Thoughts on John 4

To go along with the sermons in John 4, I would like to share some of my thoughts on this chapter as a whole, that I hope you will find helpful as we walk through the book of John, since we will not be able to cover everything in the sermon time. There is a lot in each chapter. This is for your benefit if you would like to use it. Some of the thoughts are simply questions. Some are the best answers I could find. If you find anything that you have questions about, share with your small group and seek out the answers together, and I would love to talk about those things as well. I do not presume to know all the answers and I love being on this journey with each of you, seeking to know Christ better and better.

-Chris Stokes

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee.


-Interesting to think about: Why did Jesus not baptize anyone? Maybe to make sure there weren’t “special people” who were baptized by Jesus, he wanted to show his disciples that they should take on this responsibility and pass it on to others…?


4 And he had to pass through Samaria.


-The word “had” denotes necessity. By divine sovereignty, this was the path set before them, either through physical or societal circumstances, or through divine foreknowledge of Jesus forseeing this upcoming meeting.

-Jews and Samaritans had a strained relationship. (Verse 9 – Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Also the Good Samaritan parable in Luke 10 is so shocking because of this relationship between Jews and Samaritans.

-Samaritans descended from other nations brought in to settle the Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians. 2 Kings 17:24-41

-Many say that it was even the norm for Jews to travel around Samaria so as to either avoid trouble with the Samaritans, or to avoid ritual uncleanness.


 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.


-In Genesis 33, Jacob purchased a plot of land outside Shechem and it is believed that this is where this well was built.

-Jesus was tired from the day’s journey and sat down beside the well. Likely with the physical intention of getting something to drink.

-It was around midday (the sixth hour, from the start of the day – first hour being 6am)

-The divine sovereignty of the Lord in having Abraham purchase that land and build this well there. Not that Jesus needed the well in order to do what he was going to do, but we see the connection to Abraham later in the conversation. Just neat to see how God puts it all together even throughout history.


7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)


-There should already be some concerns about this woman as soon as she enters the scene. For one she is alone. This was a very communal culture and you didn’t really do much of anything alone. Second, water was drawn in the early hours of the day, because this was a difficult task (the sheer weight of the water) and to do it in the middle of the day would make it much more strenuous because of the heat.

-This was a place in which she would be experiencing the shame surrounding her life and the emptiness of the water which she had been drinking, which might be exactly what prepared her heart to be receptive to Jesus’ offer of living water.

-Jesus speaks to her. This is significant. Shows her value to him as a person.

-Jesus was alone. Why is this significant? There is a temptation factor here (all alone away from the city talking to a woman) in which Jesus demonstrates love for this woman as a person instead of lust for her as an object?

-Because of the shame, she may have avoided the well altogether if she had seen a group of men standing around it. Whatever the reason, Jesus did exactly what was right in the situation, as he always does.

-The woman is shocked. Why would Jesus speak to her? There are all kinds of societal barriers that stand in the way of him doing so, and he seems to walk right through them, totally unphased.

-He is a Jew, she is a Samaritan

-He is a man, she is a woman

-He seems to be in a good place, has friends traveling with him, she seems to be in a bad place, all alone


10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”


-Jesus confronts the earthly logic of her question with heavenly logic. He starts to pull back the veil. If you could see the Kingdom reality, you would have asked me!! It was already crazy for him to ask her for water. It would have been unthinkable, for her to approach him and ask for something. And yet, Jesus says, if you could only see what is standing in front of you, you wouldn’t care at all about the societal barriers, you would pursue it with everything you had.

-The value would be worth the risk – the gift of God (For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son! That he would bring eternal life to those who believe in him!!)

-She would have known what to ask him for – living water, because she would know that was exactly what she needed. The gift of God that is worth losing everything for.


 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?


