corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

John 4

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-29

I have often read this chapter in your hearing, and you have often read it yourselves; but the Word of God is not like the grapes of an earthly vine, which when once trodden are exhausted. You may come to Holy Scripture again and again; it is like an ever-flowing fountain, the more you draw from it, the more you may draw.

John 4:1-3. When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) he left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.

Observe here that our Lord at first shunned conflict with the Pharisees. When he knew that they were jealous of him, he went away from Judaea to a more remote district, “into Galilee.” May he help us always to take that which may be the wiser course in every emergency! He was not guilty of cowardice; that, he could not be, for he was the bravest of the brave; and sometimes it will be most courageous on our part to shun a conflict. When you believe it is right to do so, never mind what anybody may say; but do as your Master did on this occasion.

John 4:4. And he must needs go through Samaria.

It is true that it was the nearest way, yet he might have gone round about; but he would not do so, for there were souls in Samaria who were to be blessed by his presence. He had a constraint upon him, an inward impulse, so that “He must needs go through Samaria.” Dear friends, whenever you feel the drawings of the Spirit in any particular direction do not resist them, but yield yourself entirely to his gracious influence, even as your Lord did.

John 4:5-6. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

About twelve o’clock, in the middle of the day, at high noon. You will observe, dear friends, that our Lord spoke to Nicodemus at night, but when he was about to talk to a fallen woman alone, he did it in the middle of the day. There is a time for everything; so let those who serve God be careful as to the best time of their service. Our Lord had a tender delicacy about him which led him instinctively to do the right thing at the right time.

John 4:7. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water:

That was not the usual time for drawing water; women generally went to the well in the morning and in the evening; but this poor fallen creature was not one with whom other women would associate, so she came alone, at the hour when the sun was hottest, and when nobody else would be likely to be there.

John 4:7. Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

This was quite a natural way of beginning a conversation; and they will best touch other people’s minds and hearts who do not harshly interject religion, but who wisely introduce it, leading up to it with a holy dexterousness such as our Lord always exhibited. He begins, not with any remarks about the woman’s life, or her sin, or even about his great salvation, but with the simple request, “Give me to drink.”

John 4:8-9. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

But our Lord did not come to maintain these distinctions of race and caste. It is altogether foreign to the spirit of Christianity for nationalities to be despised. We sometimes hear people say of a person, “Oh, he is only So-and-so!” mentioning some nation that happens to be in the background. Christ was cosmopolitan, he loved men of every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people. To him, there was neither Jew nor Samaritan; all such distinctions were banished from his mind. The woman might well say what she did, but her words would have sounded strangely out of place from the lips of Christ.

John 4:10-11. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?

Holy knowledge is very advantageous; it often is the means of breeding prayer: “If thou knewest .... thou wouldest have asked... , and he would have given.” Therefore, beloved, let us teach the truth to all who come in our way, for it may be that we, too, shall meet with many of whom it can be said that, if they know what the gift of God is, they will ask for it; and if they ask for it, Christ will give it to them.

John 4:12. Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which have us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

Ah, she did not know how infinitely superior Jesus was to Jacob! There could be no comparison between the two. Jesus is the true Father of all Israel, and in that respect he is like to Jacob; but he is immeasurably greater than “father Jacob.”

John 4:13-14. Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 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.

Hence he will always be contented. He who has grace in his heart is a happy man; he grows more and more satisfied with the grace as it wells up increasingly in living power in his character and life. Oh, if you have never received that living water, may God give it to you just now! You shall never regret receiving it; but you shall rejoice over it evermore.

John 4:15. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

Up till now she has not imbibed a single idea from Christ. The Lord has spoken to her in parables, but she has not seen through the thin veil, so she has missed his meaning. Now he fires another shot, and deals with her in another fashion.

John 4:16-18. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

It was needful to arouse this woman to a sense of her sinfulness. It was no use putting on plasters where there was no knowledge of a sore, and no use attempting to fill the void where there was no feeling of emptiness. So first she must be brought low, she must be made to see herself in the glass of truth, and then she would begin to understand her need of salvation.

Oftentimes, in seeking to bless people, the kindest way is not to build them up, but to pull them down; not to begin to encourage their hopes, but to let them see how hopeless their case is apart from sovereign grace.

John 4:19. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

She did not deny Christ’s charges; she could not, for they were so accurately descriptive of her whole life.

