Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Relationship of The Son to The Father - John 5:19-24

The Relationship of The Son to The Father


In verse 18, John told us the Jews wanted to kill Jesus because, by calling God his father, he was making himself equal to God. This would have been blasphemy to the Jews who did not understand who Jesus was. They understood there was a fundamental distinction between the infinite, holy God, and the finite, fallen man or woman They were correct in this. This is part of what holiness is. 

For example, 1 Samuel 2:2 says: “There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you”. 

Jeremiah 10:6-7 says: 

“there is none like you, O Lord; you are great and your name is great win might. Who would no fear you, O King of the nations? For this is your due; for among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is none like you.”  

Today there are many who do not understand this distinction. They see God as a superman, or as Santa Claus figure, or a cuddly grandfather. They have a low and incorrect view of God.

The Jews had a high and correct view of God. Their problem was they did not believe that Jesus was not just a man. Therefore, they saw his claims as outrageous. 

There seems to be a sense also that the Jews thought Jesus was setting himself up against the Father as a competing God. To correct this view, Jesus explained the relationship between him as the Son and God as the Father. That relationship consists of love, communication and submission.

First, Jesus rebutted the idea that he competes with the Father or is independent of him. He said he could do nothing of his own accord, or initiative. (19) He is not denying his divinity here. Jesus is of the same essence as the Father and equal in divinity (their divine nature). Although Jesus asserts his submission to the Father here, he still makes a claim to deity, because he is able to see and do what the Father himself is doing. He would have to be God to do that.

But, in their roles, Jesus is submissive to the Father. He does only what he sees the Father doing.

We see this submission in John 3:16. God the Father sent the Son. The Father initiated the action and sent the Son. The Son responded in obedience and performed the Father’s will by coming to us and accomplishing the Father’s plan of redemption.

Second, the Father loves the Son. (20) Out of that love, he shows the Son all that he is doing. That is why the Son can do whatever he sees the Father doing. 

So, the Father expresses his love for the Son by disclosing (communicating) all he is doing, and the Son expresses his love for the Father by perfectly obeying the Father, perfectly accomplishing his will. 

Knowing these two truths, we know that the Son in his obedience to the Father reveals the Father to us, and to the Jews of his time, as he does what the Father is doing, as he performs the Father’s will. Remember John 1:18, which says “No one has ever seen God: the only God who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” And later, in 14:9, Jesus will say that whoever has seen him has seen the Father.

So the Father showed the Son all that he is doing and the Son revealed it by doing what he sees the Father doing. But, Jesus said, the Father will show Jesus even greater works. (20) 

These “works” he has shown would include the healing of the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda, the event that started this whole confrontation with the Jews. But there will be greater works than these healings. These greater works will be done so that they will marvel and realize that Jesus is sent by the Father.

What greater works will they see? They will see Jesus raise people from the dead as the Father does (Deuteronomy 32:39), because the Son can give life to whom he will.(21) They will see Jesus raise the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain, and Lazarus. All of these will be a prelude to his own resurrection. 

There is likely an eschatological sense to this as well. Upon his return, Jesus will raise all of those who believe in him. 

The Jews saw God’s giving of life this way; it occurred at the end of this age. We see this in Jesus’ discussion with Martha after the death of Lazarus. Jesus told her “your brother will rise again”. Martha said she knew he would rise again in the resurrection of the last day. 

Jesus responded to Martha by saying he is the resurrection and the life. (John 11:23-28) In other words, he had the power and authority to raise the dead and give them life at the resurrection. And he would prove it by raising Lazarus immediately.

Not only does Jesus have the power to give life to the dead, he has been given the right to judge humanity. The reason he has been given that authority is so that all will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. It is the will of the Father that the Son be honored as he is honored. And the honoring of the Son brings honor to the Father. 

We see this in Philippians 2:9-11:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.

The Father exalted the Son, honoring him and requiring all to honor him. That results in glory to the Father. 

Just as honoring the Son honors the Father, the converse is true also. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. (23) This should be a plainly recognized truth. You could hardly say you honored someone if you dishonored and mistreated the one he sent to you. 

Jesus illustrated this point in a story he told. We know it as the Parable of the Tenants. (Matthew 21:33) In that story, a man planted a vineyard and leased it to tenants. He sent servants to the tenants to obtain some of the fruit, but the tenants beat them and stoned them. The owner then sent his son. But they killed him. The owner reacted by putting the tenants to death. When the tenants dishonored the son, they dishonored the father. 

