The Fourfold Gospel
4:1 When therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John1
JESUS SETS OUT FROM JUDEA FOR GALILEE.
A. REASONS FOR RETIRING TO GALILEE.
Matthew 4:12; Mark 1:14; Luke 3:19,20; John 4:1-4
- When therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John. We saw at
being informed by his jealous friends. Like jealous friends, no doubt,
informed the Pharisees. Jesus may have known of this information being
given by reason of his supernatural powers, but it is more likely that
he heard of it in a natural way.
4:2 (although Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples)1,
- (Although Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples). Jesus, as divine Lawgiver, instituted baptism, and his disciples administered it.
We nowhere hear of the disciples of John administering baptism. In
fact, the Baptist, like the disciples of Jesus, baptized under a divine
commission, and could not delegate the power to others. It was the
office of Jesus to commission others to this work, not to perform it
himself. Had he done so, those baptized by him might have foolishly
claimed for themselves some peculiar honor by reason thereof
(1 Corinthians 1:14,15). Jesus was the spiritual baptizer, in which baptism
the efficacy lies in the administrant; but water baptism, the efficacy
of which lies rather in the spirit of the one baptized than in the
virtues of the administrant, Jesus left to his disciples.
4:3 he left Judea, and departed again into Galilee1.
- He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. We have in these verses two reasons assigned for the withdrawal of Jesus into Galilee,
namely: (1) The imprisonment of John the Baptist (Matthew 4:12; Mark 1:14).
(2) Knowledge of the Pharisees that Jesus was baptizing more disciples
than John (John 4:1). The first gives us the reason why he left Judea;
the second, the reason why he left fot Galilee. Jesus did not go into
Galilee through fear of Herod, for Herod was tetrarch of Galilee. The truth
is, the absence of John called for the presence of Jesus. The northern part
of Palestine was the most fruitful soil for the gospel. During the last
six or eight months of John's ministry we find him in this northern
field, preparing it for Christ's kingdom. While we cannot say
definitely that John was in Galilee (Bethabara and Aenon being the only
two geographical names given), yet he certainly drew his audiences
largely from the towns and cities of Galilee. While John occupied the
northern, Jesus worked in the southern district of Palestine; but when
John was removed, then Jesus turned northward, that he might sow the
seed of the kingdom in its most fruitful soil. But if there was a
reason why he should "go" to Galilee, there was an equal reason why he
should "depart" from Judea. His popularity, manifesting itself in the
number of his baptisms, was exciting that envy and opposition which
caused the rulers of Judea eventually to take the life of Jesus
(Matthew 27:18). The Pharisees loved to make proselytes themselves
(Matthew 23:15). They no doubt envied John's popularity, and much more,
therefore, would they be disposed to envy Christ. The influence of the
Pharisees was far greater in Judea than in Galilee, and the Sanhedrin
would readily have arrested Jesus had he remained in Judea
(John 7:1; John 10:39), and arrest at this time would have marred the work
of Jesus. Therefore, since it is neither sinful nor unbecoming to avoid
persecution, Jesus retired to Galilee, when he remained until his
second passover. By birth a prophet of Judea, he became, in public
estimation, by this retirement, a prophet of Galilee. Though Jesus
first taught in Judea, the ministry in Galilee so far eclipsed the work
in Judea that it was spoken of as the place of beginning, (Luke 23:5
manifestation (Matthew 4:14-16).
4:4 And he must needs pass through Samaria1.
- And he must needs pass through Samaria. The province which took its name from the city of Samaria, and which lay between Judea and
Galilee. Owing to the hatred which existed between Jews and Samaritans,
many of the Jews went from Jerusalem to Galilee by turning eastward,
crossing the Jordan, and passing northward through Perea. This journey
required about seven days, while the more direct route, through
Samaria, only took three days. Galileans often passed through Samaria
on their way to and from the Jerusalem feast (Josephus' Ant. 20:6,1).
The arrest of John would scatter his flock of disciples (Mark 14:27),
and Jesus, as chief shepherd (1 Peter 5:1-4), hastened to Galilee, to
gather together those which might else go astray and be lost.
4:5 So he cometh to a city of Samaria, called Sychar1, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph2:
JESUS SETS OUT FROM JUDEA FOR GALILEE.