John 4:20-23 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth:

It is not the place which makes the true worship; it is the heart. It is not even the day; it is the state of a man’s mind. It is not that the place is said to be holy, and therefore prayer is accepted; every place is equally holy where holy men worship God. All distinctions of buildings are heathenish; or, at the best, Jewish; they are done away with by Christ.

John 4:23-26. -For the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

And she believed it, for what she had heard had prepared her mind for this declaration. Christ’s reading of her heart had convinced her that he was the Messiah. How many have been brought to Christ’s feet by having their characters laid bare in the preaching of the Word! The very thing they did in secret, ay, the very thought of their heart which they never communicated even to their best-beloved friend, has been told them. Their dream has been revealed to them, and the interpretation of it, too; and they have been convinced that he who can thus read their hearts must be the Son of God.

John 4:27-28. And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman; yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, —

So that blessed interview was broken up by Christ’s own disciples, What a set of blunderers we are! We sometimes come in between Christ and poor sinners whom he is going to bless. There is many a lover of stern doctrine, with an unsympathetic heart and a harsh tone of speech, who has intruded just when he was not wanted. If we cannot help poor souls, brothers and sisters, let us never hinder them. What Christian would not wish to help a poor sinner to her Saviour? Yet these disciples, unconscious of what they were doing, had by their very looks driven this poor woman from their Master; but she “went her way into the city,” —

John 4:28-29. And saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

May we be made useful, even as this woman was, in bringing others to Christ’s feet, for his dear name’s sake! Amen.


Verses 1-32

John 4:1-4. When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria.

When he was wanted in so many places, he did not care to stay among the Pharisees where he was not wanted. They would not receive his message, so he quitted the lordly professors, and went to look after a fallen woman. Christ’s estimates of usefulness are not always the same as ours. We think it a grand thing to be the means of converting a great man; Christ thinks it a worthy work to convert a great sinner.

John 4:5. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

You remember how the patriarch said to his favourite son, “Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.” This was “the parcel of ground” which was near to Sychar.

John 4:6. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well:

What could the wearied Saviour do? Why, he could save a great sinner; and now that he is no more wearied, what can he not do? Brethren, when you go to preach or to teach, you like to feel fresh and vigorous; but do not think that this state is at all necessary. Your wearied Master won the woman at Samaria; so may you win souls, even in your weariness. Let us not make excuses for ourselves because we do not feel fit for our work.

God may bless us more when we feel weary than he does at any other time.

John 4:6. And it was about the sixth hour.

Twelve o’clock in the day, I suppose. Was that the time when the women usually came to draw water? No; but it was the time when a woman, who was shunned by other women, would be most likely to come; and the Saviour knew that. She had to take odd times to get to the well, for her neighbors did not care to be seen in the company of such a reprobate as she was, and she was probably just as anxious to avoid them.

John 4:7-8. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

Or, “food.”

John 4:9. Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria ? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

The woman seemed to say to the Saviour, “You Jews will not own us until you want something from us. Now that you happen to be thirsty, you do not mind asking for drink from me; but, at other times, you will have no dealings with us.” This was a tart reply to our Lord’s request, but be did not answer the woman in the tone she had adopted. When you are dealing with a soul, you must not lose your temper because of a sharp word, a hard saying, or even a blasphemous reply. Soul winners must be very tender and gentle; God make us so!

John 4:10. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

Oh, that ignorance, that baneful ignorance! “If thou knewest thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee.” Sometimes, my brethren, the key of a man’s salvation may lie in your instructing him in the simplest matters of the gospel, for, if he does but know, he will ask, and Christ will give. Great issues may depend upon this, which seems but the turning of a straw. Therefore, go and tell men the way of salvation; for, in the most of cases, ignorance, alas! bars the door. I mean not among those who have long heard the gospel, but I mean the outsiders who do not know anything about it. Tell it to them, and you may thereby open to them the kingdom of heaven.

John 4:11-14. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 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.

So you see, my dear hearer, if you get grace from Christ, you really possess it, and it is of that nature that it remains in you, and becomes itself a spring within you, “springing up into everlasting life.” It is not that temporary, trumpery salvation which some preach, which saves you for a quarter of a year, and then lets you perish; it is everlasting salvation. Once received, it does not pass away like that little dribbling shower that watered the pavement just now, and is gone, but it shall be in you a well of water, springing up, a living and enduring principle; or, to use another scriptural expression, “incorruptible seed, which liveth and abideth for ever.” This salvation is worth your having ; then, get it. It is worth your pining after, and praying for, and believing. Oh, that you might have it, even you! As soon as you trust the Lord Jesus Christ, it is yours, and yours for ever.

