Monday, April 22, 2013

There came a woman


I who speak to you am He".   John 4:26


Leaves on water

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. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, How is it that You, being a 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 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. 
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 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.  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 will you worship the Father.  You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.  But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will 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.
–– John 4:7-26


"Jesus said to her, I who speak to you am He".   John 4:26

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This is another absolute  I AM statement of Jesus.  In this statement Jesus tells the woman of Samaria that He is the Messiah. This is not a metaphor or a comparison. It is a straight forward statement following her description of the Messiah.

Jesus traveled back and forth between Galilee and Judea.  Jesus saw that His ministry in Judea was attracting attention for the wrong reasons.  People were primarily interested in His miracles and not His teachings.  Provoking the Pharisees at this time was not His goal.  That would come later in His ministry according to His perfect time. The most direct route from Judea to Galilee was through Samaria. The Jews hated the Samaritans, so they would generally take a much longer route just to avoid encountering the Samaritans.  By the providence of God, Jesus and the disciples took the shorter route. The statement, "He had to travel through Samaria", probably refers to the providence of God.  Jesus had to travel that way so that He would meet the woman at the well.   John 4:4

Racial and religious prejudices separated the Jews and Samaritans. The Samaritans were descendants from foreigners brought to replace the ten tribes of Israel deported by the Assyrians. The foreigners had intermarried with the remaining Israelites. This left behind a mixed race that the  Jews felt represented the downfall of Israel. The Jews were told not to have intermarriages between Jews and Gentiles. The Samaritans worshiped God according to their own traditions rather than the Old Testament Scriptures. The Samaritans set up a rival religious system, claiming God should be worshiped on Mount Gerizim.

It was about the sixth hour and Jesus was tired and hungry. Jesus, as fully human and divine, suffered from His physical limitations in His humanity. According to the Roman time keeping, the first hour began at 12 noon, therefore the time was about 6:00 p. m. In the Jewish notation of time it was probably about 12 noon. Jesus stopped at the well to rest, and for refreshment. The disciples were sent ahead to purchase some food for the group to eat.  They took very little with them as they traveled.

As Jesus sat at the well a Samaritan woman came to the well for water.  Only one woman came. Women usually came to the well in groups.  They came early in the morning or just before sundown when it was cooler. The time of day she came was either 6 p.m. or 12 noon, it was quite hot.  The women also came in groups to socialize and to share the labor of drawing the water.  The water was generally carried in a pottery jug.  There was probably five gallons of water, weighing about forty pounds.  This woman came in the heat of the day, and she came alone.  This would suggest that she was an outcast and would not be welcomed by the other women.  This also reinforces that our sovereign Lord had to be there and travel that way for the very purpose of meeting this woman. Jesus knew that the woman would be there.  

Jesus engages the woman in conversation.  This was something that was not generally done at that time.  At that time Jewish religious teachers rarely spoke with women in public.  Rabbis taught that women could not learn the Law.  It was also thought that a long conversation with a woman could lead a man astray.  Also, as mentioned above, the Jews detested the Samaritans.  Jesus asks her for a drink of water.  The shocked Samaritan woman replies sarcastically.   One soon discovers that this woman is a very bright, witty, woman with a caustic bite to her remarks.  How can you, a high and mighty Jew, speak to me, a lowly Samaritan. f  I'm just a filthy inbred Samaritan.   Worse than that, I just a woman.  How can you even acknowledge me, let alone ask me for water?

Jesus does not react to her defensive comment. He answers with kindness. If you knew whom you were talking with, you would have asked me for a drink of water.  I would have given you living water. There were no major rivers to supply water in the country of Samaria.  There were only wadis to collect the seasonal rain waters, these dried up for months at a time. The historic Jacob's well would be the perfect place to illustrate the familiar symbol of living water. The well today is over 100 feet deep and it was probably deeper at that time.

The woman again responds with quick wit. This is a pretty deep well. You don't have a rope or a hope of getting water from this well without the equipment.  Where are you going to get this living water.  What makes you so special?   You are not any greater than Jacob who gave us this well. He drank from this well and so did his sons and his cattle.  Jesus said to her, Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,  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.  John 4:13-14  (The word used here for spring is a word that implies a substance that is gushing up. It is a fountain of water. The fountain does not have to be the original source of the substance. It is the substance that is gushing. The water is gushing from the source. No work by the one who drinks the water it is required to obtain it.).

The woman replies that she would like some of the water that will never make her thirsty again. Jesus continues to speak to her.  She appears to be focusing on her physical needs.  She will never be thirsty, and she won't have to draw water from the well.  Jesus steers the conversation from her physical needs to her spiritual needs. Jesus knew the woman and her circumstances. Jesus knew of her sexually promiscuous life. He tells the woman to bring her husband to him.  This seemingly common request went right to the heart of the woman.  It directed her thoughts to her spiritual needs.

She answers that she has no husband.  This was a true response, but only part of the truth.  In the traditional sense of the word she had no husband. She attempted to change the subject. Jesus knew all about the woman and her needs.  Jesus knew that she was living with a man that she was not married to.  He knew that she had previously been married five times.  He did not condemn her for her sins, he pointed her to her spiritual needs.  He treated her with compassion and dignity.

The woman realized that Jesus knew all about her without having been told by anyone.  She thought He must have been a prophet.  She asks Jesus a question about where one should worship God. Both the Jews and Samaritans recognized that God had commanded their forefathers to identify a special place for worshiping him. The Samaritans claimed God should be worshiped on Mount Gerizim, while the Jews worshiped God in the temple in Jerusalem.  Jesus explained the truth to her.  The location where someone worships God is not important.  The quality of worship is what is important to God. The death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus would complete the plan of redemption for all people.  True worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth.  God does not identify with a specific location or nation.  He is present everywhere.  We are to worship God through His Son.

The woman tells Jesus that she knows that the Messiah is coming.  She tells Him that the Messiah will come and tell them all things. The Messiah will know the answers to all the questions.  Jesus then tells her,  I who speak to you am He.  Jesus declared to this Samaritan woman that He was the Messiah.  He said "I who speak to you am."  This is another I AM -  "ego eimi" statement. This was the purpose of His visit to the Samaritan woman.  Jesus told her that He was the Messiah.  This truth had a huge impact on the woman.  Then the woman left her water jar, went into town, and told the men,  “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Messiah?”  John 4:28-29   She did not keep the news to herself.  She enthusiastically shared the news to people from the town.  These were people that she had previously avoided because of her poor reputation.  But this news was just so wonderful that she had to share it with them.  She told everyone about Jesus. Her witness of truth of the Messiah encouraged other to come and see Jesus.

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What did I learn from this incident in the life of Jesus. God is sovereign.  He knows everything.  He knows everyone.  He knows the future. He deserves to be worshiped.  He deserves our praise.  Jesus is God the Son.  He is the Messiah. Sin is something all humans engage in.  If we hear the good news and follow Jesus as our Lord, our sins are forgiven.  A very important part of the story that I often miss is the action of the woman after hearing the good news.  She was so excited by the Good News that she could not contain it.  Her life had been changed. She told everyone the news, even those who had been avoiding her.  She wanted all of them to know of her experience. She had drank of the Living Water.  May we not be complacent about the Living Water.  May we always choose to tell others about the good news.  Precious Lord, my Savior forgive me for my lack of joy and enthusiasm, and let the waters gush.




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