Jesus’ Ministry to the Samaritan Woman, By Rev. John Kwasi Fosu

Pastor of Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg

Introduction
John 4 can be divided into two major themes. Jesus’ ministry to the Samaritan woman (4:1-42) and Jesus’ miracle for the nobleman (4:43-54). Following the description of Jesus as someone who knew what was in people in John 2:25, the Gospel proceeds to give examples of two very different people that Jesus knew. From this perspective, John 4 can be studied in connection with John 3.Ordination 9

Reading John 4 in the light of John 3.
An attempt to read the story of the Samaritan woman in the light of chap 3 indicate that all kinds of people need to know and respond to the Gospel message. It shows that non-Jews such Samaritans can also participate in the blessings of the Gospel. For that purpose, both John 3 and 4 portray the different needs and world-views of the people who encountered Jesus. Whereas John 3 focuses on Nicodemus, who was a ruler and teacher of the Jews, John 4 concerns a Samaritan Woman. Importantly, both accounts (that is John 3 and 4) in different ways, show the need of all people to come to realize that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (John 20:30-31). Before proceeding to study John 4, it is important to observe the tremendous differences as tabulated by David s. Dockery, in his article: “Reading John 4:1-45: Some Diverse Hermeneutical Perspectives” in Criswell Theological Review 3.1 (1988):

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Some Highlights on Jesus’ dialogue with the Samaritan Woman (4:1-43)

1. Jesus meets the Samaritan? John 4:1-8
The Samaritans were “half-breeds,” part Jew and part Gentile. As such, they were considered outcasts and were despised by the Jews. They had their own religious system in Samaria that competed with the claims of the Jews (4:20-24) and they believed in the coming of the Messiah (4:25). Jesus “had to go through Samaria” (verse 4) because God had planned for this woman to meet Jesus and find in him the water of life. In the dialogue recorded, we see the different stages by which this woman came to believe in Jesus as the Christ, or Messiah.

2. “You are a Jew” and “Are you greater than our father Jacob?” (John 4:9-15)
For a Jewish man to ask a favour of any woman, especially a Samaritan, was surprising to her. She was aware of nothing more about Jesus than that he was a thirsty Jew. The sinner is blind to the Messiah and is more interested in the things of life (like getting water) than in the things of eternity. In verse 10, Jesus tells her that she is ignorant of two things: the gift of God (salvation) and the identity of the Saviour in her presence. Jesus speaks of living water as a water of life but she takes this to mean literal water. This is typical of the unbeliever, confusing the physical and the spiritual! Nicodemus thought the Jesus spoke of physical birth (3:4). Later on, even the disciples thought Jesus spoke of literal food (4:31-34).

Jesus points out to her that the things of the world do not satisfy, and men without the Messiah will always “thirst again.” The parable in Luke 16:19-31 makes this clear. The rich man who thirsted after physical pleasures in this life thirsted again when he found himself in Hades. Jesus promises that the water of life will spring up within the heart and keep us constantly refreshed and satisfied. The woman, still confused, asked for that water. It was a shallow emotional response.

3. “You are a prophet!” (verses 16-24)
Having expressed interest in the living water (even though confused), the woman found herself confronted with her sins. Jesus’ command, “Go, call your husband!” was for the purpose of quickening her conscience and forcing her to face her own sin. No person can ever be saved who hides his or her sins (see Proverbs 28:13). Note how the woman tried to change the topic of conversation.

Like convicted sinners today, she began to argue about differences in religion. “Where should we worship?” “Which religion is right?” Jesus pointed out that the important thing is knowing the Father, and this can be done only through salvation, and salvation is from the Jews. He brought her face-to-face with her sins, her desire for satisfaction, and the emptiness of her own religious faith.

4. “Could this be the Messiah?” (verses 25-42)
Her eyes are now opened to the Person of the Messiah, and on the authority of his Word, she trusts him and is saved. She proves her faith by giving public testimony to the people in the town (and they certainly knew her character). They too came to trust Him. Note the final testimony of these believers, “This man really is the Saviour of the world!” It is interesting to note the disciples’ behaviour in this chapter. They are more concerned about physical food than spiritual food.

Jesus was weary (verse 6) and thirsty and certainly hungry. But Jesus put spiritual matters above physical comfort. While the disciples were buying food (a good thing), the Messiah was speaking about spiritual matters (a far better thing). The disciples, as they were coming to Samaria, had probably said, “These people are hard-hearted and enemies of our people.” But Jesus told them to look on the fields that were ripe for harvest. He reminded them that all of God’s people must work together in the harvest field – some to sow, others to reap. It is God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:5-9).