John 4:15. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

The woman had not even the faintest idea of the spiritual truth of which Christ had spoken to her. The fact is, conviction must come before conversion. No sinner is made alive till he is first killed. You cannot clothe him till he is naked. So now the Saviour began that conviction work in this woman; and he did it very wisely. He did not at first charge her with criminality, but he led her to accuse herself.

John 4:16-17. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband.

And, as she said it, no doubt she tried to look as innocent as possible; but a guilty flush stole over her face despite her attempt to keep it back.

John 4:17. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:

Always give people credit for what is well said. If you want to win them, you must mind that you are not rough with them, but admit what you can of the truth in their utterance: “Thou hast well said, I have no husband.”

John 4:18-19. For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman said unto him, Sir, I Perceive that thou art a prophet.

It would have been better if she had perceived that she was a sinner. Perhaps she did perceive it, but scarcely liked yet to confess it openly, so she said, “I-perceive that thou art a prophet.” Now she has a religious difficulty; and what man or woman is there in the world, however far gone from morality, who has not some religious difficulties? And the more immoral they become, the more difficulties they are pretty sure to have. I hate that style of preaching which is everlastingly pandering to difficulties which never would exist except in a dissolute generation like the present. We preach a plain gospel; and when men’s hearts are right, it is all plain to them. To him who desires to understand, difficulties soon cease to be a trouble. We had better deal with men’s hearts and lives than try to answer their quibbling questions. This was the woman’s dilemma,--

John 4:20. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain;

That is, Mount Gerizim,--

John 4:20-23. And ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what. We know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

You see, brethren, all the difficulties that arise are but temporary. Put them away, and get to the great spiritual business that concerns us all, the seeking truly after God in spirit and in truth. If you really want to find God, you shall find him. He is already seeking you, and your very desire after him is the proof that he has already had dealings with you by his Spirit. Therefore, come unto him, and come at once, “for the Father seeketh such to worship him.”

John 4:24-27. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. And upon this came his disciples,--

This gracious work of the Master had been done in private. Christ knew that such a person as this woman was not to be spoken to in the presence of his disciples, who were scarcely sympathetic enough for such service. But her heart is now won by the Messias; so, now you may come in, you disciples! Providence shut the door, and kept them waiting a while until this delicate piece of work was done.

John 4:27. And marvelled that he talked with the woman:

These men who had themselves been picked off the dunghill marvelled that Christ spoke to this woman! So have I known some, who were themselves grievous sinners once, yet they have become horribly conceited some years after conversion, and they have thought that other great sinners might not be saved as they were. God deliver from such abominable pride any soul that professes to be saved! Every believer should feel, “If the Lord has saved me, he can save anybody;” and that state of mind ought to be ours always.

John 4:27. Yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?

They had some sense left, sense enough to keep silence.

John 4:28. The woman then left her waterpot,-

Possessed only with one thought, going to tell others the glad news she herself had believed, she “left her waterpot,”-

John 4:28-29. And went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did.- is not this the Christ?

They must have been surprised to hear her talking about good things. There was no more likely messenger to win men, or to strike them with curiosity, than such a woman as this.

John 4:30-32. Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

So has every man who lives to win souls for Christ. There is a larder which he enters where the very delicacies of God are brought before him, and his soul is sustained and his strength is renewed by the dainties that the Lord has provided for those who do his will. Brethren and sisters, may we often feed upon this heavenly meat! Amen.


Verses 1-34

John 4:1-4. When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) he left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria.

And, surely, not only because it was the more convenient way, but because he had designs of love for some souls there that his Father had given him. There is many a needs be in divine providence because of the needs-be of divine grace.

John 4:5-6. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

Wearied, and needing rest, yet there was no rest for him, except that he found his sweetest rest in winning immortal souls unto himself.

John 4:7. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

That is practically what Jesus still says to the sons and daughters of men: “Give me to drink.” He asks for your love, for your trust, for your confidence. It is his meat and drink to bless your soul, and to give you the blessing that you need, and it is a refreshment to his spirit when you give him the opportunity of thus blessing you.

John 4:8. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

It was a great mercy that the disciples were out of the way just then; had they been there, they might have tried to keep this poor woman from speaking to the Saviour; and, sometimes, brethren, it may be well for us to be laid aside. God may do more good without our presence than with it; who can tell?