-Jesus could have easily gotten physical water out of that well

-Jesus could have made water come up from the ground or appear out of the air

-The woman was fixated on the physical


 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”


-She attacks his claim, almost as if he’s a salesman trying to sell her on a new brand

-She points to the claim to fame for this well, that Jacob, one of the Patriarchs himself had dug this well. And it was good enough for him and his sons and their livestock. She seriously doubts that Jesus has some water with better credentials than this well right in front of them.

-It’s interesting that the esteem for the man is then attached to the well and the water drawn from it. So if she knew the greatness of the man standing in front of her compared to Jacob, she would definitely want whatever he had to give.


 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,


-Jesus again lifts her eyes

-This water, however great Jacob was, will only last you a little while…and you will have to come back for more. It does not satisfy for long


 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again[b] The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”


-He then pulls back the veil further. The water which he speaks of is better, infinitely better. Never thirsty again!

-In fact it will begin to replenish itself from within you!

-It is not simply about physical satisfaction and sustenance, but this water will provide you eternal life.

-What does it mean we will never thirst again? In my experience, spiritually, I thirst for things other than God pretty much daily. What does this mean to never thirst again? The ever present opportunity to be fully satisfied in Christ, and the final realization of that perfect satisfaction when we are with Christ forevermore in eternity.


 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”


-Jesus has her attention now, not sure if she caught on to the eternal life part or not but it definitely sounds like she is excited about not having to come back to this well every day.

-Another reminder of the fact that this was a painful and shameful process for her each day.


16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”


-Jesus likely already knew the answer at this point, yet his choice of how to broach this subject is also helpful for us to note. Should the woman have had a husband and had that not been a glaring area of shame in her life, it would have been good for Jesus to speak to her with her husband, as her head, about the gospel, so that they might both be saved and he might go on to lead her and her family in following Christ. God’s model for marriage and family.

-The clues in the shameful circumstances of this woman likely would have been evident for Jesus. Something we ought to think about… (are we paying attention to the people God brings into our path?) Are we seeing the hurt and the shame they might be feeling? Obviously we don’t have divine knowledge or know people’s thoughts, but we may be able to speak a pointed word in love if we keep our eyes open and our hearts inclined to the Spirit’s leading.


 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.”


-She tried to bypass this question to move on to something else. “I’ll give him the surface answer that isn’t a lie, but I don’t want to reveal what’s really going on there.”

-We do this often. When we are living with a weight of guilt and shame and someone asks us a question that is near that area of our lives, we think if we give a short deflecting answer, God, or the person who is asking us will just keep moving and leave our pile of shame alone. And we think that it will be better for us if we don’t let God, or our brothers and sisters help us deal with that shame. That stifles many of the benefits of God’s work in us, and of the body of Christ  in helping one another.


 Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”


-Jesus sees her attempt to deflect, and he will not let her stay there. He will not let her keep her shame in the darkness.

-This is very direct, and it is a display of divine power, (or he would have to be some kind of con-man pretending to have this divine power) (However, in following Jesus through John’s gospel, we have already seen divine displays of power that could not be produced by clever tricks…we have already seen His divinity clearly on display so there is no question here for the reader about who He is)

-Five husbands is a lot, and now six… There is a glaring felt need for something that she has not yet found. Whether it is intimacy, protection, provision, love, companionship…She is in a place of desperation.

-Why did she not marry this last man?

-Maybe she was through with marriage…It clearly did not fix her problem.

-Maybe no man would marry her anymore after her past?


 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”


-Jesus’ display of power is shocking to this woman and exposes what she tries to keep hidden. She seems to attempt to move on to another subject in order to avoid talking about her personal life with this question.

-Her immediate assumption is that someone who would know that must be a prophet

-A prophet might be able to answer a question that Samaritans and Jews have argued over for a long time

-Another recognition (our fathers worshiped on this mountain) that man tries to find “high places” for worship. Mountains are grand and give a sense of awe and wonder. We do the same with big cathedrals and elaborate church buildings, as if the sense of awe and beauty gives us some kind of advantage as we seek what we need spiritually.

-She wants Jesus to give a word from God as to who is right about true worship, but it seems to mostly be motivated by misdirection away from Jesus’ previous statement.


