John 4 Part 2

Resumed from part 1

We see here that Jesus is soon going to point out to her that there can be no unity between Jew and Samaritan unless both accept the same gift of God – that gift of God which He is prepared to bestow, eternal life, which can be received from God alone. In fact, from Jesus because He Himself is that gift as we saw in John 3:16. He Himself is the actual gift of God to His people.
John 4:10, “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.” See, as it is, I have asked you for physical water but if you knew who I was you would’ve asked Me for another kind of water. Now she’s not really grasping what He’s trying to say. In any case, I want you to notice how He adapts His communication to her to that situation. Notice the way He speaks to Nicodemus and contrast that with the way He speaks to this woman. You’d see that He adapts His very style of communication to the needs of the person whom He is dealing with. He doesn’t have a canned presentation but rather He’s always sensitive to the personality and needs of the person. By the way, I strongly recommend that in our lives as well.
I find, for example, when I’m sharing the gospel with a person who is perhaps a computer programmer or an engineer or perhaps an attorney, often they’re going to be very concerned about evidence. They’re very impressed by the facts. They want some logic and clarity. But if I’m dealing with a person who might be a literature major it might be a totally different kind of a thing- a story, a narrative or a film. You see where I’m going? In a post modern culture a story or narrative becomes particularly relevant. I might have to adapt and I might discover that for this person I will have to adjust my approach midcourse. My approach also depends on the questions they are asking me. You know that you can ask a question in three ways. You can ask a question to say, “Show me how much you know.” You can ask a question to get information- an honest attempt to get it. You can discern sometimes if the question is a smoke screen or not. There’s a need for us being led by the Spirit to adapt our words to speak graciously and wisely to each person we encounter and tailor our speech to each person. Jesus was a master at this. He could know people. Remember it says, He Himself knew what was in man. (John 2:25) He could understand what the heart was and He would adapt. It’d be very interesting for you to contrast His approach to Nicodemus with His approach to this woman. It is a very different orientation.
Jesus says I alone can supply a living water which can supply every need and become the perpetual source of life because it turns out living water was a term for moving water- water that was in a stream or river. That’s why they had to use that in ceremonial purification but there weren’t any streams in this area. She wonders what He’s talking about. Where’s this kind of water that’s alive? In other words, water that you can actually dip into- that’s in motion-that is not in a well or a cistern. Where is this living water? That’s immediately what she assumes He means by living water. Today the well in verse 11 is identified by archeologists as one of the deepest in so-called Palestine. When Jesus mentions living water she’s then seeing this well as being a deep well but she wonders what He’s talking about.
John 4:11, “She said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?” Notice she’s particularly concerned that He may be on to something even though He’s a stranger to these parts and knows something nobody else knows. Maybe He knows where there is a stream here. It’d be a lot easier than having to dip this bucket. She’s thinking I’d sure like to have that so I don’t have to keep coming here day by day and getting it.
John 4:12-14, “You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and this cattle? Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” It’s a beautiful metaphor. It’s like an artesian well that springs up and it has no boundaries, no limits. It continues to spring from the inside to the out. This is a marvelous metaphor of the Spirit of God who is ultimately going to be given. We discover there in John 7 when Jesus speaks about the Spirit He uses this very imagery.
Look at John 7:37b-38, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” By the way that’s an allusion as well to Ezekiel 47 where you see this water and it starts out as a little trickle coming out from the east of the temple and continuing as it heads east to get deeper and deeper until it becomes a torrential flow of water. But this He spoke of the Spirit, those of them who believed in Him were to receive for the Spirit was not yet given for Jesus was not yet glorified. This imagery of water is one of the images, one of the symbols, one of the signs of the Spirit. What are some other characteristics or signs of the Holy Spirit? Wind- pnuema even means wind, light, oil, dove-you’re missing a very obvious one- fire. All these are images of the Spirit of God. All of these reveal something that none of them singularly can do but corporately we see many facets of the work of the Spirit.
Clearly we’re being invited by John to see that Jesus is ultimately going to be speaking about that living artesian well that comes from inside and goes outward. He goes on to say that this is water that will satisfy. You see, she was ignorant of three important facts back in verse 10. She was ignorant of who He was. She was ignorant of what He had to offer. She was ignorant of how she could receive it. When you stop to think about it, that’s the gospel. Who is this Jesus? What does He have to offer? How do you receive Him? That’s the essence of the good news.