John 4:9-10. Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou being a Jew, asketh drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

See, then, the evil of spiritual ignorance, and see also how the chain of grace works, “If thou knewest . . , thou wouldest have seeked . . and he would have given.” When God gives the knowledge of Christ to the soul, then there comes the spirit of prayer, and then consequent blessing.

John 4:11-12. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

She took the Saviour’s figure literally; and there are still many who cannot see the spiritual meaning of God’s Word, and run their heads against the hard stern letter which killeth, instead of seeking and finding the inner living spirit which giveth life. These are the people who build their hopes of salvation upon outward ordinances, and who impute saving power to “sacraments.” Would God that they knew better!

John 4:13-15. Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 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. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

She was still unable to see the inner meaning of the Saviour’s words; the outward sense still held her fast. She needed to have her conscience aroused, for that would prove to be the way into her heart. Christ has different doors for entering into different people’s souls. Into some, he enters by the understanding; into many, by the affections. To some, he comes by the way of fear; to another, by that of hope; and to this woman he came by way of her conscience.

John 4:16-19. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

Something had come home to her conscience through what the Saviour said to her, so she began to speak about what he was, not about what she herself was. This often happens when the preacher is enabled, by divine grace, to come home to the conscience. The result is, that the hearer says, “What a wonderful preacher he is!” But that will do no good, that is not the point at which we are aiming. “The woman saith unto him, sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet,” and off she goes, at a tangent, to enquire about various forms of religious observance. Evil liver as she was she was still a person who wished to be regarded as a religious woman; and it is strange how often a certain religiousness will flourish even in the most depraved heart, — not true godliness, however. So she propounded this difficulty to the Saviour: —

John 4:20. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

“There are so many sects, can you tell me which is the right one?” That is the question which men often put to us when we begin to touch their consciences.

John 4:21. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

This question is of very temporary interest. The hour cometh, when neither of these places, nor yet any other, shall be considered saved.

John 4:22-24. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

No longer is any consecrated building necessary to true worship; indeed, no building can be consecrated. No longer are we to be confined to canonical hours. No longer is God to be sought with the sensuousness of sweet music or of fragrant incense; but he is to be sought with the heart, and soul, and spirit.

John 4:25-26. The woman saith unto him. I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

This great truth burst upon her with all the force of a divine revelation, and faith came with the information. The words that had gone before had prepared her to expect this manifestation of Christ to her soul.

John 4:27-34. And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?

Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will, of him that sent me, and to finish his work.


Verses 1-39

John 4:1-3. When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.

Our Saviour was not a man of strife; he was quite ready to contend with the Pharisees on fit occasions, but just then he avoided an encounter with them. Besides, one woman of Samaria, whom he was going to save, was worth more to him than ten thousand Pharisees who would not be saved by him. Most of the learning and culture of Palestine was possessed by the Pharisees, but Christ thought nothing of it in comparison with the soul of the one poor woman of Samaria whom he was going to save.

John 4:4-7. And he must needs go through Samaria. Thene cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

“The sixth hour” means noonday, and that was a very unusual time for a Samaritan woman to go to draw water; but the reason why she went at that unusual hour was because she was one whom other women shunned so that, if she went to the well at all, she must go alone, for they would not be seen in her company. What a wonderful thing it is that this woman, who was not thought to be fit company for her fellow-creatures was nevertheless thought by Christ to be worth looking after and saving! But those who are the castaways of men are often among those who are the sought-out and chosen ones of Christ.

John 4:8. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

This was quite a right thing for the disciples to do, for meat must be bought for men to eat. No doubt it is better to pray than to eat; but if one never ate, he would not long be able to pray. I have heard these disciples condemned for their worldliness and carnality, but I fail to see anything of the kind, it does seem to me necessary that somebody should go into the city to buy meat, and although it is not the noblest kind of work, yet, being necessary, it may be the stepping-stone to higher service.

John 4:9-10. Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God,

How much we lose through ignorance! Ignorance is often like a great stone laid upon the well, so that the flocks cannot be watered, blessed is everyone who helps to roll away that stone. It is a great thing to know the gift of God: “If thou knewest the gift of God,” —

John 4:10. And who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

There are two things worth knowing, — what grace is, and who it is that gives it. Want of this knowledge often leads to lack of prayer, and lack of prayer leads to lack of receiving. Perhaps someone asks, “Why does not God give without prayer?” Because it is not his will to do so. His will is that we should pray about everything. Did you ever notice that, even when the harvest is ripe, it cannot be gathered in without prayer? Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” Prayer seems indispensable; it is part of God’s necessary machinery; he has pleased to make it so. But what condescension of love it is that the prayer of man should be necessary to effect the purposes of God! God even says to Christ himself, “Ask of me and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” So that, from the woman at the well up to the Lord Jesus himself, prayer seems to be the indispensable requisite of blessing.

