John 4

* Christ's departure into Galilee. (1-3) His discourse with the

Samaritan woman. (4-26) The effects of Christ's conversation

with the woman of Samaria. (27-42) Christ heals the nobleman's

son. (43-54)

1-3 Jesus applied himself more to preaching, which was the more

excellent, #1Co 1:17|, than to baptism. He would put honour upon

his disciples, by employing them to baptize. He teaches us that

the benefit of sacraments depends not on the hand that

administers them.
4-26 There was great hatred between the Samaritans and the

Jews. Christ's road from Judea to Galilee lay through Samaria.

We should not go into places of temptation but when we needs

must; and then must not dwell in them, but hasten through them.

We have here our Lord Jesus under the common fatigue of

travellers. Thus we see that he was truly a man. Toil came in

with sin; therefore Christ, having made himself a curse for us,

submitted to it. Also, he was a poor man, and went all his

journeys on foot. Being wearied, he sat thus on the well; he had

no couch to rest upon. He sat thus, as people wearied with

travelling sit. Surely, we ought readily to submit to be like

the Son of God in such things as these. Christ asked a woman for

water. She was surprised because he did not show the anger of

his own nation against the Samaritans. Moderate men of all sides

are men wondered at. Christ took the occasion to teach her

Divine things: he converted this woman, by showing her ignorance

and sinfulness, and her need of a Saviour. By this living water

is meant the Spirit. Under this comparison the blessing of the

Messiah had been promised in the Old Testament. The graces of

the Spirit, and his comforts, satisfy the thirsting soul, that

knows its own nature and necessity. What Jesus spake

figuratively, she took literally. Christ shows that the water of

Jacob's well yielded a very short satisfaction. Of whatever

waters of comfort we drink, we shall thirst again. But whoever

partakes of the Spirit of grace, and the comforts of the gospel,

shall never want that which will abundantly satisfy his soul.

Carnal hearts look no higher than carnal ends. Give it me, saith

she, not that I may have everlasting life, which Christ

proposed, but that I come not hither to draw. The carnal mind is

very ingenious in shifting off convictions, and keeping them

from fastening. But how closely our Lord Jesus brings home the

conviction to her conscience! He severely reproved her present

state of life. The woman acknowledged Christ to be a prophet.

The power of his word in searching the heart, and convincing the

conscience of secret things, is a proof of Divine authority. It

should cool our contests, to think that the things we are

striving about are passing away. The object of worship will

continue still the same, God, as a Father; but an end shall be

put to all differences about the place of worship. Reason

teaches us to consult decency and convenience in the places of

our worship; but religion gives no preference to one place above

another, in respect of holiness and approval with God. The Jews

were certainly in the right. Those who by the Scriptures have

obtained some knowledge of God, know whom they worship. The word

of salvation was of the Jews. It came to other nations through

them. Christ justly preferred the Jewish worship before the

Samaritan, yet here he speaks of the former as soon to be done

away. God was about to be revealed as the Father of all

believers in every nation. The spirit or the soul of man, as

influenced by the Holy Spirit, must worship God, and have

communion with him. Spiritual affections, as shown in fervent

prayers, supplications, and thanksgivings, form the worship of

an upright heart, in which God delights and is glorified. The

woman was disposed to leave the matter undecided, till the

coming of the Messiah. But Christ told her, I that speak to

thee, am He. She was an alien and a hostile Samaritan, merely

speaking to her was thought to disgrace our Lord Jesus. Yet to

this woman did our Lord reveal himself more fully than as yet he

had done to any of his disciples. No past sins can bar our

acceptance with him, if we humble ourselves before him,

believing in him as the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
27-42 The disciples wondered that Christ talked thus with a

Samaritan. Yet they knew it was for some good reason, and for

some good end. Thus when particular difficulties occur in the

word and providence of God, it is good to satisfy ourselves that

all is well that Jesus Christ says and does. Two things affected

the woman. The extent of his knowledge. Christ knows all the

thoughts, words, and actions, of all the children of men. And

the power of his word. He told her secret sins with power. She

fastened upon that part of Christ's discourse, many would think

she would have been most shy of repeating; but the knowledge of

Christ, into which we are led by conviction of sin, is most

likely to be sound and saving. They came to him: those who would

know Christ, must meet him where he records his name. Our Master

has left us an example, that we may learn to do the will of God

as he did; with diligence, as those that make a business of it;

with delight and pleasure in it. Christ compares his work to

harvest-work. The harvest is appointed and looked for before it

comes; so was the gospel. Harvest-time is busy time; all must be

then at work. Harvest-time is a short time, and harvest-work

must be done then, or not at all; so the time of the gospel is a

season, which if once past, cannot be recalled. God sometimes

uses very weak and unlikely instruments for beginning and

carrying on a good work. Our Saviour, by teaching one poor

woman, spread knowledge to a whole town. Blessed are those who

are not offended at Christ. Those taught of God, are truly

desirous to learn more. It adds much to the praise of our love

to Christ and his word, if it conquers prejudices. Their faith

grew. In the matter of it: they believed him to be the Saviour,

not only of the Jews but of the world. In the certainty of it:

we know that this is indeed the Christ. And in the ground of it,

for we have heard him ourselves.
43-54 The father was a nobleman, yet the son was sick. Honours

and titles are no security from sickness and death. The greatest

men must go themselves to God, must become beggars. The nobleman

did not stop from his request till he prevailed. But at first he

discovered the weakness of his faith in the power of Christ. It

is hard to persuade ourselves that distance of time and place,

are no hinderance to the knowledge, mercy, and power of our Lord

Jesus. Christ gave an answer of peace. Christ's saying that the

soul lives, makes it alive. The father went his way, which

showed the sincerity of his faith. Being satisfied, he did not

hurry home that night, but returned as one easy in his own mind.

His servants met him with the news of the child's recovery. Good

news will meet those that hope in God's word. Diligent comparing

the works of Jesus with his word, will confirm our faith. And

the bringing the cure to the family brought salvation to it.

Thus an experience of the power of one word of Christ, may

settle the authority of Christ in the soul. The whole family

believed likewise. The miracle made Jesus dear to them. The

knowledge of Christ still spreads through families, and men find

health and salvation to their souls.

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