A Guide to Reading the Gospel of John (7)
Jesus’ Pastoral Conversation with the Woman at the Well
The Apostle John had good reasons for placing these two pastoral conversations side by side — first the conversation with a leading Pharisee, and then the conversation with a woman of Samaria. One reason would be that Jesus loves all people, not just important leaders but also common, everyday people.
But John also wants us to see the contrast between the two people, and how Jesus related to each of them. Nicodemus, the Pharisee, came to Jesus at night, almost in secret. He was seeking a conversation with Jesus about his religious questions. He left with a clear understanding of eternal life, but he made no decision. When he left Jesus, the night of darkness still covered his soul.
The woman of Samaria came to draw water, not to meet Jesus. She came at mid-day, seeking to avoid other women who usually would come in the early morning hours. Jesus was not abrupt in His conversation with the woman; she was a woman in need, but Jesus revealed His need to her: He simply asked for a drink of water, allowing her to minister to Him. She was somewhat sarcastic, but at the same time revealed knowledge of spiritual matters. She left as a completely transformed person, and as an evangelist to her entire village. Light was shining in her soul.
Jesus came to bring life. (John 4:1-42
The Samaritans were a break-off group from Judaism. They worshiped God on Mount Gerizim. They believed in the Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Bible) but rejected the writings of the prophets.
Jesus “had to pass through Samaria.” He could have taken the normal route that Jews normally took, but the Holy Spirit told Him to go through Samaria, because the Father was sending Him there for a purpose.
As you read through this passage, what can we learn about this woman? About her lifestyle? About her knowledge of the history of her nation? About her theology?
What does Jesus want this woman to know? How does He deal with her sin?
What do we learn about worship through their conversation? (Consider the fact that Jesus revealed His greatest teaching on worship to this woman and not to the religious leaders.)
What is the significance of this statement? “So the woman left her water jar.” This statement is a good example of how John sometimes uses double meanings in his Gospel. From what did she become free?
What was the first thing she did after realizing that she had met “the Christ” (Messiah)? What was the result? Take note of her expression “come and see . . .” Jesus spoke these words to Andrew and John; and Philip spoke the words to Nathanael. (1:39, 1:46) Finally, the Samaritan woman spoke these words to her community!
Consider the mindset of the disciples at this time. Notice how Jesus uses the word “food” in both a natural and symbolic way.
What is your greatest satisfaction in life?
Jesus is welcomed in Galilee (John 4:43-54)
John now selects two miracles that reveal God’s glory in Jesus: the healing of the official’s son at Capernaum (John 4:46-54) and the healing of the blind man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-17).
When the official asked Jesus to come down and heal his son, Jesus tested him to see if he actually believed. Jesus saw a man who would trust Him fully. Jesus said, “Go; your son will live.” The official’s faith has been described as “faith that rebels.” (See D. S. Cairn, The Faith That Rebels.) What was this official rebelling in faith against?
Professor Ronald S. Wallace, as he was teaching us seminary students the Gospel of John even back in the 1950’s, told us that perhaps we all should pray this prayer to Jesus even today, for all the children in the world: “Sir, come down, before our children die! He spoke of nuclear danger, of society marked by child abuse, homelessness, child slaves throughout the world, ofs refugees (Today, 60 years later, over half of the world’s refugees are children under the age of 18!). Dr. Wallace did not know at that time about the evil attacks through the internet.
Jesus is telling us early in the Gospel of John that we must have a faith that rebels against Satan’s plans of destruction and trusts in the unlimited power of God to answer the prayers of His people.