Saturday, April 21, 2012

Turning Life Around

In today's lesson we shall see how Jesus' words have the power to restore human life and cross all barriers. The lesson focuses on John 4:7-15, 23-26, 28-30.

The Pharisees had heard that Jesus had been baptizing more disciples than John and that John's popularity was decreasing. It was actually Jesus' disciples' baptizing while He taught the Good News of salvation and performed miracles. The Pharisees wanted to create a division between the followers of Jesus and John. They did not realize that John had testified to his own disciples that 'He (Jesus) must increase, but I (John) must decrease.' John 3:30 Therefore, Jesus left Judea, as His message was not accepted by the Jews. He decided to go to the land of the Gentiles in Galilee to teach and preach the message of salvation. In traveling to Galilee from Judea, Jesus had a choice to take the long route as most Jews did or the direct route. The direct route would take them through Samaria. There was a deep hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Jews considered themselves the chosen people of God. The Samaritans were considered to be half-breeds who became open enemies when refused to help rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. They chose to worship the Pentatuch at Mt. Gerizim.

'There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)'John 4:7-8 Jesus was all God, but He was also all Man. He was traveling by foot, and the roads of Samaria were accessible but hilly. When He reached the city of Sychar in Samaria, near the area Jacob had given to his son, Joseph, it was about the sixth hour. The sixth hour is interpreted as noon (Jewish time). Jesus was weary and sat down by Jacob's well. His disciples had left Him alone to search for food. When He saw the Samaritan woman, He initiated a conversation by requesting a drink. She was startled for three (3) reasons. A Jewish man would not initiate a conversation with an unknown woman. A Jewish teacher would not engage in a public discussion with a woman. Jews and Samaritans did not invite contact with one another.

'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.'John 4:9 Notice how the Samaritan woman was completely startled. She must have recognized Jesus as a Jew. Jews do not have dealings with Samaritans. They consider themselves above the Samaritans. Jews do not wish to have any religious connection or commercial dealings with the Samaritans. They even journey out of their way to avoid her people. Why should she talk to this Jew who has decided to talk to her? What could He possibly say to make her believe that she is worthy to give Him a drink? She had no idea that she was talking to her Creator and His love for her far outweighed all discriminatory barriers.

'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.'John 4:10 Jesus is very patient with the Samaritan woman as He knows He has perked her interest. So He continues to converse with her by responding that she would give the drink gladly if she had knowledge. She needed knowledge that the gift of God was given because '...God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'John 3:16 She did not yet know the Messiah was requesting a drink, or she would have asked of Him a taste of living water. 'He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)'John 7:38-39. Just like water satisfies the thirst physically, the Holy Spirit will satisfy and purify the soul in order that it not thirst for defilement.

'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? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?'John 4:11-12 The Samaritan woman is yet confused just as Nicodemus was about the teaching of the Holy Spirit (See John 3). She only sees water literally and can not understand Jesus' metaphorical usage of living water. She rudely responds in the typical manner between Samaritans and Jews that Jesus does not have the proper equipment with which to withdraw water and the well is deep. When did He have this living water? The Samaritan woman also wanted to know if Jesus was of greater importance than their ancestor Jacob which left them the well. Assuming it to be true that this was Jacob's well, we must know the Samaritans were descended from a mixed breed placed in the various cities of Samaria by the Assyrians, and the well was given by Jacob to his sons. So, how could Jacob be in the ancestral line of both the Samaritans and the Jews? It does not appear as if he was, but Jesus did not comment.

'Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 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. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.'John 4:13-15 The Lord responded to the Samaritan woman in a teaching tone versus the rude tone he had received from her. He began explaining the difference between the literal water of Jacob's well which she was accustomed to and the living water she would receive from Him. She did not quite understand it as a spiritual revelation, but believed it to be a way not to have to come to the well anymore.

Then Jesus changed the conversation and asked her to bring her husband to Him. She needed to be saved and she would first have to repent. Jesus already knew all about her lifestyle and past. But would she tell Him? That was the test and she was brought face to face with her lifestyle. She admitted that she had no husband, was living with someone who was not her husband, and had had five (5) husbands. Having told all about her life to this Jew who seemed to know her, she sensed He was not ordinary. She felt He was a prophet. No longer afraid to speak to the Jew, she begins to speak to Him about the proper place to worship. She inquires whether worship should be in Jerusalem as claimed by the Jews or Mt. Gerizim as claimed by the Samaritans. Jesus stated the time was coming when neither place would be the place of worship. (See John 4:16-21)

'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. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.'John 4:23-24 Jesus was informing the Samaritan woman that it did not matter where they worshiped the Father. True worshipers knew God as a Spirit and worshiped Him in spirit (inward) and truth. They have true and sincere worship.

'The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.'John 4:25-26 The Samaritan woman's interest was peeked as she listened to the Lord. She knew about the Messiah as the Samaritans had been expecting His arrival just as the Jews were. This Jew with whom she was speaking seemed to be a prophet and she just needed to tell Him she was awaiting the Messiah who would tell them all things. Jesus responded "I Am". This was, in effect, telling her she could stop waiting. But, of greater significance, He was telling her He was God.

'The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.'John 4:28-30 The disciples returned from the city and wondered why Jesus was talking with a Samaritan woman. However, they said nothing to Him. The interruption allowed the woman to leave as fast as she could. She even left her waterpot. Perhaps she simply left it in haste or she was being kind to Christ and leaving it behind for him to utilize for a drink. Her mission was to go into the city. She wanted to find as many people as she could to tell them about the man who told her about things she did. She did not speak on the living water, probably because she could not make others understand it as Christ could. But she mentioned the possibility that He might be Christ. This aroused everyone's interest. She was a disciple as she drew them to Christ.

Written by Deborah C. Davis

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