Jesus in John 4: Touching the Untouchables

But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name.

John 20:31

Is there any other passage in the Bible where we can more clearly see both the humanity and deity of our Lord Jesus Christ? What would you do if the God who created the water in the well asked you for a drink?

Follow along with me as we read and discuss John Chapter 4. Normally I write out each passage, but this time I’ll invite you to read from your own Bible, or feel free to click on the links.

Jesus left Judea to avoid confrontation with the Pharisees (vv. 1-3).

The Pharisees thought it their business to regulate all worship. I see them almost as a form of the licensing committee for modern-day preachers. These people seem to believe that unless they sanction a work for God, it cannot be legitimate. The Pharisees certainly did not sanction John’s work. In fact, they likely felt threatened by him because as his influence grew among the people, their own diminished. Not only that, but John was not shy about confronting all men, high and low, with their sin. And now Jesus is reported to be even greater than John, which made Him that much more the enemy of the Pharisees and their established form of religion. Jesus knew of the rising anger and hatred toward Him, and as the time of His death had not yet come, He left Judea to minister in the region of Galilee, where the Pharisees had less influence. Jesus was not afraid of them, but neither did He see the need to seek out confrontation and danger.

This should be an example to us as well. There is a time to stand up for what is right, but we also need discernment to know when it’s time to go and serve God elsewhere. After all, the need for the Gospel is everywhere worldwide.

Jesus took a necessary “detour” (v. 4).

Jesus needed to go through Samaria. This wasn’t a “detour” as we think of it; it was actually a straight path. Samaria lay right smack dab in the middle between Judea and Galilee, but the Jews hated the Samaritans so much that they would rather travel way out of their way to avoid setting foot in this accursed land. Why did Jesus feel compelled to go through and not around? Was He in a hurry to get to Galilee? We read later that He was tired. Was He too tired to go the extra distance? Or did He have a divine appointment with a certain woman at a certain well? I tend to believe the latter is the case. Jesus does not discriminate like you and I do. He loves everyone. He died for everyone. He created everyone. He certainly cared about this woman, but He cared just as much for each man, woman, boy, and girl who lived in Samaria, and He knew that it was time for them to find out just how much He cares.

Jesus was thirsty and tired, but He still put others’ needs ahead of His own (vv. 5-26).

Jesus and His disciples had likely been walking since early that morning. About noon, they came to Jacob’s well. Jesus, being tired, sat down to rest, but He sent His disciples into the town to buy something to eat. Just then a woman came out of the city to draw water from the well. Why was she there at nigh noon, in the heat of the day? Why didn’t she come when the other women did, when the sun was not so hot? Chances are the other women didn’t see her as a friend. Perhaps they were cruel to her, and surely the rumors flew when she wasn’t around to defend herself. Then again, how could she defend herself? Most if not all of the rumors were true. She knew that, and so did they.

But apparently this Stranger at the well had not heard the rumors, or He surely would’ve gotten up and left as soon as He saw her coming. The woman was shocked when He made no move to leave, and maybe even a little perturbed. She liked being alone, for then she could pretend no one was judging her. Yet there He was. She couldn’t avoid approaching Him because she needed water from the well. What was He doing there? Did He in fact know her reputation? Was He going to try to take advantage of her? After all, they were in an isolated place, and there would be no one to hear her scream—as if they would’ve cared if they had heard her.

The man broke the awkward silence between them with a simple request. “Give me a drink,” He said. The statement sounded innocent, but what were His intentions? This man was a Jew. He shouldn’t even be talking to her.

“You’re a man, and a Jew,” she answered Him. “Why are You even talking to me, a woman, and a Samaritan woman at that? The Jews have nothing to do with the Samaritans.”

His answer threw her off guard. “If you only knew Who you’re talking to right now, you would’ve asked Him for living water, and He would’ve given it to you.”

The woman was confused. She said, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where does living water come from? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well?”

The Man answered, “Whoever drinks of this water will 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 be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Oh, that sounds good, she thought. Imagine never having to come to this wretched well again! Imagine never again being thirsty! I have other cravings, but at least I wouldn’t have to face the shame of coming alone to this well in the heat of the day. Out loud she said, “Sir, give me this water.”

“Go, call your husband, and come back.”

What? My husband? The woman hung her head and said, “I don’t have a husband.” Somehow He already knew that. And not only that, but this Man knew that she had been married five times before she gave up on marriage and just decided to live with the man. That’s why the women of Sychar despised her. She was living in sin, and they felt as if none of their husbands were safe as long as she was around. “Sir, I sense that You are a prophet.” The topic of conversation shifted to worship. The Jews say one thing, and the Samaritans say another. Who’s right?

The Man gave her an answer she wasn’t looking for: “The time is coming when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is a Spirit, and they who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

Wow! She was beginning to see that perhaps a new day was dawning, a day when anyone, regardless of their nationality, could worship God in a way that He finds acceptable. Was it finally time for Messiah to come? The woman said, “I know that Messiah’s coming, who is called Christ. When He comes, He’ll tell us everything.”