The statement that whoever does not honor the Son does to honor the Father is directed at the Jews. They claimed to honor the Father. But Jesus tells them they must honor him, as the Son, to honor the Father. This truth applies to all who practice any form of Deism. Deism acknowledges God, at least in some form, but not the divinity of Jesus. But, since they do not honor the Son, they do not actually honor the Father.

Verse 24 is a conclusion of the truths Jesus has stated. Since he has been given the power to give life to those he chooses, and since he has been given the power to judge, he can say that those who hear his word and believes the one who sent him (the Father) has eternal life and does not come into judgment.

John 3:16 told us that the Father gave, or sent, his Son, that those who believe in him should not perish but have eternal life. That is the will of the Father, and the word or teaching of Jesus, and we must believe the Father to be saved. We must believe that he sent Jesus and that we have eternal life because of our belief in him.

We receive this eternal life when we believe. We pass from death to life, meaning eternal life. Colossians 1:13 -14 says 

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 

That eternal life is our inheritance, kept not by us, but by God’s power, in heaven, so that it cannot be defiled or degraded. (1 Peter 1:3-5) 

We also do not come into judgment. This is the picture of Revelation 20:11-15. Those who have received eternal life have their names written in the Book of Life. All others were judged by their works, represented by the “books” that were opened, like accounting ledgers. They are condemned. Believers are not judged or condemned. Instead, they see the new heaven and new earth where they live with Father and Son for eternity.

So, eternal life for believes is both “now” and “not yet”. It is now in the sense that we have received eternal life and have been transferred into Christ’s kingdom. But it is “not yet” in that we do not receive it fully until Christ’s kingdom is fully revealed in the new heavens and earth.

Jesus fleshed that out in verse 25 as  he said an hour is coming and now is when the dead will hear Jesus’ voice and live. Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead with his voice, his word. But at the resurrection, that will become fully realized when he calls us to meet him in the air to live with him forever.

Jesus can do this because the Father granted him the right to have life in himself and to execute judgment. Jesus told them not to marvel at this statement, for the hour is coming when all in the tombs will hear his voice and come out. Some will come out to resurrection life. They are those who have done good by believing in Jesus. (29)

Others will come forth who have done evil, who are still in their sins, and then face the judgment. This again was shown us in revelation 20.

Read Revelation 20 again and you will see that you want to avoid the Judgment. Believe in Jesus today and receive eternal life instead of judgment.  


Sunday, January 24, 2021



John 5

Jesus Heals A Paralyzed Man & Declares His Deity


Jesus Heals A Paralyzed Man

Sometime after the events of chapter 4, Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the feasts. (1) John did not say how long it had been or  which feast it was. That is probably because the events of the story are not thematically tied to the theme of whichever feast it was. In other words, the name was not important to the story.

So,  Jesus came to Jerusalem and went to enter the city by way of the Sheep Gate. The Sheep Gate was built by Eliashib the high priest along with other priests, during Nehemiah’s rebuilding of the city. (Nehemiah 3:1) It was in the north wall of the city and Jesus was coming from the north. Since the gate opened near the Temple, it may have been named the Sheep Gate because sheep were brought into the temple court there for sacrifices.

There by the gate, in the time of Jesus, was a pool called Bethesda in Aramaic. Bethesda means “house of mercy”. 

John wrote that the pool had five roofed colonnades, or rows of columns that were covered. We might call them patios. These were probably built by Herod. There were a multitude of invalids lying there which included the blind, the lame, and the paralyzed. (3) These were all people who could not help themselves. Friends and relatives brought them to the fountain to beg from those who came to visit the Temple.

If you have a modern translation of the Bible, you will notice there is no verse 4.  That is because the oldest manuscripts do not have that verse. If you have an old translation, though, it might be there. For example, the King James Version states:

For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

At the pool, Jesus saw a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. He evidently could not walk. Jesus knew he had been there a long time. This again shows us his divine knowledge, his omniscience. 

Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed. (6) The man obviously did not know Jesus and was not aware of the healings he had performed at the Passover feast. Instead of asking Jesus to heal him, he referred to the idea that he had no one to put him in the pool when the water was troubled, and he was so slow that others got into the water before him. (7) We see from his response that he believed the idea of an angel troubling the water as set out in the missing verse 4. 

Jesus took the man’s response to be yes, and said “Get up, take up your bed, and walk”. And the man was immediately healed and walked away. (9) 


The Sabbath Controversy

That sounds marvelous, doesn’t it? Jesus ended 38 years of suffering by healing the man. Everyone should have been rejoicing because of the miracle and because of the new life the man was experiencing. 

