Study Notes 5-20-12

4:40-42 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days.  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.”

  • Their belief went from trust on testimony to first hand witness.  The shift is from testimony to witness.  I especially note the willingness of Christ to dine and live with sinners.  He truly came to seek and save the lost.
  • The second thing I note about this passage is how the Samaritans were reacting to His teaching. They were seemingly convinced that He was the Messiah – the Savior of the World.  What an amazing thing to know and realize, that the Savior of the World is walking among you and stayed with your people for two days.  The record of Jesus’ ministry here on earth shows me time and again how lavishly He poured out His love upon those who didn’t deserve it.  God is good and His goodness was made manifest in the person of Jesus Christ.

4:43-44 After the two days he departed for Galilee. [44] (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.)

  • There are so many explanations for this, but I like what Carson has to say.  He basically says that the contrast here is not between towns, but between gentiles and Israel.  So in the immediate context we think of Samaria and Israel.
  • The Samaritans were willing to believe in Christ because of His word (cf. 41) and didn’t need a sign like so many of the Jews.

4:45 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.

  • This adds context and background and helps us further understand verse 44.  The Galileans had seen His miracles and knew that welcoming Him meant perhaps more miracles.  So they were okay with Him being there – though this certainly can’t be meant to speak of all Galileans as a whole.  It is a sort of neutral statement that they are okay with Him being there.

4:46 So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. [47] When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.

  • Jesus’ reputation had preceded Him.  This was His home territory, and we see the elusion to the fact that this (Capernaum) is close to Cana where He had performed His first miracle.  No doubt the people of this area were well aware of His burgeoning ministry.  And this is why they welcomed him.  Carson notes that they were open to seeing Him because of the miracles, not because they believed in His Messianic role – as the Samaritans did.  And this is the contrast between being “honor” in one’s homeland and other places as Christ enumerates above.
  • Note here how this “official” was likely attached to Herod the Tetrarch.  Herod was a pseudo puppet king, and not a real king.  So though the word in Greek for “official” here has to do with being attached to a king, the people regarded Herod as a king despite his lower title.
  • Ryle wisely points out that we ought to learn form this passage that any man can be afflicted with sickness, disease, and death.  The rich are not immune from this!  Riches complicate life and widen the responsibility of those to whom they are entrusted.  We ought not to envy those with wealth.  They have responsibilities that we do not have and worries that we do not have to deal with.  Ryle points out that David was likely more at peace and happier as a shepherd than a king in the palace at Jerusalem.

4:48-49 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” [49] The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

  • I note here that Jesus is talking about spiritual matters, but the official in the story only cares about the life and death of his child.  But the official also signals his belief by declaring that he believes that his son will die unless Jesus does something to heal him.
  • Therefore, there might be a sense in which the official actually believed before he saw.  This might be also why Jesus didn’t come to the child and heal him in person.  This forced the father to place his faith in Christ’s words and abilities instead of seeing the miracle first hand and the then believing.  This is signaled in the next verse, which says “the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him.”

4:50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.

  • Can you imagine the trip back home?  In the next few verses we see that the servants use the term “yesterday at the seventh hour” which tells me that it was several days journey from where Jesus was to where the man’s son was.  So this trip, which must have taken about a day if we deduct that the servants say “yesterday” as the time when the boy was healed, must have been a very trying time for this father.
  • But the main point I want to emphasize here is the power of the word of God.  Jesus is just as powerful and effective in person as He is several miles apart from the man’s son.  We know that He upholds the universe by the “word of His power” (Heb. 1:3) and that He sustains all things that way.  We also know that John referred to Him as “the Word” in the prologue.  It’s certainly a theme for John that we ought to notice.
  • From a practical standpoint, can you imagine how powerful this man is spiritually that He can do this?  How can you see this and think, as the Jews did, that He was going to usher in a political kingdom??? Surely this act shows His work here on earth was going to be spiritual in nature.  For only a man who dealt with the spiritual realm could heal people from afar merely by the words he spoke.
  • I think that many of us underestimate the amazing power of the words of Jesus.  We have them written for us, and it isn’t for nothing that Scripture is said to “renew” and transform the mind.  These aren’t just lifeless words on a page, they are the water that Christ offered the Samaritan woman.

4:51 As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering.

  • This is the relief point here, he is finally home and he now knows that his boy is okay.
  • When it says “going down” it makes sense geographically due to the fact that Galilee is some 600 or 700 feet below sea level.

4:52-54 So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” [53] The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. [54] This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.

