John’s Gospel: Questions for Chapter 4:46-5:17

John Questions

Lesson 8: Jesus, The Healer

John 4:46-5:17

  1.  Why does John report this exchange between Jesus and the official?  It seems that Jesus is looking for a faith that doesn’t have to see a miracle to believe.  Why is it important that John make this point to the readers of his book? (look again at John’s purpose stated in John 20:30-31). Continue reading
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John’s Gospel: 4:25-45 (“I who speak to you am he.”)

(John 4:25-26 ESV)  25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.”  26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

The Samaritan woman had already figured out that Jesus was a prophet. But Jesus had just spoken of the Kingdom coming — soon. After all, if worship would no longer be about Jerusalem, then God was about to bring a mighty change, and if so, that would seem to be the coming of the Kingdom — and with the Kingdom comes the Messiah. Continue reading

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John’s Gospel: 4:20-23 (“Our fathers worshiped on this mountain”), Continued

Now, before we get to “worship … in truth,” we need to dispose of some baggage. It’s been routinely taught that “worship in spirit” means to worship with the right attitude  and “worship … in truth” means to worship according to the right rules.

The point Jesus is supposedly making is that the Samaritans [1] had the right heart but the wrong rules, whereas the Jews had the right rules but the wrong heart. Thus, Jesus is supposedly saying that, in Christianity, we must have both the right rules and the right heart.

This line of thinking goes back, I think, to early Calvinism and reaches the Churches of Christ via Puritanism, that same heritage that brought us the Regulative Principle of Worship (if it’s not authorized, it’s sin).[2] Continue reading

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John’s Gospel: 4:20-23 (“Our fathers worshiped on this mountain”)

(John 4:20 ESV)  20 “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”

Then she goes straight to theology. She’s found a prophet, and rather than asking for the eternal life he’s offering (v. 14 is quite plain), she wants to talk about how best to worship God. (She would fit in well with many of us today.)

Jesus is happy with the change of subject, but as was so often the case, he uses her question to answer a better, deeper question. Continue reading

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“I Believe in Father Christmas” by U2

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“I Believe In Father Christmas”

They said there’d be snow at Christmas
They said there’d be peace on Earth
But instead it just keeps on raining
A veil of tears for the virgin birth
I remember one Christmas morning
A winter’s light and a distant choir
And the peal of a bell and that Christmas Tree smell
And eyes full of tinsel and fire

They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a silent night
They told me a fairy story
But I believed in the Israelite
I believed in Father Christmas
I looked to the sky with excited eyes
‘Till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him through his disguise

I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish, pain, and sadness
Leave your heart, let your road be clear
They said there’d be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on Earth
Hallelujah, Noel, be it heaven or hell
The Christmas we get we deserve

For a deeper understanding of the lyrics, the music, and the history of the song, go here.

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John’s Gospel: 4:13-22 (“never be thirsty again”)

(John 4:13-14 ESV)  13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,  14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus promises that his “Living Water” will quench thirst forever. It’s not a drink that refreshes for an hour. It’s like having a “spring of water” within so that you never thirst again.

This is an amazing promise. He’s plainly speaking of the Spirit, and he says that those who receive the Spirit receive it but once — and once is enough. You receive the Spirit and you keep it until Jesus returns.

There are those who teach that we gain and lose our salvation on a regular, recurring basis. When we sin, they say, we become instantly damned, only to be saved again when we repent, confess, and ask forgiveness. We flit back and forth between lost and saved hour by hour — constantly thirsty, and never truly quenched. Jesus disagrees.

Remember that all who have the Spirit are saved — which would be obvious to any First Century Jew — but is made explicit by Paul —

(Rom 8:11 ESV)  11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

If we “never thirst again,” then we never are lost again. Or else, if we’re lost, we no longer desire salvation because we’ve become so hardened, so rebellious, that we no longer desire salvation. For the Christian, there is no longing for salvation — unless the Christian is under the influence of false teachers. Jesus said so, and so it must be true.

Why no longing? Because you don’t long for what you already have.

(Rom 8:1 ESV) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Jesus is not teaching “once saved, always saved” or even the perseverance of the saints. He’s teaching that, in the normal case, those who been saved remained saved until they die or Jesus returns. They never thirst again.

But he’ll explain later in the book, as is taught plainly in Hebrews, that you can fall away.

(Heb 10:26-31 ESV)  26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,  27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.  28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.  29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?  30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”  31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

But we fall away by rebellion, by deliberately continuing to sin — not merely continuing to sin (we all do that) and not merely committing the occasional intentional sin (we’ve all done that). No, it’s the heart of rebellion that damns — and destroys our thirst for the Spirit.

The result, Jesus says, of having the Spirit within us, is not only that we never thirst again, but that the Spirit “wells up to eternal life.”

“There’s a Fountain Free.”

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“There’s a Fountain Filled with Blood.”

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(John 4:15 ESV)  15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

The woman continues to be all-too-literal. She refuses to hear the metaphor. Why? Is she mocking Jesus?

Some people are just like that. They have no poetry in their souls, and so they struggle to understand metaphor and poem. Many are quite religious, but they see no point in God so often speaking to us through poetry and figures of speech. They have under-developed imaginations.

Or maybe, having never read the Prophets or the Psalms, she was simply uneducated in this kind of language. (Although, all cultures at all times use figures of speech. It’s an innate feature of our humanity, doubtlessly part of God’s image impressed on us.)

Or maybe she was being sarcastic to get Jesus to speak more plainly. I know some women who are like that.

(John 4:16-19 ESV)  16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”  17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’;  18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”  19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.

This is truly hilarious. Jesus does a miracle. He just met her and yet he knows details about her life she likely wishes no one knew! But her reaction is not one of shame or embarrassment. Rather, she changes the subject: “I perceive that you are a prophet.” She wants to talk about Jesus’ powers, not her past life.

She is one tough lady. She goes to the well by herself in the heat of the day, and when her deepest secrets are revealed, she looks Jesus in the eye and changes the subject!

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John’s Gospel: 4:1-12 (“living water”)

(John 4:1-3 ESV) Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John  2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples),  3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee.

This verse is rarely noted. We want to skip straight ahead to the Samaritan woman. But John put it here for a reason. Evidently, Jesus did not want his baptismal ministry to eclipse the baptismal ministry of John. Or was it, as some commentators suggestion, that Jesus was afraid of the Pharisees? Or not ready for a confrontation yet? Continue reading

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Dead Sea Scrolls Now Online

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Thanks to Google, the Dead Sea Scrolls are now online, for free, for all.

Behold, the The Ten Commandments, from the time of Jesus, or even earlier.

Ten Commandments

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Life Lessons from Coach Bryant

For those having Crimson Tide withdrawal pangs during the long, long wait for the BCS.

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John’s Gospel: Questions for Chapter 4:1-42

Portraits of Jesus Lesson 7


“Jesus, the Living Water”

John 4:1-42

  1. What was the difference in the baptism of Jesus’ disciples and that of John?  Why is it noted that Jesus himself was not baptizing?  What does Jesus’ willingness to leave Judea and go miles away from John’s ministry say about our Savior? Continue reading
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