But the leaders of the Jews did not find it to be marvelous, but rather to be a violation of the Sabbath. When they saw him, they did not say “it is so wonderful that you are healed” or “praise God for healing you”. Instead, they told him it was not lawful for him to carry his bed. (10)  

The Sabbath was very important to the Jews, especially the Pharisees, who strictly obeyed the Old Testament law. It’s observance is required by the 4th commandment, found in Exodus 20:8-11, which says:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do no work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within you gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

These last words reflected the story of God’s creation of the world. At the end of the creation account, it says:

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So, God blessed the seventh day and may it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation”. (Genesis 2:2-3)” 

That commandment was very specific.  It meant to cease from the work you normally do for a living for one day.  Still, the Pharisees added many requirements to it, saying what was considered work that could not be done on the Sabbath. There were 39 classes of work defined by the time of Jesus’ ministry. Many of them had nothing to do with resting from the work you did for a living. 

This formerly paralyzed man did not carry mats for a living. He just needed to take his mat with him so he could sleep on it that night. 

This is a good example of how legalism takes the joy out of salvation. We certainly are called to be holy and to obey God. But when we add rules and elevate them over the gospel, we tend to focus on those rules more than the gospel. Here, the legalism of the Jewish leaders robbed both themselves and the man who was healed of the joy of seeing God work. 

The man who was healed does not come off very well in the story either. He did not thank Jesus for healing him. He did not even ask his name. Then, when confronted by the Jews for carrying his mat, or bed, he blamed it on Jesus. He said the guy who healed me told me to do it. (11)  He later meets Jesus, then goes and tells the Jews it was Jesus who healed him. (15)  

So now, the focus of the Jews is not the man who was healed, but the healer. They wanted to find that man. Although healing did not violate the commandment, it violated their rules. And someone instructing others to violate the rules is more dangerous than the person who obeys him. 

Verse 14 is an interesting insertion into the story. Jesus found the man and told him, now that you are healed, sin no more so that nothing worse may happen to you. Although other passages in the gospels teach us that sickness or suffering is not necessarily tied to sin, Jesus’ words here indicate that this man’s sickness was tied to his sin. Therefore, Jesus tells him to stop sinning so nothing worse will happen to him. We all know there are consequences to sin and especially to continual sinning. Jesus was both instructing and warning the man to take advantage of his new life of health by living a holy life. 

Once the Jews found out it was Jesus who healed the man,  the stage was set for two of the great controversies between the Jews and Jesus: the meaning of the Sabbath and the deity of Christ.

Although John did not record the words of the Jews spoken to Jesus, he gave us an explanatory note in verse 16, saying this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he did things on the Sabbath they did not think were allowed. He was working on the Sabbath. 

In response, Jesus did not deny that he was working on the Sabbath. He did not even argue about their definition of work. Instead, he asserted his authority to work on the Sabbath. His reply to them was “My Father is working until now, and I am working”. (17) This statement set off a firestorm. 

God the Father stopped, or rested, from his work of creation on the seventh day, but he did not stop working. He continued to uphold the universe, to give life to people, and to provide for them the things they needed to survive. Most of the Jews recognized this, but believed working on the Sabbath was God’s prerogative and no one else’s.  

But Jesus claimed to have the same right to work on the Sabbath. He was working as his Father was working. Not only did Jesus claim the right to work on the Sabbath, he called God his Father, making himself equal to God, calling himself divine. 


John’s Summary

John made Jesus’ claim clear to his readers in verse 18. Not only did Jesus break the Sabbath, he make himself equal to God, or claimed deity for himself, by calling God his own Father. 

Although people will argue with you today that Jesus never claimed to be God, it is clear from this passage that he did and that the Jews understood that he did, and were outrage. John quoted Jesus’ words so we would know he did claim to be divine, and gave an explanation in verse 18 to make sure his readers understood this fact.

The deity of Christ is an important doctrine. Only as God can Jesus forgive sins and give us eternal life. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021



The Woman Witnesses


The disciples returned at some point during Jesus’ conversation with the woman. They were surprised that he was talking to a woman, but did not say anything about it. But they saw her drop her jar in haste, go back into town, and witness to Jesus. She told the people about Jesus’ supernatural knowledge and conjectured that he was the Christ. In response, they came out to see Jesus. 

It is interesting that Jesus chose this woman to reveal himself to and to evangelize her town, since she was an outcast. But, we know that Jesus does not discriminate based on wealth or status. As Paul reminded the Corinthians:

“…consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were win according to world standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29) 

Physical Food vs. Spiritual Food


While the woman went to the town, the disciples urged Jesus to eat the food they had brought him. Jesus told them he had food they did know about. He again was speaking metaphorically. 