  • There are two things to note here.  First, the official wants to know right away when his boy began to be better.  He has placed his faith on Christ’s words.  He has been agonizing over whether or not his boy would live.  No doubt his faith was tried over and over again in those evening hours the night before.  And now he knows and his faith is confirmed.  It said before that he believed the words of Jesus, but here we see that his faith is confirmed.
  • The second thing we see is the fact that all of his household believed when he believed.  There is no doubt in my mind that when the father of a household believes, the chances that the children and everyone else will follow suit are very good.  In fact, I remember seeing that statistically it is overwhelmingly more powerful for the father to believe than for the mother to believe and try to convert her household.  This is because God naturally made the man as an authority figure over the house.  This sort of sets a president that we see in other areas of scripture (Acts 16:31-34, 18:8 and others).
  • The father didn’t previously care about Jesus being the Messiah, or about theology, or about anything having to do with ministry.  All he cared about was his son’s health.  Now his head is clear, his eyes are opened, and his heart has been made spiritually alive!  The arm and power of Jesus, God here on earth, is indeed long and powerful.  Christ didn’t have to be there in person.  His witness extended into the heart of this man from miles away.  Such is the power of God when He wants to reach someone.  Can anyone possibly doubt the effectiveness of His grace?

How do we teach this to our children?  EXAMPLE: Today we learned about how powerful Jesus was during His time on earth.  He was so powerful that He only had to speak and people were healed.  We learned also how important the role of the father is in the family.  When a father loves Jesus it is much easier for the rest of the family to love God as well because being a daddy who loves God sets a good example.  Also, we naturally have hard hearts about the things of God and what He wants for our lives.  When our daddies set an example, our hearts melt and we find it easier to follow and obey Jesus.  The last thing we learned was that people of all different backgrounds, races and status have problems that only Jesus can solve.  Rich people and poor people all get sick and everyone on earth eventually dies.  We all need a savior!

Study Notes 4-22-12

4:1-2 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),

  • I mentioned before that I think Jesus was probably not doing the baptizing Himself because people might have been prone to claim they had a “better” baptism if they were baptized by Him instead of another disciple/apostle.
  • I get into this a little bit below, but we are forced right away to ask ourselves “why” did Jesus find it necessary to leave Judea?  At first glance it might be easy to assume He was simply being reactionary to the Pharisees.  That He wanted to leave because of them.  Why?  Was it a reaction, or was it an action planned out ahead of time with the Pharisees’ new knowledge simply acting as the catalyst for the unfolding of divine providence?  I think the latter is a better explanation.  There are several reasons as to why He may have left that we’ll explore below, but right now we must settle it in our minds that He didn’t leave simply out of reaction to the whims and actions of men.  Jesus was in complete control of His life.  All things had been given into His hands (3:35).

4:3-4 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. [4] And he had to pass through Samaria.

  • The way from Judea up to Galilee would have made it geographically necessary/expedient for Jesus to pass this way, but as the ESV study notes indicate, there might be a double meaning in the wording:  “the words may also indicate that Jesus’ itinerary was subject to the sovereign and providential plan of God (“had to” translates Gk. dei, “to be necessary,” which always indicates divine necessity or requirement elsewhere in John: 3:7, 14, 30; 9:4; 10:16; 12:34; 20:9). Through Samaria was the usual route taken by travelers from Judea to Galilee, though strict Jews, in order to avoid defilement, could bypass Samaria by opting for a longer route that involved crossing the Jordan and traveling on the east side.”
  • The Assyrians had resettled Samaria after the northern kingdom of Israel had fallen (2 Kings 17:6-8 ESV). These Samarians were odious to the people of Israel and the history obviously went as deep as the hatred they held for them.
  • D.A. Carson gives more background: After the Assyrians captured Samaria [the capital of the Northern kingdom of Israel] in 722–21 BC, they deported all the Israelites of substance and settled the land with foreigners, who intermarried with the surviving Israelites and adhered to some form of their ancient religion (2 Kings 17–18). After the exile [of the Southern kingdom in Babylon], Jews, returning to their homeland… viewed the Samaritans not only as the children of political rebels but as racial half- breeds whose religion was tainted by various unacceptable elements…. About 400 BC the Samarians erected a rival temple on Mount Gerizim. (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 216)
  • Now, to address the “had to” comment here, I thought it would be easy enough to explain it away geographically, but I don’t think that’s entirely what is going on here.  John Piper says he can think of at least four reasons for Jesus “having to” go through Samaria.  The best explanation matches up with Boice’s thinking as well.  Piper says this: Jesus may have felt a divine impulse to go to Galilee by way of Samaria because God planned a divine appointment there. Do the words “had to” in verse 4 only mean it was geographically shorter? Verse 4: “And he had to pass through Samaria.” It was possible to go to Galilee in a roundabout way, which some Jews did because they thought the Samaritans were unclean. But John said that Jesus “ had to pass through Samaria.” Because he had an appointment to keep?

4:5-6 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.

