“Jesus knew the Pharisees had heard that he was baptizing and making more disciples than John (though Jesus himself didn’t baptize them—his disciples did). So he left Judea and returned to Galilee. He had to go through Samaria on the way.” John 4:1-4
Before we move into Chapter four we need to look at some of the settings of this encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Because the Pharisees were trying to incite competition between Jesus and John the Baptist, Jesus left Judea and started north to Galilee. At this time in His ministry, He did not want to be involved in this controversy. It was not Jesus that was baptizing, but His disciples. Palestine is only 120 miles long from north to south. Within this 120 miles there were three definite divisions of territory. To the south lay Judea and in between lay Samaria. In the north was Galilee. Most Jews bypassed Samaria, but this was the long way. Just as God always does, He directed Jesus on a divine appointment. God knew that this woman needed what God could give her. There was a deep seated hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans.
The Samaritans were a mixed race, part Jew and part Gentile, that grew out of the Assyrian captivity of the northern tribes in 727 B.C. Rejected by the Jews because they could not prove their genealogy, the Samaritans established their own temple and religious services on Mt. Gerizim. When Jesus’ enemies wanted to insult Him, they called Him a Samaritan. Merely by traveling through Samaria, our Lord was shattering age-old barriers. He was showing us that we must go across culture barriers to show God’s love for the world. We must embrace people that are not just like us. We need to allow God to set up divine appointments so we can win others to this saving grace of God.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Before we move on to Chapter four we need to review Chapter three. John in Chapter three is emphasizing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
It is a living relationship. It begins with the new birth. The birth that is spiritual and comes from God. When we receive Jesus Christ into our lives, we share His very life and we are adopted into the family of God. This relationship is alive and it is a growing relationship. Every day that we walk with Jesus the relationship grows stronger and more alive.
It is a loving relationship. We feel the love of God in our life each and every day. He walks with us daily. When things get more than we can bear, it is then that Jesus Christ in His love for us carries us in His loving arms.
It is a learning relationship. Jesus is a faithful witness. Sharing God’s truth with us. What a delight it is to receive His Word, meditate on it, and make it part of our everyday lives.
We must never forget the cost of this relationship. For us to have this relationship, Jesus had to give it all. He had to die on the Cross. He had to endure the hatred and condemnation of men. He had to take our sins on to himself so that we could be forgiven. “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30) This is the key to our relationship with Jesus Christ.
“And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” John 3:36
God is a loving God, but He is also a just God. God has given us a choice. We can either accept Jesus Christ as our savior or we can reject Him. If we accept Him, we have abundant life here on earth and then we spend eternity with Jesus in heaven. If we reject this free gift of God, we face the wrath of God’s judgement.
When God made man, He gave him authority over the earth. “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26) The earth was man’s to do with as he pleased. He had complete authority over the earth. What did man do with this authority? He messed up as we always do. He sinned. When man sinned, he transferred his authority to Satan. It was a legal gift from God so man could do with it however he chose. God could have taken this authority back from Satan, because He has the power. God is ruler over everything. If God had gone over man’s head and taken back the authority from Satan without due process, it would have been a violation of divine justice. God cannot be unjust even with Satan. A man had to take this authority back from Satan. This man had to be without sin. There could be not even a hint of sin in his life. If there had been sin in his life, he would have been under the control of Satan. Jesus was this man. He was a man without sin. All of Jesus’ life, Satan tempted Him to sin. Jesus never gave in to these temptations. This made Jesus the perfect man to take back the authority of the earth. Because of Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross, we now have a choice. We can escape the wrath of God.
“For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands.” John 3:34-35
God testified that Jesus was His Son. “After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” (Matthew 3:16-17) God sent Him. God gave Him the Spirit. God gave Him all authority. This commission came from God the highest authority in the universe. We think of God’s great love for the lost world, but God loved His Son more. Jesus is the Father’s beloved Son. If we reject Jesus, we are rejecting God. God’s love for His Son is a love that can hold back nothing. If we receive Jesus, we receive this great love of God into our lives. We receive everything that God gave His Son. To reject Jesus, is to reject the love and light of God.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. And now, look, your house is abandoned and desolate. For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 23:37-39) Jesus grieved over Jerusalem. He also grieves over our rejection of Him. He want us to come to Him and receive all that God has for us. The verse that shows us Jesus’ great love is “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) He wept for you!
