John 4:1-23

READ John 4:1-9

 

Why does the fact that the Pharisees knew Jesus was baptizing make Jesus leave Judah for Galilee?

A confrontation is on its way and the time is not yet for that confrontation. It will come – but not now. 

 

Why do you think  John says Jesus HAD TO travel through Samaria?

The normal routes for Jews ran up the east side of the Jordan river (Transjordan). Interesting the verb had to normally, in John’s Gospel, is used with regards to God’s plan or will. Jesus had to go to Samaria because the woman at the well was going to be there.

 

Who were the Samaritans?

Descendants of two groups (1) the remnant of native Israelites who were not deported after the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 722BC (2) Foreign colonists brought in from babylonia and Media by the Assyrian Conquerors. The Samatitans refused to worship in the temple in Jerusalem. After the exile the Samaritans put obstacles in the way of the Jewish restoration of Jerusalem in the 2nd century BC. The Samaritans helped the Syrians in their wars against the Jews. In 128BC the Jewish high priest retaliated by burning their temple on Mount Gerizim.

 

NOTE REGARDING THE SIXTH HOUR.

As this is a Bible study we do need to spend a few moments looking at the phrase ‘the sixth hour.’ The NIV has ‘the sixth hour’ and its footnote suggests noon. Now, the newst translation to be published – a conservative translation called the Holman Christian Standard Bible says 6pm in its version. Now most commentators argue for noon being the time, but there are some other commentators who have argued for a 6pm reading here. There argument is that John uses the Roman method of time. 

 

Look at John 19:14 – the sixth hour is used here – if it meant noon here then Jesus was crucified around 3pm (if using the Jewish method) – John 1:39 says the tenth hour – which is often translated 4pm. Yet the verse says the disciples spent the day with him – a Roman timing would place that at 10am (which the HCSB) does.

 

Why is the woman shocked that Jesus spoke to her?

The Jewish rule was that men should not speak to women in public – even their own wives. In fact there was a Jewish tradition which said never speak to women, in public, at a well. This is because Jacob and Isaac met their wives at wells – and to speak to a woman at a well indicated you were looking for a mate!

 

Now the translations say that the reason for the shock was that Jews do not associate with Samaritans. The problem with that is that the disciples are in a nearby Samaritan town buying food – and thus associating with Samaritans. One commentator makes the point that Jesus and his disciples show some freedom from the stricter Jews – being willing to eat food handled by an unclean Samaritan. 

 

Can someone read out the footnote to this verse in the NIV.

I think this makes sense of the verse. ‘Do not use together with…’ – a Jew would never use any vessels used by a Samaritan. The woman says to Jesus “You, a Jew, speaking to me at the well, and wanting to use MY bucket to drink from?”

 

READ John 4:10-26

 

Bearing in mind Jesus is still thirsty – And that the woman has questioned the propriety of Jesus’ request, Why do you think Jesus responds to the woman in this way?

I am going to suggest that there may be a slight rebuke here o the woman. She has hesitated in giving Jesus a drink because she questions whether he should even be addressing her. Jesus, on the other hand, says that if she knew who he was and what he had, she would ask for living water and HE WOULD GIVE IT TO HER – WITHOUT HESITATION. WITHOUT QUESTION. He would give her what she asked straight away.

 

What is going through the woman’s mind as she responds?

She is still thinking about REAL water. Water which comes from a well does not necessarily mean its completely clean. Only wells which were fed by a living or underground stream has nice, fresh water. Some well water can be stagnant and unclean. The woman wants living water – fresh, clean, drinking water. The problem is – Jesus has no bucket and no tools. Tradition says Jacob dug this well – would Jesus dig his own well? Jacobs well here was around 100ft deep. Was Jesus going to do what the great Patriarch did – dig a well and provide life in the desert for his people and livestock?

 

How would you summarize Jesus’ response in v13

Yes, Jesus is greater than Jacob – he gives the woman the gospel – using the imagery which she has in her mind. The water Jesus gives is EVERLASTING – life giving.

