You are currently browsing the daily archive for March 11, 2023.

The Third Sunday in Lent is March 12, 2023.

Readings for Year A can be found here.

The Gospel is as follows (emphases mine):

John 4:5-42

4:5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.

4:6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

4:7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”

4:8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.)

4:9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)

4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

4:11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?

4:12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?”

4:13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,

4:14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”

4:15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

4:16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.”

4:17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’;

4:18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!”

4:19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet.

4:20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.”

4:21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.

4:22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

4:23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.

4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

4:25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.”

4:26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

4:27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?”

4:28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people,

4:29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?”

4:30 They left the city and were on their way to him.

4:31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

4:32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”

4:33 So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?”

4:34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.

4:35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.

4:36 The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.

4:37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’

4:38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

4:39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.”

4:40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days.

4:41 And many more believed because of his word.

4:42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

Commentary comes from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

I will be writing this in more than one part, as this is almost a whole chapter. As such, Forbidden Bible Verses will appear sometime next week.

Last week’s reading — John 3:1-17 — was about the prominent Pharisee Nicodemus who sought Jesus in the night to learn more about Him.

It is interesting to contrast our Lord’s one-on-one encounter with him compared to that of the Samaritan woman, who was an outcast and an adulteress.

In both, Jesus cites spiritual analogies involving water. In the case of Nicodemus, it was being born of water and the Spirit. Here it is about receiving living water. Both analogies point to eternal salvation.

John MacArthur says:

We learn some things from Nicodemus, how to respond to someone who comes and says, “I want to enter the kingdom,” and Jesus says, “Well, wait a minute, that’s not in your power, you need to be born from above.” And we understand that.  And so you need to pray and ask God for that new birth if you want to be in His kingdom …

Unlike Nicodemus, who sought out Jesus, here’s a woman who wasn’t looking for Him at all, didn’t know He existed, had no idea who He was.  He is an unknown, unsought stranger that she meets sitting on a well who is as far as she is concerned really bizarre, strange.  He is saying very strange things, things she can’t sort out—at least that’s how it starts.

Jesus dismisses her indifference.  It’s not a barrier.  He dismisses her ignorance. It’s not a barrier.  And He dismisses, this is important, her immorality …  That’s not the enemy, that’s the mission field.  And all sinners are in the same situation headed for the same hell, even if they’re not homosexuals or they’re not Islamic terrorists. They’re alienated from God and it’s our responsibility in this world to go to them.  They are the sick who need the physician They are the unrighteous, the sinners.

After Jesus met with Nicodemus, St John tells us that He was baptising at the same time as John the Baptist (John 3:22-24):

22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.)

At the beginning of John 4, the evangelist tells us that Jesus had His disciples do the baptising. The Pharisees, who did not like John the Baptist, found out that Jesus was gaining more disciples than His cousin, hence our Lord’s departure (John 4:1-4):

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

Now he had to go through Samaria.

By the time that happened, John the Baptist was in prison, as Matthew Henry’s commentary tells us:

Observe, 1. When the Pharisees thought they had got rid of John (for he was by this time imprisoned), and were pleasing themselves with that, Jesus appears, who was a greater vexation to them than ever John had been. The witnesses will rise again. 2. That which grieved them was that Christ made so many disciples. The success of the gospel exasperates its enemies, and it is a good sign that it is getting ground when the powers of darkness are enraged against it.

The quickest way to Galilee was through Samaria, although because the Jews considered Samaritans unclean, the more pious among them went via one of two more circuitous routes.

MacArthur surmises there was also a divine plan involved in going through Samaria:

If you are a severely fastidious and sort of orthodox Jew, worried about defilement, you either take the coastal route, or you take the eastern route across the Jordan River because you don’t want to go through Samaria.  But here He had to pass through Samaria. 

Literally in the Greek, it was necessary, it was required for Him to go through Samaria.  We could argue that it was the shortest route and so that laid the necessity on Him.  He wanted to get out of there.  And He didn’t want to prolong His trip. He wanted to get to Galilee as quickly as possible so He took the shortest route.  But I think we would have to go beyond that and say He had to go through Samaria because there was a sovereign appointment, that it was established for Him with a woman by a well and that had been ordained before the foundation of the world. And it was going to lead to her salvation and the salvation of an entire group of people from a local Samaritan village He had to go that way. 