B. AT JACOB'S WELL AND AT SYCHAR.
- So he cometh to a city of Samaria, called Sychar. Commentators long made the mistake of supposing that Shechem, now called Nablous, was the
town here called Sychar. Shechem lies a mile and a half west of Jacob's
well, while the real Sychar, now called 'Askar, lies scarcely half a
mile north of the well.
- Near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. It was a small town, loosely called a city, and adjoined the land which
Jacob gave to Joseph (Genesis 33:19; Genesis 47:22; Joshua 24:32), Joseph's tomb being
about one hundred yards east of it. The mummy of Joseph, carried out of
Egypt at the time of the Exodus, was buried in this parcel of ground,
and there is but little doubt that it really rests in the place
indicated by the tomb; and though the name Sychar may be derived from
the words "liar" or "drunkard", it is more likely that it means "town
of the sepulcher", referring to this tomb.
4:6 and Jacob's well was there1. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus by the well2. It was about the sixth hour3.
- And Jacob's well was there. The Old Testament is silent as to when or why Jacob dug this well. It lies on the southern side of the valley
of Shechem, where it opens upon the plain of Moreh (now called
el-Mukhnah), about a hundred yards south of the foot of Mt. Gerizim. It
was one of the few Biblical sites about which there is no dispute, and
probably the only place on earth where one can draw a circle of a few
feet, and say confidently that the feet of Christ have stood within the
circumference. Maundrell, who visited it in 1697, said that it was 105
feet deep, and had in it fifteen feet of water. But travelers have
thrown stones into it to sound its depth, until at present it is only
sixty-six feet deep, and has no water in it except in very wet winters.
It is seven and half feet in diameter, and is walled with masonry to a
depth of about ten feet, below which it is cut through the solid rock.
It lies four hundred yards nearly due south from Joseph's tomb. As the
neighborhood abounds in springs, the well would hardly have been dug
save by one who wished to be independent of his neighbors--as Jacob
- Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus by the well. John gives us important items as to the humanity of Jesus. He
tells us how he sat as a wayworn traveler, hungry and thirsty, at
Jacob's well; and he alone records the words, "I thirst", spoken on the
cross (John 19:28). The top of the well is arched over like a
cistern, and a round opening is left about twenty inches in diameter.
On this arch or curbing Jesus sat. We should note the perpetuity of
blessings which springs from a good deed. Gutenberg did not foresee the
newspaper when he invented printing; Columbus did not anticipate the
land of the free when he led discoverers to our shore, nor is it likely
that the prophetic eye of Jacob ever saw the wearied Christ resting
upon the well-curb which he was building.
- It was about the sixth hour. That is, twelve o'clock, if we reckon by Jewish time, or six o'clock in the evening, if we reckon by the
Roman method. We prefer the latter method.
4:7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water1: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
- There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water. She was not of the city of Samaria (which was then called Sebaste--the Greek word for
Augustus--in honor of Augustus Caesar, who had given it to Herod the
Great), but a woman of the province of Samaria, which lay between Judea
and Galilee, and reached from the Jordan on the east to the
Mediterranean on the west, comprising the country formerly occupied by
the tribe of Ephraim and the half tribe of Manasseh.
4:8 For his disciples were gone away into the city to buy food1.
- For his disciples were gone away into the city to buy food. Had the disciples been present they would have bargained with the woman for the
use of her rope and pitcher; but in their absence Jesus himself asked
her for a drink. He met her on the ground of a common humanity, and
conceded to her the power of conferring a favor. Women have been
immemorially the water-carriers in the East (Genesis 24:13,14; Exodus 2:16).
Palestine is in summer a parched land, inducing intense thirst, and the
people usually comply cheerfully with the request for water; it was
probably so in Jesus' day (Matthew 10:42). Mohammed commanded that water
should never be refused.
4:9 The Samaritan woman therefore saith unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew1, askest drink of me, who am a Samaritan woman? (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
- Thou, being a Jew. As his language and dress declared.
- (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans). It is not likely that she meant to refuse his request, but she yielded to the temptation to
banter one who she thought despised her, and whose necessities now
caused him for a moment to forget his pride. The ancestors of the
Samaritans were introduced into the land of Israel by the king of
Assyria, after he led the ten tribes into captivity (2 Kings 17:24-41).