He let the disciples discuss this for a while, but they were focused on physical things. So, Jesus told them his “food” was to do God’s will and accomplish his work. He meant that doing God’s work was more important and more sustaining than eating physical food.

Jesus then went to discussing harvesting. But again, he was using it as a metaphor for evangelism. He told them to look and they would see that the fields are white for harvest. Maybe they could already see the towns people coming their way, ready to hear the gospel and be saved. 

Jesus talked of evangelism as sowing and reaping. The sower plants the seed. But he or she might not be there for the harvest. When we proclaim the gospel, we sow it into the life of the person who hears. But we may never see the person come to Christ, to be reaped. Think of all the teachers of children who teach them the gospel week by week. Those children may grow up and go somewhere else before eventually receiving Jesus as their savior. These teachers sowed diligently, but did not reap. Yet, the sowers should rejoice in their opportunity to sow the seed of the gospel into the hearts of those they witnessed to.

Similarly, the one who leads a person to Christ may reap what he or she did not sow. They had the joy of seeing that person saved after many had taught them and witnessed to them. So the reaper rejoices with the sower.

Jesus told the disciples he sent them to reap that for which they did not labor. They might be there to see the person saved, but only after they had read the words of the Old Testament prophets, and after they had been taught the Scriptures in the synagogues. And, possibly, only after John the Baptist had gone before Jesus preparing the way.

This might be the first glimpse that Jesus gave of the mission he would give the disciples. Normally, disciples learned from their master and teacher. They might go on to teach others. But Jesus’ disciples would be sent (38) to bring people to Christ and to salvation. 

Many Believed


Many of the towns people believed in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony. At their request, he stayed with them two days, as they desired to have him teach them more about himself. Those who have been saved by Jesus should hunger to hear and read his word. 

As Jesus taught, more Samaritans came to believe. Their faith was not based on just the woman’s testimony, but on the word of God. This was not to disparage the woman or her testimony, but to confirm it. They heard Jesus teach and determined that the witness of the woman to be true.  They believed Jesus is the Savior of the world. He was not just the savior of the Jews, but also the Samaritans, the Galileans, and the Gentiles. 

Later, after the execution of Stephen, Philip returned to Samaria and preached the gospel. People came to hear him and paid attention to him. (Acts 8:4) Philip may have reaped from what Jesus sowed. 


Jesus Goes to Galilee

After the two days of teaching ended, Jesus left Sychar and walked to Galilee. He, of course, was a native of Galilee, having grown up in Nazareth. 

John inserted a parenthesis here, reminding us that Jesus said “a prophet has no honor in his hometown”. The NIV uses the words “own country” instead of hometown. The Greek word “patris” is in view and can be translated either way. 

In this context, Jesus seems to be making a contrast between the Samaritans and the Jews. The land of the Jews, including Galilee, was his home country because it was where his people lived.

John’s insertion here in verse 44 of the proverb that “a prophet has no honor in his own home town” is a little confusing. A similar saying is recorded in the Synoptic Gospels but slightly different meaning and at a different stage of Jesus’ ministry. In the synoptics, it refers to people in his hometown of Nazareth taking offense at his claims to be the Messiah.

Here, Jesus is going to Cana, which is not his hometown. And the people there have not dishonored him as the people in Nazareth eventually did. So, the meaning of the proverb cannot mean here that Jesus was dishonored. In fact, verse 45 says the Galileans welcomed him.

Instead, it appears that John means Jesus is going to a place where he has not yet honored, because the has not preached the gospel there and had people believe in him.   

In the Samaritan town, he received a great welcome after the woman witnessed to them and Jesus taught them. The people there believed in him as savior and as Messiah.

In contrast, many of the Jews were drawn to him because of the signs. They were awed and believed him to be a prophet and miracle worker, but not necessarily the Messiah and Savior. So, verse 45 says the Galileans welcomed him, not as Messiah, but because they had seen the things he had done at Jerusalem at Passover. 

Back in 2:23-25, we see that Jesus did not trust that kind of faith. He said many believed because they saw the signs he did, but Jesus did not entrust himself to them because he knew what was in them. 

Knowing these things, Jesus still went to Galilee.  

God does not always send us to evangelize somewhere to have great success. When God commissioned Isaiah to preach to Israel, he told Isaiah the people would not listen to him and would be brought to judgment. I have friends who labored in Japan for decades with little fruit to show for it. God sent Jesus knowing many of his own would not receive him, but he sent him nonetheless to preach the gospel to them.

