John Lesson 5 Day 2

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John Lesson 5 Day 2

Study of John 4:1-10

Jesus travels from Judea to Galilee by way of Samaria.

“According to Josephus, the Jewish historian, going through Samaria would shorten Jesus’ journey to three days (The Life of Josephus, Section 52).” “Devout Jews would not associate with or even talk to Samaritans (John 4:9 and 27)” (AWMI Living Commentary)

Some commentators suppose that Jesus went through Samaria to save time and when he came across the Samaritan woman, he simply took advantage of the opportunity. The reasoning behind this view is based on Matthew 15:21-24 when the disciples asked Jesus to make the Canaanite woman leave them alone. Jesus answers, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (NIV)

Others take a different view, because Jesus also said, “the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do. . .” John 5:19 (NKJV)

John 4:4 “says that Jesus needed to go through Samaria [NKJV]. The need wasn’t because of travel arrangements or practical necessities, but because there were people there who needed to hear Him.” Guzik

I’m inclined to agree with this view. The Samaritans were in a literal sense ‘the lost sheep of Israel.’ Despite their corrupt form of Judaism, the Samaritans still believed in a coming Messiah. (See John 4:25)

3. Samaria’s Backstory

Location

According to Wikipedia, “Samaria is a historic and biblical name used for the central region of Palestine, bordered by Judea to the south and Galilee to the north. The first-century historian Josephus set the Mediterranean Sea as its limit to the west, and the Jordan River as its limit to the east.

“Samaria was both a region and a city that experienced many changes throughout biblical history. In Hebrew, the name Samaria means “watch-mountain” or “watch-tower,” which correlates with its hilly features (Easton’s Bible Dictionary, “Samaria”).”

It was originally the hill country of Ephraim, forty-two miles north of Jerusalem [another source says thirty miles] and nineteen miles east of the Mediterranean. Samaria became the capital of Israel [the divided kingdom] until the northern tribes were carried into captivity. The city is mentioned about 100 times in the Old Testament.

1 Kings and 2 Kings

King Ahab built a temple and an altar to Baal at Samaria (1 Kings 16:32), and at least 400 prophets of Baal ate at his table (1 Kings 18:19).

“When the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Israel (722 BC), they exiled almost all the Jewish population (27,290 – 2 Kings 17:6), removing them from the land. All they left behind were the lowest classes of society.”

The King of Assyria sent non-Jewish people to colonize Samaria and they intermarried. They also brought their pagan religious practices, so both their bloodline and worship were corrupted. “Most of the Jews in Jesus’ time despised the Samaritans, disliking them even more than Gentiles—because they were, religiously speaking, “half-breeds” who had an eclectic, mongrel faith.”

“136 years later, the Babylonians conquered the southern kingdom of Judah and followed a similar policy. These left behind intermarried with other non-Jewish peoples who slowly came into the region, and the Samaritans emerged as an ethnic and religious group.” EnduringWord.com

Ezra 4-6

The leaders of Israel would not allow the Samaritan inhabitants of Judah to help build the temple. In return, for fifteen years the Samaritans did everything they could to discourage and hinder the Israelites from completing their task.

4. Jesus and the Samaritan woman versus Jesus and Nicodemus

Jesus was tired and sat by the well.

He spoke to the woman when she came to draw water at noon, the brightest part of the day. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night when it was dark.

Nicodemus and Jesus knew each other. Jesus and the woman had never met. John does not tell us her name.

Some believe Jesus expected this divine appointment because John said Jesus “had to” or “needed to” go through Samaria. Jews usually went around Samaria.

Religious and social status

Nicodemus was a religious leader in Jerusalem, rich and influential. The Pharisees avoided fellowship with Jesus and looked down on Him. They considered Him a threat to their status. So Nicodemus came to Jesus alone at night [in secret] and he began the conversation. Scripture does not mention that Nicodemus told others about the visit or their conversation.

The Jews considered Samaritans outcasts for religious and social reasons.

Men didn’t have public conversations with women due to their lower status.

“Jesus then did something that was a cultural taboo: he spoke to a woman in public; and not just a woman, but a Samaritan woman. She was twice an outcast in Jewish thought.” (Shawna Atteberry)

The Jews hated the Samaritans so much, they avoided all contact with them.

  • The Jews borrowed nothing from them,
  • Did not drink out of the same cup or even the same well,
  • They did not sit down to meals with them, nor eat out of the same vessel.
  • The Jews had no religious connection with them.
  • Nor commercial dealings with them.
    (Adam Clarke)

Jesus’ conversation with the woman was longer.

“This is also the longest [documented] private conservation Jesus had with anyone in the New Testament” (John 4:7-26). (Shawna Atteberry)

Even though Jesus wasn’t sent to the Samaritans, He showed they were not excluded from God’s love and plan for redemption.

Both Nicodemus and the woman were confused by Jesus introduction of new spiritual truths.

5. a. Jesus begins a conversation with the Samaritan woman.

Jesus humbles Himself by asking her for help.

He says, “Give me a drink.”

“By tradition, a rabbi would not speak with a woman in public, not even with his own wife. It was also very unusual for a Jewish person of that time to ask a favor or accept a drink from a Samaritan’s cup. Jesus’ request genuinely surprised the woman. The disciples were also surprised that Jesus spoke to her (John 4:27).” EnduringWord.com

The woman of Samaria said to him, “Why do you, a Jew, make a request for water from me, a woman of Samaria?”

John explains why the woman asked Jesus this question: “because Jews have nothing to do with the people of Samaria.”

Jesus does not show prejudice because she is a Samaritan. He doesn’t treat her as ceremonially unclean. He is willing to drink from her jar.

He treats her like a human, someone who has value. Jesus recognizes her deep spiritual and emotional needs.

We should also recognize the value of each individual, regardless of their current condition, social and financial status, cultural background, race, ethnicity, or religion.

b. Did they mean to include verse 10 in this lesson?

In verse 10, Jesus answered her, ““If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.” John 4:10 MSG

Principles at work:

If she knew more, she would pray and ask for more.

“Jesus often speaks to us as if we were more spiritual than we actually are. He does this on purpose.” Guzik


My answers to BSF Bible study questions on John Lesson 5 Day 2 ~ Study of John 4:1-10