John 4 (mostly in the middle)
There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman therefore said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 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.’ She said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?’ Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty, nor come all the way here to draw.’ He said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have well 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. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.‘”
From probably around 1984 until about four or five years ago, if you asked me when the book of Revelation was written, I would have said, “very late first-century.” And if you asked me when John penned his gospel account, I would have said, “in middle of the first century.” Even though I now believe that all of John’s compositions were written in the mid first-century, even up to a few weeks ago, I had always understood that Revelation was written well after John’s gospel account, today I am not so sure.
I understand that the Holy Spirit inspired John’s words therefore he wouldn’t necessarily have to borrow from the themes found in Revelation in his gospel account; nevertheless he does. Light, water, wine, Word are all themes found in both Revelation and John’s gospel account and his epistles. Again, I understand that John, like all other Biblical writers was inspired by God. And as the Spirit is God, Jesus is God. I am finding it very easy to believe that Jesus’ Revelation inspired John, in conjunction with the Holy Spirit, to write his gospel account–the themes and imagery are too glaring to ignore. Also, John was inspired by the Old Testament, which was also inspired by God. Matthew’s gospel account gives the most Old Testament quotes, by far, but John’s allusions to our Old Testament tutor are absolutely abundant. Much like his composition of Revelation, John’s gospel account is steeped in Old Testament allusions. John knew his Old Testament tutor and expected the same from his readers.
Of course our taught traditions teach us otherwise. Even without being taught, Revelation is the last book of the Bible and therefore, in our minds, it must have been written last. The good news is that it doesn’t matter. The better news is that we can know for certain that John penned both compositions, most likely within a few years of each other–the themes and imagery, descriptions and vocabulary are too similar to ignore. The grammar may vary but I believe that this goes to the two different genres of a gospel account and an apocalyptic address. The main thing to notice is the similarities between the themes, imagery, vocabulary, Old Testament allusions and the structure– John builds, then he recapitulates, like waves battering a beach.
John begins his gospel account with a preamble, pointing to the deity of Jesus and his humanity and this wave comes crashing down an recedes back to the ocean. Then he focuses on John the Baptist with another wave but recapitulates back to Jesus. Then back to John and once again, back to Jesus. He utilizes the same sort of structure in Revelation. Personally, I believe Revelation taught John how to write. Look at the end of John’s gospel account and see how it fits into Revelation being written before this gospel account. Lord willing, we will get to it eventually.
The gospel of John is an absolute masterpiece of literature. Every Biblical book is but John’s gospel account is in a league of its own. Rather than ramble on about the marvelous manuscript, let’s look at the content while we consider the context, aspirations of author, genre, examples and then divide rightly the word of truth. This is the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics. We keep the Bible caged by our traditions, presuppositions and preconceived notions. Therefore to unlock the CAGED Scripture, we utilize the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics, where; context is king, author’s aspirations to his audience are apex, genre is the general, expository exegesis of examples enlightens and dividing rightly the word of truth either confirms or cancels our preconceived notions and presuppositions.
We have been building and recapitulating along with John the apostle, who was “an eyewitness to the word God.” We have seen, the Word made flesh, the preparatory baptism of repentance, the light versus darkness, water, wine and how Jesus came to his own but they rejected him. Now we see Jesus like Elijah, asking provisions from a woman.
“There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.”
There is a lot of alledged irony here, in this divine date with destiny, for the astute observer of the Bible. Let’s look back on the continuing context. “He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. And He had to pass through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; and Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.“
Really? The Son of God, who lasted 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness without food and then bested the devil, was tired around noon? Don’t take my sarcasm in the wrong way. John said that Jesus was wearied, therefore Jesus was wearied. My sarcasm is to point out how divine the destiny of Jesus was. God manipulated everything to get Jesus alone with the Samaritan woman at the well. Remember that John wrote, Jesus “had to pass through Samaria.” Jesus, the man who fasted 40 days, was tired but his twelve disciples had enough energy to go to town to buy food. Jesus truly became like one of us, able to be tempted and tired, yet lived the Law of Moses out loud, perfectly. Even though we have read that the disciples did the baptizing, I believe Jesus worked the hardest, because he was wearied but the disciples went into town. Remember, Jesus is not this nascent, noodle-legged, namby pamby, whose physical strength is weak but gets stronger over thousands of years of dueling with the devil. Jesus was at the absolute prime of his life–late 20’s or early 30’s. He’s walked many a mile and was a carpenter’s son before power tools. We too often think of Jesus as frail from a misinterpretation of the suffering servant found in Isaiah. No, Jesus was a rugged individual compared to our ideas and paintings. A white-skinned, blue-eyed, weakling is not at all an accurate account of a middle eastern man in the first century who walked over rugged terrain, without sneakers or yoga pants. The point is Jesus was made flesh, and a strong flesh by this time in his life. Therefore if he was wearied at noon, God had kept him busy, so that he would sit at this exact well at this exact time.