When the Jews returned from their captivity in Babylon and began to
rebuild their temple, the Samaritans asked permission to build with
them, and when this was refused, an enmity arose between the two people
which never died out (Ezra 4:1-5; Nehemiah 2:10,19; Nehemiah 4:1-3). We must, however,
restrict the word "dealings" to social intercourse. Race antipathy did
not ordinarily interfere with trade or other matters involving money,
as is shown by John 4:8. According to later tradition, a Jew accepted
no hospitality from a Samaritan, and to eat his bread as a guest was as
polluting as to eat swine's flesh, but such social courtesy was the
very thing which Jesus here asked. There are today between one and two
hundred Samaritans dwelling in Shechem at the foot of Mt. Gerizim, and
Dr. Robinson says of them that they
"neither eat, nor drink, nor marry with the Jews, but only
trade with them."
4:10 Jesus answered and said unto unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God1, 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 water2.
- If thou knewest the gift of God, etc. Jesus is himself the Gift of God (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 9:15). But she knew not that God had bestowed
a special Gift, and much less that the one to whom she spoke was that
Gift. Had she known she would have understood that though physically
Jesus was the object of her charity, spiritually their cases were
reversed, and she was the needy one, as Jesus intimates.
- Living water would mean literally running or spring water, as contrasted with still or cistern water. Jesus here uses it in the
spiritual sense. He fills us with his grace and truth (John 1:14) and
grants unto us continual, untold refreshing (Revelation 7:17). The reviving
and regenerating effects of the Holy Spirit are likewise called living
water (John 7:37-39).
4:11 The woman saith unto him, Sir1, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: whence then hast thou that living water2?
- Sir. This word ("kurios" in Greek) is elsewhere translated "Lord".
- Thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: whence then hast thou that living water? She understood his words literally, and
was puzzled by them; but, won by the courtesy which suggested an
exchange of gifts, she answered respectfully, though incredulously.
4:12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his sons, and his cattle1?
- Art thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his sons, and his cattle? We should note
three points in this verse: (1) The greatness of Jesus. The woman had
just called him "Lord". The man at Bethesda, though he knew not Jesus,
afterwards did the same (John 5:7). People felt the majesty and
dignity of Jesus. When he offered to give a greater blessing than that
given by Jacob, the woman at once contrasted him with Jacob--Jacob with
sons and cattle and wealth--and wondered if this lonely stranger could
really imagine himself greater than the illustrious patriarch. (2) She
claimed descent from Jacob; it was a false claim. Jesus classed the
Samaritans with Gentiles (Matthew 10:5), and spoke of them as strangers
or aliens (Luke 17:18). (3) She spoke of the well as given by Jacob.
She meant that it had been given to Joseph (Genesis 48:22), and that her
people had inherited it as descendants of Joseph.
4:13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Every one that drinketh of this water shall thirst again1:
- Every one that drinketh of this water shall thirst again. Jesus here draws a contrast between earthly and heavenly blessings. No worldly joy
gives lasting satisfaction, but Jesus is the bread and water of life to
his disciples (John 6:35) their unfailing satisfaction.
4:14 but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life1.
- But the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life. A beautiful figure of the joy
in Christ. In heat, in cold; in drought, in shower; in prosperity, in
adversity; it still springs up, cheering and refreshing the soul, and
this unto all eternity (Revelation 7:17; Revelation 21:6).
4:15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come all the way hither to draw1.
- Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come all the way hither to draw. She but dimly comprehended the nature of Christ's
offer, but was persuaded of two things: (1) The wonderful water was to
be desired. (2) Jesus was able and willing to give it. When she spoke
of coming "to draw", her words suggested the household to which it was
her duty to minister, and prepared the way for the command of Jesus to
bring the head of the household.
4:16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither1.
- Go, call thy husband, and come hither. She had asked Jesus for the water of God's grace, but she needed to be made conscious of how much
she needed it--conscious (if we follow the figure) of her dormant
thirst. Jesus, therefore, gave command to call her husband, that by so
doing he might reveal her life and waken her to repentance.
4:18 for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: this hast thou said truly1.