MacArthur says that St John includes the story of the Samaritan woman as further proof of His deity, the theme of his Gospel:

… the purpose of John is not set aside here, and the purpose of John is stated again in chapter 20, verse 31 of his gospel: “These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have life in His name.”  So while it is about the woman and her conversion, that is the secondary purpose of this section as we would know, being consistent with John’s mission.  The primary purpose is to unveil Christ.  The primary purpose is to declare Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God. The primary purpose is to put Him on display.  And in this account, His humanity is on display as He is weary and thirsty sitting by a well.

But His deity is also on display because He meets a woman whom He has never met in His life and He knows her entire history.  So we see His humanity and His weariness.  We see His deity and His omniscience.  It is then, more than it is anything else, a presentation of Christ.  And what makes it unique is that up to now in the gospel of John, John the writer, John the apostle has presented Christ as the Son of God John the Baptist has presented Christ as the Messiah.  The disciples of Jesus have given testimony to the fact that He is the Messiah. So we have the witness of John the apostle.  We have the witness of John the Baptist.  We have the witness of the disciples.  But this is the first time that the proclamation of the messiahship of Jesus comes from His own lips and that we find in verses 25 and 26 where the woman speaks of the Christ, the Messiah who will come, and Jesus said to her in verse 26, “I who speak to you am He.”

John tells us that Jesus came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph (verse 5).

MacArthur reminds us that Samaria’s history began in 722 BC:

Samaritans were essentially a corrupted form of the Jewish race. The Jews who remained in the northern kingdom of Israel when the Assyrians came and took them captive in 722—the Jews that remained after the population was removed the land—intermarried with all kinds of pagan, idolatrous nations and so they were a hybrid people who had forsaken their Judaism and committed the most heinous crime that a Jew could commit, and that was to mingle with idolatrous Gentiles. They had done that. They were outcasts …

Now Samaria originally was the name of the capital city of the northern kingdom When the kingdoms split after Solomon—Solomon was the last king of the unified kingdom (Saul, David, Solomon, and from Solomon’s sons)—the kingdom split, ten tribes went north, two stayed south. The south became known as Judah.  The north as Israel. That’s historic.

When the kingdom was established independently in the north, Omri, who was one of the kings of the north…and by the way, all of them were evil, all of them were wicked, all of them were unrighteous, there was never a good king in the north. But Omri, according to 1 Kings 16, identified Samaria as the capital city Well, it didn’t take long for the word Samaria to extend from the capital city to the whole region, so it all became known as Samaria.

In Samaria, somewhere along the way, is a village called Sychar. So we read there that He came to this place, a city in Samaria called Sychar.  Probably modern Askar, still around, and located on the slope of Mount Ebal, opposite Mount Gerizim.  Do you remember Ebal and Gerizim from Deuteronomy 28 The mountains of cursing and blessing where God warned the people, “If they obeyed they’d be blessed, if they didn’t, they’d be cursed?”  That area … 

Now again, you go back to 720, 722 B. C., Assyria captures the northern kingdom. Transports everybody out.  You can read the story yourself in 2 Kings 17.  Takes everybody into captivity, leaves a few people there, a few of the Jews from the ten tribes, and into the district come Babylonians, people from Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, Sepharvaim. They’re even listed in that chapter of 2 Kings.  They come in, they intermingle, they bring their gods, they get married, they lose their racial purity. This is a gross crime in the eyes of the Jews.  They concoct some bizarre form of their own religion, they build a temple on Mount Gerizim and they carry on their own kind of worship 

The bitterness is profound after the Jews in the southern kingdom, Judah, came back from captivity. Remember they came back from their captivity.  After they came back and rebuilt, you remember, it was Samaritans who tried to help them. Do you remember at the story of Nehemiah? The Samaritans wanted to help them and they refused to let them help. And so the Samaritans then tried to stop what they were doing and the bitterness got deeper and deeper and it lasted, and it lasted, and it lasted. 

A renegade Jew, actually, it was a renegade Jew named Manasseh, who married a daughter of the Samaritan Sanballat. You remember he was the enemy of Nehemiah.  This renegade Jew named Manasseh, who married the daughter of Sanballat, he’s the one that went up into Samaria and built the temple to sort of be their temple because they couldn’t be a part of the new temple being built in Jerusalem So this rivalry had gone on.  Here we are four or five hundred years later and the attitudes are bitter and deep. 

