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John 4

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.

      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 recorded.

      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 the Gospel.

      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, the prophet 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 ( verse 39 ).

      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 John" ( chap. 4:1 ); so many that John's disciples reported "all men come unto him" ( chap. 3:26 ). They had baptized these ( 4:2 ), 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 ( Luke 8:3 ), Herod's steward.

      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 imperfect.

      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.

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