John 4:11. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?

You who reverence the majesty of Christ’s Deity, the perfection of his humanity, the glory of his atoning sacrifice, the splendor of his resurrection power, you who know whence he has this living water, the power to save and to bless, worship and adore him with all your heart and soul.

John 4:12-14. Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst: —

You know that there are some who preach of a salvation that does not save; they teach that one may be a child of God today and a child of the devil tomorrow. That is like the water in Jacob’s well: “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again.” But Christ’s salvation is of a very different kind: “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst:” —

John 4:14. But the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

The grace of God is a living thing, a springing and abiding thing, an everlasting thing, and he that hath it in his heart hath that which hath saved him for ever.

John 4:15. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

Christ’s words were coming true. He said that, if she had known, she would have asked; and, then, in her poor groping way, she began to pray, hardly knowing what she was asking for. I advise you also to pray even before you quite understand your own prayers, before you are sufficiently instructed to know what you really need. Ask God to give you what you need. Very often we make a discovery of our needs through having them supplied.

John 4:16-19. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

She perceived that there was something about him which marked him out as a prophet, so she seemed to say to him, “As thou art a prophet, solve me this riddle:” —

John 4:20-24. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Let us never forget this. Even if we all believe it, we do not always act according to that belief. For instance, we sing through a hymn, but it might almost as well be an old song, for our hearts do not go with the words; or while our heads are bowed in prayer, mayhap our thoughts are back with our children, or our shops, or far away in some foreign land. Yet there is no benefit in coming up to a place of worship, or in listening to sermons and prayers, or joining in the singing of sacred songs unless our heart is there. Let us always recollect this, and sigh and cry rather than rejoice if we have been up to the holy assembly, and yet have not worshipped God “in spirit and in truth.”

John 4:25-26. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

Now she had made the greatest of all discoveries, for the Messiah himself had come to her, and told her “all things.” This was her test of the Messiah, and Christ had answered it.

John 4:27. And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?

They had too much respect for him to ask such questions, except in their own hearts, but their Oriental prejudices made them marvel that he was talking with a woman!

John 4:28-33. The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?

They did not like to ask him plainly; although they were very curious about the matter, they scarcely dared to pry further into it, and his next words may have deepened the mystery still further.

John 4:34-35. Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

“Look at those Samaritans trooping out of the city, drawn by that woman’s testimony concerning me. They are coming, at her invitation, to learn more about the Christ.”

John 4:36-38. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

The prophets had spoken and written concerning the Messiah, their words had prepared the minds of the Jews, and also of the Samaritans, to receive the gospel, so the great success of the apostles must not be traced merely to their teaching, but also to the preparatory work of the other labourers who had gone before: “Other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.” The Church is always ready to praise her reapers, let her not forget her sowers. There are some of us, who bring many souls to Christ, who are greatly indebted to the work which was done by other men who preceded us. There are some who, perhaps, have few conversions although they preach the gospel faithfully, they are sowing, and there shall come others, by-and-by, who shall reap bounteous harvests as the result of their sowing the good seed of the kingdom. No matter who sows, or who reaps, the glory of the harvest shall be unto the Most High.

John 4:39. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.


Verses 1-42

John 4:1-6. When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

Do not be surprised, dear brethren, if you sometimes grow weary in the Lord’s work. I trust that, even then, you will not be weary of it, but that you will believe that our blessed Master can still use even his tired servants, and bless their labours. The Lord Jesus Christ wrought great marvels even when he sat wearily on the brink of Jacob’s well; and you, perhaps, are at this moment as fatigued and worn as you well can be; yet, will you not awaken all the energies of your soul if you should see an opportunity of doing good, even if it should be to some poor fallen woman, as in the case here mentioned? It is a blessed thing never to be too tired to pray, and never to be too tired to speak to an anxious enquirer.

John 4:7. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water:

Providence was at work so that, when Christ reached the well, this woman was on her way thither. It was very late in the day for anyone to go to draw water; but, probably, the other women, who went to the well early in the morning, were not willing to associate with her, so she had to go by herself. Late as she was, however, she was all in good time, for she reached the spot just when Christ was waiting to bless her.

John 4:7-8. Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

Or else they might have drawn water from the well to refresh him.

