”
Jesus takes time to make an important point. Some people put too much emphasis on “signs and wonders.” Remember, the Apostle John is moved by the Spirit to refer to miracles as “signs.” Miracles done by Jesus were meant to tell us something about Him; Who He is and why He was here. Jesus seems to be insinuating not that is was wrong for the nobleman father to come to Him with a need, but that he should have believed before he came to Jesus and not have waited until a time of crisis.
There is a form of evangelism that looks for signs and wonders as a means to draw people in and then the gospel is preached to them. It puts an undo emphasis on miracles. Miracles are real and do happen, but they aren’t planned by anyone but God. We have seen in our study that our strategy of evangelism is that Jesus is to be the center of ministry; especially evangelism. Jesus said, “even so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14). Later in our study He will again say, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). We need to point people to Jesus. Jesus said “signs will follow” (Mark 16:17). Signs are the residual effect not the cause in evangelism. We need to remember that.
People sometimes come to Jesus only in times of crisis. After 9/11 for a short time many people sought comfort in churches. That seeking spirit did not however last. Today, over a decade removed from the horrific day of terror, our nation is not better but worse in many ways. In many ways we are further form God not nearer. That’s sad.
49 The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!”
50 Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. 51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!”
52 Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household.
54 This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.
Cana is about 27 miles from Capernaum. Distance means little to Jesus’ ability to heal. He makes intercession for us now (Heb. 7:25). His prayer on our behalf in heaven has its full affect regardless of distance. Aren’t you glad Jesus is praying for you? I know I’m glad He’s praying for me. Thank You Jesus for Your intercession on our behalf.
There is no set formula for healing to occur. Here a nobleman begs Jesus to come to his home to heal his son. Jesus tells the nobleman too simply “Go your way; your son lives.” And the very same hour of Jesus words the son was healed. In another instance a Centurion came to Jesus and pleaded with Jesus to heal his servant. Jesus says, “I will come and heal him.” But the Centurion tells Jesus, “I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” This great faith caused Jesus to marvel and comment this centurion demonstrated more faith than one from Israel (Matthew 8:5-10). Both instances demonstrate different amounts of faith. But both people were healed.
Where does the faith to heal come from and what is God’s purpose in healing? The first thing we need to understand is that the faith to be healed or to heal comes from God. In explaining the healing of a beggar who sat by the Temple Peter stated:
· Acts 3:16 - And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
Notice, Peter speaks of “faith in His name.” This faith is in the name of Jesus. It is faith that believes Jesus is alive. Healing comes by believing in the authority and capability of Jesus to heal. This faith is not from us, it is from Jesus. Peter goes on to mention, “the faith which comes through Him.” Healing faith, faith to do anything according to God’s will and that will bring glory to God is “faith that comes through Him.” God gives faith for healing. If there is no faith to heal, then for some reason perhaps unknown to us, God has determined not to heal. We must trust God in this. We must trust Jesus.
We must also understand God’s purpose in healing. Peter mentions the beggar was given “perfect soundness.” The word “perfect” means complete, all around. This beggar was not only physically healed, he was spiritually healed. His physical problem was solved, but he was also saved from his sin through faith in Jesus. The nobleman ended up believing in Jesus and trusting in His word. The healing God does always has a deeper purpose than mere physical relief. The healing God does always has a deeper purpose than mere physical relief. God heals physically to work an eternal spiritual healing as well.
What does this faith to heal and work God’s will look like? Abraham is a perfect illustration of God’s-will-working-faith. God promised Abraham and Sarah a child even though they were well past childbearing years physically. But even though everything physically was telling them “No, this is not going to happen; it’s too late for you to have this child of promise” God gave Abraham faith to do what would normally be impossible to do. Paul describes this miracle working faith with the following inspired words:
· Romans 4:17-25 - 17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
God promised to make Abraham a “father of many nations.” Abraham, who was 100 years old and Sarah who was in her nineties, hoped in God. When God gives faith, hope is always alive. Even though all the physical evidence was contrary to the fulfillment of God’s promise, Abraham trusted God. Always trust God and His word. He will never let you down. The faith God gives doesn’t waver. It isn’t shaky or unstable. It is steadfast. Abraham took God at His word and as he did his faith became stronger and stronger (compare Mat. 7:24-27). Abraham’s faith was a “fully convinced” faith. He was fully persuaded by God’s faithfulness. God had never let him down before. There was no reason God would let him down in fulfilling His promise; not now or ever. That is the kind of faith that is righteous before God. The account of Abrahams faith is “also for us.” Trusting in God like this is how God forgives our sin through faith in Jesus and how He does great God-glorifying works through us.
