Saturday, December 03, 2011

John 4:1-10

1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
2(Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.
4 And he must needs go through Samaria.
5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

Key Observation:
We all need to partake of the Living Water.

Calvin points out: “For this reason Christ, when he first sends the Apostles to proclaim the Gospel, forbids them to turn aside to the Samaritans, (Matthew 10:5.)” Matthew 10: 5 is very interesting, for to me, it makes the case of the Dispensationalist quite nicely: “5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” I must understand that when Jesus first came, He came as the king of Israel, and He was the prophesied King who was to rule over Israel. The first part of Jesus’ ministry is best interpreted as belonging to the Jews, though, as in all Scripture, I can find applications for my life.

For instance, Matthew is full of content specifically for the Jews. Matthew 10:5 shows Jesus’ intention is for the Jews. In Matthew 15 Jesus is approached by the Canaanite woman, asking for help for her possessed daughter. “He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.’” (Matt. 15:24) Matthew is of course emphasizing the kingliness of Jesus, and he does that throughout his book. Matthew 5 through 7 is where the Sermon on the Mount is, and people are forever guilty at looking at this passage and interpreting it to mean commands for the Christian. Chafer points out that many of the commands here are repeated later, and thus can apply to the Christian life. But it is not direct application, rather they are passages that resound the commands later given specifically to Christians.

The disciples’ prayer is routinely recited in many of our churches today, and most Christians would be surprised to note that it is a prayer not given to us. Notice the end of the prayer in Matthew 6:15: “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” This verse teaches something absolutely contrary to the doctrine of grace. Does it really mean what it says—for the Christian? Is it saying that if I do not forgive others the Father will not forgive me? Does that not negate the whole doctrine of faith? I am told in John that I have forgiveness on the basis of belief, faith in God and what He did through His Son. Now am I to believe that if I do not forgive others, I will perish? That is absolutely contrary to Scripture!

This verse is illustrative of what I am trying to show; there are many others in the Sermon on the Mount, that if taken as written and applied to Christians directly, do not seem to square with other doctrines. But all of those problems disappear when I look at the timeline of the Sermon on the Mount. It was before Jesus had been rejected as King. It was before the cross, which the book of John makes so apparent, was the real purpose for which the Lamb of God was sent. In this passage, Jesus is teaching the rules of the Old Testament as they ought to have been understood. Those in the audience were undoubtedly surprised at many of the teachings, but they understood well the premises on which they were based.
Is there application for me in Matthew 6:15? Yes, there is. I need to understand that there is a principle of forgiveness here. If I do not forgive, I am breeding contempt and hatred for my fellow man in my heart, and the Christian life should never do that. One day I will judge the world, but not from the mental framework which I have now. I am simply unable to be a righteous judge, for I do not know all or see everything. In John 3, I learned that the Spirit is likened to the wind, going where it will, and its path cannot be known by man. Paul was one such enigma. Who could have foreseen that such a man would turn into a Christian? I wonder how many Christians were praying for him, forgiving him and holding his soul up to the Father, asking God to grant him faith and repentance. I think those Christians must be there, though the Scripture certainly does not tell us so. What a wonderful application to my life! So long as I understand it as application, and do not negate the doctrine of grace.

Contrast the theme of John with Matthew. Matthew presents his King; John presents the Savior of the world. Now look at the passage of John 4, which I am starting comments on today. John alone, out of all the gospels, tells us of the story of the woman at the well. Why John and not Matthew? I would suggest that Matthew was trying to emphasize the Jewishness of our King, while John is letting us know that Jesus was even concerned about a people the Jews found beneath contempt—the Samaritans.

Says Calvin: “Christ now, availing himself of the opportunity, begins to preach about the grace and power of his Spirit, and that to a woman who did not at all deserve that he should speak a word to her. This is certainly an astonishing instance of his goodness.” I agree! Not only did Christ go to what was thought of as the “rotten Samaritans”, but He seemingly picked from the worst of the lot. “Thou hast well said thou hast no husband, for thou hast had five husbands, and he who thou now hast is not thy husband.” Who could have walked up to a stranger and said such a startling thing? I think the woman began at that point to try to categorize Christ, probably recognizing that He was at least a prophet.
Soon in the conversation, Christ offers himself as the Living Water. I compare that to the names John has used thus far:
1) Jesus is the Word John 1:1
2) Jesus is the Light of the world. 1:9
3) Jesus is the Lamb of God. 1:29
4) Jesus is the King of Israel 1:49
5) Jesus is Living Water 4:10

With the exception of number four, does not the list seem to emphasize the Savior of the world? I will see this pattern continue to unfold as John uses other names to describe Jesus. Interestingly, John seems to avoid the name of Christ in his book; he uses Jesus much more often. (Jesus appears 234 times while Christ appears only 19 times.) I would suggest again that the close friendship that John had with Jesus might be the reason why this is.

What is the Living Water? So many things from the Bible come to me at this point. Does not Revelation speak of water that we shall drink and never thirst again? It seems to be a literal river, flowing east and west out of Jerusalem. But I also think of the properties of water showing the Triune God. Does not water appear in three forms, naturally and frequently in our world? It was, for me, in first considering the properties of water, that I saw the reasonableness of the First Cause argument. Water freezes at 32 degrees. But why? Why not 80 degrees? If it varied its freezing point but a bit, life would not be possible on earth. Consider the boiling point at 212 degrees. What if it boiled at 160 degrees? Again I think that life would not exist on earth, if it were not for the properties that water has. And why should water have those properties if we live in a truly random universe?

This argument for water can be extended to all of the other elements we find occurring around the earth. Many of them have properties that favor the existence of life, yet men do not see it, “for they loved the darkness, because their deeds were evil.” The Scripture reminds me: “(Romans 1:20)For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” Truly the creation argues not randomness, but purpose, and purpose will point me to the Creator. The Living Water.

Calvin, John (2009-06-03). Commentary on John - Volume 1 - Enhanced Version (Calvin's Commentaries) (Kindle Locations 2568-2570). Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Kindle Edition.
Calvin, John (2009-06-03). Commentary on John - Volume 1 - Enhanced Version (Calvin's Commentaries) (Kindle Locations 2545-2547). Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Kindle Edition.

Like a River Glorious

1. Like a river glorious
Is God's perfect peace,
Over all victorious
In its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth
Fuller ev'ry day,
Perfect, yet it groweth
Deeper all the way.

2. Hidden in the hollow
Of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow,
Never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry,
Not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry
Touch the spirit there.

3. Ev'ry joy or trial
Falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial
By the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully
All for us to do
They who trust Him wholly
Find Him wholly true.

Stayed upon Jehovah,
Hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised,
Perfect peace and rest.

Lyrics: Frances Ridley Havergal

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