Jesus at Sychar.
SUMMARY.--At Jacob's Well.
The Woman of Samaria.
The Question of Scared Places.
God to Be Worshiped in Spirit.
The Samaritans Hear the Lord.
Jesus Departs to Galilee.
The Nobleman's Son Healed.
1-3. When therefore the Lord knew, etc. These verses tell why
Jesus ended his ministry in Judea, for the present, and departed into
Galilee. The Pharisees were becoming jealous of his increasing
influence and the time had not come for an open conflict.
4. He must needs go through Samaria. Because it lay right
between Judea and Galilee.
5. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria. Samaria was the
district, embracing the ancient city of Samaria, which lay between
Judea and Galilee. The district of Samaria comprised the country
formerly occupied by the tribe of Ephraim and the half tribe of
Manasseh. When the Ten Tribes were carried to Babylon, the Assyrian
king sent in other tribes to occupy the country. These mingled with the
Jews left in the country, partly adopted the Jewish worship, but were
contemptuously rejected by the Jews when the latter returned from the
Captivity. From this time the enmity between the two races was almost
bitter, and they had no dealings (see
Sychar. This place was the ancient Shechem, so famous in the
early history. It was forty miles north of Jerusalem, and was situated
between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, the Mounts of Blessing and
Here Jacob built his first altar
here Joseph was buried in the land given him by his father
and here also the covenant of Israel was renewed with amens to the
blessings and curses, after Joshua had conquered Canaan.
It was afterwards called Neapolis, and at present a village called
Nablous exists with a population of two thousand, about two hundred of
whom are Samaritans and preserve their ancient worship.
Near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
In this parcel Joseph was buried when Israel came up out of Egypt, his
bones having been carried with them in accordance with his dying wish.
His tomb is still shown and it can hardly be doubted that his bones
really rest in the place pointed out.
6. Now Jacob's well was there. It is still seen by the traveler,
cut through the solid rock, between eight and nine feet in diameter,
and about seventy-five feet deep, though partly filled with rubbish.
Jesus . . . wearied . . . sat thus on the
well. The wells were usually curbed around with stone and covered.
On this curb the Savior sat sheltered from the sun at noon, the sixth
hour being twelve o'clock.
7, 8. There cometh a woman of Samaria. A Samaritan woman of the
city of Sychar. Why she should come so far from the city for water is a
matter of conjecture.
9. How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me? She saw
by his dress, appearance,
and the direction whence he came that he was of the Jewish race. The
antipathy between the Jews and Samaritans was so bitter that they were
never wont to ask any hospitable rite. The woman's reply is not a
refusal of the Lord's request, but an expression of astonishment that a
Jew should ask a favor of a Samaritan.
10. If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to
thee, Give me to drink. The great gift of God is not water, not
even peace of soul, but Christ himself, God's "unspeakable gift,"
"God gave his only begotten Son."
Had she known, the Savior declares, Thou wouldest have asked of him,
and he would have given thee living water. Observe: (1) That Christ
asks a favor in order to confer a greater one. (2) The well and the
water suggest the thirst of the soul and the waters of life.
Living water. Water of life. The woman thought he meant running
11. Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, . . . whence then hast thou
that living water? She was deeply impressed by his manner and his
words, but she fails to rise above the material meaning of his
12. Art thou greater than our father Jacob? The question
indicates still further her dawning conviction of the greatness of the
stranger. It was from Joseph, the son of Jacob, that the Samaritans
claimed descent. Jesus spoke of giving living water; Jacob, their
great ancestor, had given this well.
13. Whoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again. Her own
experience would confirm his words. Nothing earthly satisfies long.
14. Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall
never thirst. The water of which he speaks is a gift which he gives
to humanity. It is not given to him, but is his own gift. His language
is always that of the Son of God. He says, "I am the life;"
"Come to me, ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you
"I am the bread of life;"
"He that believeth on me shall never thirst."
15. Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not. The mysterious
words of the Jewish stranger she cannot yet understand, but she is
deeply stirred, and one thing seemed plain--if she could have this
water she would thirst no more.
16. Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman has asked
for the water; before she
can receive it she must be fully conscious of her sinfulness. Hence
Jesus makes a demand that will recall her past life.
17. I have no husband. The words have their designed effect. She
has a man, but not a husband.
18. Thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not
thy husband. She had been married five times; the easy divorce laws
of the age, permitting a "divorce for any cause,"
would allow many changes without the death of either party. Some of her
husbands may have died; a part were almost certainly divorced. Her
sixth alliance did not have even the apology of such a marriage.
19. Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Every word that
Jesus had uttered had excited her wonder more and more, and when he
lifted the curtain off her life, she was convinced at once of his
20. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in
Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Partly to turn
attention from her sinful life, and partly to have him settle a great
controversy, she appeals to him to say where men ought to worship God.
The Jews went up to Jerusalem to the temple. The Samaritans built their
temples on "this mountain," Mt. Gerizim. Note that the woman worshiped
there because "our fathers" did. The "fathers" were wrong. Many now
keep up infant sprinkling and other corruptions because their "fathers"
21. The hour cometh, when neither in this mountain, nor yet in
Jerusalem. Now comes the announcement of one of the grandest truths
revealed by Christ, that the place is immaterial; that true,
spiritual worship is essential.
