Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 4:25 AThe woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh, who is called Christ; when he is come, he will tell us all things.@
The Samaritan woman, unable to answer Jesus effectively, tried another ploy, procrastination. She essentially said they will both have to wait until Messiah comes to settle the debate. She was accusing Jesus of speaking about subjects that should be left in the realm of the Holy One, for only He would know all things.
Realizing she was no match for Jesus, she in effect put the conversation on hold. The cry of the world is too often, AGive me this water, but not yet. I want it . . . later.@
By mentioning the Coming One, she diverted attention from her specific sins, yet still sounded religious. Samaritan religion was very inflexible, granting no room for innovation.
The Samaritan concept of Messiah was based on Deuteronomy 18:18, AI will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you (Moses), and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.@
Samaritans saw Messiah as the perfect Teacher, not a conqueror. To them, Messiah=s mission was truth, not dominion. Though this view was defective (Messiah would do much more than only teach), it was free from fanatic political views of Jewish expectation. Since Samaritans were free from this political stumbling block, Christ felt free to claim among them Messiahship.
John 4:26 AJesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.@
To proclaim Himself Messiah in Samaria would create no problem for Jesus. He could use the term safely here.
Had Jesus used the term in Jewish circles, flames of zealous patriotism would have been lit. With the Jews, Jesus preferred to use the non-controversial and ambiguous term, ASon of man.@
In Samaria, Jesus claimed to be Messiah. He hid His true identity from Jewish teachers and leaders, but revealed Himself to this lowly fallen woman. A Samaritan, a woman, a sinner, was the recipient of the first clear confession from Jesus of His Messiahship. The Lord=s ways are mysterious.
The Lord loves to use unlikely vessels. This assures He will have all the honor, and forces all onlookers to look to Him for help.
Jesus= standards are not our standards. We seek respectable vessels. He seeks true worshipers.
John 4:27 AAnd upon this came his disciples, and marveled that he talked with the woman. Yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?@
The returning disciples were surprised to see Jesus speaking to a woman. Added to their shock was the fact she was a Samaritan and a sinner.
How could the Twelve, after having been with Christ, react in this aloof way? We must remember they were men of their time and environment, ordinary people, common laborers.
Their response to the Samaritan was sad. It is always disappointing when saved ones attain super-fine spirituality, put on airs, and turn away from the very ones Jesus would welcome.
The disciples eventually changed, but at this point were caste-bound, male-chauvinist Jews. In light of their ancient prejudices, we should probably deem their silence much to their credit. The disciples may not have understood fully, but at least knew Jesus had good reasons for what He did, and could be trusted to do right.
The Twelve were learning not to question Jesus. An important step in discipleship is when we realize our prejudices and incorrect customs must end at His actions and commands.
The stretching of the disciples= own hearts to care for all nationalities would take years, be personally painful, and come only after seeing the examples of Jesus, of Philip the deacon with the Samaritans and Ethiopian Eunuch, of a converted Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus, and of Cornelius and Peter.
John 4:28-29 AThe woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, who told me all things that ever I did. Is not this the Christ?@
With Jesus= announcement of Messiahship, the conversation reached its climax. There was nothing more to say. It was time to accept or reject.
The Samaritan woman accepted. Instead of responding with words as before, this time she replied with action.
Suddenly overcome with excitement, she left to tell others about Jesus. Christ had told her to bring her husband. She took it upon herself to invite everybody.
She left her waterpot, no small detail in a dry, barren land. Things of earth no longer mattered. Leaving the waterpot bespoke her urgency. She was in a hurry, intending to return quickly.
Her question in verse 29 implies a negative answer. AHe=s not the Christ, is He?@ Her hope was tinged with fear of disappointment. This could easily prove too good to be true.
In this classic soulwinning encounter, Jesus achieved His objective of bringing a soul to Himself. The Samaritan woman=s experience with Jesus revealed several definite, easily identifiable, and oft repeated, stages.
First, she felt accepted by Jesus (vv. 7-14). Second, she liked Jesus and asked Him for physical water (v. 15).
Third, Jesus convinced her of her sin (v. 18). Fourth, she tried to avoid conviction by using flattery (v. 19), diversion (v. 20), and procrastination (v. 25).
Fifth, confronted with Jesus= claim, she had to decide for or against Him (v. 26). Sixth, she believed. Seventh, she shared her new-found joy with others (vv. 28-30).
John 4:30 AThen they went out of the city, and came unto him.@
There was nothing artificial about this scene. The whole episode depicts a thrilling moment filled with spontaneous words and actions. The woman=s countrymen, moved by her enthusiasm, came flocking to Jesus.
Note one huge, albeit subtle, contrast between the woman and the disciples. They had known Jesus longer and better than she had, but when they went to the town, they brought back only loaves. The woman brought converts.
What are we bringing to Jesus? Only our burdens, confessions, labors, Bible studies, prayer sessions, etc? Where are the converts?