In verse 13 and 14, He was saying the water that people drink will not satisfy any more than bread will satisfy you forever. It’s only going to be something that will sustain you for a short time. But whoever continues to drink of the water or anything that the world has to offer will discover that that water will bring them to thirst again. The fellow I was speaking to was talking about how he had acquired a great deal of wealth at one time and discovered how empty it was. He was kind of reviewing his own sojourn and discovered that actually when he came to the end of his own financial resources, he discovered God in a more profound way than he did before. It’s not that wealth is the problem. The problem is that often we fail to understand that it doesn’t satisfy the deep desires of the heart. At the end of the day it can only provide so much but it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. The things of the world never completely satisfy. That’s part of the thinking in this gospel.
John 4:15, “The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” Do you see what she is saying? I want to get this kind of water so I won’t constantly be thirsty and draw here. I want something quicker and easier. She’s not fully grasping this. She’s thinking it’s some magical supply of ordinary water and she won’t have to visit the well anymore.
Suddenly in verses 16 to 19 the rules change. There’s going to be a need for a change in the way Jesus communicates to her. Suddenly and unexpectedly, Jesus penetrates her defenses with these words. John 4:16, “He said to her, ‘Go, call your husband and come here.” He changes the topic. These are very effective words because her slumbering conscience is going to be awakened and the beginning of a new birth was going to be apparent. She’s going to abandon further attempts at subterfuge.
John 4:17-19, “The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.” This is an interesting word here. There’s an increasing recognition but I think she’s trying also to change the subject. She wants to move Him off on a detour, let’s talk religion. Let’s get off of the subject of me and let’s start talking about religion. Jesus knows exactly what He’s doing. She recognizes Him as a prophet because He is endowed with the knowledge to know her through and through. He manifests a remarkable understanding- not just the human nature in general but of her very heart. He can read her heart. Look later in verse 29 at what she says to her people, “Come see a man who told me all the things that I have done. This is not the Messiah or the Christ, is it?” She’s kind of suggesting that. That impresses her but it’s a little bit too close to home so she changes the conversation.
John 4:20, “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” That’s true because even to this day there’s a small number of Samaritans who still practice animal sacrifice in that area. She’s trying to bring it into a kind of diatribe there. It doesn’t work because the Prophet informs her that it’s no longer a relevant topic.
John 4:21, “Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.” It’s not a question of where you are going to be worshiping. In fact He says neither temple had pure and undefiled worship. The time when pure and undefiled offerings were offered in the temple of God was only for a brief period in Israel’s history. Early on, as you remember, in the time of Solomon there was corruption and it was often beseeched with idolatry and corrupted by images that were actually brought into the temple because of these corrupt kings. The few good kings that there were, many of them would try to make reforms-Josiah for example in cleaning out the temple. But even there, there was often people being pacified with high place worship where there was still a kind of a combination- not an absolutely, unmitigated worship for the living God. There were some moments under Hezekiah and Josiah where they had reformed but as a whole, since that time it had become a religious externalism without and devoid of life. It doesn’t tell us for example after the temple became ichabod- the glory has departed- chabod means glory. Ichabod means that the glory is gone. That’s why Washington Irving’s story about Ichabod Crane is a perfect name because the name means no glory. This guy doesn’t have any glory at all. It’s a great name for Him! But here the temple became ichabod when the glory left the temple in the vision in Ezekiel. It hovered for a period of time in the courtyard and then went up to the Mount of Olives to disappear. The glory, it appears, did not return even in the second temple. It doesn’t mention that when they built that temple that the glory had come back. It won’t in the third temple either remember the third temple is actually built for the un-holy trinity! The point is that the worship in the temple had been corrupt.
So the time was fast approaching and in a real sense the time has already come when as Malachi prophesied God’s name would be great among the Gentiles and then in every place pure offering would be made unto the Lord. Let’s read from Malachi 1:11. It’s one of those prophets in the Old Testament that is easy to find. Usually the small prophetic books are hard to find but here, all you have to do is go to Matthew and go left one book! Malachi 1:11, “ For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, (Note- Not just Israel among the nations. There’s a prediction of what Messiah alone can bring about and that He can make the name of Jesus great among the nations) and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord of hosts.” We have a powerful portrait of what God is ultimately planning to do.

 

Continued in part 3

 

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