22. Salvation is of the Jews. In the controversy between the
Jews and Samaritans, the former were right on the great issue. The
Samaritans worshiped, but knew not what they worshiped, because they
rejected the prophets who would have directed them.
23. The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall
worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The time is at hand,
says the Lord, when a worship of forms, or at holy places, will not
meet the demands of the Father. He must be worshiped with the
heart, in spirit and in truth. Spiritual worship can be offered in any
land, wherever the soul can humble itself before God.
24. God is a Spirit. Rather, "God is Spirit." This declaration
is fundamental. Since he is Spirit, he must receive spiritual worship,
and is everywhere present.
25, 26. I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ. Her
heart had been made lighter with the great hope of the world. The words
of Jesus Christ carried her thoughts to that hope. He had
told her much; the Messiah would tell her all things, and give light on
every dark question. She perhaps began to suspect that Jesus was the
Messiah. The admission that Jesus makes, I am he, is the first
27. Upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with
the woman. His disciples had left him alone at the well, while they
went to the village of Sychar to buy food.
They wondered that he should talk with a woman, and especially
with a Samaritan woman. It was considered by the Jews indecorous
to talk with a woman in public, and the rabbins held that to talk with
such an inferior creature was beneath the dignity of a doctor of the
law. This illustrates the state from which woman has been lifted by
29. Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did.
He told her some things about her own life, and conscience had told her
more. She felt that all was known to him, and naturally exaggerates by
saying, "He told me all my life."
32. I have meat to eat that ye know not of. "Man shall not live
by bread alone."
The Lord who could go forty days in the wilderness without food, in the
exaltation of the soul caused by his baptism and the descent of the
Holy Spirit, would forget the hunger of the body also, when he was
pouring out the water of life to a poor, thirsty soul.
33. Hath any man brought him aught to eat? They cannot think of
spiritual food, heavenly manna, bread of life. Yet, long before,
had spoken of this food and had said, "Ye that have no money, come, buy
bread, and eat."
34. My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his
work. "Meat" in the Scripture means, not only flesh, but any kind
of food. The Savior declares that to do the will of God is food to him.
It is enjoyment and strength. It does not weary, but refreshes.
35. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh the
harvest? Harvest began about the middle of April in Palestine. The
time when the Savior spoke would then be about the middle of December.
But the harvest of souls was ripe already.
Lift up your eyes. No doubt he pointed to the Samaritans now
flocking out to see him
36. He that reapeth receiveth wages. The figure is kept up. The
reaper in the harvest fields receives wages, and so shall those who
reap the harvest of souls; not earthly pay in money, or fame, or
position, but the happiness of doing the noblest work, and beyond, the
crown of life shining with stars.
37. One soweth, and another reapeth. This was a common proverb,
growing out of constant human experience, true of worldly and spiritual
things. How often has the patient pastor sowed, and then the
evangelist has reaped in a meeting the results!
38. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour. The
verb "sent" is past, and refers to some event before the present
incident. The disciples had baptized multitudes, "more disciples than
so many that John's disciples reported "all men come unto him"
They had baptized these
reaping the fruit of John's labors.
40. So when the Samaritans were come. They insisted that he
should tarry with them. A strange invitation for a Samaritan village to
give to a Jew. It was also a strange thing for a Jewish teacher to
accept the invitation.
41. Many more believed because of his own word. They saw and
heard for themselves.
42. Know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the
world. To the woman Jesus had said that he was the Christ. Now, by
his teachings, many months before Peter's confession, the Samaritans
pronounce him the Christ, the Savior, not of Jews only, or Jews and
Samaritans, but of the world.
46. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick. The
Greek word translated "nobleman" is Basileukos, from
Basileus, a king, and implies one connected in some way with
royalty. It may have been Chuza
47. Besought him that he would . . . heal his son. Note that:
(1) The nobleman has already "faith as a grain of mustard seed"
in Jesus; (2) that faith moves him to seek the aid of Jesus; (3) to
make sure of his help he comes in person, instead of sending servants;
(4) while he thought he could heal his son, he did not comprehend that
it could be done unless Jesus came to where he was; (5) he thought it
would be too late if the son died before his coming. His faith way very
48. Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. The
nobleman, in his sore distress, had some faith, caused only by the fame
of the "signs and wonders" wrought. His faith was still imperfect, far
below the holy trust of the Samaritans. He is the type of a class whose
belief depended on outward signs.
50. Go thy way; thy son liveth. These words were spoken like the
Son of God. There was no hesitation; no doubt. The manner of the Lord
at once carried conviction to the heart of the sorrowing father.
The miracle is a notable instance of our Savior not quenching the
smoking flax, just as his reproof of the Samaritan woman was of his not
breaking the bruised reed. The little spark of faith in the breast of
this nobleman is lit up into a clear and enduring flame for the light
and comfort of himself and his house.--Alford.