Jesus & The Official


So, Jesus went to Cana, then to Capernaum, his home base. There he encountered an official, probably a Centurion, and a Gentile. He could have been a Roman, but he could also have been from anywhere in the Roman Empire. This indicates that the man had heard of the things Jesus did in Jerusalem as the Galileans talked about it when they returned from Passover.

It is interesting that John has recorded Jesus witnessing to a Jew in Jerusalem, Jews in the countryside of Judea, a woman in Samaria, and now a Gentile. It reminds us of Jesus’ statement to the disciples right before he ascended. He said:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Jesus modeled the very thing he later told the disciples to do. He taught in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. And now, by performing a sign with this Gentile from a foreign land, he was witnessing to the ends of the earth.

So, the official’s son was dying and he asked Jesus to come down and heal him. (48) Jesus first repeated the fact of verse 45 by saying “unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe”. (48)

The man persisted, though, and Jesus said his son will live, meaning he would be healed. (50) And the man believed Jesus.  In fact, when he found out from his servants that his son began to get better at the very time Jesus said he would live, he believed and led his whole household to believe. 

This was the second sign Jesus did in Galilee. He showed his power to heal. But he also healed at a distance, showing he did not have to touch someone to heal them. He is omnipotent, having power over disease and death. And he is not bound to any geographical location. He is omnipresent. 

Jesus did the signs to show his divinity so people would believe his  preaching. He cared about people and healed them from compassion, but his ultimate purpose was to reveal himself to people so they would believe and have eternal life. This happened with the official.

But some were not as interested in his preaching, they just wanted to see the signs or reap their benefit. They wanted the gift more than they wanted the giver. This is still a problem today, and a danger.

There are those whose preaching totally centers on the gifts. They speak of claiming wealth, success, and health. They draw great crowds of people who want those things. They are taught that, if they have the right mind set, all of these things will come to them. For example, I read an article once where a man was quoted as saying “I’m believing God for a Mercedes”. 

In contrast, the Bible tells us that Jesus himself is the gift. Eternal life is knowing God and living in his presence. Paul said “…I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”. (Philippians 3:8) Success and material things were of no value to Paul compared to the gift of knowing Christ. 

Our goal as Christians should be to know Christ deeply and to dwell with him. That will be what we do in eternity. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021



Jesus & The Samaritan Woman


This passage relates the second evangelistic dialogue in which Jesus engaged. They stand in great contrast with each other. The first dialogue was with Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a leader of the Jews. He was well educated in the Jewish scriptures (what we call the Old Testament). He was respected in his society.

This encounter, on the other hand, was with a woman, a Samaritan, and one shunned by her society.  

First, let’s look at the setting.

The Setting


The story starts with Jesus out in the countryside of Judea, preaching, bringing people to salvation, and seeing them baptized by his disciples. (1-2) He learned that the Pharisees had become aware of him, and that his disciples were baptizing more people than John. We previously saw the Pharisees come out to evaluate John the Baptist and argue with his disciples. They may have heard John’s disciples complaining that Jesus was baptizing more people than they were. 

Hearing that he was now on the radar of the Pharisees, Jesus decided to leave Judea for Galilee. It was evidently not the time for him to engage the Pharisees. 

Walking north to Galilee meant walking through Samaria. I’ve heard many sermons and lessons that say Jews did not walk through Samaria, but rather crossed the river and walked up the east bank until they could cross over to Galilee. However, Josephus, the historian, indicates that only some very strict Jews did that. All others walked through Samaria because it was the shorter route. And that certainly comports with human nature. 

However, the Jews disdained the Samaritans and avoided contact with them as much as possible. They considered the Samaritans to be racially and religiously tainted. Second Kings 17 gives us the reason for this.

The area known as Samaria was originally the northern kingdom after the split of the kingdom under Solomon’s son. The southern kingdom was known as Judea and the norther kingdom was known in the Old Testament as Israel. King Omri of Israel built a new city to be his capital and called in Samaria. Eventually, the whole area became known by that name. 

The Assyrians defeated Israel and carried all of the important people to be resettled in other parts of the kingdom as was their policy. God allowed this because of Israel’s idolatry. The Assyrians then resettled the area with other races. Since those people did not worship the Lord, the Lord sent lions among them. The people asked the Assyrian king to send them a priest because they did not know how to worship the god of the land. It was a common belief in those days that different countries or regions were subject to the power of local gods.