 

I know this is conjecture – but how do you invision the woman’s thinking here – what is she thinking when she asks Jesus for this water that she might never thirst again?

 

Up to this point Jesus has been engaging her in a very visual way. There was the well – the water was right in-front of them. But now Jesus has brought her to the place of asking the question – GIVE ME THIS WATER!! 

 

Why do you think Jesus asks the woman to go NOW and get her husband – why at this point does he ask her to do this?

She was now beginning to ask questions and is thinking about who Jesus might be. Also, receiving living water requires a sense of guilt – confession of sin. Jesus draws her to the point of being aware of her sin.

 

What is her sin?

Now if you take husband as in she had five bonafide husbands, then her (obvious) sin now is that she is living with a man. Woman in the first century were not allowed to divorce men. She has either been adandoned by men or they have died. On the other hand, without changing the  point – husband mean MAN. She has been with five men. That would make her immoral.

 

What ‘office’ does the woman now give Jesus.

She is growing in her understanding of who he might be. She has reached ‘prophet’. Not unreasonably when someone lays bear your life like this.

 

But why does she ask about worship? Is she trying to avoid more scrutiny about her life?

Jesus does not think she is avoiding more scrutiny because he answers her quesion.

What is Jesus teaching us here in v21-23? 

 

Geographic location will soon make no differnce to WHERE you worship. In around 35 years after this the temple is destroyed and Jesus will be the true temple – the real center of worship Do you think God craves worship – like a worship junk? God says that he seeks worshippers!! 

According to v25 what type of Mesisah were they waiting for to return.

A teaching Messiah – one who would explain all that ever happened. As opposed to the type of Messiah the Jews expected – a military conquering Messiah.

 

What is unusal about Jesus’ response. 

He is happy to relate to the title of Messiah. He never does this with the Jews – because of the baggage that comes with it but here is happy to acknowledge who he is – the Messiah. 

 

READ John 4:27-38

 

The dynamic change a little now. This private, individual conversation is now interrupted by the arrival of he disciples, shocked that their Rabbi was speaking to a woman. 

 

Why don’t the disciples express their feelings publically?

Out of respect for Jesus but also even the disciples seem to acknowledge that to return and say out loud “What the hell are you doing talking to woman.”

 

Do you see anything significant in the woman leaving Jesus and going  back to the town. What does she leave behind?

She leaves the bucket behind. More importantly she leaves HER bucket behind – the bucket she needed to provide her water twice a day – a valuable item.  Does she forget it? Well, the word ‘left’ has a sense of deliberateness. It is the same word used to say Jesus left Judah. Did he forget Judah? No, it was deliberate. Maybe the woman finally was going to allow Jesus to get that drink. She leaves it behind so he could get the water to quench his thirst.

 

What has the woman now become? How would you describe her actions?

She has become an evangelist. I find it interesting that this woman if ill repute comes into the village – tells them that there is guy that seems to maybe be the Messiah, but knew all about me, come and see!! AND THEY GO!!

 

What does the disciples attempt to feed jesus show about where they are spiritually?

In the same place – to some extent – as the Samaritan woman. They too are focusing on the physical. 

 

How would you express v34 – what is Jesus saying here?

To do the work of God NOURISHES him – it energizes him – it takes away the weariness of the days walk. It was what he was meant to do. Are we nourished in this way.

 

What is the point of Jesus’ analogy about the harvest is coming? When is it coming?

RIGHT NOW – look the crowd is coming from the village!! The grain harvest maybe four months away but the soul harvest is here.

 

That’s why he had to go through Samaria.

 

And what the disciples did not sow – they did not speak with the Samaritan woman – they will reap though in Ministering to the village.

 

Sometimes the sower never sees the harvest. Other times the sower and the reaper rejoice together. And Christians are called to be doing BOTH jobs – we are to be sowing and we are to be reaping the harvest of what others have sown.

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