JOHN 4


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,)

He did not personally immerse believers. The act of immersion was performed by his disciples: but done by his direction and authority, it was considered as done by him.

... He did not personally immerse believers. The act of immersion was performed by his disciples: but done by his direction and authority, it was considered as done by him. (Jno. iii. 22: iv. 2).

The non-performance of baptism by Christ's actual hands is an intimation at the very start that its virtue depends in no way upon the administrator. Sacramentalism is outside the scope of the system of Christ. The spirit of his doctrine is this, that we must believe what God says, with the simplicity of little children, and perform what He commands in the same humble spirit.

The idea of baptism or any other institution owing its efficacy to the ministration of a particular operator belongs to the system of spiritual sorcery that has since taken such deep root in the world -- as foretold.

When Christ (to whom John gave testimony) appeared in the same capacity as John himself, viz.: -- as a teacher and a baptizer, the people naturally turned in greater numbers to Jesus than to John. This was no distress to John, though his attention was called to it (John iii. 26). It simply led him to re-affirm his testimony to Jesus:

"He must increase, but I must decrease."

Nazareth Revisited Ch 14



3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.

Jesus, knowing their state of mind, went away from the neighbourhood of their power. ...Why should the feelings of enemies affect the movements of one who had the power of God upon him, and who could not be touched till his "hour had come?" It was but a preferring of circumstances favourable for his work.

The work he had to do was designed to influence a suitable class who were to become his disciples, and this work was best to be done in peace. He chose peace when he could have it.

The time came when he could no longer have it: but then his work was nearly done. At the moment in question, he was but entering upon it, and, therefore, he preferred to get away from the heat and the excitement, and the sense of insecurity caused to the multitude by the opposition of the Scribes and Pharisees.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 14



6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the 6th hour.

Wearied with his journey


This in passing tells us interestingly more things than one. It not only tells us of one "touched with the feeling of our infirmity" (Heb. iv. 15), but it shows us that the Spirit of God, though resting on him without measure, was not available for his personal needs during "the days of his flesh."

The Pharisees embittered his dying moments by shouting, "He saved others: himself he cannot save." Their cruel taunt carried a certain truth with it concerning his whole career. He gave strength to the weak; he healed the diseased; he raised the dead. But his own personal needs and sorrows he endured in the weakness of mortal flesh, supported by that faith in the Father, which he possessed in a measure transcending that of all his disciples.

The power of God placed at his disposal was for the manifestation of the name of God, and not for the supply of his personal needs. So here we have him toiling along the road in a burning Syrian sun, footsore and weary, and sitting down to rest in the neighbourhood of Sychar or Sychem, where Jacob dwelt,

"in the land of promise as in a strange country,"

some 1,700 years before.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 14



Jacob's well

He sits down by a well -- a well that Jacob had made in those far-off days, and which had retained his name during the long interval. His disciples go away into the city to replenish the exhausted commissariat.

The well exists to this day. It is in a valley, and in full view of Mounts Ebal and Gerrizim, which stand north and south of Shechem.

The surrounding scenery is impressive, and has witnessed many events in Israel's history. Chief among them was the muster of the tribes here when Joshua brought them into the land.

An imposing array, they stood, six of the tribes on one of these hills and six on the other, while the priests, standing between, recite the principal points in the law, to each of which the people shouted a hearty "Amen" (Deut. xxvii, 11-26; Josh. viii. 30).

That was very different from the scene now before us: a solitary man sitting tired at the well in the midst of the quietness and solitude of the picturesque valley, overlooked by two majestic hills.

The two scenes were not unconnected, however; they were parts, though widely separate, in the one great work which God, through Israel, is working upon earth for the realisation of His own object in the creation of it.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 14



7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

The woman is "a woman of Samaria" -- a descendant of those Assyrian colonists whom Shalmaneser settled in Samaria when the ten tribes had been taken away nearly 900 years before.

She is one of those therefore, with whom the Jews would have no dealings, though the Samaritans adopted the traditions of the land and claimed kinship.

This fact supplies the key to the conversation that ensued.*



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.

