Teaching on the Gospel of John by Rev. Dr. Nadine Burton

The Gospel of John Chronicles

Chapter Four

In John Chapter Four, the author turns an evangelistic eye towards Jesus’ interaction with a woman at a well, and her sharing that encounter with others in Samaria. During the conversation, Jesus questioned the woman’s lifestyle with six husbands that were not her own. Jesus, with divine knowledge, knows the heart. According to Boring and Craddock, “Jesus knows the woman’s heart but does not condemn her. In a society where women were subject to men’s decisions, she may have been handed around without any decision on her part.”[i] However, here she is transformed, “this person who was disdained as a woman, and as a Samaritan by Jews, a disrespectable character among her own people, is accepted by Jesus and becomes an evangelist of his message.”[ii]

When she perceived that Jesus was a prophet, we observe another spiritual layer pulled back as they engaged in who Jesus is, where living water could be found, the historical connection to Jacob’s well, and true worship. She shared, “our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem. I must admire the woman for knowing her history. While Jesus listened to her, he enlightened her by interpreting what true worship is. “You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know; for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.”[iii] I love the King James version that says, “they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth.” True worship was no longer bound to a location. What Jesus represents transcends Jews, Samaritans, ethnicity, and culture.

Meanwhile, the Disciples returned from town in search of food for Jesus, which became the focus – trying to get him to eat. While questioning why Jesus interacted with the woman, they did not ask Jesus directly why he talked with the woman. Jesus reminded them of the food he must eat – the one who sent him to finish the work and ends this periscope with an evangelistic emphasis on sowing and reaping.

This chapter also highlights the healing of a royal official’s son, who was sick back in Capernaum. He begged Jesus to come and heal him. Jesus replied, “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe” (NIV). Nevertheless, Jesus healed the official’s son while the official was on his way back to his son. While the official was on the way, his servant came and told him that his son had been healed. When he inquired as to the time of his healing, the servant told him, and he (the official) realized that it was the same time when he had asked Jesus to heal him. What is important here is that sometimes, Jesus does not have to be in-person to heal us; God can send the word, the logos, which represents Jesus in the flesh, to heal us.

Read this chapter on your own and ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten you in the word.

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[i] Boring, Eugene and Fred B. Craddock, The People’s New Testament Commentary, pg. 300.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] John 4:21-24.

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