- For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: this hast thou said truly. The divine wisdom of Jesus
brought to light a sad state of affairs. During the period of five
marriages the woman's life had at least some outward show of
respectability, but now it was professedly clean. The number of
marriages reflects somewhat upon the character of the woman, and hints
that some of them may have been dissolved by her own fault, though the
loose divorce law of that age permitted a man to dissolve the marriage
ties on very slight provocation. Among the Jews the great Hillel is
reported to have said that a man might properly divorce his wife if she
burnt his dinner while cooking. It is not likely that any higher ideals
of matrimony obtained among the Samaritans.
4:19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet1.
- Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. She had heard of the miraculous knowledge of the Jewish prophets, and this evidence given
her by Jesus persuaded her that he was one of them, as a like evidence
had persuaded Nathanael (John 1:48,49). By thus calling him a prophet,
she virtually confessed the truth as to all the things concerning which
he had accused her.
4:20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain1; and ye say2, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship3.
- Our fathers worshipped in this mountain. That is, Mt. Gerizim.
- And ye say. You Jews.
- That in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Though a desire to divert the conversation from her own sins may have, in some
slight measure, prompted the woman to bring up this question about
places of worship, yet her main motive must have been far higher. If we
ourselves stood in the presence of one whom we felt assured to be fully
inspired of God, how hastily would we propound to him some of the vexed
questions which befog the religion of our time! Prompted by such a
feeling, this woman sought to have the great dispute between Jews and
Solomon's temple in Jerusalem was soon after its erection confronted
by those who denied its claims to be exclusively the place set apart
for divine worship. Jeroboam, the rebellious servant of Solomon, taught
the people that Bethel and Dan were as acceptable for worship as
Jerusalem. But Jerusalem, as the site of the first great temple, held
precedence above all rivals until its claims were discredited in
popular estimation by the fact that it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.
When, after many years, the returning captives rebuilt its walls, it
lacked the sanction of age, and it had lost many of the features of
divine recognition, which contributed to the sacredness and grandeur of
the first structure. Soon after its erection in the days of Nehemiah,
Manasseh, son of the high priest Joiada, and brother of the high priest
Jonathan (Nehemiah 12:10,11; Nehemiah 13:28), married to the daughter of Sanballat,
Persian governor of Samaria. Refusing to dissolve this marriage at the
decree of the governor of Jerusalem, Manasseh was chased by Nehemiah
from Jerusalem, and his father-in-law made him high priests of the
Samaritans, and undertook to build for him the temple which afterwards
crowned the summit of Mt. Gerizim. Manasseh left Jerusalem about B.C.
The temple built for him was destroyed by John Hyrcanus about B.C.
129, but the place where it stood was still the sacred center of
Samaritan worship, as it is to this day.
Mt. Gerizim, and its supporting city of Shechem, had many grounds on
which to base their claims to be a sacred locality: (1) Here God
appeared to Abraham for the first time after his entering Canaan
(Genesis 12:6,7); (2) here Jacob first dwelt (Genesis 33:18); (3) here
Joseph came seeking his brethren (Genesis 37:12,13); (4) here was a
city of refuge (Joshua 24:1); (5) here Joshua read the blessings and
cursings (Joshua 8:33); (6) here also he gave his last address
(Joshua 24:1); (7) here were buried the bones of Joseph (Joshua 24:32),
and the neighborhood was prominent at the time of the division of the
ten tribes (1 Kings 12:1,25). If we may consider Samaritan traditions
of that day as similar to those of the present, they had added greatly
to the real importance of the neighborhood, for they now contend that
(1) Paradise was on the summit of Mt. Gerizim; (2) Adam was formed of
the dust of Gerizim; (3) On Gerizim Adam reared his first altar; (4)
Seth here reared his first altar; (5) Gerizim was the Ararat on which
the Ark rested, and the only spot which the flood did not overflow; and
therefore the only place which escaped the defilement of dead bodies;
(6) on it Noah reared his altar; (7) here Abraham attempted to offer
Isaac; (8) here he met Melchizedek; (9) here was the real Bethel, where
Jacob slept and saw his ladder vision. Backed by such high claims, the
woman deemed it possible that this prophet might decide in favor of
Samaria's holy place. We should note that the Samaritans worshiped in
Mt. Gerizim because they could say, "Our fathers did so". Thus many
errors are perpetuated today because our fathers practiced them; but
our fathers had no more authority to alter or amend God's word than we
have. The Jews worshiped in Jerusalem because it had been prophesied
that God would select a spot as the peculiar place for his worship
(Deuteronomy 12:5-11), and because according to this prophecy God had selected
Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem (1 Kings 9:3; 2 Chronicles 3:1,2).