The people began to practice the worship of the Lord in various ways, but also worshipped the local gods they had known before being relocated. Eventually, these religions corrupted the worship of God so that it was different from that prescribed in the scripture. So, the Jews did not consider Samaritans to be Jews racially and did not consider them to worship God correctly. Therefore, interaction with Samaritans would make the Jews ceremonially unclean. 

At about noon on a day of travel, Jesus and his disciples stopped at a village named Sychar, in Samaria. The village no longer exists. Many believe it is the place known as Shechem in the Old Testament, where Jacob lived for a while. The land was believed to be part of the land Jacob gave to Joseph. The well known as Jacob’s well was close to the village.

Jesus was hot and tired, so he sat down next to the well while his disciples went into the village to buy food for lunch.   This well is where the dialogue occurred. 

The Dialogue, Part 1


While Jesus sat next to the well, a woman from the village came to draw water from the well. It was customary for women to come to the well in early morning or in the evening when it was cooler. And they usually came in groups. 

Since John specifies what time it was, we have to think there was a reason for it. It is likely that the woman was an outcast and did not want to face the other women or was afraid of being mistreated. 

But, of course, when she got to the well, she was not alone. And of all things, there was a Jewish man sitting by the well. Knowing that Jews and Samaritans did not mingle, as John noted in verse 9, she probably expected to fill her water jar and leave without interference form the man. 

But it was not to be. Jesus addressed her directly, asking her for a drink. (7) The woman was shocked and asked Jesus how it was that he, a Jew, asked her, a Samaritan for a drink. John inserted a parenthetical explanation that Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. (9) The New International Version has a footnote that says those words could be translated as “do not use dishes Samaritans have used”. 

As Jesus did with Nicodemus, he responded to the woman evangelistically and metaphorically. He told her that, if she knew who he was, and the gift of God, she would have asked him to give her “living water” and he would have done so. (10) The “gift of God” to which he refers is eternal life and Jesus is the only one who can give it to her. 

The term “living water” has a physical meaning, referring to running water in a spring, which was considered cleaner and fresher than still water. 

The term also has a metaphorical, or symbolic, meaning. It was often used in the Old Testament to refer to life, particularly life in the transforming power of the Holy Spirt. For example, in Jeremiah 2:3, God accused Israel of forsaking him as the spring of living water to dig their own cisterns, which were broken and could not hold water. They had abandoned the life God could give them for religions of their own making, which could not give life. 

But the woman, like Nicodemus, took Jesus as referring to the physical. She pointed out that he had nothing with which to get water from this deep well.  So, where would he get it? She was clearly skeptical of his claim. 

She was also sarcastic. She asked Jesus if he was greater than Jacob, who gave the Samaritans this well. (12) (This was their tradition; there is no Old Testament record of Jacob digging a well there.) Samaritans believed themselves to be descended from Jacob, despite their actual racial makeup. Jesus could have said he was greater than Jacob, because he is. But, he ignored her sarcasm and skepticism and pressed on with his message. 

Jesus drew a distinction for her. He distinguished physical water from spiritual, or living, water. He told her the physical water in the well would only satisfy her thirst for a while. In contest, the living water he offered caused a permanent transformation. She would never be thirsty again. That water would become in her and anyone who received it, as a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (13) When a person receives Jesus as savior and lord, he receives the Holy Spirit, who is our pledge of eternal life. 

2 Corinthians 1:22 says God put his seal on us and gave us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. Ephesians 1:13-14 says we are sealed with the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.

As with Nicodemus, the woman continued to dwell on the physical. She asked him to giver her the water so she would not be thirsty or have to come to the well again. 

The Dialogue, Part 2


Jesus had a way of getting past the barriers to get to the need. With Nicodemus, he cut off the flattery of being told Nicodemus knew he was a man sent by God by telling him he must be born again.

When a young rich man, who believed he was righteous, asked Jesus how to get eternal life, Jesus knew he was attached to his riches and went straight to that point, telling the young man to give away his possessions and follow him.

Here, Jesus cuts through the woman’s skepticism and focus on the physical by going directly to her problematic moral life. He told her to go get her husband. She said she did not have one and Jesus said that is true, you have had five husbands and are now living with a man who is not your husband. 

This story shows us the two natures of Jesus at work. As fully a man, a human being, he was hot, thirsty, and tired. As fully God, he knew this woman’s circumstances even though he had never met her. He demonstrated his divine omniscience. 

But Jesus was not trying to show off his knowledge, he was showing the woman her need. She was a sinner and was living in sin. She was spiritually thirsty and she needed to know that in order to receive Jesus’ gift of salvation. 

