John – Part 3 – Chapter 4, verses 27-54

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John Chapter 4, verses 27-30

Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

Commentary

At that moment, the disciples came back from Sychar, and the conversation ended. The disciples were shocked but silent about what they saw. A rabbinical rule stated, “Let no one talk with a woman in the street, no not with his own wife.” As the disciples wondered why Jesus was talking with this woman, she quickly left. She didn’t even take her water pot with her, not so much because she feared the increased number of men but because she believed in Jesus and wanted to tell the good news to the townspeople.

This woman in her budding faith provides an example for all believers of how to share faith. “Come, see,” she urged the people, sounding much like Andrew when he brought Peter to Jesus. “Don’t just take my word for it. See for yourself. He told me things I’ve done that he couldn’t have learned from anyone. Could this be the Christ?”

Her witness was effective, though her faith was new and her question left some room for doubt. The people believed (see verse 39) and set out to see the man who must be the Messiah.

Jesus used the opportunity also to teach his disciples about saving souls.

John Chapter 4, verses 31-38

Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

Commentary

Jesus had been tired and hungry. The disciples had gotten food, so naturally they suggested that Jesus eat something. His answer confused them. He already had food, he said, that they didn’t know about. His response sounded much like the way he spoke to the woman earlier about living water. He didn’t mean actual earthly food. He meant that bringing the Samaritan woman to saving faith fed his soul and refreshed his spirit.

The disciples didn’t know what he meant, however. So they asked among themselves, “Where did Jesus get food?”

Knowing their confusion, Jesus elaborated. He said that what nourished him and satisfied his desires was to do the will of the Father, who sent him, and to finish his work. That’s what fed Jesus’ hunger. He had come into this world to save the lost. When he led the woman to believe in him, he was fulfilling the Father’s will. With the same intent and purpose, he would finish the work for all sinners at the cross.

Jesus’ “food” by extension will become food also for his disciples. Believers in all times will desire to reach souls for eternal life.

Jesus reminded the disciples that the harvest of grain was still four months away. This was December or January and the grain, now green across the fields, would not turn golden for harvest until April or May. But the spiritual harvest was upon them.

“Look,” said Jesus, just as the people from Sychar were coming into sight, “with your own eyes see fields already ripe for harvesting.”

The spiritual harvest was underway, and these Samaritans, of all people, were part of it. They already enjoyed the fruit of eternal life through faith in Christ because of the seed the woman had sown in town, and Jesus was reaping the harvest.

The reaper’s pay is realizing the fruit for eternal life, and the sower and the reaper rejoice together. Yes, there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. Before that happens, however, someone has to sow the seed of God’s Word.

So the saying applies to all our spiritual work: “One sows and another reaps.” The sower does the hardest work and doesn’t always see the harvest. The disciples, said Jesus, would gather the harvest from the hard work others did before them. He referred, perhaps, to Moses and the prophets, whose promises of the Savior were the seed rooting and growing in many Jews. Surely he included John the Baptist and, finally, himself. In the immediate context, the woman had just done the sowing. They all sowed the seed that the disciples would harvest, particularly on Pentecost and beyond.

The process continues through believers today. We continue to sow and reap: sometimes doing the one, sometimes the other. Just doing the work refreshes our souls because the Savior wants us to do it, and we want what he wants. When he allows us to see the harvest (people confessing Christ for eternal life), we rejoice.

John Chapter 4, verses 39-42

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Commentary

Because of the wonderful things the woman told them about Jesus as the probable Messiah, many Samaritans believed in him. But their new faith needed to grow. It needed reinforcing and strengthening. They needed to know more about the Messiah. So they asked Jesus to stay with them, and he stayed two days.

Many more came to believe because of Jesus’ teaching. What prompted and reinforced faith was his Word. Jesus, who was the Word with God from the beginning, gave these people the Word of salvation in him. Their faith advanced beyond the spark kindled by the woman’s words. It fanned into a glowing flame, and they could confess, “Now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” Jesus left no doubt in them. He came to save all people, and these Samaritans, considered heathen by most Jews, were among the first to believe and live.

Jesus heals the royal official’s son

John Chapter 4, verses 43-45

After the two days he left for Galilee. (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there.

Commentary

After his two days in Sychar, Jesus continued his trip to Galilee with his disciples. The reception awaiting him there directly contrasted with the reception in Sychar. Because of the people’s attitudes in Galilee, John interjects a saying Jesus told the disciples: “A prophet has no honor in his own country.”

At first the reference to lack of honor seemed out of place. The Galileans “welcomed” Jesus. They had seen the things he did in Jerusalem during the Passover Feast, and he came back a celebrity in their eyes. But they were primarily impressed with the miraculous things he did, not with who he was and what he had to teach them. They did not think of him as the Messiah and Savior of the world.

John Chapter 4, verses 46-47

Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

Commentary

Jesus visited Cana again, the scene of his first miracle in Galilee. Perhaps he stopped to see how the newly married couple was faring.

In short order, a royal official from Capernaum sought out Jesus. The man’s son lay dying in Capernaum, and Jesus represented the only hope for his healing. The official begged Jesus, “Come, and heal my son.”

John Chapter 4, verses 48-50

“Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.”

The man took Jesus at his word and departed.

Commentary

Clearly, the official knew about or had himself seen some of Jesus’ miracles. He was probably among the Jews who had seen what Jesus did in Jerusalem. However, for many of those Jews, Jesus was becoming the man they could go to when they needed some wondrous deed. He received little honor as a prophet.

Therefore, when Jesus responded to the official, he included the many Galilean Jews (“you people”) around him and scolded them. He said, in effect: “You people are wowed by my works, but you don’t know me. You will never believe if you don’t get beyond that.” Indirectly, the rebuke was also an invitation to listen to Jesus and believe.

The royal official still trusted that Jesus could save his child and urged him to come to his home before it was too late. The words may have betrayed a weakness in his trust too, suggesting Jesus had to go to the boy to heal him.

But Jesus worked to strengthen faith. He said simply, “Go; your son has recovered. Believe; your son lives.” Jesus did not move from the spot. He didn’t offer a sign or a wonder. He just gave the man his word.

“The man took Jesus at his word and departed,” and the incident stands forever as an example of what it means to believe: take Jesus at his word.

John Chapter 4, verses 51-54

While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour.”

Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and all his household believed.

This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee.

Commentary

Good news doesn’t wait to be discovered. Before the royal official reached home to see his son, his servants came out to tell him the child was better. The relieved man inquired at what time his son began to recover. Their response confirmed the words and power of Jesus: “Yesterday at the seventh hour,* the fever left him.” The boy was in that moment out of danger. The servants had left him fully recovered.

The father knew that was the very time when Jesus had told him, “Your son will live.” No longer a “sign seeker,” the man believed. He shared the message of Jesus with the servants and all his household, and they too believed.

The last time Jesus came from Judea to Galilee, he changed water into wine at Cana. This time, he again came to Cana and performed a miraculous sign.

Footnote

The seventh hour by Jewish reckoning was 1:00 PM, by Roman reckoning, 7:00 PM. Jesus spoke on the day before the servants met the royal official. If John used Jewish time, then the official was delayed on his trip, which was about seven hours (16 miles) on foot through the hills. If John used Roman time, then the official did not leave Cana until the next day.