Sunday Morning Bible Study
August 13, 1995
Last week we saw Jesus heading up north to Galilee.
Against typical Jewish custom, Jesus headed straight through the dreaded Samaritan territory, because He had to.
He had an appointment with a woman at a well.
She came to meet her Savior.
:27-30 The Woman's testimony
:27 upon this
»John 4:27-NAS And at this point His disciples came...
:27 marvelled that he talked with the woman
or, literally, "that he talked to a woman".
Before Jesus came along, women were generally considered second-class people.
Even the Jews had their own customs concerning women.
These were customs, not things written in God's Word.
They felt it was simply indecent for a man to be talking for a long time with a woman.
``do not multiply discourse with a woman, with his wife they say, much less with his neighbour's wife: hence the wise men say, at whatsoever time a man multiplies discourse with a woman, he is the cause of evil to himself, and ceases from the words of the law, and at last shall go down into hell.'' (Gill)
It was even worse if a man talked to a woman in the streets.
``let not a man talk with a woman in the streets, even with his wife; and there is no need to say with another man's wife.'' (Gill)
And wives, you think your husbands don't talk to you enough!
The Rabbis said that one of the six things that was the absolutely worst thing a rabbi could do (and Jesus was looked at as a rabbi):
``let him not talk with a woman in the street, though she is his wife, or his sister, or his daughter.''
Boy, is Jesus in trouble now!
To top it all of, this woman was also a dreaded Samaritan, and a woman with an indecent past.
The Samaritans were a race of half-Jews, who followed their own kind of perverted Judaism.
This woman had had five husbands, and was currently living with another man, who wasn't her husband.
And so the disciples marvelled.
It "blew their mind".
:27 yet no man said ...
The disciples were beginning to learn that Jesus did things differently.
And Jesus did things right.
Jesus talked with all kinds of people that others wouldn't have anything to do with.
Once, Jesus had been invited to dinner at the house of a Pharisee named Simon.
A woman with a reputation came in, wept at Jesus feet, washed His feet in her tears, and put perfume on Him.
»Luke 7:39 AV Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw [it], he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman [this is] that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
Jesus didn't come to hang out with "cool" people.
»Luke 19:10-AV For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Be a friend to the friendless.
Do you know what a "reject" looks like? A person whom society "rejects" and declares "strange"?
It might be a homeless person who hasn't bathed in months.
It might be the nerd at work that people don't include in the Friday lunch plans.
It might be the person that gets everybody mad at them because they're just not very nice.
What do you feel like when a "reject" comes up to talk to you?
Do you try to find excuses to go away?
The very people we may feel the most uncomfortable around, are the very people Jesus came to die for.
The first time the head of Operation Rescue in Dallas saw the woman known as Jane Roe at a book signing in Dallas, he screamed, "Norma McCorvey, you are responsible for the deaths of 33 million children!"
She was raped as a teen-ager, sold drugs, dropped out of high school and married briefly when she was 16. She currently has a live-in lesbian lover.
McCorvey was a 21-year-old carnival barker when, pregnant for the third time, she sought an abortion. She agreed to be the plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking to overturn Texas' anti-abortion statute.
The landmark Supreme Court decision came too late for her, and she had the baby. It was the third child she put up for adoption.
Over the years, her house has been pelted by eggs and she has been accosted in grocery stores by abortion opponents calling her "baby killer".
Rev. Flip Benham recalled McCorvey's horror when Operation Rescue took up rsidence next door to the abortion clinic where she worked in March, saying she called him "all sorts of names."
Gradually, as Benham waved and smiled at her from across the parking lot, her guard broke down.
"Miss Norma, Miss Norma, what are we going to do?" he would tease. Soon she was calling him "Flipper," and the two 47-year-olds were chatting about one of their favorite groups, the Beach Boys.
By May, they were sitting together on a park bench in front of the abortion clinic, he with his Bible, she with her fortune-telling stones.
"Norma would come over to the office," he said. "Sometimes she'd pick up the phone for us. She was a friend. She felt very free in our office. There came a time when Norma wished she was in our office more than theirs."
This week, she quit her job at the abortion clinic, was baptized in a backyard swimming pool and started working at Operation Rescue.
