John – “But Who Do You Say That I Am?” – John 4:1-14

John Chapter 4. I wanted to explain again, in case some of you are just joining this study, of why I chose this title for the study of John’s Gospel when this question appears nowhere in it. This is the question that Jesus asked His disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” after He asks the disciples about who are people around saying that He is and this conversation appears in the other three Gospels but not in John. The reason why I chose this title is because people today, much like people back then, have really no clue to who Jesus Christ really is. This goes for believers and unbelievers alike. We think that He was a good teacher, or a prophet, or a good man, and someone we should mold our lives around but Jesus Christ was and is much more than that. Jesus Christ is God who came to earth in the form of a sinless man and John makes that abundantly clear in his Gospel. Also this is the question that we all will have to answer when we stand before Him one of these days. One of my favorite verses in The Bible, and I have several of them, comes from Philippians where Paul says…

(9) Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, (10) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, (11) and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. … Philippians 2:9-11 NKJV

The way that I view this is that you will be bowing one of two ways…either in fear because you don’t have a relationship with Christ or in respect and admiration because you do! So John’s Gospel gives the answer to the question who Jesus really is and that is why I chose this particular title for this study. So we’re in John Chapter 4 but before I get into this study, let’s pray…

Father,

Thank You for Your Word and bless this time we are spending in it. Father, as we look into this story of a woman thirsty for something more than water, let its lessons stick with us and help us to understand more who Your Son Jesus Christ really is. Lord, we also pray that this will show some that no matter how low that they may have sunk in life, no matter what they may have done, that there is forgiveness and room for them in Your Kingdom as well.  And now Lord, our hearts and minds are open to hear what You have to say. Speak Lord, for your servants are listening in Jesus’s name we pray…Amen!

Are you satisfied? Before you answer, chances are you’re not. During this past Super Bowl, advertisers spent roughly 5.4 billion dollars on ads betting on that you aren’t. We live in a very materialistic, money hungry, and power hungry culture. Materialism begins at an incredibly earlier age now. I work in an airport and I see this every day! I saw a mother goofing around on her i-phone. She had her baby, maybe one or two months old, strapped onto her in front in one of those “papooses” that are so popular with mothers now. Anyway, as she was doing whatever she was doing on the i-phone, the baby’s eyes were fixed on the phone screen absolutely mesmerized! His (or her) eyes were glued to that phone screen! I also see babies in strollers looking at other babies being pushed in perhaps better strollers than the one they are in and you can tell by the look on their face that they would rather be in the other stroller! Some of these things are Cadillacs now! LOL! The point is, we start to feel unsatisfied at an early age, feeling we need more, and that feeling basically continues throughout life. We say to ourselves, “Gee if I could only have that car, then I’ll be truly happy and satisfied!” or “Gee if I could only buy that house, then I’ll be truly happy and satisfied!” or “Gee if I could only get a raise, then I’ll be truly happy and satisfied!” or “Gee if I could only marry that girl (or guy), then I’ll be truly happy and satisfied!” and so on and so on. The thing is that nothing in this world brings us to that point of true contentment. We are always looking for more! It’s really only when we truly accept Jesus Christ into our hearts and lives that we feel that satisfaction and happiness because we all need spiritual satisfaction.

In John Chapter 4, we are introduced to two such people, first, a woman looking for so much more than water, although our Lord needs to make her aware of that fact and then an official looking for a miraculous healing. The women at the well is a long story and it can’t be covered in one post but for this one, I’m going through the first 14 verses which basically introduces us to this woman and her encounter with Jesus and then in the next post, I’ll backtrack and cover portions of this passage to make other points so let’s get started and as always, the text link for the chapter and the audio are included for you to follow along or you can do it the “old fashioned way” and actually open a Bible! LOL!

John 4

Let’s look at the passage I’ll be covering in this post…

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. (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. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. (7) A woman of 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) 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. (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.” (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? (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?” (13) Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, (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.” … John 4:1-14 NKJV

In these verses, we are basically being introduced to this woman. She is nameless and the only things that we know about her is that she was from Samaria and she was an extremely troubled woman. She was a woman in the wrong place with a bad past. She came looking for a well of water and instead, found a fountain of grace. This is the longest conversation that Jesus has with anyone that is recorded in the Gospels. The first two verses have been covered in a previous post so no need to cover them here so let’s start in verse 3. …

vv 3-6 – (3) He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. (4) But He needed to go through Samaria. (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. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