4:21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh1, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father.
- The hour cometh. Jesus used the word "hour" to indicate that the time was "near at hand" when all religious distinctions as to places
would be abolished, and when every spot might be used for purposes of
worship (1 Timothy 2:8).
4:22 Ye worship that which ye know not: we worship that which we know1; for salvation is from the Jews2.
- Ye worship that which ye know not: we worship that which we know. Jesus here speaks as a Jew, and draws a comparison between the
intelligent worship of his people and the ignorant worship of the
Samaritans. Though the Samaritans possessed the Pentateuch, they were
without the revelation of God which the prophets of Israel had
developed, and their worship was neither authorized nor accredited by
God. Moreover, it led toward nothing; for salvation was evolved from
the Jewish religion, and not from that of Samaria.
- For salvation is from the Jews. Salvation proceeded from the Jews. From them, according to the flesh, Christ came, and from them
came also the prophets, apostles, and inspired writers who have given
us that full knowledge of salvation which we possess today. We must
take the words of Jesus as referring rather to the two "religions" than
to the two peoples. Though as a body the Jews did not know whom they
worshiped, and though their teachers were blind leaders of the blind,
yet the fault was in their unbelief, and not in the revelation or
religion in which they refused to believe. On the contrary, if the
Samaritans had believed his religion to the full, it would hardly have
been sufficient to have enabled him to know what he worshiped. Samaria
was, in the days of idolatry of Israel, a chief seat of Baal worship,
and in later days it was the home of magicians and sorcerers.
4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is1, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth2: for such doth the Father seek to be his worshippers3.
- But the hour cometh, and now is. The hour is really here, but the knowledge of it is not yet comprehended.
- When the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth. Jesus draws the mind of the woman from the place of worship
to the Person or Being worshiped, and from the form to the spirit of
- For such doth the Father seek to be his worshippers. God seeks for genuine and not formal worshipers, and for those who worship him in
truth; that is, those who render him the obedience of faith with a
filial spirit, and not those who render him the empty service of types
and shadows, ceremonies and rites, which, through disbelief, have lost
4:24 God is a Spirit1: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth2.
- God is a Spirit. These words contain one of the most simple, yet most profound, truths which ever fell upon mortal ear. Their truth is
one of the great glories of revelation, and corrects the mistaken
conclusion of human reason. They show that (1) God is absolutely free
from all limitations of space and time, and is therefore not to be
localized in temples (Acts 7:48); (2) that God is not material, as
idolaters contend; (3) that he is not an abstract force, as scientists
think, but a Being; (4) that he is lifted above all need of temples,
sacrifices, etc., which are a benefit to man, but not to God
(Acts 17:25). Spiritual excellence raises man above the beast, and
spiritual excellence in turn raises God above man (Isaiah 31:3).
- And they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth. That is, men must offer a worship corresponding with the nature and attributes
4:25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh (he that is called Christ): when he is come, he will declare unto us all things.
- I know that Messiah cometh . . . he will declare unto us all things. The breadth and largeness of Jesus' teaching suggested to her the great
Teacher who was to come, and caused her to yearn for him who could
tell, as she thought, perhaps even larger things. The Samaritans
justified their idea of a coming Benefactor by passages found in the
Pentateuch, and got their name for him from the Jews. Relying on the
prophecy found at Deuteronomy 18:18, modern Samaritans regard the Messiah as
a returning Moses, calling him El-Mudy, the Guide. They contend that
his name will begin with M, and that he will live to be a hundred
twenty years old. This woman's idea of the Messiah was probably also
very crude, but it was in part an improvement on the general Jewish
conception, for it regarded him as a teacher rather than a world-
conquering, earthly prince.
4:26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am [he].
- I that speak to thee am [he]. That is the first recorded declaration of his Messiahship made by Jesus. He was not confessed to be Messiah by
Simon Peter till the last year of his ministry (Matthew 16:16). Jesus
spoke more freely as to his office in Samaria than in Judea or Galilee,
for, (1) the Samaritans would make no effort to take him by force and
make him a king (John 6:15); (2) his short stay in Samaria justified
an explicit and brief revelation.