MacArthur says that, if Jesus had been staying with Mary, Martha and Lazarus in Bethany, this place was about 20 miles away. It would not have been a flat walk but a hilly hike.

Jacob’s well was at this place, where Jesus arrived, exhausted from His journey; He sat by the well, and it was about noon (verse 6).

MacArthur elaborates:

He came to this place, which is also further identified by letting us know that this is a place where Jacob purchased land and dug a well and then bequeathed that land and well to his son Joseph. And Joseph, of course, was even later buried there after the land was conquered by Joshua post-captivity. So this is just identifying our historical, geographic location, which the Bible loves to do because it is a real book about real people doing real things in real places.  So Jesus goes the twenty miles and He arrives near Sychar, and some suggest that Jacob’s well—they know where that is today. It was probably between a half a mile and a mile away from the village of Sychar Askar is about a half a mile or so away.

Henry has more biblical history on the location:

The place described. It was called Sychar; probably the same with Sichem, or Shechem, a place which we read much of in the Old Testament. Thus are the names of places commonly corrupted by tract of time. Shechem yielded the first proselyte that ever came into the church of Israel (Gen 34 24), and now it is the first place where the gospel is preached out of the commonwealth of Israel; so Dr. Lightfoot observes; as also that the valley of Achor, which was given for a door of hope, hope to the poor Gentiles, ran along by this city, Hos 2 15. Abimelech was made king here; it was Jeroboam’s royal seat; but the evangelist, when he would give us the antiquities of the place, takes notice of Jacob’s interest there, which was more its honour than its crowned heads. [1.] Here lay Jacob’s ground, the parcel of ground which Jacob gave to his son Joseph, whose bones were buried in it, Gen 48 22; Josh 24 32. Probably this is mentioned to intimate that Christ, when he reposed himself hard by here, took occasion from the ground which Jacob gave Joseph to meditate on the good report which the elders by faith obtained. Jerome chose to live in the land of Canaan, that the sight of the places might affect him the more with scripture stories. [2.] Here was Jacob’s well which he digged, or at least used, for himself and his family. We find no mention of this well in the Old Testament; but the tradition was that it was Jacob’s well.

Some Bible translations express part of verse 6 in these words, ‘Jesus being wearied from His journey was sitting thus‘. MacArthur explains what ‘sitting thus’ means:

Wearied, in a wearied condition; He sat in a slumped, wearied condition by the well. It was about the sixth hour.  The day began at dawn, which means it began say around 6 A.M. and sixth hour puts it at noon.  It is high noon; it is the middle of the day. The sun is at its peak and He has walked 20 miles, a rigorous, rigorous walk that morning.  And He’s exhausted.  The word “wearied,” kopiao, means to be to the point of sweat and exhaustion.  It’s an extreme condition He is worn out.  He is spent.  And at noon, under the blazing sun, He sits down on the edge of the well.

A Samaritan woman came to draw water and Jesus said to her — in the imperative — ‘Give Me a drink’ (verse 7). His disciples had gone into the city to buy something to eat (verse 8).

Henry reminds us to keep in mind our Lord’s discomfort on this and other occasions (particularly the Cross) while we do everything we can for our own physical comfort:

[1.] Labouring under the common fatigue of travellers … Here we see, First, That he was a true man, and subject to the common infirmities of the human nature. Toil came in with sin (Gen 3 19), and therefore Christ, having made himself a curse for us, submitted to it. Secondly, That he was a poor man, else he might have travelled on horseback or in a chariot. To this instance of meanness and mortification he humbled himself for us, that he went all his journeys on foot. When servants were on horses, princes walked as servants on the earth, Eccl 10 7. When we are carried easily, let us think on the weariness of our Master. Thirdly, It should seem that he was but a tender man, and not of a robust constitution; it should seem, his disciples were not tired, for they went into the town without any difficulty, when their Master sat down, and could not go a step further. Bodies of the finest mould are most sensible of fatigue, and can worst bear it.