John 4:9-10. Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

See the deadly mischief of ignorance concerning spiritual things. If she had known, she would have asked, and Christ would have given; but the first link was missing; and, hence, the rest of the chain was not drawn on. Sometimes, all that people need is a little wise instruction, and they will then trust the Saviour; God grant that we may ever be ready to give it! Alas! there are some who need much more than that; but Christ could truly say to this Samaritan woman, “If thou hadst known, thou wouldst have asked, and I would have given.” O dear hearers, do not perish through ignorance! You have your Bibles; then, search them. You have a gospel ministry among you; take care that you give diligent heed to what you hear from the servants of the Lord.

John 4:11. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?

Christ told the woman that he could give her living water, but it puzzled her to know how he could get at it. The well where they had met was deep, and he had nothing to draw the water out of it; how, then, could he go deeper still to get the living water of which he had spoken? She could not understand his simile, and to this day it is the same with many of our hearers. The simplest language of God’s ministers goes right over the heads of the people; they take our words literally, when they ought to see that they are spiritual, and, on the other hand, I have known them spirit them away when they ought to be accepted literally. Such is the perversity of man’s mind that, often, he will not understand the truth.

John 4:12-14. Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 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.

These words set forth the wonderful nature of divine grace. They certainly greatly err who suppose that we can ever receive it, and yet, after all, be left to perish without it. Nay; but when it is once imparted to us, it continues to spring up within us, like a well that never runs dry. It is the living and incorruptible seed, “which liveth and abideth for ever.” It is of the very nature and essence of the grace of God that it is indestructible, it cannot be taken away from the heart in which it has been implanted by the Holy Spirit.

John 4:15. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

This was an ignorant prayer on the part of the woman; but it is one which I would commend to every enlightened soul: “Sir, give me this water.” Do you want a form of prayer? Here is one for you: “Sir,” Lord,—“give me this water.” The Lord is ready to hear that petition, and to give this precious living water even now.

John 4:16-17. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband.

The Lord Jesus knew all about her character, and here he touched the weakest point in it. His plainest teaching had so far missed the mark, for he had not reached her conscience; but he was about to do so.

John 4:17-18. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

You can imagine her astonishment — her blank amazement as the secret story of her life was thus repeated to her.

John 4:19. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

It would have been a sign of better things if she had said, “Lord, I perceive that I am a sinner;” but that confession had to be made a little farther on. How apt people are rather to think about the preacher than about themselves! If half the criticisms which are passed upon ministers of Christ were bestowed upon the hearers themselves, how much sooner they might receive the blessing they need! The woman then asked our Lord a question about religion which was strangely out of place from such a woman as she was. Yet, often, those who have least morality will have the most ceremonialism and concern about the externals of worship.

John 4:20. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; —

This Mount Gerizim; —

John 4:20. And ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

This she thought was a very important matter.

John 4:21. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

“There shall be an abolition of all specially-holy shrines, for all places shall be alike holy. There shall be a putting an end to all your traditions, and your forms of worship, for God shall be worshipped after another fashion than that which is merely formal and superficial.”

John 4:22-26. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

That majestic word of Christ carried conviction with it; the woman believed it there and then.

John 4:27-28. And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? The woman then left her waterpot, —

She was too glad, too happy, to recollect so poor a thing as a waterpot. It was much to her before, but very little now. As one who finds a precious pearl forgets some trifle that he carried in his hand, so she “left her waterpot,” —

John 4:28-29. And went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

Her notion was, that when Christ came, he would tell all things. Here was a man who revealed her innermost secrets; — was not he the Christ?

John 4:30-32. Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

O beloved, there is a wonderful fascination about the blessed work of soul-seeking! When one is really anxious to bring a sinner to the Saviour, eating and drinking are often forgotten. As the hunter of the chamois, in the heat of the chase, leaps from crag to crag, and is oblivious of danger, and forgets all about the time for his meals, so he that hunts after a precious soul, to win it for Christ, forgets everything else. He is altogether absorbed in this holy pursuit; the Master was more absorbed in it than any of us are ever likely to be.

John 4:33-35. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are but four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest.

That was probably an old Oriental proverb, used by lazy men who never thought it time to get to work; but Jesus said, “Do not use the idler’s language any longer; now, at once, there is work for you to do.”

John 4:36-42. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. And many more believed because of his own word; and said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

The Lord bring us all to trust in him, for his dear name’s sake! Amen.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on John 4:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/john-4.html. 2011.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology