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Oct 3 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

September 30, 2012 – John 4:27-38

Why Did Jesus Say That?

Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about” John 4:31-32

INTRO: We’re going through John’s gospel, picking out statements and asking, “Why did Jesus say that?”

In this instance, it had been a long day and Jesus had walked many miles
– so he rested near a well while the disciples went to buy food
• when they returned, they encouraged him to eat
• instead he told them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about”
– why did Jesus say that?

We have to know what happened while disciples were gone

A woman–one of the locals–had come to draw water,
– which is suspicious – women didn’t go to the well alone or at that hour of the day
– Jesus asked her for a drink
• instead of water, she gave him a smart-mouth answer, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?”
• she point out the obvious differences between them
– just to make sure we understand her response, John inserts a footnote: “For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans”
• John 8:48 gives us an idea of what Jews thought of Samaritans when they insulted Jesus by accusing him of being a Samaritan and having a demon

Perhaps she assumed, “If we weren’t alone, you wouldn’t talk to me”
– “You’re crossing a barrier, aren’t you? I thought you Jews were too good for us?
• this gives us an immediate insight into this woman — she is bold and nervy
• she knows men and she’s not afraid of them
○ all through the conversation she is sassy and sarcastic
– she figures she has the advantage – he needs what she has

Then Jesus told her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that’s asking you for a drink, you’d be asking him for living water”
– you would be the one clambering over barriers
– you don’t realize this, but you need what I have more than I need what you have
– naturally, she doesn’t get the metaphor, but decides to humor Him
• so playing along, “Sir” (mock respect), “You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do you get that living water?

At this point, Jesus givers her a revelation that is profound, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life”
– later on, Jesus uses the same metaphor in reference to the Holy Spirit (Jn. 7:37-39)
• she is still not taking him seriously, but pretends that she wants to take him up on his offer
• “Great! Give it to me. Then I won’t have to drag myself out to this well every day”
– even though she doesn’t take Jesus seriously, he takes her seriously
• he tells her what steps she needs to take for him to quench her thirst,“Go, call your husband and come here”

Immediately the air between them is tense
– Jesus has set her up, knowing what she’ll say, and he’s waiting for her to say it
• she sets her jar down and turns away, refusing to look him in the eye
– “I don’t have a husband” — this is her shortest response to Jesus in whole conversation
• she is still sarcastic, but not so sassy
• only three words in Greek – she is terse and direct
– no witty comeback, no clever repartee – this casual banter isn’t fun any more
• he hit a sore spot – “The husband thing hasn’t worked for me”
• he has reminded her of what she is, and in doing so, caused her bitterness and pain to resurface
– “There You have it, You odd Jew. You’re not so smart–I have no husband. Think what You will”

From her side, the conversation was over
– he hit her hard and she retreats, “The game’s over. I quit”
– she had not anticipated any of this when she came to the well that afternoon
• she had stopped hoping for her life to turn wonderful
• she just took it as it came and tried to survive — day after dreary day
– there was only one nagging concern that haunted her and it was about to surface

Two times, Jesus congratulated her for telling the truth (vv. 17-18)
– he drew up the truth from the well of her past and present
• “Well said! It’s true you have no husband for you’ve had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. You’ve spoken the truth.”

Of course, she’s surprised – “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet”
– realizing that she has a prophet all to herself, she corners him

The woman is going to question Jesus regarding her deepest concern — not directly, but indirectly, of course
• it sounds like a theological question, but it’s more than that
• “Where should we worship? There are conflicting stories”
– Jesus gave her a theological answer
• a time is coming that will make space irrelevant
• you don’t really know what you worship – we do, for salvation is of the Jews
• but soon that will no longer matter

Something radical is going on here, but she is missing it
• she had said, “our father Jacob” and “our fathers worshiped” (vv. 12 & 20)
• Jesus says to her, “the Father” (twice)
○ he is giving her the opportunity to become God’s daughter

But as many as received Him, He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (Jn. 1:12)

What was really behind her theological question?
– she wanted to know,

“Will God accept me? Does God even want me, five husbands and all? Do I have to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and offer sacrifice there? Or am I a hopeless case? You’re a prophet, you know my past, you know me. Tell me”

I want you to see how Jesus has worked his way from an informal dialogue with a stranger, to an intimate conversation about her personal life
– he has moved into the issues of who she is and what she needs more than anything
– and she’s been willing to let him go there, because he didn’t treat her like a Samaritan, or like a Rabbi would treat a woman, or like other men had treated her
• but Jesus treated her like a person

Unfortunately, she didn’t understand Jesus’ answer
– it probably sounded like theology to her
• so it seems her deeper question is left unanswered
– she says, “O well, when the Messiah comes He will explain it. Then I’ll know – I’ll know whether God will have me”
• she’s ready to turn and go back to her unfulfilled life
– but precisely at the point where she gives up, Jesus rescues her
– now he delivers his shortest line in their conversation — five words in the Greek
• he pulls back the curtain and reveals his identity, “I who speak to you am He”
• the Messiah has come, she has her answer, God will have her

There’s nothing more for her to say – any further conversation was impossible
– Jesus, who crossed barriers to get to her is the answer she needed
– God accepts her – he has come for her
• all her doubts and fears have been resolved in this man
• she has taken her first sip of living water and will never thirst again

I love the detail that John adds to the story
– she went away, but discretely “left her waterpot” – she would let Jesus help himself to it if he liked

Now we return to our question: Why did Jesus say, “I have food to eat that you do not know about”?

Jesus used same phrase regarding not knowing in verse 22, “You worship what you do not know”
– the disciples were ignorant about the type of food Jesus had
• they thought he meant, they didn’t know where he got it
– they’re in the same place as the woman was earlier — they’re stuck in the literal words
• with her, it was water–with them, it is food
– both times, Jesus had changed the subject – he switched the meaning of water and food
• using them as a metaphors

We know that sometimes food is not as important as other things:

  1. When engrossed in something we really enjoy – hobby
  2. When pressured by an urgent deadline
  3. When excited about something else
  4. When a participant rather than observer (popcorn at movies)
  5. During an emergency or crisis
  6. When we fell in love
  7. When we lost someone we loved

But this is not at all what Jesus meant
– he wasn’t going to put off eating forever – any more than the woman would never again drink literal water
• he was trying to open their minds to another reality
– he said it, because he didn’t want food and water to define his life — or theirs

. . . do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Mt. 6:25)

He said it because he wanted to be that woman’s Savior (v. 42)
– Jesus’ food was to do the will of his Father (v. 34)

For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day (Jn. 6:40)

CONC: There are moments of quietness, frequently before we fall asleep, when big thoughts enter our minds

Not the usual petty things with which we are normally preoccupied

Thoughts about life and death, what if we’d taken a different road? lived somewhere else?
• it probably occurred more often as children, but then we were quickly taught to dismiss those thoughts and pay more attention to food, water, and clothing

Jesus encourages us to wrestle with the big thoughts
– life is more than all the senseless stuff we cram into our bodies, minds, and empty hours

What is Jesus’ food? We are – and he is our food and drink (6:53-58)
– when you realize he wants you enough to go to all this trouble, then you know he can be trusted with the petty things

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