“He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true.” John 3:32-33
John wrote the Gospel of John so that we would know the truth. The truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. We have people today that will accept that Jesus was a great man and a great teacher, but the Son of God, they just cannot accept that as being reasonable. “Christianity is not a series of truths in the plural, but rather truth spelled with a capital “T.” Truth about total reality, not just about religious things. Biblical Christianity is Truth concerning total reality-and the intellectual holding of that total Truth and then living in the light of that Truth.” (Francis Schaeffer) Everything about the world and everything in the world is testifying of God. If we look at our beautiful world, how can we not see that there is a God and a God that loves the world? God puts on this wonderful show twice a day; the sunrise and the sunset. No one can paint a more beautiful picture than God. Seeing the Truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is the reality that we all must face. The spiritual world is so much more real than the physical world. All we have to do is open our minds and our hearts to Jesus Christ and the world will become a better and more beautiful place. Paul summed it up, “For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)
“He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else.” John 3:31
As we start coming to the close of chapter three, we find that John is giving us more reasons to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. This scripture tells us that Jesus came from heaven and no one is greater than Him. Jesus was not simply called from heaven or empowered by heaven. He came from heaven. John the Baptist was not from heaven, he was only proclaiming what came from heaven. Malachi some four hundred years before the coming of Jesus, predicted He would come. “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” (Malachi 3:1) The Jews disputed this claim because if this claim was true Jesus was God come to earth. They just could not believe that this could happen. Even tho they were trained in the Old Testament, the Jews was not ready to accept Jesus as the Son of God. Aren’t we at times the same way. How in the world could the God that made everything in the universe come to earth just to save us? It sound impossible, but it is true. I know it is true because He lives in me and I have a personal relationship with Him. I talk to Him daily.
“John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.” John 3:27-28
Our ministries are not about us. Whatever we do for God only depends on God and what He provides for us. John the Baptist knew what God wanted Him to do. He had done all that God expected of him. He was obedience to his calling. He knew that Jesus was to increase and he was to decrease. This scripture is so important. We see that God is in control of all that we do for Him. John the Baptist was not called to build up his ministry. He was not called to make a name for himself. He was called to lift up Jesus. This is our calling also. We are not called to get our name out in the public. At times people may know of our ministry, but that is not what our ministry is about. At times I let pride get in the way of serving God. After all the years that I have served God, I want everyone to know what I have done, but God always brings something into my life to show me that it is not about me, it is about God. It is about lifting up Jesus.
If there is any success in the ministry, it is not me; it is only from God. All success is from heaven. All my success is from God. All the success of Jesus is from God. As success comes from the same source, we ought not to be envious. If Jesus and his disciples are successful, if all men flee to him, it is proof that God favors him, and you should rejoice.
“And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (John 12:32)
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. (1 Peter 5:6)
“A debate broke out between John’s disciples and a certain Jew over ceremonial cleansing. So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.” John 3:25-26
Jealousy; someone is going to get more than I have. This pastor is going to get my members if I don’t do something about him. We cannot have a joint service with that church, our members may like them better than us and what are we going to do if they go to that other church? This scripture sounds like it was written today about some of the churches in our community. It sounds like they were worried about their bottom line. They were worried about how they would look to the world. This is worldly thinking. This is not how God thinks. Yes, we all want people to like us and want them to go to our church. We want the people to think that we are the greatest. This is what, at times, makes Christianity so hard. We just don’t like some of the things that Jesus tells us. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) Jesus tells us to give up our own way if we are going to follow Him. “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28) If we follow what Jesus is telling us, there is no room for us to be jealous.
“All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” John 3:20-21
Jesus Christ is the light of the world. As Jesus tell us in Matthew, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:15-16) We should not hide our light. That is the light of Jesus Christ that lives in our life. Light is something that clarifies or makes things more visible. When we allow our light to shine, people can see what Jesus has done in our lives and they will come from the darkness of sin into the light of Jesus Christ. Our world is in darkness. Darkness is the absence of light. Absence of the Spirit of God in the world. The world is blind and cannot see what Jesus has done for them. People need to be pulled into the light not pushed into the light. When we shine our light by showing Jesus Christ and His love for the world, we are pulling people into the light we have in our lives. When we push people into the light, we push them into legalism and rules. People need to follow us out of their darkness into the light of Jesus Christ. Remember that our lives preach a message of Jesus to the world.
“There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.” John 3:18-19
The world is lost because of their lack of knowledge. “My people are foolish and do not know me,” says the Lord. “They are stupid children who have no understanding. They are clever enough at doing wrong, but they have no idea how to do right!” (Jeremiah 4:22) The world does not want to know God. They may have to give up their evil ways. The world thinks that when they sin and indulge in the pleasures of the world they are happy. This is only an illusion of Satan. Happiness only comes from a knowledge and commitment to Jesus Christ. The people who know God, have great energy for God. They have great thoughts of God. They have great boldness for God. They want to tell others about God. They that know God have a great contentment in God. God has a rest for all that know and believe Him. “So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:6-7)
“My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me. Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children.” (Hosea 4:6)