What is the benefit of the faith God gives? In Peter’s first epistle he writes to people who have been scattered because of persecution. They have probably lost everything. They may be alone, lost, confused. But Peter writes to them about faith for the future. Faith for the future is hope. This is what the Lord inspired him to write:
· 1 Peter 1:3-9- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
Peter begins by blessing God for Jesus, for His abundant mercy, for making a way for us to be born again, and for “living hope” that comes through Jesus resurrection from the dead. What is “living hope”? Living hope is hope that is always alive. Jesus is alive, He is not dead. And if Jesus is alive, then death is defeated, and hope, no matter what, lives on. Peter blesses God for our inheritance in heaven and which is heaven. Peter blesses God for the power He gives to keep us strong in Him as we trust Him. He blesses God for the joy we have even though there are trials in this life. He explains that these trials are necessary to prove the genuineness of our faith; our more precious than gold faith. When our faith is tested it will result in praise, honor and glory before our Lord Jesus. And Peter bless God for this faith because it enables us to have incredible inexpressible joy and full glory even though we haven’t seen Jesus and await “the end of your faith.” All of this is what God seeks to develop in us through faith and in living hope.
On a number of occasions Jesus healed with no clear mention of faith in the one who was healed (Luke 14:4; Luke 21:51).He healed the man with the withered hand by simply asking him to stand and then stretch out his hand and he was healed (Luke 6:6-11). He raised people from the dead. The dead have no faith to be resurrected! (E.g. Luke 7:11-17; John 11). On another occasion Jesus spoke to the parents of a little girl who had died saying, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well” (Luke 8:50). There was little if any faith in that house and situation. Those around Him ridiculed Him for wanting to minister to the dead girl (Luke 8:40-56). But He raised her from the dead. These examples don’t necessarily mean people are healed without faith. It does mean though that our focus should be more on Jesus than our faith. We need to look to Jesus for healing. The faith necessary to heal is a gift of God’s grace that comes from Jesus (cf. Acts 3:16).
Healing is God’s decision. His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). He operates according to His eternal plan. When our request for healing fit into His eternal plan there will be healing. When they don’t fit into God’s eternal plan He will give us grace that is sufficient to get us through to glory in all situations. God’s grace is always sufficient no matter what (2 Cor. 12:8-10).
But what is the most important truth to glean from the account of the nobleman and his son’s healing? There is power in the words of Jesus. Jesus healed with a simple word. God’s word revives us (Psalm 119:25, 40). God’s word gives life. “For Your word has given me life” (Psalm 119:50). Jesus’ words gave life. Jesus is God! And that is why we should focus on Jesus more than our faith. Faith is only as valid and effective as the object in which it is placed. If your faith in in yourself, it will only be as effective as you are. If your faith is in people or human capabilities it will always be as limited as those resources are. But if your faith is in Jesus, if your faith is in God, well, there is nothing too difficult for God. Jesus once said if we have faith as a tiny mustard seed we could move mountains (Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6). That is not a testament to the power of faith as much as it is a testimony of the power of the object of our faith, God.
He didn’t have to go to the one who needed healing for that person to be healed. And the nobleman “believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.” It doesn’t even appear that the nobleman went directly home. It appears his faith was such that he went on his way in no particular hurry. He simply believed and took Jesus at His word. We should too!
Don’t wait for a crisis in life to trust in Jesus as your Savior. Believe in Him now. Take Jesus at His word now. Then when you come to the inevitable mountain of a life trial you will be ready to see the power of God work in and through you. Then Jesus will be able to say to you, “Go your way, your son lives,” and you’ll be able to take Jesus at His word and see the glory of God.
Elwell, Walter A. ; Comfort, Philip Wesley: Tyndale Bible Dictionary. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, 2001 (Tyndale Reference Library), S. 663
Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 466
Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 470