[2.] We have him here betaking himself to the common relief of travellers; Being wearied, he sat thus on the well. First, He sat on the well, an uneasy place, cold and hard; he had no couch, no easy chair to repose himself in, but took to that which was next hand, to teach us not to be nice and curious in the conveniences of this life, but content with mean things. Secondly, He sat thus, in an uneasy posture; sat carelessly—incuriose et neglectim; or he sat so as people that are wearied with travelling are accustomed to sit.

MacArthur adds that Jesus had the power to make Himself comfortable but never did:

… Jesus never did a miracle to quench His own thirst, satisfy His own hunger, or provide anything for Himself, never.  There’s no record in all four gospels that Jesus ever did any miracle to feed Himself, provide for Himself, and thus He honored work, and He honored effort, and He honored care, and He honored sacrifice, and He honored giving and all the things that we do in life to sustain ourselves This was also part of His commitment to humanity.  We get what we need through either our own work, and our own effort, or somebody else’s work and somebody else’s effort.  He didn’t do those kinds of miracles that would supply His own wants.

It’s important to note that men of that era, particularly Jews, did not speak to women.

MacArthur says:

It’s a shocking thing, really, very shocking.  Not so much in our culture, obviously, but in that culture it’s a shocking thing for Him to do because men don’t speak with women in public. That’s a breach of religious etiquette.  And especially rabbis don’t speak to women in public In fact, I remember reading years ago, a group of Pharisees and rabbis who were called the bruised and bleeding Pharisees and the reason they were bruised and bleeding was because every time they saw a woman they closed their eyes and they kept running into buildings.  Jewish men didn’t talk to women.  Do you know that Jewish rabbis were not supposed to talk to the women of their own family in public.

The Samaritan woman responded to our Lord’s request for water, asking how a Jew could ask a drink of a Samaritan woman, to which St John adds that Jews did not share things in common with Samaritans (verse 9).

MacArthur explains John’s parenthetical insertion:

… just to take that out of English and put it in Greek, “For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.”  Literally the verb there is, “They don’t use the same utensils.”  Literally, “Use not anything together with Samaritans.”  They don’t use the same things.  They don’t drink out of the same cup.  Very specific.  She’s saying, “I know Your culture, I know what You think about us.”  And by the way, Jesus has shattered that because that was non-biblical tradition That kind of hatred toward the Samaritans that came from the Jews was wrong, it was illegitimate. 

Henry, as MacArthur does (see above), points out divine providence at work in this encounter:

There comes a woman of Samaria to draw water. This intimates her poverty, she had no servant to be a drawer of water; and her industry, she would do it herself. See here, First, How God owns and approves of honest humble diligence in our places. Christ was made known to the shepherds when they were keeping their flock. Secondly, How the divine Providence brings about glorious purposes by events which seem to us fortuitous and accidental. This woman’s meeting with Christ at the well may remind us of the stories of Rebekah, Rachel, and Jethro’s daughter, who all met with husbands, good husbands, no worse than Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, when they came to the wells for water. Thirdly, How the preventing grace of God sometimes brings people unexpectedly under the means of conversion and salvation. He is found of them that sought him not.

Jesus answered the woman’s query by saying that, if she only knew who was asking her for a drink, she would have asked Him instead and He would have given her living water (verse 10).

MacArthur elaborates on this verse, telling us that Jesus was showing the woman mercy by offering her the free gift of living water, or divine grace unto salvation:

This is unsolicited mercy, using physical thirst and water as the contact point, He reverses the situation.  He starts out thirsty, asks her to give Him a drink. Turns the table.  Identifies her as the thirsty one and He the source of water.  She doesn’t know where He’s going with this.  But here is mercy. It is pure mercy because He says, “If you knew the gift of God,” the dorean, the free gift of God. And this is where evangelism starts You inaugurate the conversation, you find your way in at a common point of interest, and then comes the reality that you are offering the sinner without regard to morality, okay?  It is mercy with no regard for morality.  It is mercy with no regard for religion.  It is just mercy.  It is just grace. 

It is the gift of God. This is the unique glory of the gospel.  In opposition to all religion, all religion says, “Do this, do this, do this, do this, and God will give you this.”  The gospel says, “In whatever state you’re in religiously, and whatever state you’re in morally, here’s a gift.”  It is the gift of God.  It is a gift of grace.  It is a gift of mercy.  Dorean, the word here, is “free gift.”  Paul loves that word.  Paul uses that word in Romans.  He uses it in chapter 5, the free gift, the free gift.  And that’s where our Lord starts with this unsolicited mercy being offered.

