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(It has been difficult to split this chapter into manageable chunks – you may want to make each section longer or shorter!)


Someone read John 4:27-42

27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, ‘What do you want?’ or ‘Why are you talking with her?’

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done. Could this be the Messiah?’ 30 They came out of the town and made their way towards him.

31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’

32 But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’

33 Then his disciples said to each other, ‘Could someone have brought him food?’

34 ‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, “It’s still four months until harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying “One sows and another reaps” is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour.’

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I’ve ever done.’ 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.’

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done. Could this be the Messiah?’


Entering the village she would have met groups of people buzzing with excited talk: a whole crowd of Jews had been in the town buying supplies. To hear what the woman had to say only increased their excitement and they were quick to go to see for themselves:

30 They came out of the town and made their way towards him.


The Disciples of course had no idea what had been going on at the well. They had noticed Jesus talking to the woman but had then simply ignored her. They also were probably not aware of the impact that their visit had had on the villagers. They had simply done what Jesus had asked. This was an important lesson for them (and us!). Unknowingly they had been ‘preparing the way for the Lord’, preparing the hearts of the people to respond.


So when they returned, they assumed that as Jesus had sent them to buy food, he must be hungry.


31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’


Jesus could have replied, ‘No, not now, the villagers are coming and I will have to speak to them first’. But instead he used it as a teaching opportunity.


32 But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’

33 Then his disciples said to each other, ‘Could someone have brought him food?’

34 ‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.


Jesus was fully human, but is seems that when necessary he could bypass normal human needs.

Someone read:



Jesus was here for a purpose ‘For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.’ John 6:38

Although Jesus had sent his Disciples away to buy food, they should always be alert for ‘Gospel opportunities’ and for Jesus that was always the primary motive for all that he did.


 35a Don’t you have a saying, “It’s still four months until harvest”?


What do you think that saying meant?

Probably ‘you can’t rush things, so take it easy.’


Are we guilty of thinking like that in our Christian witness? Let’s wait until people notice that we are Christians and then they will come and ask us when they are ready; rather than us go out now and tell them about Jesus


35b ‘I TELL YOU – That was a bit emphatic!  

35c ‘OPEN YOUR EYES– so was that!

  

35d ‘look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest’


If Jesus says the time to harvest is now, who are we to contradict him?


36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.


What does the phrase ‘draws a wage’ suggest?

To me it speaks of people who are already working in the fields and are therefore due their wages.


V 35 told us that there are souls waiting to be harvested, ‘a crop for eternal life’. But many would prefer to be sowers.

Why is that?

There are many ways of sowing Gods words that do not require us to have an adult conversation one-to-one with someone else. Teaching, preaching, giving out tracts, (creating a web site!) can all be quite impersonal. Reaping, on the other hand can often require a more personal conversation.


In Jesus’ time, and until the advent of mechanical harvesters, when the crops were ready for harvest, it would be a time of frenzied activity. Everyone in the village was expected to join in – whatever their trade or occupation, young and old.


‘.  .  .  so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together’

The sower will only be glad when the harvest has been safely gathered in.


 37 Thus the saying “One sows and another reaps” is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour.’


Note ‘Others have done the hard work’. We think that harvesting is hard, but those who had already sown the seed in preparation for Jesus, were the Prophets – and they had suffered, been rejected, and many had been killed.


Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I’ve ever done.’

In the story of the Woman at the Well, who was the first to respond and harvest the ‘first fruits’ among the Samaritans of Sychar?


It was the woman herself, by her testimony.

Would you call it a thrilling testimony? Or was it simply telling what Jesus had done in her life?


What makes a testimony?

Simply telling others what Jesus has done for us.


What was the result of her simple testimony?

Many  .   .   .   believed’ (v39)


As a result of her testimony the barriers of custom and prejudice had been removed and Jesus and his Disciples were now welcomed into their homes:

40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.


By reading the Bible, or hearing it preached, people can still spend time with Jesus, and can listen to his words; and they still produce a harvest today.


42 They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.’


For some, the testimony of the woman was enough. For others, she had simply prepared the way. But they all were now able to testify ‘this man really is the Saviour of the world.


John has demonstrated here that the message of Salvation was extended to the despised Samaritans. Now we will also see that Jesus was prepared to help another despised people – the Romans.


Someone read John 4:43-54


43 After the two days he left for Galilee. 44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honour in his own country.) 45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there.

46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay ill at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

48 ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders,’ Jesus told him, ‘you will never believe.’

49 The royal official said, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’

50 ‘Go,’ Jesus replied, ‘your son will live.’

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he enquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, ‘Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.’

53 Then the father realised that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him,‘Your son will live.’ So he and his whole household believed.

54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.


43 After the two days he left for Galilee. 


Jesus spent two days with the Samaritans and left while there were still unbelievers (v39,41 – ‘many’, ‘many more’, but not all).

Would more have believed if he had stayed longer?


Jesus doesn’t argue people into the Kingdom, so neither should we. He simply presents people with a choice, and after two thousand years there are still those who reject him.


44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honour in his own country.) 45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there.


The Galileans were pleased to have Jesus back but what were their motives?


I think that they were happy to have a miracle-working teacher – but not necessarily a saviour for their sins. They had spent longer than two days listening to Jesus and seeing all he did, but unlike the Samaritans, they were unmoved.


46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee.

In particular, why would the people of Cana be pleased he had come back?

.  .  . where he had turned the water into wine.


And there was a certain royal official whose son lay ill at Capernaum. 


a certain royal official’: he would be serving under Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great who had sought to kill Jesus as a baby.

He was probably an officer of the Roman court rather than a soldier. It would appear that his family home was Capernaum (a town on the north coast of the Sea of Galilee).


47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.


A Roman royal official would not be in the habit of begging anything from a peasant carpenter – a command would be more usual! But here his son’s life was in danger and he was convinced that Jesus was someone special, and that he could heal him.


48 ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders,’ Jesus told him, ‘you will never believe.’


Why did Jesus reply so harshly?

Look at verses 44 and 54. These suggest that few people in Galilee accepted that Jesus was anything other than the man they had known for most of his life. They were simply interested in his miracles, and it seems Jesus was reluctant to satisfy their curiosity. Jesus wanted people to accept him by faith, not sight. See also Matthew 11:21-24. Korazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum were all towns near the Sea of Galilee.


John draws out the marked contrast between the Samaritans who simply believed his words (v42), the Jews of Galilee who demanded miraculous proofs and who probably would still not believe, (See also John 2:25 and 5:41,42) and, as we shall see, the royal (Roman) official who was also ready to believe.


49 The royal official said, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’


This Roman official was convinced that Jesus could heal his son, and he would not be put off.


50 ‘Go,’ Jesus replied, ‘your son will live.’


Jesus immediately tested the man’s faith. It had been a day’s journey to get to Jesus; to spend another day returning without him would not be easy.


The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 


The man’s faith rose to the challenge – he had every reason to believe, and no reason to doubt.


51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he enquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, ‘Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.’

53 Then the father realised that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he and his whole household believed.


This reminds us of the purpose of John in writing his Gospel: ‘these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name’ (John 20:31).


54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.


Despite the general unbelief of most people, Jesus would still go on to perform many miracles for those in need, and who were prepared to accept him as their saviour


Matthew 9:35-38

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and illness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’  





John 5aJohn 4b









John 4:28-42     Sowing and reaping.
           43-54     Healing the Official’s son

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