Jesus had been in the south, that was Judea, where He had met Nicodemus and now He goes north heading to Galilee but the text says that He needed to go through Samaria. Why? Because Jesus knew that people in Samaria needed to hear the Gospel too! To get to Samaria after leaving Jerusalem though, you have to head northwest and uphill to get to Galilee that way, not an easy trip especially on foot. Not to mention, that Jews avoided Samaria completely which I will cover why in just a bit. Very simply put, Jesus did this for the same reason that Jesus needed to go to Galilee in Chapter 1…for a divine reason to accomplish a divine purpose. In Chapter 1, Jesus needed to go to Galilee to meet Philip and Nathanael and here in Chapter 4, Jesus needed to go to Samaria to meet this unnamed woman at this well. Sychar is only mentioned here so it’s exact location is not really known but some believe it to be actually be Shechem because this is where the parcel of land that Jacob bought described in Genesis 33:18-19. Verse 6, shows the humanity of our Lord saying that He was wearied from His journey. Like I said, it was a long journey and all on foot and Jesus was tired and more than likely hungry and thirsty when He got there. John says that this was the sixth hour. Most commentators believe that John tells time in his Gospel by Roman time unlike all the other Gospel writers so this makes it probably around 6:00 in the evening or it could possibly be noon if you go by Hebrew time but really, the time doesn’t matter. It’s what happens next is what should be the focus and not the exact time.

vv 7-9 –  (7) A woman of 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) 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.

So about 6:00 pm (or noon whichever time you prefer), this Samaritan woman comes to the well where Jesus is sitting tired from the journey from Jerusalem. She is alone probably to avoid the other woman in the village because we will find out that this is a sinful woman. No doubt that this was probably a daily ritual for this woman but this time, she’s about to get much more than water! Jesus asks the woman for a drink. Was Jesus setting the woman up, looking for a response from her? Most definitely although He probably was thirsty as well since He was human. In verse 8, John mentions, For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. I did a post a year or so ago (could have been longer) where I stated my belief that the disciples were very young, probably teenagers, and used one of the reasons why because they were always preoccupied with food! Where to get it, how to get it, and how much to get! Grown men don’t generally have this preoccupation with food. Of course, in their defense, they were all probably hungry from the trip.

Back to this Samaritan woman though. When Jesus encounters this woman, she has been basically been beaten up by life. She has lost any hope of things in her life to get any better. I know the feeling myself because this is the way I felt when I had my “encounter” with Jesus. She also has some “skeletons in her closet” as well which we’ll see in a future post. The reason why I say this, that she’s a beaten woman, is because how the woman responds to Jesus’s request. You can hear the sarcasm in her voice, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?”. Can you imagine talking to Jesus, our Lord, that way? Of course she doesn’t know who she is talking to, the Lord of the universe and her Creator, but she soon will!

John gives a brief editorial at the end of verse 9 saying, For the Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. There is a reason for this but to understand why, you have to know their history. They had a history for 700 or 800 years of doing worship the wrong way. It all started with Solomon. After his reign, we all know the kingdom split… two tribes, Judah and Benjamin formed Judah to the south controlled by Rehoboam and the other eleven tribes formed Israel to the north controlled by Jeroboam. Jeroboam had this idea that Jerusalem was too far for the people to worship at the temple so he set up two golden calves…one up in Dan the northern part of Israel and the other one right in the middle of Samaria. Because of this, God punishes the nation of Israel, which includes Samaria, by having the Assyrians invade the nation and take the people captive and take them to Assyria. This happens about 722 BC. What happens after the captivity, is that Samaria is repopulated with a mixture of people so now you have Jews and Gentiles (non-Jewish) people living in the country with their own gods and goddesses and their own worship system. You also have intermarriages happening as well. Does any of this sound familiar? Kind of describes America today doesn’t it? Anyway, these people become outcasts more or less. In fact after the Babylonian captivity when Nehemiah comes back to rebuild the temple and the wall in Jerusalem, the Samaritans wanted to help in the rebuilding process but are denied because they are not “true” Hebrews. This rivalry gets so bad, that the Samaritans set up their own temple in 330 BC on Mount Gerazim in Samaria. This is right in Sychar, where Jesus is talking to this woman. Like I said though that Jesus knew that people needed to hear the Gospel in Samaria so He chose the more direct route, albeit the hardest, instead of going the long way around and totally avoiding the area like most Jews did and John wants us to know that the people needed the Gospel in Samaria as well as the people in Judea. Moving on now. …

vv 10-14 – Jesus answered and said to her, (10) “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.” (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? (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?” (13) Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, (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.”

Jesus now takes the conversation in a different direction. He goes from asking a simple request to a more spiritual level and meaning. Living water is not like water from a well. It’s not stagnant. It keeps flowing. There are many references to flowing or moving water in The Bible. In Psalm 42, David says…

As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. (2) My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? … Psalms 42:1-2 NKJV

And also in Isaiah, the prophet says…

Therefore with joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation. … Isaiah 12:3 NKJV

In the study of Jeremiah that I did here, it says…

“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water. … Jeremiah 2:13 NKJV

None of these passages are remembered by this woman and what Jesus says to her goes, phew!, right over her head very much like the conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus. To paraphrase what Jesus is telling this woman is, “If you knew who this is that is talking to you, you would ask Him to save you!”. She doesn’t get it though and thinks that Jesus is literally talking about water and wells. The sarcasm in the woman’s voice is still evident in verse 12 where she asks, “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?”. My first thought after reading this was, “Uh yeah! He’s God and Jacob is not!”. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus authority was always being challenged, putting mortal men above Him. The Pharisees and the Sadducees would always confront Jesus with things like, “Well Moses said blah blah blah now what do you say?”, as though Moses was above Jesus. Abraham was another one as well as in this example from John 8…

Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?” … John 8:53 NKJV

Actually, little has changed today. Mortal men, and women, are being put above our Lord in today’s world. People fall all over themselves to get a glimpse at the pope and care more about what he says than what Jesus says in The Bible. Mary, Jesus’s mother, is another mortal who is held in very high regard second to Jesus. She is prayed to and worshiped by millions all over the world. The Book of Revelation says it best. There are several times when John falls at the feet of angels and the angels tell him, “See that you do not do that! Worship God!” The only one worthy of listening to and worshiping is God! No one else! However in America today, we’ve taken all of this to a new level and have taken God completely out of the picture. America, for the most part, now believes and practices secular humanism where man is supreme and has no want or need for God. The result is that our country is steeped in immorality, idolatry, and violence. When we as human beings think that we know what’s best for us and take God completely out of the picture, it’s a recipe for disaster! In Jeremiah, in another favorite passage of mine, it says…

(9) “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? (10) I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings. … Jeremiah 17:9-10 NKJV

Bottom line, America is reaping what we are sowing! We like violence so much? We support paganism and idolatry? We triumph immorality? We don’t want God in our lives? God is just giving us what we want!

Back to the passage though. Jesus tells the woman, If only you knew. He is implying that she didn’t know. The woman is like Nicodemus. Remember when He told Nicodemus, “You must be born again!”. Remember his response? “How can a man be born again? Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time?” Phew! Right over his head! Same here with this woman. When it comes to spiritual matters, most people are the same way…phew! over their heads. Why? Because it’s foolishness to them! Paul says in 1 Corinthians…

(14) But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. … 1 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV

Believe in Jesus and have faith and trust in Him? That’s just pure stupidity! Science has all the answers! That’s what the majority of people think and believe. 

You can use verse 13 as a rebuttal for any earthly pursuit that you may have. “If only I had money!”. Drink of this water and you will thirst again! “If only I could marry that girl (or guy)!” Drink of this water and you will thirst again! “If only I could live in a nice house!” Drink of this water and you will thirst again! And so on and so on. No earthly pursuit will provide satisfaction, comfort, and true peace until you give your life to Jesus Christ! We live in a “if only” syndrome and we keep looking for things over and over again that we think will provide true satisfaction for us but we keep missing the mark until, we have a true, meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. Having Jesus Christ in your life though doesn’t mean you will then have a rosy, trouble free life, far from it actually, but you will be able to see things more clearly, make better decisions, and be able to handle life’s troubles a lot better than those who believe that man has all the answers to life. This has been my experience since coming to true faith in Jesus Christ. It hasn’t been an easy road but when obstacles come along, I don’t panic and get all depressed like I used to do. Hard to explain but true Christians feel a sense of inner peace and nothing that happens around them takes that away. I heard a great saying a month back. 2018 had just begun and I was listening to a message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque. He said, “Pessimists stay awake and watch the new year come in to make sure the old year goes away. Optimists stay awake and welcome the new year in. Christians go to bed knowing that God is sovereign and has everything under control!” That’s the kind of peace that I am describing here. So pursue earthly pursuits and you’ll thirst again but drink in Jesus and you’ll never thirst again!

In closing, there are a lot of differences between Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman. He’s a man; she was a woman. He was a Jew; she was a Samaritan. He was a Pharisee; she had a rival religion. He was a politician; she had no status. He was a scholar; she was uneducated. He was highly moral; she was immoral, as we will find out next post. He was named; she was nameless. He came at night; she came at noon. He sought Jesus; Jesus sought her. Nicodemus proved that no one is too righteous to need Jesus and the Samaritan woman proved no one is too low to not be loved by Him. I work as a shoe shiner in an airport. My job is to lure customers in by playing on their vanity. That’s how I make my money. I watch passengers walking back and forth when it’s slow, eyes on the floor, looking at their footwear and seeing whether or not they need a shine if they are wearing shoes or boots. “Shoe shine! Shine ’em up!”, I yell out. A lot of guys will tell me, “I’m good!”, meaning, not interested. I tell them, “If you think that’s good, than you’re good but you know what, they could be so much better!” That’s the way it is with Jesus Christ in your life! Most people are going through life following one pursuit after another and saying to themselves, “I’m good!”, like those guys at the airport do, but you know what, you could be so much better! “Shine up” your life with Christ today! Let’s pray…

Father,

As I close out this post, that is my prayer that if anyone who is reading this and doesn’t have Your Son Jesus Christ in their lives, walking around thinking, “I’m good”, when they’re really not, that they would drink of that spiritual rock which is Jesus Christ and never thirst again! Father, bless our homes and our families. Thank You for all Your blessings and also the trials that we may go through. Strengthen us and guide us in the saving name of Jesus Christ we pray…Amen!