  • A few contextual notes here might be helpful.  First, the Jewish day started at 6am, so the “sixth hour” would have been about noon.  Also, according to the ESV study notes, the well was located “at a juncture of major ancient roads and near the traditional sacred site of Joseph’s tomb.”
  • The fact that Jesus was so wearied from His journey really serves as a reminder to us of His humanity.  He got tired as we get tired.  He thirsted as we thirst.  When I think about the fact that He is in heaven right now hearing my prayers and understands fully what it means to feel as I feel, that is a very comforting fact for me to rest upon.  We have a God who knows us not simply because He made us, but because He experienced life as we experience it.  Astounding.
  • One thing that James Boice challenges us with is to ask whether or not we have ever “become hot or uncomfortable trying to communicate the gospel to others.”  It’s a probing question that we all need to ask ourselves.

4:7 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.)

  • James Boice has a beautiful insight into the contrasts between the story we find here with the Samaritan woman and the one we find earlier with Nicodemus.  He talks about how they are exact opposites in so many ways, and yet the points of the stories are the same. “If Nicodemus is an example of the truth that no one can rise so high as to be above salvation, the woman is an example of the truth that none can sink too low.”
  • Piper explains the relationship here by saying, “So we have ethnic, racial, and religious issues here that made Jews feel disdain for Samaritans. They were ceremonially unclean. They were racially impure. They were religiously heretical. And therefore they were avoided. Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. But more literally it says, Jews don’t “use together” with Samaritans. You can’t be asking me to use the same bucket. That isn’t done.”

4:10-11 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.” [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?

  • It really jumps out to me what Jesus says here about “if you knew who it is that is saying to you…”  If indeed!  How many others made the mistake of missing whom this man was!
  • She seemed to have taken Jesus’ words literally to the point of misunderstanding His point about the kind of water to which He was referring.  Boice points out that Nicodemus also missed the spiritual reference when Jesus told him he had to be “born again.”  Just like Nicodemus, she’s having difficulty discerning the spiritual things because she’s not spiritual herself (1 Cor. 2:14).
  • Boice explains what the woman would have been thinking perhaps, “In Jewish speech the phrase, ‘living water’ meant water that as flowing, like water in a river or stream, as opposed to water that was stagnant, as in a cistern or well. Living water was considered to be better. Therefore, when Jesus said that he could give her ‘living water’ the woman quite naturally thought of a stream. She wanted to know where Jesus had found it. From the tone of her remarks it is evident that she even thought his claim a bit blasphemous, for it was a claim to have done something greater than her ancestor Jacob had been able to do (dig the well).”

There are many Old Testament passages that a spiritual person of the day might have thought of as they listened to Jesus’ words, but this woman was not spiritual as I mention above.

  • Jeremiah 2:13 says, “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
  • Revelation 7:17 says, “For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
  • Isaiah 12:3 says, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

4:12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”

  • Are you greater?  Yes, Christ is greater, though, once again, He doesn’t answer the woman’s question directly.  He doesn’t give answers to silly questions, but instead answers the question of her heart instead of the mumbling of her mouth.
  • As Boice said in his commentary, “Jesus was claiming to be the One who alone can satisfy human longing…You may try to fill your life with the things of this world…but though these will satisfy for a time, they will not do so permanently.  I have often said that they are like a Chinese dinner. They will fill you up well, but two or three hours later you will be hunger again. Only Jesus Christ is able to satisfy you fully.”

4:13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, [14] but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

  • Here the fact that He was making an analogy is made plane to the woman.  There are some parallels here between the principle of satisfaction and the joy we saw John the Baptist express at the end of chapter three.  Christ gives us life that will satisfy us eternally.  What He gives us matches His divine nature.  He is eternal, the great gifts He gives are eternal. Boice says, “The woman had come to a well.  Jesus has invited her to a spring.”
  • Kostenberger cites Beale and paraphrases that, “Jesus inaugurated the age of God’s abundance. Jesus’ offer of living water signals the reversal of the curse and the barrenness that are characteristic of the old fallen world.”  I love this thought because it expresses the anticipation of Jesus’ arrival on the scene, and the meaning of His breaking into human history to provide a way of life that is more than just legalistic shadows and laws.  It is substance, and complete fulfillment.  It is living and eternal water; it is eternal life.

4:15 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.”

  • The woman here now responds how we ought to all respond!  GIVE ME THE WATER! Why?  So she wouldn’t have to “come here and draw water.”  And because, importantly, she probably felt a need for something (the “God-sized” hole in her life as some have termed it) to fulfill her.  She wasn’t being fulfilled in anything else.
  • Boice is right to cite Augustine’s famous opening to his ‘Confessions’ which says, “thou hast made us for thyself and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in thee.”


How to we teach this to our children? Example: Today we learned about how the love and compassion of Christ extends to the least of all men and women.  We talked about how Jesus showed His love by deliberately choosing to talk to the lowest, dirtiest, and most sinful people.  Just like us, these people were sinful and without hope until Jesus changed all that.  Jesus takes our hopeless condition and gives us “living water” which is eternal life.