4:27 And upon this came his disciples; and they marvelled that he was speaking with a woman1; yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why speakest thou with her?
- And upon this came his disciples; and they marvelled that he was speaking with a woman. The spirit of the Rabbis is shown by their
later precept; viz.:
"Let no one talk with a woman in the street, no, not with
his own wife."
The estate of woman was then, and had been for a long time previous,
very low. Socrates thanked the gods daily that he was born neither a
slave nor a woman. Roman law gave the husband absolute authority over
the wife, even to put her to death; and Jewish contempt for women is
made apparent by the readiness with which the Jews divorced them.
- Yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why speakest thou with her? So deep was their reverence and respect that they did not question,
though they did not understand.
4:28 So the woman left her waterpot1, and went away into the city, and saith to the people,
- So the woman left her waterpot. In the forgetfulness of great joy, and as the unconscious pledge of her return.
- Went into the city. Sychar (John 4:5).
4:29 Come, see a man, who told me all things that [ever] I did1: can this be the Christ2?
- Come, see a man, who told me all things that [ever] I did. To publish Christ is one of the first impulses of those who feel Christ's
gracious power. Her invitation is like that given by Philip
(John 1:46). On second thought her statement is not so much of an
exaggeration as it at first appears. Her five marriages and present
state covered the whole period of her adult life, and the way in
which Jesus had disclosed it all convinced her that every detail of it
was spread out before him.
- Can this be the Christ? Her question does not imply that she herself had any doubts about the matter. She uses the interrogative form
because she does not wish to be dogmatic, but prefers to let the people
judge for themselves. Observe the woman's change of mind concerning
Jesus. She first called him "Jew", then "Sir," then "prophet"
(John 4:9,11,19), and now she invites her city to come forth and see
4:31 In the mean while1 the disciples prayed him, saying, Rabbi, eat.
- In the mean while. The time between the departure of the woman and the arrival of her fellow-townsmen.
4:33 The disciples therefore said one to another, Hath any man brought him [aught] to eat1?
- The disciples therefore said one to another, Hath any man brought him [aught] to eat? They understood his words literally, as a
declaration that he had dined.
4:34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to accomplish his work1.
- My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to accomplish his work. Jesus' delight at the woman's conversion, as a part of the work
which his Father had given him to do, overcome for a time his desire
for food. Food has several characteristics: (1) enjoyment; (2)
satisfaction of desire; (3) refreshment and strength. God's work had
these characteristics to Jesus, whose life fulfilled the principle that
man shall not live by bread alone (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4).
4:35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and [then] cometh the harvest1? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields2, that they are white already unto harvest.
- Say not ye, There are yet four months, and [then] cometh the harvest? Jacob's well overlooked the luxuriant grainfields of the
plain of Moreh. As the disciples looked abroad over its patches of
varying green, they would say that it would yet be four months before
these patches could be harvested. Some commentators look upon the words
of Jesus as proverbial, but there is no proverb extant which places
only fourth months between sowing and reaping. In Palestine this period
covers six months. We must, therefore, take the words of Jesus as a
plain statement as to the length of time between the date of his
speaking and the date of harvest. Harvest begins about the middle of
April, and counting back four months from that date we find that this
visit to Sychar occurred somewhere about the middle of December.
- Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields,
- that they are white already unto harvest. The harvests in the natural world are slow. But turning their eyes toward Sychar, the disciples
could see the citizens of the town in their white garments pouring
forth to see Jesus, and to be gathered by him as a harvest of disciples
which had sprung up and ripened from the seeds of truth sown by the
woman but a few moments before. Spiritual sowing brings speedy
4:36 He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal; that he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together1.
- That he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. Harvest times were seasons of great joy (Deuteronomy 16:13-15; Psalms 126:6
Isaiah 9:3). But the joy of joys shall come when God gathers his
redeemed into the heavenly garner. In this present the humble teacher
sows and the evangelist, or more gifted brother, reaps; but in that
glad hour it shall matter little whether we have been a sower or a
reaper, for we shall all rejoice together. Sower and reaper alike shall
receive wages, a part of which shall be the "fruit" gathered--the soul
saved. Jesus regarded gaining a brother as a large compensation, a
great gain (Matthew 18:15).