The woman expresses surprise that a Jew should ask a drink from a Samaritan. .. He would be a Jew of the best type, with a Jewish look ...the woman recognised in Jesus a Jew. He must, therefore, have looked like one, for the woman had no other guide. *

Nazareth Revisited Ch 10 & 14.



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.

....Jesus did not, as most other Jews would have done under the circumstances, proceed to justify the Jewish objection to the claims of the Samaritans. He might justly have done so: but this would have been low ground. It belonged to a state of things which was nearly past and spent. The time had nearly come to give the work of God a wider extension: and Jesus was come expressly as the instrument of that extension. He therefore draws attention to himself.*



11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?

This was probably said in a tone of kindly dignity that would encourage the woman. She naturally did not see through the figure of his speech. She understood him literally.*



12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

It then occurs to her that the stranger is perhaps claiming some especial gift in the case. She continues, during a momentary pause which Jesus does not offer to occupy...

(Though a Samaritan woman, she claims Jacob as "father," after the manner of the Samaritans).*



13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

Jesus does not disparage Jacob. He speaks of things as they are. It is the well that is in question: Whoever drinks of this will thirst again, but he that drinks of the water Jesus can give will never thirst. *



14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

The water so given will be in him a perennial spring. Jesus was speaking in figure of the immortal life he should bestow; but the woman could not understand this. *



15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

She supposes he is speaking of literal water which by some medication or virtue, would, in one draught, permanently satiate the thirst of the drinker. She would like to get a drink of such water, and so be saved the trouble of coming constantly to the well. She asks him to give her some of this water. *



16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

The superhuman dialectical skill of Christ, so often manifested in collision with his foes, is here apparent in a delicate dilemma. The woman had taken him at his word, and in child-like simplicity, asks him for the superior water he had said he could give.

To have said to the woman that she did not understand him, would simply have blocked her path. To have explained that he was speaking in figure would have embarrassed her understanding, and assumed an inconvenient onus of exegesis.

He therefore adroitly throws the subject into a channel suited to her capacity, and which relieves it of the necessity for explanation which she was not prepared to receive.

He says, "Go, call thy husband." The woman says, "I have no husband."*



17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:

Jesus knew that she had no husband. Why, then, did he ask her to call him? To give him the opportunity of displaying a superhuman knowledge which the woman would herself recognise as an indication of his true character. The opportunity he instantly seizes...*



18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

The effect is instantly as Jesus anticipated and intended. The woman's attention is arrested as it could not have been by the most lucid explanations of the meaning of his figurative language.*



19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

And here there must have been a pause -- a brief pause -- during which (the woman's eyes wonderingly and enquiringly fixed on Christ) reflections would occur to her, filling up the apparent gap between the remark that he was a prophet, and the allusion she proceeded to make to the long-standing controversy between the Samaritans and the Jews.

She was evidently quick witted and well-informed according to the standard of her day. Discerning the evidence of the power of God with this Jew, her mind opens to the possibility of the Jews being right in their objection to the Samaritan worship. She is, at all events, drawn toward the topic with a disposition to handle it enquiringly.*



20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye (Jews) say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

Again Jesus avoids the discussion of the Samaritan issue in its narrow sense. He admits that the Samaritans worshipped ignorantly, and that enlightenment in this matter was with the Jews, to whom salvation appertained. But, knowing as he did, that the moment was at hand when worship of every kind would be suspended in the land by the judgment of God overhanging the nation, and when worship would be transferred by the gospel to individual hearts in all parts of the world, he addressed himself to the personal and practical bearing of the question..*



21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.



23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

Here was an enlarging of the subject that must have been new and welcome to a Samaritan; though at the same time conveying a rebuke. Christ's words soared away from the question of locality, which was the vexed question between Samaritan and Jew. They obliterated it altogether --

"neither in this mountain (Gerrizim), nor yet at Jerusalem."

Where then? Anywhere and everywhere -- wherever there were true worshippers -- people knowing God as revealed to Moses and the prophets, and to whom in their conscious hearts, God was a reality, and who in their sincere and loving spirits adored Him.