In a television interview, she said she believed Benham and his group truly loved her for herself, and she vowed never to be manipulated again.
Benham says he does not consider McCorvey a trophy. "When you're drowning, it doesn't matter how manipulated it is. You have to reach down and save her," he said.
From Orange County Register, 8-12-95
Someone decided to love the unlovely.
:28 the woman then left her waterpot
Remember, that was the reason why she came out to the well in the first place, to get water.
It could be that she didn't want to take the time to fill the waterpot and to slowly carry it back to town.
But I think there's another level of meaning going on here.
Now, somehow, getting water isn't all that important any more.
This was the thing that Jesus keyed off on in getting her to see her need for a Savior.
He had said:
»John 4:13-14 AV Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
We talked last week how the water kind of represents all the kinds of things we try to fill the emptiness in our lives with.
Things like drugs, alcohol, relationships, family, etc.
Jesus had warned that those kinds of things don't really satisfy, you'll be thirsty again and again.
But His living water, His Holy Spirit, is truly satisfying to that deep, inner, spiritual thirst we have.
And now she forgets the waterpot, and goes back into town without it.
Jesus changes lives.
For this woman, her encounter with Jesus changed her life.
It wasn't just a brief encounter, "Thank you very much for your time" kind of thing.
She left Him a changed woman.
You can tell that about people who've really met Jesus.
Their lives really change.
You'll start to find waterpots laying around all over the house ...
To older believers ...
Some of us like to hold on to our waterpots, just for old times sake.
We need to learn to just put them down and walk away from them.
:28 and saith to the men ...
Maybe I'm stretching it a bit too far, but ...
What was her life's problems wrapped up with?
Men (married to five, currently living with a man...)
And who would know best what her life's problems were?
So who does she go back and tell?
:29 Come, see ...
Salvation is public
The first thing this woman does when she meets the Savior, is go back and bring others out to meet Him.
It's what we've already seen in the disciples.
When Philip came to tell Nathanael about Jesus ...
»John 1:46-AV And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
I hear a lot of people say that your relationship with God is kind of a private thing.
In other words, they don't want you telling others about Jesus all the time.
But if you had just discovered a cure for the AIDS virus, and it was so simple that anybody could cure themselves.
And worst of all, all your family and friends were dying of AIDS, wouldn't you want to tell a few people about it?
Jesus said that our faith in Him HAD to be public:
»Matthew 10:32-33 AV Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Witnessing doesn't take much.
This woman didn't even use a "Four Spiritual Laws" tract.
She just invited people to come with her to see Jesus.
She didn't say, "Go see ...".
She was going to come with them.
It's all about inviting people.
:29 told me all things that ever I did
She could tell as Jesus talked to her, that He knew all about her.
He told her enough things about herself that showed that He knew all about her.
And the surprising thing was that He still talked to her.
God knows us, and He still loves us.
Just think about it for awhile.
He knows everything.
And He still chooses to love us.
We tell engaged couples to make sure they give their relationship some time.
They need to take the time to really be sure they know the other person, and are still willing to love them.
God knows EVERYTHING about us, and He's still in love with us! WOW!
:30 they went out ... came unto him
went out - grammar indicates that it was all at once, they all got up and responded and left the city.
came unto - grammar indicates there's this long line of people that are now forming a continuous flow out of the city.
These men knew this woman.
And she wasn't acting herself.
Something had changed.
And they go out to see Jesus.
:31-38 Real Food
:31 prayed him
better translated, "to question", "to ask"
:33 hath any man brought him ought to eat?
Apparently, Jesus wasn't acting as if He were very hungry when the disciples came back with their food.
Did somebody sneak back and give the Lord a hamburger while we were gone?
What's He talking about?
The disciples think Jesus is talking about some kind of physical food, just as the woman at the well thought Jesus was talking about some kind of physical water.
:34 My meat is to do the will of him that sent me
Food is nourishing, strengthening, and pleasurable.
It keeps our body going strong, like the Energizer bunny.
Jesus is saying that when He is doing the will of God, as in witnessing to this Samaritan woman, He is as satisfied, fulfilled, and strengthened as having had a large prime rib dinner at Black Angus.
We need to be strengthened more than just in the physical realm
We tend to see our lives and problems in only physical terms.