“If you knew the free gift, and if you knew who it is that said to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have”…What?…“you would have”…What?…“asked Him.”  What did we say when we were going through regeneration in John 3?  Regeneration is a work of God. You can’t participate in your own birth. All you can do is ask. All you can do is ask.  There’s a gift from God. I’m here to give it if you only ask, and if you would ask Him—speaking in the third person concerning Himself—He would have given you living water. And with that statement about living water, He takes the conversation in a strongly spiritual direction, a strongly spiritual direction.

Now the woman is listening to our Lord’s words literally. Both our commentators say that she is probably hard-bitten because of her reputation. What happens when we encounter hard-bitten people? They can be dismissive, sarcastic and off-putting — all deliberate ways of saying, ‘Leave me alone’. Here one can certainly also factor in the animosity between Jews and Samaritans.

In that mindset, she addresses Jesus as ‘Sir’ — good move — but then goes on to say that He has no bucket and the well is deep; where will He get that living water (verse 11)?

She goes on to ask if He is greater than their father Jacob, who gave them the well, along with his sons and his flocks who drank from it (verse 12).

She’s mocking Jesus. She is also saying that He is an interloper, because, in a Samaritan’s mind, Jacob was their ancestral father and no one else’s. The Samaritans were mistaken. As Henry points out:

How absurd were those pretensions! …

She was out in speaking of Christ as not worthy to be compared with our father Jacob. An over-fond veneration for antiquity makes God’s graces, in the good people of our own day, to be slighted.

Jesus continued, undeterred (as one would expect), saying that everyone drinking ‘this water’ (the well water) will be thirsty again (verse 13), but those who drink of the water that He gives them will never thirst; His water will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life (verse 14).

MacArthur says:

In verse 14, our Lord promises an endless supply of satisfying water forever and really gets specific—we’re talking about eternal life. This is the fountain of youth.  This is the fountain of eternal life.  Now His point is unmistakable, unmistakable.  This is permanent, consistent, full, satisfying, everlasting mercy and blessing from God to the sinner who asks.  The analogy has now moved to its point.  The doctrine is the doctrine of eternal life. He’s offering her eternal life which is a spiritual reality—the gift of mercy, the gift of grace for all who ask.  What is it?  It’s living water.  It’s satisfaction forever, soul satisfaction forever.

The woman responded to Jesus in the imperative, ‘Give me this water’, again addressing Him as ‘Sir’, so that she would be relieved of thirst and never more have to return to the well (verse 15).

Both commentators say that it is difficult to know what was in her mind when she issued that imperative.

MacArthur says:

… all I can see in her is incredulity, who is this man and what is He talking about?  What is she talking about?  Does she get some of it?  Maybe.  Is she starting to think in terms of spiritual things and eternal things?  Maybe.  Or is this just more mockery?  Or is it mingled?  I don’t know at what point she is, as the Spirit of God works on her heart through the words of the Savior.  I don’t know. 

Henry says:

First, Some think that she speaks tauntingly, and ridicules what Christ had said as mere stuff; and, in derision of it, not desires, but challenges him to give her some of this water: “A rare invention; it will save me a great deal of pains if I never come hither to draw. But, Secondly, Others think that it was a well-meant but weak and ignorant desire. She apprehended that he meant something very good and useful, and therefore saith Amen, at a venture. Whatever it be, let me have it; who will show me any good? Ease, or saving of labour, is a valuable good to poor labouring people. Note, 1. Even those that are weak and ignorant may yet have some faint and fluctuating desires towards Christ and his gifts, and some good wishes of grace and glory. 2. Carnal hearts, in their best wishes, look no higher than carnal ends. “Give it to me,” saith she, “not that I may have everlasting life” (which Christ proposed), “but that I come not hither to draw.

Then Jesus issued her with a command to go get her husband and bring him to the well (verse 16).

This is the turning point for the woman, even though she does not yet realise it.