Upon hearing this, the woman realized that Jesus was no ordinary man. She called him a prophet. She did not yet realize who he really was. But, since he was a prophet, she decided to sidetrack the conversation by bringing up a big theological disagreement between Samaritans and Jews: the proper place of worship. The Samaritans built a temple on Mount Gerizim, which was close to the location of the well. This may have been in response to the Jews refusing the people of the land to help in building the second temple under Ezra. 

The Old Testament shows that the temple in Jerusalem was sanctioned by God, but there is no mention of God allowing a temple on Mount Gerizim. However, the Samaritans only accepted the first five books of the Bible, so the story of God sanctioning the building of the temple in Jerusalem by Solomon would not carry any weight with them.

Jesus did not ignore the error, pointing out that the Samaritan worship was in error, but he quickly moved on to the real point: the hour was coming, and had come, when temple worship, even that of the Jews, would become obsolete, and true worshipers would worship God in spirit and truth. 

The New International Version uses the word “time” instead of the word “hour”, which is the literal translation. In this case, the term “hour” is important. When Jesus spoke of his hour (or of when his hour comes) he referred to the events of his death, resurrection and exaltation.  So, Jesus was saying when his death, resurrection, and exaltation occurs, temple worship in any place will be obsolete and worship in spirit will take its place.

True worship comes only through Jesus. He is the true temple (2:19-22), he is the resurrection and the life (11:25), and he is the only way to the Father (14:6). Further, the gift of the Holy Spirit comes only after Jesus’ resurrection and exaltation. 

Jesus also said the hour is now here. He used an oxymoron, a contradictory phrase, saying the hour is coming but also saying it is now here. He does this to reveal who he is. He is the one and only one through whom true worship can occur and he is right there with her.

Finally, Jesus reiterates the point of worship in spirit by saying God is spirit and must be worshipped in spirit and truth. God is different than us. We are flesh, physical, visible, human. God is spirit, invisible, divine, life giving, and unknowable unless he chooses to reveal himself. John told us that in the Prologue. He said that no man has seen God the Father and that Jesus the son has made him known to us. The Father has revealed himself to us in the Son.

John also told us, by telling Nicodemus, that only those who are born from above through Jesus, who are baptized by him into the Spirit, can see the kingdom of God and worship God truly, or in truth. By being in Christ, knowing him, and being in the Holy Spirit, we can know the Father as much as he can be known by us and, thereby, worship him as he wants to be worshipped, in spirit and truth. 

We see a picture of this in Revelation 21:22, which is a picture of the new heavens and new earth. John saw the throne of God and of the Lamb there with his servants, believers, worshipping him. But there was no temple there because the temple is the Father and the Son there in their midst. This would be the ultimate fulfillment of what Jesus was speaking to the woman about. We experience an imperfect version of that now, but still a version that has made the concept of temples and locations obsolete. 

The Samaritan woman likely did not understand all of this, as Nicodemus did not understand all Jesus told him. So, she replied that when Messiah comes, he will explain all these things to us. And John again explains to his Greek readers that “Messiah” means “Christ”. 

The Samaritans did not normally use the term Messiah, so she may have used it in deference to the Jewish Jesus. They referred to the Taheb, who was a teacher and prophet as foretold by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15-19. Therefore, she could wait for him to come and explain it to her. 

But, Jesus did not allow her to wait. He told her “I who speak to you am he”. (26) This is his declaration that he is the Messiah, God’s anointed one, come to bring salvation.  

And that changed everything. His declaration that he was the Messiah\Christ accompanied by his knowledge of her circumstances, and his teaching of true worship sparks in her the belief, or at least the hope, that he is indeed the one God sent to bring salvation to the world.


Jesus demonstrated his love for the world by evangelizing both the devout Jew and the unorthodox Samaritan, a man and a woman, the educated and the uneducated, the upstanding citizen and the outcast. We should follow that example.

Jesus also shows us that we should not be preoccupied with buildings and furnishings and procedures, but be focused on the true worship of God in the Spirit and in the truth of Christ. 

Sunday, January 03, 2021



John and Jesus


“After this” in verse 22 means after the events that took place in Jerusalem during Passover, including the cleansing of the Temple and the discussion with Nicodemus. Jesus left the city and went into the countryside. He was evidently preaching, because people were coming to profess their faith in him and to be baptized. 

In verse 23, we see that Jesus’ ministry overlapped with that of John the Baptist, who was baptizing in a different place. People were still responding to his message of repentance and were being baptized. 

The parenthetical phrase in verse 24, telling us John had not yet been put in prison is interesting. Obviously, John could not preach and baptize out in the countryside if he were in prison. So, why did John provide this explanation? 