When we're tired and burdened with lots of pressures, we try to fix our stress with physical answers:
"I need to eat right and cut out the junk food."
"I need to go to the gym and work out more often, get into better shape."
"I need to get more sleep at night."
But for Jesus, He was strengthened by things in the spiritual realm as well:
»Mark 1:35-AV And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
Martin Luther said, "The busier I am, the more time I need to spend in prayer."
»Luke 4:4-AV And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
This was the work that Jesus was doing instead of eating or drinking.
He was ministering to the woman at the well.
In a way, this whole principle is what fasting is all about.
Fasting is a discipline where we decide to not feed our physical body for a time, in order to focus on feeding our spiritual person instead.
"Prayer is the one hand with which we grasp the invisible. Fasting is the other hand, the one with which we let go of the visible."
How have you been feeding yourself lately?
Been eating too much spiritual "junk food" lately?
:35 four months, and then cometh harvest
Jesus isn't talking about the time it takes from planting seed until the harvest, because that is a period of six months.
He means that it is still four months until the people begin to harvest the fields that surround them.
The well of Jacob overlooks the luxuriant fields on the plain of Moreh.
The harvest begins around mid April, and so this whole event in this chapter is taking place somewhere in December.
:35 they are white already to harvest
Apparently the green fields of growing grain would turn a grayish white when they were ready for harvesting.
But the Harvest wasn't coming four months from now, it was already here.
:35 Lift up your eyes
Jesus is referring to the lines of people streaming out of the city of Sychar after listening to the woman.
Some might want to think that the time for harvesting is some time off a ways.
Yet Jesus asks them to take a look around them.
Ask for the eyes of a harvester.
There are people all around us who need our Savior.
We need to have eyes to pay attention and look.
The Evangelistic Harvest is always urgent. The destiny of men and of nations is always being decided. Every generation is strategic. We are not responsible for the past generation, and we cannot bear full responsibility for the next one; but we do have our generation. God will hold us responsible as to how well we fulfill our responsibilities to this age and take advantage of our opportunities.
-- Billy Graham
Back in my college days, I was taught to go up to thet top of the Humanities Building and just sit and watch the people.
Drive through the town.
Walk your block.
Open your eyes!
:36 he that reapeth receiveth wages
A man who went into a field to harvest grain was paid for his work.
Those who go out into the fields of the world to bring in the lost will receive wages too, rewards in heaven.
:37 One soweth, and another reapeth
The person who plants isn't always the same one who reaps.
When thousands come forward at a Harvest Crusade, for most of those people, the seeds were planted earlier by their friends, or other churches.
Greg Laurie just gets to shake the tree a little bit and watch the ripe fruit fall to the ground.
When I got to sit on the stage on the Sunday night of the Crusade, it really began to dawn on me that it wasn't Greg Laurie talking people into accepting Jesus.
You could see God working in massive waves through the stadium, and all Greg did was just stand back and watch.
Sometimes we sow, sometimes we reap
We don't have to expect people to respond everytime we talk to someone about Jesus.
Sometimes we're just sowing seeds, and someone else will reap.
But sometimes we're called to reap.
What does it mean to reap?
Give a person a chance to respond to the gospel.
Give them an opportunity to ask Jesus into their heart.
Our grapevine out back - first year we've seen fruit, and I didn't know when to pick the fruit!
I let most of it stay on the vine too long, and it just got rotten.
The lesson is to learn when to pick the fruit.
Pick too soon and it's bitter.
Pick too late and it's rotten.
:38 other men laboured
Other men like John the Baptist.
The disciples didn't have to do all the work.
:39 many ... believed ... for the saying of the woman
Because of what she had said, many of the Samaritans came to believe in Jesus as their Messiah.
:40 he abode there two days
Quite a strange thing for a good Jewish boy to be doing.
He doesn't just pack up and leave as soon as possible.
From the nearer town of Shechem came Justin Martyr, one of the greatest Christian writers of the second century.
:42 we believe ... we have heard him ourselves
Here's the beautiful thing, the woman's words got them to go out and check out Jesus.
And now they too have had the same experience that she had.
They've met their Savior face to face too.
Just get them to Jesus.