Speaking of the time, why was this woman at the well around noon, by herself? This goes to the historical context. She was probably at the well, around noon, so that she would be alone. Drawing water in the middle east is something that is much more comfortable early in the day and not during the hot sun of midday. We will see the reason why the woman was alone as we continue to consider the context.
“There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman therefore said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)”
While seeing the bigotry of the Jews of the time, we also see the bigotry of the Samaritans and hopefully the bigotry in ourselves. The bigotry of the Jews is obvious in the woman’s question to Jesus and the parenthetical phrase of John. And while we would scream “racism” today, the text is clear that it was as much about religion as it was about who their father was. Notice; “You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?” Jesus doesn’t say to her, “whoa, slow down, Jacob in not our father?” Jesus and this woman may have been from different tribes, hers being more “corrupted” but they were descendants of Jacob.
We also notice, if we keep reading, that the woman challenges Jesus on the correct place to worship God. This gives further evidence that the bigotry of the Jews was both tribal and religious in nature and not racism per se, eo ipso. Certainly most of them thought that they were the superior of our species, chosen by God to be pure, holy, set apart; but were they? Is that what God meant in his law, to have a feeling of superiority? We’ll come back to the fact that Jesus was the only one to obey the Law of Moses and he sat down with a Samaritan woman.
But we also notice that the woman has come to the well at noon, after everyone else has long left. Most likely, she wasn’t welcome with the other women at the well. Jesus gives us some insight into this when he prophesied that she has had five husbands and the man she is with now is not her husband. While we don’t know the details, it certainly appears this woman is an outcast in her community. This woman appears to be bearing the brunt of bigotry on both sides. Yet she finds no such bigotry from Jesus, who knows exactly who she is. Herein is a lesson in bigotry. Remember that Jesus did not come for the righteous but to save sinners.
The only one with his own righteousness, the only one who is set apart and superior, sits down and asks the Samaritan woman for a drink. Surprised, the woman asks Jesus, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” It’s a horrible, yet unfortunately relevant question. Jesus gives her the best answer, obviously. We notice that no racism, sexism or nepotism exists in Jesus.
Jesus responds, “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.” Jesus doesn’t go there and yet he goes there. We have to consider the continuing context. We must not forget that Jesus “came to his own but his own did not receive him.” Jesus will talk about Jerusalem and Samaria but of them he uses the word “neither.” Even before negating Jerusalem and Samaria as places for worship, Jesus offers living water to the woman. No religion, no racism but truth is found in Jesus as he tramples traditions.
Many pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers claim that if we want to be like God, we have to go where God is– I couldn’t disagree more. In our modern worship services we sing things like, “we enter into your presence–” I could not disagree more. Many pastors and preachers theologians and teachers claim that the church building is the house of the Lord– I couldn’t disagree more. Most of our sayings, songs and traditions are actually the exact opposite of what the Scripture says. Look at the woman at the well and notice what Jesus does and says.
The woman is an outcast of outcasts, drawing water out around noon. Jesus went to her, rather Jesus met her exactly where she was, an outcasted woman at a well, presumably dug by their common ancestor, Jacob. Notice though that it is the woman who makes mention of Jacob and Jerusalem but Jesus begins with living water.
Fast forward to Revelation; “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’ And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.'”
Does this sound at all familiar? Does it fit the scene seen in John four? Look again at the exchange.
Jesus- “Give Me a drink.”
Woman- “How is it that You, being Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?”
Jesus- “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.”
Woman- “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?”
Notice what the woman said and asked and then watch Jesus blow it all up. She tells Jesus that he is empty handed and therefore won’t be drawing from Jacob’s well. She reasons out loud and rhetorically that Jesus is not talking about water from Jacob’s well. She wonders from whence this living water comes. Jacob was the father of many nations and tribes, therefore she questions Jesus rhetorically as to whether or not he is greater than Israel (Jacob). Jacob, himself and his children and livestock all drank from the well.
Jesus- “Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” Indeed Jesus is supreme over Jacob.
Now Jesus really has her attention. She wants this living water and the eternal life that it brings. Unfortunately for the modern evangelist, Jesus doesn’t stop here. Jesus doesn’t say, “just pray this little prayer.” On the contrary Jesus says, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” We know the rest. She has no husband.
She relays this to Jesus who says, “You have well 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.”
Jesus uncovers the reason why the woman is at the well at noon, alone. Most likely the woman was a prostitute of some sort. Yet Jesus met her exactly where she was, in her sin, shame and separation from society. He doesn’t wait for her in Jerusalem or in some synagogue but met her exactly where she was and he confronts her sin, without withdrawing his offer of living water.