I think this shows us that John was aware of the other gospel accounts, particularly of the Gospel of Mark. Since Mark’s gospel is thought by most to be the first written, and John’s the last, it seems likely John would be aware of Mark’s gospel account and even to have read it. 

Mark’s gospel begins with the ministry of John the Baptist and proceeds quickly to his arrest in Mark 1:14. So, John the Apostle, wants us to know that all he has written about to this point occurs before the arrest of John as recorded in Mark 1:14 and that,  although he wrote about different things, there is no conflict of facts between his John’s account and Mark’s earlier account.

While John was preaching and baptizing, his followers got into an argument with a Jew over purification. The Jews had many purification rites that involved washing. We see an indication of this in the story of the wedding at Cana, where there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification. (2:6) The word translated “purification” in 2:6 is the same word used here in verse 25. So, this Jewish person may have been confused about the meaning of John’s baptism or arguing about the propriety of it in light of the purification rules of the Jews. 

This discussion must have led John’s disciples on to think about the fact that Jesus’ disciples were also baptizing and that people were going to see Jesus. There appears to be a sense of resentment here, as they say “all are going to him”. (26) We know that is not true, because John was still baptizing. So, the hyperbole likely means John’s disciples felt competitive with Jesus and his disciples and resented the rising popularity of Jesus.

John, however, does not share their resentment and shows again what a remarkable man he was. First, he reminded them that none of them worked on their own; they received their ministries from the Father. (27) John received his calling from God, from heaven, to come before the appearance of the Christ and to prepare the way for him. Jesus also received his calling from God and was sent to be the savior. John reminded his disciples that he had already testified that he was not the Christ, but the forerunner. (28) 

He was satisfied with the role given him by God. He was not jealous of the one for whom he prepared the way. 

So, we see that John embraced the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. God was sovereign over John’s calling and station in life and John was fine with that. When we are jealous of another person’s ministry or status, it is a type of arrogance on our part, wanting to elevate our judgment over God’s. 

John then used an illustration to help them understand. Jesus is the bridegroom and has the bride. His followers would know this illustration from the Scripture. For example, Isaiah 62:5 says “as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall our God rejoice over you” (God’s people). 

So, as Christ is the bridegroom and the church the bride, John portrays himself as the friend of the bridegroom. We would think of this as the “best man”. He rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. He does not want to usurp the bridegroom, but to help him. 

This illustration made more sense to his followers than to us if we do not know how things worked then. At that time, the focus of the wedding proceedings was the bridegroom as opposed to the bride, as it is now. 

So, John was not resentful of Jesus’ popularity. In fact, he rejoiced that Jesus had come. His labeling of Jesus as the bridegroom shows his believe that Jesus was the Messiah and king. 

John’s joy was complete. He had fulfilled his mission and now saw it come to fruition. He was perfectly happy that Jesus would increase and he would decrease. He was an incredibly obedient and faithful servant.

John’s Summary


In these verses, John the Apostle provides further teaching about Jesus and his superiority to all others. Here are the things John tells us about Jesus: 

  1. Jesus comes from above, from heaven. (31) Jesus himself told us he was sent by the Father about 17 times in the Gospel of John. 
  2. In contrast with Jesus are all of those, including John the Baptist, who are of the earth and speak in an earthly way. (31) Jesus came from heaven and spoke of what he saw and heard in heaven. (32) Jesus spoke the words of God and acted according to the will of God.
  3. God the Father gave Jesus the Spirit without measure or limitation. (34) This statement creates a contrast between Jesus and the old testament people who had the Spirit for a limited time or a specific purpose.  
  4. Jesus, the Son, is loved by the Father, who has given all things into his hand. (35) The Son has all authority. As he said in Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”. 
  5. Note also that we see the Trinity in action here. The Father sent the Son and gave him the Spirit. 

John also told us some things about human beings:

  1. People in his time often did not receive Jesus’ message (32) Many did not believe him to be the Son of God. That is true today. It is easier for people to accept Jesus as a good man and good teacher than the God who must be obeyed.
  2. Those who do receive Jesus’ message, or testimony, testify that God is true. (33) Those who reject Jesus’ claim that he is the Son of God are calling the Father a liar. 
  3. Those who believe in Jesus have eternal life. (36)
  4. Those who do not believe do not have eternal life and are subject to God’s wrath. (36) This is another statement to us that there will be a judgment at the end of this age which will determine where all of mankind will spend eternity in the age to come. 

If you will believe in Jesus today, you will receive eternal life and avoid the wrath to come.