4:37 For herein is the saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth1.
- For herein is the saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. See Isaiah 65:21,22; Leviticus 26:16; Job 31:8; Micah 6:15.
4:38 I sent you to reap1 that whereon ye have not labored2: others have labored, and ye are entered into their labor3.
- I sent you to reap. Christ, as Lord of the harvest, sent both sowers and reapers.
- That whereon ye have not labored. In earlier days many prophets and holy men had labored to prepare the people of Palestine, that they
might be gathered of Christ as disciples. Later John the Baptist had
wrought a mighty work toward this same end.
- Others have labored, and ye are entered into their labor. Into a field thus sown and cultivated Jesus was now leading his apostles, that
they might reap for him the ripened harvest. He bids them observe the
speedy and easy reaping on this occasion as an encouraging example to
them, that they may go forth with strong assurance and confidence. Even
the minds of the Samaritans were prepared to receive him, and a quick
harvest could be gathered among them.
4:39 And from that city many of the Samaritans believed on him because of the word of the woman, who testified1, He told me all things that [ever] I did.
- And from that city many of the Samaritans believed on him because of the word of the woman, who testified. The Jews rejected the
testimony of the prophets and holy men of God as recorded in the
Scripture (John 5:46,47), but the Samaritans accepted the testimony
of this woman, and she was a sinner.
4:40 So when the Samaritans came unto him, they besought him to abide with them1: and he abode there two days2.
- So when the Samaritans came unto him, they besought him to abide with them. "His own received him not" (John 1:11), but these
"strangers" welcomed him.
- And he abode there two days. The stay was brief, but long enough to prepare the way for a future church among the Samaritans in the
neighboring city of Samaria (Acts 8:5-8). From the nearer town of
Shechem came Justin Martyr, one of the greatest Christian writers of
the second century.
4:42 and they said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy speaking: for we have heard for ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world1.
- Now we believe, not because of thy speaking: for we have heard for ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world. Only
such ready hearers could arrive at so great a truth in so short a time.
Wealth of revelation and blessing had made the Jews selfish, and their
conception of the Messiah was so perverted by this selfishness that
they could not conceive of him as being a "world" Savior. Thus wealth
often dwarfs where it should rather enlarge the heart. The incident
comprised in this section presents the expansiveness of Christianity in
a threefold aspect; viz.: (1) we see it breaking down the walls of
racial prejudice; (2) we observe it elevating woman, and certifying her
fitness to receive the very highest spiritual instruction; (3) we
behold it lifting up the degraded and sinful, and supplying them from
the fountains of grace. Such is real Christianity--the Christianity of
4:43 And after the two days he went forth from thence into Galilee2.
JESUS SETS OUT FROM JUDEA FOR GALILEE.
C. ARRIVAL IN GALILEE.
Luke 4:14; John 4:43-45
- Now after two days. The two days spent among the Samaritans at Sychar.
- He went forth from thence into Galilee. From Samaria.
4:44 For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honor in his own country1.
- For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honor in his own country. Galilee was Jesus' "own country" (John 1:46; John 2:1; John 7:3,41,52
Luke 23:5-7). In Judea he had begun to receive so much honor as to bring
him into danger at the hands of the Pharisees; he would receive less in
Galilee. John 4:43 resumes the itinerary of John 4:1,2, after the
interlude which tells of the woman at Sychar.
4:45 So when he came into Galilee, the Galilaeans received him, having seen all the things that he did in Jerusalem at the feast1: for they also went unto the feast2.
- So when he came into Galilee, the Galilaeans received him, having seen all the things that he did in Jerusalem at the feast. The works
which Jesus had done in Jerusalem were for the most part fruitless as
to its inhabitants, but they bore the fruit of faith in far-off
- For they also went unto the feast. Of "the many who believed on him" in Jerusalem (John 2:23), it is highly probable that a large number
were Galilean pilgrims who were then there attending the passover.
4:46 He came therefore again1 unto Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine2. And there was a certain nobleman3, whose son was sick at Capernaum4.
THE SECOND MIRACLE AT CANA.
- He came therefore again. That is, in consequence of the welcome which awaited him.
- Unto Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. See John 2:1.