Jesus said to her, “I, who am speaking to you, am He.”

Suddenly the woman’s empty heart was filled to overflowing with joy. She had met the Messiah. He’s here! He knows me—everything about me—and He still accepts me. Just then the disciples returned, but the woman didn’t seem to notice them. Forgetting all about her waterpot, she turned and ran toward the city to tell the men the good news, that Messiah’s here and has come to Sychar in Samaria! The men? Yes, the men. They alone would listen to her.

Jesus taught His disciples an important lesson (vv. 27-42).

The disciples marveled that Jesus would talk with the woman, but no one was brave enough to come right out and ask Him why. They had only one thing on their mind: food. “Master, eat,” they said. Had they waited to eat with Him? Or had they eaten their fill before returning to the well? We don’t know. But He turned down the offer of food, saying, “I have meat to eat that you don’t know about.”

The disciples were really confused now, and they whispered among themselves, “Did you bring Him something to eat?”

“No. Did you?”

“Not me.”

Jesus then explained to them that He wasn’t talking about food that He could chew up and swallow, but about doing His Father’s work. There is something satisfying about doing what you’ve been called to do that can actually quench physical hunger and thirst. (As far as we know, He never got the drink He asked for either.)

By and by the woman returned, and she brought several men from the city with her. Many of them had believed on Christ because of her testimony. Evidently they could see the change in her countenance and knew that only the Messiah could have effected such a drastic change. They invited Him to stay with them a while, and they wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Jesus was only too happy to accommodate, and He stayed with them two days. Of course, the disciples stayed too because they were part of His group. Did they ever open their eyes to see the spiritual need of the Samaritans? Or were they only too happy to be gone from the place?

The Bible doesn’t say what Jesus did while He was there. He may have worked miracles of healing, but I believe He simply taught them the truth about Himself. I get this from their response later to the woman, when they said, “Now we believe, not because of your testimony, but because we have heard Him ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” They believed because of what they heard, not because of what they saw. Oh, how wonderful that Jesus needed to go through Samaria! He needed to touch these outcasts in a way that mattered for eternity.

Jesus rewarded the faith of a Gentile (vv. 43-54).

Do you remember Cana? This is where Jesus performed His first miracle, when He turned water into wine at a friend’s wedding feast. Now he was back again, and the people of Galilee welcomed Him with open arms.

In the midst of the excitement at Jesus’ return a nobleman pushed His way into the crowd to seek an audience with Jesus. He was wealthy, one of the royal family, connected by birth with Herod Antipas; and he lived in Capernaum. Just now royalty meant nothing to this man. Wealth was useless to him. The day’s journey he had traveled to find Jesus was as a few small steps compared to the burden of his heart. The man’s son was dying, perhaps his only son. The man had heard about the miracles Jesus performed, and he knew that at any cost he must bring Jesus to Capernaum to heal his son.

How did the men of Galilee receive this nobleman? They would have no respect for him. After all, he’s related to Herod, and Herod was despised by the Jews.

And how would Jesus treat him? Let’s see.

The nobleman found Jesus and begged Him to come down and heal his dying son, but Jesus made no move to follow. Instead, He said to the man, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you won’t believe.”

The nobleman pleaded again, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

Then perhaps without even looking up, Jesus said, “Go your way. Your son is alive and well.”

What would you have done at that point? Would you have believed Him? Or would you have insisted that Jesus do things your way and go with you all the way to the house? Would you have turned away angry when the Lord refused to do what you asked?

How did this man respond? He believed the word that Jesus had spoken to him, and he went his way with peace in his heart and a skip in his step. In fact, I’m willing to bet that he traveled home even faster than he had run to get there to see Jesus. Before, there had been a sense of urgency, but now it was one of expectation. And as he was going home, his servants met him and told him, “Your son is alive!” He asked them at what time the boy had begun to improve, and they said, “Yesterday afternoon at one o’clock the fever left him.” So the father knew that it was at the same hour in the which Jesus had said to him, “Your son is alive and well,” and not only did he himself believe in Christ, but his whole household. Jesus had reached out to yet another outcast from Jewish society and had brought many souls into the kingdom as a result of that touch.

What are you and I doing to reach the outcasts of our society, whether of high estate or low? Let us pray for them, and let us go out and touch them so that they can feel the love of Christ for them.


This week’s reading

John 5

NOTE: I use the term “week” rather loosely here. Due to my schedule, I’ve come to find out that I cannot write every week. But I’ll write as often as I can, for this message is important. Please comment below with your own thoughts on this subject. I would love to know where you stand in your relationship with Christ, and if what I have written has helped you in any way. Until next time, may God richly bless you!

This week’s memory verse

Verily, verily, I say unto you, “He who hears My word, and believes on Him who sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

John 5:24

Photo taken at Princess Beach in Destin, Florida, 2019

2 thoughts on “Jesus in John 4: Touching the Untouchables

  1. Pingback: Jesus in John 4: Touching the Untouchables – Tonya LaLonde

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