MacArthur give us this analysis:

she likely turned at that point to take her water and go back to the village, wondering about this somewhat delusional stranger making such strange claims. And then in verse 16 we come to the next element in this encounter. “He said to her, ‘Go call your husband and come here.’That’s a bold command and that’s a very strong command. And Jesus always spoke with a great amount of authority, perhaps authority the likes of which no one has ever possessed but Him. This is a command. Go call your husband and come here–which means that she was probably on the way. And He commands her to go call her husband and bring him back.

The woman said that she had no husband; Jesus told her that she was correct in saying that (verse 17), because, in fact, she has had five husbands and that the man with her at that time was not her husband, therefore, what she said was true (verse 18).

That explains why she was at the well at the hottest point of the day to collect water. Respectable women collected water later in the day, when the weather was cooler. It was probably a time when they gathered around for a bit of chat. They probably would have shunned this woman for being immoral, for being an adulteress. Therefore, she went to gather water when she would have gone unnoticed. Otherwise, she might have received verbal abuse.

Let us look at what Jesus said in verses 17 and 18. MacArthur continues with his analysis:

“To which she responds correctly, ‘I have no husband.’” That brings us to the fourth component in His personal evangelism. First there was that condescension to talk to her about something that God had for her that was wonderful, living water, to extend that to the fact that it was eternal life, unparalleled promise. But there’s something else that has to be talked about. And so the fourth point is an unhesitating conviction…an unhesitating conviction sought. “Yes,” unexpected condescension offered, unsolicited mercy granted, unparalleled promise given, but–stop right there. If you had a person at that point pray a prayer, you might well have a false convert, because there’s something that hasn’t been dealt with and that’s sin. If you evangelize purely on the basis of all the gifts of God, everybody signs up, everybody signs up.

… If all you do is that and then ask for a response, you’re going to get a false conversion, and then you’re going to get somebody who is deceived about their true condition.

Well, like all sinners, she doesn’t want to tell the whole truth, so she says, “I have no husband.” Well, that was right and Jesus acknowledged that. He said at the end of verse 18, “You have truly said.” I mean, it’s not the whole truth but she didn’t have a husband. When she said that, there was a mega shift in the conversation. No more talk of blessing, no more talk of mercies, no more talk of satisfaction, everything changes now. She will not be able to take a drop of living water. This initially indifferent, ignorant, careless sinner must be brought to conviction and repentance over her wretched condition. Since she’s unwilling to tell the whole truth, Jesus tells it for her.

She would have known about divorce and adultery, because the Samaritans accepted the first five books of the Bible, those belonging to Moses, the Pentateuch:

Samaritans accepted the Pentateuch. Most historians think they accepted only the Pentateuch, but that’s enough. Exodus 20, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and there’s plenty in the Pentateuch about the penalty for adultery was death, death. It’s wonderful to present to the sinner all the glories of the gospel, all the blessings, the gift of God, the living water, the eternal life. But it’s not enough to stop there, not enough to present the positive truth of soul-satisfying blessing from God …

We know divorce was very common among the Jews in Israel. It was also equally common, maybe more so, among the Samaritans. And so we can assume that this woman lived this kind of life where she was an adulteress on repeated occasions and consequently led to repeated divorces and now she’s following the same pattern, living with a man who is not her husband. She’s an adulteress living in an immoral relationship.

And by the way, I just want to make a footnote here because this comes up in conversations. Jesus says, “The one you now have is not your husband.” She had a man in her life living with her but he was not her husband. So I need to remind you that living together doesn’t make a marriage? Living together doesn’t make a marriage. Living together is idolatry–adultery without marriage. Marriage is…marriage is always restricted to a covenant, a binding, formal, social, official, public covenant.

When Jesus stated that He knew about her, which would have been through His omniscience, she addressed Him once more as ‘Sir’ and said, ‘I see that you are a prophet’ (verse 19).

In older translations ‘see’ is ‘perceive’. MacArthur explains the word for us:

When the word “perceive” is used in the original language, it’s theoreo, which means “to come to the knowledge of.” It’s used in John chapter 6 of beholding the Son in a knowing way. She came to know and believe that He is at least a prophet, because He can’t know this unless God is telling Him. He knew her sin. “You are a prophet.”

She then moved on to a spiritual realm in her conversation.

To be continued tomorrow …


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