“The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Talk about changing the subject– while giving lip service to Jesus as prophetically perceptive, the woman wanders in wondering about worship. Yet in her avoidance and aversion of discussing her lifestyle, she falls into Jesus’ divine purpose.
“Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
We could delve deeply, dissecting this development in the discourse but it is sublimely simple. Not on the mountain in Samaria and not in the temple of Jerusalem but in Spirit and truth is how God wants to be worshipped. Remember that Jesus told his disciples that they could cast “this mountain” into the sea? Remember all the high places used for idol worship in the Old Testament. Jesus just smashed them all, like Hezekiah and the serpent Moses made.
Some phrases that should disappear from Christianese: “going to church,” “in God’s house,” and “just pray this little prayer.” We don’t go to church because we are the church. We don’t go to God’s house because we are God’s household, everywhere we go. Or at least we should be. We don’t pray a little prayer but confront our sin after seeing Jesus for who he is and place it all squarely on his shoulders. Boiling it all down to the living water, the living water is the Spirit of God and we need the Spirit to even accept salvation, much less worship in truth. We will zoom in on this next time, Lord willing.
For now we want to see this scenario through the lens of Scripture. Jesus came on time, was rejected by the elitist elders, scribes, Sadducees and Pharisees as promised and changes the entire system. Better to say, he abolished the old way which would never work but God gave it plenty of time for men to try and to prove to future generations that it was futile. Yet no man was found who could keep the commandments–enter Jesus, the game changer. But more than a game changer, he was the fulfillment of the game. Jesus was Elijah when he asked the woman at the well for a drink. Jesus was the burning bush to Moses and to the woman at the well. Jesus provides a better drink than Jacob. And while it may seem as though I am painting the proverbial picture with a broad brush, Jesus at the well is both groundbreaking and pivotal. Much like Romans 5:8, the history of humanity pivots on the words of Jesus to the Samaritan woman. Yet it is more than pivotal because it was promised. Remember that there is nothing new in the New Testament. That is, it was all spoken beforehand. It’s not only the woman at the well that’s a divine date with destiny but every step Jesus took. And considering John’s epilogue, “and there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written,” this event in Samaria is supremely significant.
Beginning in the garden, Jesus was promised, not by name but by occupation. The tabernacle points to Jesus as do the priests, temple and Ark of the Covenant. The Law and prophets are a shadow of Jesus and when the substance of the shadows came, he wasn’t recognized, save for a small band of brothers.
I know that I am going long but I want to look at one final detail today, a mere 2 days before the 2020 U.S. elections. Jesus began his discourse with the woman at the well by resembling Elijah with the widow woman, asking for a drink. But then Jesus says 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.” “If” implies that she didn’t know. Jesus ends the discourse by saying that he is the Messiah for whom she was looking. Do you see it? If you knew, you would ask. She did not know yet she was looking. She brings up religion and worship, shying away from her sin. Jesus corrects her and introduces himself to her and still she struggles to believe. Her taught traditions hindered her almost as much as her sin.
Do you see it? Jesus is still preparing people for what was to come but makes a transition and a historical claim to the Samaritan woman. Are we prepared for what’s to come? Four more years of our current president in America is less than a short term solution. The supreme court is one sudden death away from going back to judges acting like jurors and legislating from the bench. It’s time for christians to confess our sins and see ourselves for who we are and seeing Jesus for who he is. If Covid19 wasn’t enough of a wakeup call to our ignorance and arrogance, think about being ruled by the hologram of Joe Biden. Yet I am torn as most of our brothers and sisters face persecution as churches grow yet we have become apathetic and lethargic. I will always vote for religious freedom but look what it’s gotten us, religion and taught traditions, mega-church pastors and a false gospel. Also, many false prophets predict a Republican landslide. I did as well but now I want to go on record as saying, “God’s will be done.” Because I don’t have a prophetic word concerning the presidency but these false prophets, like Sid Roth, claim to have a word directly from God. Nevertheless, even if they are wrong people will still buy there books so I will still pray for peace and religious liberty and especially the persecuted people of God.
Recently christians peacefully prayed with Vice President Pence, confessing their sins. And while I certainly don’t agree with most of their eschatology, I stand with them 100 percent in prayer for not only this nation but all nations, especially those persecuted. I will be in prayer of petition and confession, reflecting on the promises of Jesus and the promise of Psalm 2. Jesus will have dominion in USA, China, Russia, Kenya, Somalia, a certain communist country in the Caribbean and all the nations. And it all hinged in Samaria and the woman at the well, where for the first time in the book of John, Jesus says, “I am.”
You didn’t see it, did you? Some is lost in translation but it is right there. The woman tells him of the Messiah to come and to her, Jesus announces that he is the Messiah. Messiah means “anointed one.” Jesus is king, regardless of who is president. Nevertheless, vote for life and pray for the persecuted.