The Power to Save

Lesson for the Disciples – Jesus took advantage of this interview with the woman, not only for her benefit, but to give the disciples a lesson in the fulfilling character of spiritual delight and in the providential process of sowing and reaping.

The delight in doing the Father’s will 31-34 – Later (John 6:27) Jesus would instruct a large group not to labor for the food that perishes but for that that endured to eternal life. He Himself was that bread. Here, after giving the woman a lesson about living water, he tells his disciples about a food that satisfies far beyond the mere temporary physical satisfaction of “store-bought” bread. He consistently used the sense to indicate the reality of spiritual emptiness and fulfillment.

The law of sowing and reaping

Father and Son 34-36 – The Son has now entered into the Father’s sowing and sees the reaping of eternal life for those that believe in him. Not only does the woman believe, but her villagers 939-42) came to believe. The Father had sown in election and in the providential arrangement of all events to bring Jesus to this time of interview about living water and to reveal his Messiahship to the woman from Sychar. He was reaping and receiving the fruit of his labor, for among the Samaritans the Father had sown his seed of grace that would certainly come forth to eternal life. The Son, reaping even before he sheds his blood, is rejoicing already to see in this palpable example that the fruit of his death anticipates the historic moment of the completed work.

OT Prophets and NT Apostles  38 [cf. Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10] – Even so, the apostles would be sent to reap filed that others had sown. The prophets had spoken and written the work of God. It had been read in the temple and the synagogue generation after generation and they would begin to reap the fruit of that sowing.. They would point to the message of the apostles and how this had been fulfilled in Christ. Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles would here the message spoken by the prophets, hear of its fulfillment in Christ and would believe. The Apostles reaped where others had sown.

Savior of the World – 39 -42

they believe the Woman’s testimony – It seemed to them self-evident that a man that could tell about the moral life of an individual while engaging her in issues of spiritual truth, would not be a deceitful person. His claim to be the Messiah must have the weight of upright honesty behind it. Surely she gave them the gist of the entire conversation, and that, combined with her knowledge of her life served to convince them. From the previous chapter’s conversation with Nicodemus, we can surmise that the secret operations of the Spirit of God were also present bearing witness to the truth of his claim and her testimony.

They believe because they hear for themselves. Jesus consented to stay with them. His own teaching then becomes the fountain of more belief. This is in stark contrast to his reception in his own town (Luke 4:16-30). Their conclusion resonates with one of the themes of John, that Jesus transcended the national barriers and was indeed the “Savior of the world.” True knowledge of God is not limited to ceremonies, or ethnic origin, or location of the place of worship, but is in the arena of truth as pressed on the conscience by the Spirit of God. Jesus as the one lifted up draws all men to him (John 12:32)

They believe though there is no “sign” – From the narrative, it appears that Jesus did not perform a sign but only taught. He told the Jews later (John 5:39-47), that if they believed Moses they would believe him. What the Jews in Jerusalem could not perceive in Moses, even though they received the entirety of the Old Testament as canon, the Samaritans of Sychar believed even though they received only the books of Moses as canon.

Galilee and the Royal Official’s Son

No honor – Is this a complaint or an affirmation toward the Galileans? It is certainly not a complaint for Jesus knew that he would not be received, and probably he went there to confirm the reality of his rejection in his native country. (Compare Matthew 13:53-58) The Galileans had responded to his signs, but Jesus knew that their belief was suspended merely on the stupendous and not on the heart reception of his messianic person and work.

Perhaps of the household of Herod – kin or courtier of Herod the tetrarch, technically not a king but, nevertheless of the royal family and sitting as a ruler (Mark 6:14). This man does not send others to summon Jesus but comes himself to plead with him.

Jesus challenges him with the phenomenon that was so prevalent among those that saw his signs. They were not conversant with the word, and did not evaluate Jesus in accordance with the testimony of Scripture. Jesus compared the response of the Samaritans with the expectations of the Jews. His own people cam far short of the glad and pervasive response in Samaria. Jesus states this as a general observation, to elicit further response from the father of the child.

This man persists even with the off-putting statement of Jesus. (Compare this with the faith of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15 21-28)

Jesus shows the unmediated unilateral nature of his power and authority by not going down but merely speaking the word. His son was healed at the moment that Jesus told the man to return home. In verse 50 the word “believed” is used to indicate that the man ascribed to the truthfulness of the word of Jesus. In verse 53 the word is used to indicate that he received the testimony of Jesus and came to salvation through faith n Jesus.


John continues to develop his meaning of the word “World.”

There is genuine fulfilling pleasure in knowing and doing the purpose of God

The law of sowing and reaping begins with God himself in his sovereign purpose then brought to effect in the sending of Christ and the providential arrangement of events to bring even Samaritans to faith. It will continue with the work of the disciples building on the testimony and faithfulness of the prophets.

The core of the gospel, humanly speaking, is its fitness for the worst of sinners

Jesus shows himself to be Messiah both in his teaching and in his power.

Tom has most recently served as the Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he was Professor of Church History and Chair of the Department of Church History. Prior to that, he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Along with numerous journal articles and scholarly papers, Dr. Nettles is the author and editor of fifteen books. Among his books are By His Grace and For His Glory; Baptists and the Bible, James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman, and Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles H. Spurgeon.
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