"The Father seeketh such to worship Him,"

rather than the genuflecting formalists with whom the Samaritan woman would be familiar, and with whom worship was a matter of performance, rather than of heart.

* Nazareth Revisited Ch 14



For the hour cometh - the dissolution of the Mosaic dispensation


Individual worship


We have no temple to which we can repair. We have no priest to whom we can take the visible tokens of our submission and confession. We have no established and striking service of worship in which we can take part.

We are inorganic units, sojourning among the Gentiles while chaos reigns in the land of promise. We can only worship as individuals. But there is consolation in the thought that our individual worship is acceptable, if offered in spirit and in truth. Nay, the Father seeketh such to worship Him.

What a comfort here, that the Possessor of heaven and earth finds pleasure in the approaches of those who believe in Him, and who approach Him in truth and not in pretence: in spirit and not in form merely. To make this approach, we need not to go to a particular place. We require not to come together, though coming together is required of us under another head.

God fills heaven and earth. He is not far from every one of us. He knoweth our thoughts afar off. We need but to turn our thoughts and words to Him. This seeks and needs solitude. The human mind is weak. We cannot attend to God and man at the same time.

While in a sense we may set God always before our face, we must step aside from even the dearest friends when we mean to address ourselves to the Father in the particular manner implied in the word prayer.

It is frequently recorded of Jesus that he withdrew from the multitude and spent even whole nights in prayer. And in this matter, the true heart instinctively shuns the situation of the hypocrite, who desires it to be known he is praying. Prayer in spirit and in truth seeks absolute privacy as Jesus enjoins.

Of course, the public exercises of the brethren in the assemblies of the saints stand in a different category; but even in these, when the leader of our approaches is a true man and no mere performer, the words of the petition will be brief and modest and subdued -- a result certain to accompany a consciousness of God.

But the primary reference of the words under consideration is doubtless to those individual [and simple] acts of worship which are a constant luxury and strength to such as worship God in spirit and in truth.

Bro Roberts - Seasons 1: 41



24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

A first principle with me in all reasonings upon this subject is, that "there is one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all" His spiritual family. Another axiom is that "He is the Blessed and Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who ONLY hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; WHOM NO MAN HATH SEEN nor can see " (1 Tim. 6:15). And again, "God is Spirit " (John 4:24); and He is "incorruptible" (Rom. 1:23).

THE INCORRUPTIBLE SPIRIT DWELLING IN LIGHT is the Scripture revelation of the undefinable essence of the self-existent Eternal One, who is from everlasting to everlasting, God. What His essence consists in, He has not revealed; He has made known to us His name, or character, which is enough for men to know; but to say that because He is a spirit he is therefore "immaterial," is to speak arrant nonsense; for immateriality is nothingness, a quality, if we may so speak, alien to the universe of God

Elpis Israel 1.6.

.


33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?

They probably supposed the woman whom they found him talking with had brought him something. He meets their surmisings in words that have probably done more than any other to create a right and adequate idea among disciples in every age, of the kind and degree of earnestness with which the things of God should be held and followed.*




34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

It was for the sake of their influence that the words were uttered and recorded. "For your sakes," is the explanation of much -- nearly all that Christ said and did.*

* Nazareth Revisited Ch 14



42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

It is probable that when a few years afterwards, "Samaria received the Word of God," at the hands of the Apostles, Sychem would be among the places visited by Peter (Acts viii. 14-25). If so, the recollections of the Sychemites, going back to this visit of Jesus himself, would be very striking and useful.

Some have had a difficulty in reconciling Christ's action on this occasion with the direction he shortly afterwards gave to his disciples, to

"go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any cities of the Samaritans enter ye not."

There need be no difficulty. Christ did not visit the Samaritan district on this occasion in what we might call an official capacity. He was passing through it on his way to Galilee. What happened was in the way of a private incident and a personal condescension. It was a little before the time in a dispensational sense.

If he forbade his disciples to include Samaria in the scope of their evangelistic labours, this was no reason why he should not, in the exercise of his prerogative as the Master, himself, in passing, accept the hospitality of these privileged Sychemites, and speak to them of the great things of God.

* Nazareth Revisited Ch 14



43 Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee.

