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Gene’s Daily Scriptural Postings

Reflective Bible Study

Worship and Harvest: John 4:1-42

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Year in John – Episode 8: When Jesus stops by a well while traveling through Samaria, discover how He happens to find Himself alone with a Samaritan woman, and how their conversation ultimately transforms an entire town that was ripe for harvest!

Read the transcript:

As John transitions back onto Jesus’ ministry in his gospel, we come to one of the longest events John records. This event focuses in on Jesus having a conversation with a less than reputable Samaritan woman. Let’s read what happened, and in the few minutes we have left after reading our passage, let’s pull one or two details and themes out that are relevant for us living today.

Our passage is found in John’s gospel, chapter 4, and we will read it from the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Starting in verse 1, John tells us:

1 When Jesus knew that the Pharisees heard He was making and baptizing more disciples than John [the Baptist] 2 (though Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were), 3 He left Judea and went again to Galilee. 4 He had to travel through Samaria, 5 so He came to a town of Samaria called Sychar near the property that Jacob had given his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, worn out from His journey, sat down at the well. It was about six in the evening.

Pausing briefly, I want to draw attention to the detail John tells us that it was six in the evening. John tells us that it was the sixth hour, and from what we can tell, there is uncertainty whether John was using Roman time here, which would place this event in the evening, or if John was using Jewish time, which would place this event happening at around noon.

Regardless of when this was, it is worth noting that what happens next is significant because this woman that comes is alone with Jesus at that well. Continuing in verse 7, John tells us:

7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water.

“Give Me a drink,” Jesus said to her, 8 for His disciples had gone into town to buy food.

9 “How is it that You, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” she asked Him. For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.

10 Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would ask Him, and He would give you living water.”

11 “Sir,” said the woman, “You don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. So where do You get this ‘living water’? 12 You aren’t greater than our father Jacob, are You? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and livestock.”

13 Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. 14 But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.”

15 “Sir,” the woman said to Him, “give me this water so I won’t get thirsty and come here to draw water.”

16 “Go call your husband,” He told her, “and come back here.”

17 “I don’t have a husband,” she answered.

“You have correctly said, ‘I don’t have a husband,’” Jesus said. 18 “For you’ve had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman replied, “I see that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, yet you Jews say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 Jesus told her, “Believe Me, woman, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will explain everything to us.”

26 “I am He,” Jesus told her, “the One speaking to you.”

27 Just then His disciples arrived, and they were amazed that He was talking with a woman. Yet no one said, “What do You want?” or “Why are You talking with her?”

28 Then the woman left her water jar, went into town, and told the men, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They left the town and made their way to Him.

Pausing briefly again, I want to draw our attention onto one powerful truth that Jesus shared with this woman. This truth is not simply that Jesus tells this outcast that He is in fact the Messiah, but that right before this, Jesus tells this woman that God is looking for true worshipers who will worship Him in spirit and truth.

I have heard this phrase used, and perhaps abused, over the years with people self-claiming themselves to be within this group. However, looking at the context tells us that the only way someone can worship God in spirit and truth is if the spirit they worship in is from God and if the truth they worship in is also from God. In other words, God is the only Source of true worship, and if we are not leaning on Him and desiring a connection or relationship with Him, it is unlikely we are bringing Him worship that He desires.

However, while the woman is gone and telling the town about Jesus, John continues by telling us in verse 31:

31 In the meantime the disciples kept urging Him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32 But He said, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.”

33 The disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought Him something to eat?”

34 “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work,” Jesus told them. 35 “Don’t you say, ‘There are still four more months, then comes the harvest’? Listen to what I’m telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest. 36 The reaper is already receiving pay and gathering fruit for eternal life, so the sower and reaper can rejoice together. 37 For in this case the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap what you didn’t labor for; others have labored, and you have benefited from their labor.”

39 Now many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of what the woman said when she testified, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 Therefore, when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of what He said. 42 And they told the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world.”

Let’s stop reading here because there is one more big idea Jesus shared that is worth us paying attention to. In my mind, right before the crowd arrives from town, Jesus tells His disciples in the last part of verse 35 to, “Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest.

The amazing part of this challenge is that this was while Jesus was alive on earth and this was over 2,000 years ago, Jesus tells His followers that the harvest is ready. It is likely right after this that the entire town shows up to hear Jesus and have their lives transformed.

While we might be tempted to think that there are still four more months left before harvesting is ready, Jesus tells us that the time is not then, it is now. Jesus challenges us to open our eyes to the opportunities God is sending our way in the present, and leave the future to worry about itself.

While it is smart to plan for the future, we should never focus so hard on the future that we forget our lives in the present. In our lives, there is always a tension between focusing heavily on the present or heavily on the future. We must constantly focus on balancing this tension instead of resolving it, because if we ultimately resolve it, the resolution will likely fall outside of God’s ideal for our lives.

Instead, let’s work today within the opportunities God sends our way while also looking forward to and planning for the day when He returns to bring us home!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always continue seeking God first in your life and choose to intentionally open your eyes to the harvest that is ready all around us. Choose to work with God within the opportunities He sends your way and depend on Him for the strength to work with Him as well as to worship Him.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to intentionally grow closer to God each and every day. A personal relationship with God begins with personal prayer and study, and a personal relationship with God that begins today will extend into eternity when we place our trust, faith, hope, and belief in Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins!

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

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