Conclusion and application
John 4 gives us a classic example regarding our witnesses of Jesus. Worthy of note is the example Jesus sets as an evangelist. He did not allow personal prejudices or physical needs to hinder him. He met the Samaritan woman in a friendly way and did not force her into a decision. Wisely, Jesus guided the conversation and allowed the Word to take effect in her heart. He dealt with her privately and lovingly presented the way of salvation. He got her attention by speaking about something common and at hand which was water. He used this as an illustration of eternal life. He did not avoid speaking of sin but brought her face-to-face with her need.

Questions
1. State three differences regarding Jesus’ ministries to Nicodemus and the Samaritan Woman.
2. Who were the Samaritans and why were they despised by the Jews?
3. Give some examples of physical things that are usually confused with spiritual things in contemporary times? Explain
4. Comment on Jesus’ role as a prophet in John 4 in the light of contemporary prophetic ministries.
5. How did the Samaritan woman proof her faith after she believed in Jesus?

 

The Basis for the new birth in Jesus, Rev. John Kwasi Fosu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg

Introduction
We have been studying about the theme of new birth in Jesus Christ as MOTHERS DAY 8presented in John 3. In this chapter, we have already looked at the nature and necessity of the new birth. Today’s lesson on John 3:14-36 focuses on the basis and some argument concerning the new birth.

The Basis for the New Birth (3:14-21)
From John 3:14-21, two things constitute the basis for the new birth in Jesus Christ. These are the necessity of the death of Jesus and the requirement of faith in Jesus.

1. Jesus, the Messiah, had to die (verses 14-17)
Jesus refers Nicodemus to the Old Testament, Numbers 21, the account of the brass serpent. The serpents were biting the Jews and killing them, and the strange solution to the problem was found when Moses made a serpent of brass! Looking to the serpent in faith brought healing. In like manner, Jesus was made sin for us, for it was sin that was killing us. As we look to Jesus by faith, we are saved. He experienced our judgment when He was lifted up on the cross. Jesus had to die before humankind could live! Jesus’ death brings life.

2. One must believe in Jesus (verses 18-21)
Faith in Jesus the Messiah is the only means of salvation. God’s command to Moses in Numbers 21 was not that he kill the snakes, make a salve for the wounds, or try to protect the Jews from being bitten. It was that he lifts up the brass serpent and tell the people to look by faith.

Refusal to look meant condemnation. On the other hand, looking in faith meant salvation. John goes back to the symbolism of light and life in John 1:4-13 which are darkness and death. Unbelievers do not only live in darkness, but they love the darkness. They refuse to come to the light where their sins will be exposed and can be forgiven.

The activity of God’s Spirit that regenerates sinful people comes about through faith in Jesus (John 3:10–21). Without faith there is no regeneration, and without Ordination 9regeneration a person does not have eternal life. Regeneration occurs at the moment a person exercises faith in Jesus. At that point, his sins are forgiven and he is born again by the power of the Holy Spirit. The new birth is a decisive, unrepeatable and irrevocable act of God.

The Confusion about the New Birth (3:22-36)
John 3: 25 points out that some argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. It is possible that this Jew was Nicodemus who was still searching for the truth. Like many people today, Nicodemus was confused about baptism and religious ceremonies.

Perhaps he thought “born of water” meant baptism or some Jewish purification rite. Note how John the Baptist pointed this Jew to Jesus. If baptism were necessary for salvation, then this is the place for the Bible to say so, but nothing like that is said. Instead, the emphasis is on believing (verse 36).

It is evident that Nicodemus came “out of the dark” and finally became a born-again believer. Here in John 3, we see Nicodemus in the darkness of confusion. In John 7:45-53, we see him willing to give Jesus a fair hearing. In John 19:38-42, we see Nicodemus openly identifying himself with the Messiah.

Conclusion
Today’s lesson has focused on the need for the new birth in Jesus Christ. Using Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus, it has come to light that being born again demands that we believe that Jesus came to die on the cross for us. This basis constitutes the content of John 3:14-16 that has been used to explain the Good News in its simplest form.

Questions
1. State two basis for the new birth in Jesus Christ.
2. How does Moses’ lifting up of the brass serpent in Number 21 relate to the death of Jesus Christ?
3. With reference to the life of Nicodemus, how can unbelievers come out of darkness.
4. How does John the Baptist point the Jews to Jesus in John 3:25?
5. The new birth is a decisive, unrepeatable and irrevocable act of God (John 3:36). Explain.