- And there was a certain nobleman. Literally, "king's man", a word which Josephus uses to designate a soldier, courtier, or officer of the
king. He was doubtless an officer of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of
Galilee. That it was Chuzas (Luke 8:3) or Manaen (Acts 13:1) is mere
- Whose son was sick at Capernaum. The nouns in this verse are suggestive. We have a "nobleman", yet neither riches nor office lifted
him above affliction; a "son", yet approaching an untimely death before
his father; and both these parties came to sorrow in "Capernaum", the
city of consolation. Neither circumstance, nor age, nor situation can
guarantee joy. We must still be seeking Jesus.
4:47 When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee1, he went unto him2, and besought [him] that he would come down, and heal his son; for he was at the point of death3.
- When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee. And was therefore within not very easy reach of his sick child's bedside.
- He went unto him. Literally, "he went away unto him". The verb contains a delicate suggestion that the father was reluctant to leave
the son, even to seek aid.
- And besought [him] that he would come down, and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. Many, like this father, only seek divine
aid when in the utmost extremity.
4:48 Jesus therefore said unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will in no wise believe1.
- Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will in no wise believe. Though Jesus spoke these words to the nobleman, yet he also intended them for
those who stood by, for he used the plural "ye". That the Galileans in
general deserved reproof for their lack of faith, is shown by the
upbraiding words which he spoke concerning their cities (Matthew 11:20-24).
Jesus wanted men to believe in him because of his self-evidencing
character and words (John 10:38; John 14:11; John 15:22-24; John 20:29). But the people
required to have their faith buttressed by miracles. There is a vast
difference between believing in a man, and believing his credentials.
Miracles were our Lord's credentials; his ministry among men cannot be
thought of without them; and when the Baptist's faith in Christ himself
wavered, Jesus referred him to them (Matthew 11:4,5). See also
aspects of miracles. To the thoughtful they were signs or attestations
that the one who performed them acted under the authority and approval
of God; to all others they were mere wonders, which startled by their
strangeness. Jesus was fresh from Sychar, where many required no other
sign than his words.
4:49 The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die1.
- Sir, come down ere my child die. The father felt that the case was too urgent to admit of delay for argument. It seemed to him that he
raced with death. His faith differed from that of the centurion in that
he felt that the PRESENCE of Jesus was required to perform the miracle.
He also regarded the powers of Jesus as limited to the living; but we
must not censure his faith as particularly weak, for in both these
respects it resembled that possessed by Mary and Martha
4:50 Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth1. The man believed the word that Jesus spake unto him, and he went his way.
- Go thy way; thy son liveth. Jesus enlarges the nobleman's conception of his divine power by showing him that his words take effect without
regard to distance.
4:52 So he inquired of them the hour when he began to amend1. They said therefore unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him2.
- So he inquired of them the hour when he began to amend. The father expected that the fever would depart slowly, as it usually does; but
the reply of the servants shows that he was mistaken.
- They said therefore unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. Though for harmonistic reasons we are persuaded that
John himself uses the Roman method of computing the hours, which would
make the phrase here mean 7 P.M., yet since the phraseology here is not
his, but that of the Galilean servants, we take it to mean 1 P.M., for
they would use the Jewish method of computing from sunset to sunset. If
both parties had started at once, they would have met before sundown,
as each had but eleven miles to traverse. But it is more reasonable to
suppose that the wearied but now-believing father sought some
refreshment and a brief rest before returning, and that the servants
tarried awhile to see if the child's recovery was permanent. This would
lead to their meeting after sundown, at which time, according to the
invariable custom, they would call the previous period of daylight
4:53 So the father knew that [it was] at that hour in which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house2.
- So the father . . . himself believed. We note here a growth in the faith of the nobleman. He first believed in the power of Jesus'
"presence", then in the power of Jesus' "Word", and finally he believed
generally in Jesus, and his household shared his belief.
- And his whole house. This is the first mention of a believing household; for others see Acts 16:14,15,34; Acts 18:8.
4:54 This is again the second sign that Jesus did, having come out of Judaea into Galilee1.
- This is again the second sign that Jesus did, having come out of Judaea into Galilee. One small sign and many converted in Samaria;
two great miracles and one household converted in Galilee. Such is the
record. Jesus doubtless had many other converts in Galilee, but it is
often true that the greater brings the lesser harvest.