Day 4 – Nick
Summary of Chapter 4
Verses 1-26: This is the chapter, and the exact passage, that often pops up during worship training days and seminars – and so it should! Jesus gives the reading world a crash course in the radically changing nature of worship that He was actually in the process of orchestrating. The astonishing thing with Jesus is that (as though a sword was coming out of His mouth as He spoke) the realities that He describes were coming into fruition right before Him: The internal intensification of heart worship in the New Testament (cf. the meticulously forensic externalised forms in the Old Testament) is being fleshed out before Jesus’ very eyes in the life of this Samaritan woman. Think! How can Israel go from ‘bells and High Priests once a year’ to knowing God as Daddy in the quietness of your heart on a hot, dusty road in Samaria? Only Jesus’ blood.
Jesus ministry is transcendent – not that it spans galaxies (though it does) – but because it spans divided people groups. The Samaritans and the Jews had nothing to do with each other or at least they shouldn’t have. In speaking with this woman Jesus was laying down a vast suspension bridge across the Grand Canyon of ethnic division. This is beautiful and even gives a little taste of the ‘every knee/every tongue’ scene from Philippians 2.
The word of knowledge that Jesus has regarding this woman not only demonstrates the Kingdom of God to her, nor only authenticates His claim in verse 22 as being the (only) King of power, but is then the catalyst for a whole Town to come to know His divinity (vv 28-29). As a paraphrase of C S Lewis, this is either fabricated, delusional or the astonishing truth.
Verses 27-38: Jesus’ disciples return to find Jesus talking with the woman. They’re shocked, embarrassed and, frankly, rather disappointed! They miss what Jesus is doing in the moment by being caught up in their own agenda of lunch, but Jesus is gracious! He begins to then teach them about the Kingdom and, specifically, about reaching others with the astounding news He’d just communicated to the woman at the well who was now back at home feeling like she’d just won the lottery (see Psalm 119:14).
Verses 39-42: The scene cuts back to the Samaritan Town where the adulteress turned evangelist is overjoyed. Jesus graciously stays with them for 48 hours leading a mini-revival.
Verses 43-54: Jesus decides to return to the location of the ‘water and wine’ miracle, in Cana, whereupon a Royal Official approaches Him pleading for his seriously ill son in intensive care in Capernaum – the news about Jesus was getting out! At just the word from Jesus the boy was healed and the Official returned home knowing that He’d encountered the Living God. His whole family believed and were saved.
Key Thoughts from Chapter 4
- The nemesis of the glory of God in the gospel of John (spiritual blindness), that’s hanging over the people of Israel, (See Isaiah 9:2), including the disciples, is pierced by Jesus as He speaks with the woman at the well from Samaria. I can’t ignore the fact that spiritual blindness was shattered here by the word of knowledge in verse 18 that Jesus speaks, rippling through every fibre of her being and into the Town she lived in. We need the power of God in the days in which we live to shatter the power of darkness. I believe that is why the late John Stott believed in preaching and why God still moves in power today.
- But I was touched today by Jesus’ teaching session at the well with the disciples more than the woman. Their spiritual blindness was also hampering their intimacy and enjoyment of God (v33) because they didn’t fully see His majesty.
- Verse 35 reminded me of the beginning of the book of Ruth and the harvest scenes of mercy and grace and providence in the beginning of her hesed relationship with Naomi. This hesed love is at the core of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman, the disciples, the villagers and must be at the core of our conversations with people yet to believe in Christ. We’re to open our eyes to the world around us who are more ready for Jesus than we know.
- Jesus understands the human propensity to get ‘hung up’ on signs and wonders (see v48 and reflect again on Nicodemus in 3:2) but He longs for us to trust Him without them necessarily running the show. BUT the Royal Official’s whole household believed as a result of the boy in Capernaum; surely God wants to heal today and for His bride to move in supernatural power.
- The key? The Official took Jesus at His word (v50). I have walked with Jesus for 25 years and this is still sometimes very difficult.
Prayers from Chapter 4
Oh, Jesus…that we would grow in simple, child-like trust in Who You say You are, in what You say You do and in what You say You will do. Father, that we would be people of supernatural power in these days; people of Your Spirit and people of Your Word!