John 4:1-10

Henry Mahan

As we study John 3 and 4 together, we discover a series of STRIKING CONTRASTS.

(Vs. 1-3) Even at that early date in our Lord's public ministry, the Pharisees manifested their opposition against Him. He had openly condemned their ignorance and hypocrisy; and here was a man from Nazareth, whom they regarded as no more than a carpenter, who was attracting even more people than John. This could not be allowed at any cost (our Lord baptized no one, but left that to His disciples). The Pharisees probably planned some action against Christ; and because His hour was not yet come and much was to be done before His death at Jerusalem, He departed out of Judea and returned to Galilee.

(Vs. 4) In going from Judea to Galilee, our Lord's most direct route lay through the country of Samaria. There was a longer route which some of the stricter Jews sometimes took to avoid contact with the Samaritans; but the providence and purpose of His Father took Him through Samaria, for some of His elect were there (John 10:16). We shall never appreciate the gospel until we go back to the basic truth of predestination, which puts God first, which makes the choice His before it is ours (II Thess. 2:13; John 15:16). Election is of PERSONS; predestination is of THINGS. His journey through Samaria was predestinated because there were some chosen sheep there which had been given Him from all eternity (John 6:37-40).

(Vs. 5) Most agree that Sychar is the city called Shechem, which was on the ground that Jacob bought and later gave to Joseph (Gen. 33:18-19; Gen. 48: 21-22). Joseph's bones were buried there (Joshua 24:32).

(Vs. 6) Jacob's well was there. It was called his well because he either dug the well or because he and his family used it. Our Lord always traveled by foot; therefore, He was weary and sat down on the well. John takes note of His weariness to let us know that He was truly man and subject to weariness and other human infirmities. He rested on the sides of the well, and it was about noon.

(Vs. 7-8) The woman probably chose the hot noon hour to come to the well because she thought no one else would be there. This was no accident. She chose this hour because it was GOD'S HOUR for her to meet Christ. How often people meet with Divine mercy when they think not of it (Isa. 65:1). The Lord asked her for a drink of water. He asked her for a drink not only because tie was weary and thirsty, but in order to deal with her on the subject of "living water." In the providence of God, His disciples had gone to the city to buy food that our Lord might be alone with this sinner. Alone with Christ is where a sinner needs to be–with none between.

(Vs. 9) The Saviour's request struck the woman with surprise. Among the Jews it was considered the depth of degredation to even converse with a Samaritan, but to ask a favor of one would never be tolerated. Our Lord's humility and condescension made the woman to marvel. Oh, the grace of our Lord! Tenderly and patiently He led this adultress step by step to conviction, conversion, and faith in Him. She knew Him not; she saw in Him nothing but a "Jew" (Isa. 53:1-3).

(Vs. 10) "If you knew THE GIFT of God, if you knew WHO SPEAKS to you, if you knew YOUR NEED, you would ask of Me the living water." This is the root of man's whole problem. The gift of God is salvation; it is eternal life (1 John 5:11). God is the giver; all we do is receive. Man does not know the gift; and he does not know Christ, the giver! Neither does he know his need for mercy. "If you knew these things, you would ask of ME." Asking proceeds from knowing. Before we ask, God has to deal with us in conviction and revelation. Notice Christ deals with her on the basis of WHO, not WHAT; it is not doctrine, anymore than doing, that saves. It is the PERSON–CHRIST JESUS! How different was the Lord's speech to the woman than to Nicodemus! He says nothing of the new birth but tells her at once of the "gift of God." Nicodemus had religion, morality, and works to glory in; she had nothing (Matt. 9:10-13).

Why is water used here as a figure of salvation?

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.


To top of page: click here.