Jesus in Samaria


A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto – May 23, 2010

Introduced by the Children’s talk.

I.       Two main issues

A.   “True Jew” vs. Samaritans

B.   Water vs “Living Water”

II.    (John 4:16-42)  Instruction about marriage.

A.    {16} Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” {17} The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ {18} “for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”

B.   Compare to the passages (in MAT 22:30, MAR 12:25, and LUK 20:35) where the Sadducees ask about the woman with 7 husbands.

1.     Because of the financial necessity for a woman to be associated with a man who could legally hold property, Mosaic law made the provision that a widow should marry her husband’s brother(s) so that the heir would have a family connection to the dead father.

a.     It makes a certain kind of sense in their context.

2.     But the Sadducees weren’t asking about Mosaic law.  They didn’t believe in a life after death and they were trying to make the Lord’s teaching about the life after death look ridiculous.

a.     He didn’t teach that there was no marriage in heaven, He taught that there was no marriage as they conceived of it.

C.   Returning to the woman by the well, this little incident also shows us that the woman had examined her own life, and in her heart of hearts she knew that even though events might have been dictated by circumstances, what happened to her was not a marriage.

1.     Being self-aware, learning to honestly reflect on your own behaviours and motives, is an important step in the process of reformation and regeneration.

III. Instruction about the church.

A.    {19} The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. {20} “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

1.     Back to the “True Jew” vs Samaritan thing.

2.     The Lord is using this to open His church to the Gentiles (anyone who is not a true Jew) as well as the Jews.

a.     Since the word “gentile” is mostly used in Scripture, we have come to think that it means “non-jew” but what it really means is “those who do not belong to your own church.”

b.     That makes a lot of sense.  You would approach the people who are already believers (the disciples) in one way, those who have no previous knowledge in a different way.

c.      The Lord was showing that it was important for Him to be with the disciples to give them the special training they would require to build the church, but He also reached out to gentiles: children, and Samaratins, and sinners

d.     So, does the Lord indicate to us the first and most important thing to teach to the gentiles?  He does.  That Jesus is the Creator God.

B.    {21} Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. {22} “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. {23} “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. {24} “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” {25} The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” {26} Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

C.   An important revelation, a clear statement.

1.     One that the woman apparently believed based on what He had revealed to her in their conversation, and her behaviour that followed it.

2.     {27} And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?” {28} The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, {29} “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” {30} Then they went out of the city and came to Him.

IV.Having talked about water/truth, it’s now time for a balancing teaching about food/good.

A.    {31} In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” {32} But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” {33} Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” {34} Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

1.     First we talk about the general doctrine that food has to do with good, with being charitable.

2.     But then it switches focus and comes back to the theme of the gentiles.

3.     The obvious indication is that one of the ways that we can do good is to reach out to the gentiles, for the “fields are white” – there are lots of people who have not yet heard what they need to hear about the Lord and who will be receptive when they do.

B.    {35} “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! {36} “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. {37} “For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ {38} “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”

1.     Here’s a tie back to the parable of the sower.  The Lord is sowing the Word throughout the world in ways that we cannot even imagine, and sometimes that seed will fall onto fertile ground.

2.     Our job is to harvest that ripe crop for which others (the Lord and the angels) have laboured, but we are permitted to bring them into the barn.

C.   {39} And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” {40} So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. {41} And many more believed because of His own word. {42} Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

1.     Some gentiles will be introduced into the church by means of the Lord’s own words, others through their contact with believers.

a.     All are welcome.

b.     That’s why we are to picture the Holy City with 12 gates (all) facing in all directions that are never closed.

V.   No miracles here.  Just simple words of truth.

A.   First truth

B.   Then teaching about good – and an example in His kindness to the woman.

C.   Then they were ready to receive the idea that Jesus was the Messiah.


A.   Self awareness:

1.     Knowing that we need more information (going to the well, Jacob’s well represents the Word.).

2.     Knowing that our lives are not in the best order they could be (5 husbands).

B.   Being open to new truth.

1.     At the well, the presence of the Lord takes the truth to a new level.

2.     Instead of being fearful of the changes that might result, she listens actively, asking questions for clarification.

C.   She tells others of her insights.

D.   These things lead to a change in their beliefs, a change in their life, a place in the new church that is being established by the Lord.  Amen.


First Lesson:  GEN 33:17-20

(Although Jacob’s Well is not mentioned by name in the Old Testament, the following passage documents Jacob obtaining the land on which the Lord later spoke to the woman of Samaria)

And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, built himself a house, and made booths for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. {18} Then Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan Aram; and he pitched his tent before the city. {19} And he bought the parcel of land, where he had pitched his tent, from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money. {20} Then he erected an altar there and called it El Elohe Israel. Amen.

Second Lesson:  AE 483:12

That Divine truth from the Lord is meant by a “fountain” the Lord Himself teaches in plain words in John:

     When the Lord sat by Jacob’s fountain in the field of Samaria, He said to the woman of Samaria, Everyone that drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever shall drink of the water that I shall give him shall not thirst forever; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a fountain of water springing up unto everlasting life (4:5-20).

It is clear that the “water” that the Lord gives does not mean water, but Divine truth; for it is said that in drinking of the water the woman of Samaria came to draw, one thirsts again, but not of the water that the Lord gives. That “that water shall become in him a fountain of water springing up unto everlasting life” means that in that truth is life. That there is life in truths when the Lord gives them may be seen in this article above. The Lord said these things to the woman of Samaria, when He sat by Jacob’s fountain, because by the “Samaritans” the Lord meant the Gentiles that were to receive Divine truths from Him; and by the “woman of Samaria” a church constituted of such; and by “Jacob’s fountain” Divine truth from Himself, that is, the Word.  Amen.


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