 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”


-Jesus gives a little more clarity about the Samaritan worship – it is aimed at God, but from a place of ignorance. (You worship what you do not know) as compared to the Jews who have so much revelation from God…which should always be convicting for us who have so much access to God’s revelation!

-Jesus acknowledges her question and gives her the true answer, which applies to the subject of her desperation and inability to find satisfaction and her inescapable shame.

-Jesus again lifts the gaze away from the physical and up toward the spiritual. It is not about this mountain or even the temple in Jerusalem. The time is coming when the place for worship will not be a physical location, but the place where spirit and truth meet.

-Spirit – A place where your whole being is involved (with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength)

-Truth – A place where reality is exposed and dealt with rather than covered and hidden


 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he 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.”


-The woman appears defensive. I at least know what I need to know…that the Messiah is coming

-There was some understanding among the Samaritans that a savior would come and would tell them all they needed to know. So amazing that God would give them this!!

-It is almost as if they had a posture of waiting for such a person to come along (as we see her and her people’s response to Jesus) where many Jews (esp the leaders) had much more a posture of “we have everything we need”.


27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?”


-Another example of the societal barriers between Jesus and this woman. The disciples are amazed that he would be talking to her.

-At this point they do not question Jesus, though they wanted to. Possibly fear of man…


 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.


-Don’t quickly pass by this little phrase, “the woman left her water jar…” What had she come all of this way for? Water!! And she had walked this path of shame at a time when know one else would be out and gone through all of this trouble…and then she leaves the jar behind! Why? Because she found what she was actually looking for…

-She had to go and tell people about it. This woman was desperately searching and when she at last found what she was looking for, she couldn’t help but share it with all the people she knew.

-There were incredible barriers facing her to go and talk to the people of the town…she was the local adulteress, the Hester Pryne of the town, and she was going to tell them this good news?

-She didn’t take several months or years to get her act together. She didn’t run home to get married so she could be presentable and credible to tell the people this news.

-She left her water jug right then, and went into town.

-Similar to the smelly shepherds proclaiming Jesus’ birth to Bethlehem. Similar to the woman who lost the coin and threw a party when she finally found it.
-She found what she knew everyone around her was searching for and she had to go and tell them.


31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

****JB’s passage (Simply put, shows Jesus’ intention for this time in Samaria, that is part of, and yet bigger than the conversation with this woman. He sees the fields white for harvest, and he wants his disciples to see as well.)


39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”


-Jesus was going after the Samaritans in loving graceful pursuit of their hearts, and he used this woman as his instrument! Almost like Paul, the most unlikely convert. Yes, Jesus was after this woman’s heart, but on an even bigger scale, he was after the hearts of many people in this Samaritan town of Sychar. God’s purposes are always so much bigger than they at first seem to us.

-The disciples probably would have come up with a much more efficient and worldly plan. “Alright, if Jesus really wants to get some of these Samaritans on board (which we’re not sure is a great plan), we need to get him a speaking gig at the synagogue, and we will invite all of the important people in the town. If we can get them on board, hopefully they will be able to use their influence to help others in the town to join our cause.”

-Not how Jesus works.

-The woman’s testimony is not a lot in and of itself. “He told me all that I had ever done”. Very simple. It seems that much planting has already been done.

-Their response to Jesus seems to indicate that much groundwork had already been laid and that they were waiting for “The Savior of the world” to come.

-These people had a personal encounter with Jesus that changed them. They went from believing because of the woman’s testimony, to believing because of Jesus’ words. We must each make that shift at some point. From interest and trust because of someone else’s words, to placing our faith and hope in God because of His own words and His own testimony. We each need a personal relationship to Jesus and his words.


43 After the two days he departed for Galilee. 44 (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) 45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.


-His own people welcomed him at first…because they had seen the miraculous things he had done in Jerusalem. Often we see people embrace Jesus for the mighty things he could do and then reject him when they figure out what he is really about.