Bidding farewell to the Samaritans of Sychem, Jesus, resuming his journey, passes from the shadow of Mount Gerizim, into the open hill-environed country to the north of that mount, traversing which, with his (at this time) very small band of disciples, he enters the gorge at the southeastern extremity of the Carmel range, and emerges upon the plain of Esdraelon, and shortly afterwards enters Galilee.

He and his little company of fellow-travellers would be seen by many an indifferent eye as they moved along the dusty toilsome road northwards. Little would the casual on-looker in field and vineyard suspect the greatness of the ordinary-looking band of men that for a moment was visible on the road, and then disappeared as other passers-by.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 15



44 For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.

45 Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galilaeans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.

46 So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.

47 When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.

Why should he suppose Jesus could do this? He must have heard of the miracles of healing he had performed at Jerusalem. He had probably made the acquaintance of Jesus during his first visit to Capernaum already referred to, and acquired some idea of who he was.

He would doubtless be aware of John's ministry, on which he would probably be an attendant; and would not be ignorant of the testimony borne to Jesus as the Messiah.

For some or all of these reasons, he had confidence in Christ's ability to disperse the shadow that lay on his house; for his son "was at the point of death." **



48 Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.

Jesus did not meet the nobleman's request with the ready and sympathetic compliance he showed on other occasions. He rather held the man off with something of a chiding manner.

...There must have been a reason for this. Probably the nobleman's importunity was too much of the self-interested order, like the push of a crowd for some advantage. Possibly, also, there was an unacceptable element of challenge in it, as much as to say to Jesus that if he were the Messiah, he was bound to do this. Likely also, with many others, he showed more interest in the signs than in the thing indicated by them. So Jesus uttered a reproof which, however, did not check the natural ardour of the man. **



49 The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.

He expected Jesus would have to go down to Capernaum. It was literally a going down, for Capernaum lay on the margin of the sea of Galilee in the Jordan valley, while Cana was among the hills to the west. Perhaps Jesus would have gone down (as he did in other cases) had the man's attitude been such as to command his entire approval, but he did not do so. He granted his request without going. His power was greater than the nobleman knew. **



50 Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.

The nobleman's faith in Christ was strong enough to place the most implicit faith in this brief word. He started at once for home, twenty miles off. His mind being at rest, he probably rested for the night at one of the wayside inns; for it was next day when he reached the neighbourhood of Capernaum. He was met outside the town by his servants with the good but not surprising that his son was all right. He asked them when the improvement began. **



51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.

52 Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the 7th hour the fever left him.

The father recognised this as the very hour at which Jesus spoke the words of healing,**



53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.

How could it be otherwise? Was ever such power seen on earth before ? It was power superhuman that turned water into wine on the spot at Cana, and that cured the sick people brought to his presence at Jerusalem, of which the Galilean people had been witnesses (Jno. iv. 45); but here was healing performed at a distance of 20 miles with the rapidity of lightning -- simply by the utterance of a word.

Peter afterwards spoke of "miracles and wonders and signs which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know" (Acts ii. 22). This is the all-sufficient and only explanation of the marvel. God alone has command of the universal, invisible, inscrutable energy of creation, in which all things subsist, out of which they have been made by His contriving power and commanding word.

To Him distance and locality are no impediment. The impulse of His will is equal to the instantaneous accomplishment of anything, anywhere. He places His power at the disposal of His servants when His work and wisdom require -- sometimes angels -- sometimes men.

...To establish Jesus as His Name-bearer in the midst of Israel, He placed His power in him by His presence. Jesus, as the Son of David, did not the works, as he said,

"The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works."

It was needful that the works he did should be such as should truly bear witness of him -- that is, that they should be works beyond the range of human accomplishment. For had they been such as man, by any contrivance, could do, they would not have constituted the proof that was necessary; the way would have been open for men to think that perhaps Jesus did them as a man of contrivance, and that, therefore, God was not with him. It was needful that the foundation of faith in him, as the Saviour, should be laid in a manner admitting of no doubt. It was, therefore, necessary that he should do works beyond all human possibility.

**Nazareth Revisited Ch 15


54 This is again the 2nd miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.