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Feb 5 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

February 3, 2019 – Matthew 15:1-9 and John 4:16-26

Eyes that See, Ears that Hear

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the filed that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well It was about the sixth hour.
A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”
 John 1:1-7

Intro: Last Sunday, several people thanked me for asking Jake to speak

What I noticed afterward, was not what I learned, but what I felt
– a fresh awareness of how present God is to us
• two specific moments stand out when Jake explained:
◦ “it’s not about leaving our physical world or our bodies, but the veil is lifted”
◦ “the Psalms teach us how to talk to our nephesh [soul]”
• I believe this is the effect the gospels were meant to have on us
◦ they were meant to make us more aware of the life of the spirit
◦ both God’s Spirit and our spirit in him
– in the Synoptic gospels, Jesus awakens us to spirit using miracles and parables
• in John, Jesus awakes us with signs and dialogues
◦ for instance, Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus in ch. 3
◦ and now here, with the Samaritan woman
• Jesus leads people out of their rational-literal mind-set to a spiritual awakening
◦ to a new perception and receptivity

To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. . . .This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. . . . But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear (Mt. 13:13 and 16)

◦ the same process is at work here with the Samaritan woman and his living water

(and then also with his disciples regarding food) 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.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (Jn. 4:31-33)

John chapter 4 moves around to a lot of places

The story is bordered, beginning and end, by “Judea and Galilee” (vv. 3 & 54)
– also mentioned are Samaria and Sychar, Jerusalem and Gerazim, Cana and Capernaum
• one intriguing place-reference that has been long debated

After two days he departed for Galilee. (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.” (Jn. 4:43-44)

◦ the problem is that there’s no context for this quote
◦ the only places mentioned in context are Samaria, Judea and Galilee
• Samaria could not possibly qualify as his “hometown”
◦ Galilee is eliminated too, because in the next verse we read,

So when he came to Galilee, the Galiileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast” (v. 45)

• some scholars conclude, John must mean Jesus’ hometown was Judea
◦ but there is no good reason to think his hometown would be Judea or in Judea
– John had let us know early on that Jesus was from Nazareth (1:45-46)
• but Jesus had not quoted this hometown proverb anywhere in John’s gospel
◦ but Mark had quoted it (6:4), and Matthew and Luke as well (Mt. 13:57; Lk. 4:24)
◦ and in all three, Jesus quoted the proverb when he was in Nazareth
• so the debate over what John meant dissolves when we realize that his readers knew the Synoptic gospels
◦ and this is one of the reasons John’s gospel is so different from other three
(he did not see the need to repeat them)
◦ John places the quote here to explain why Jesus, when going from Samaria to Capernaum, he avoided Nazareth

Anyway, this chapter mentions a lot of different places,
– but when we come to the heart of the chapter,
• Jesus erases the importance of space
◦ places become irrelevant when people discover the life of the Spirit

I am going to pick and choose sentences from the dialogue to discuss

I would love to walk you through the entire conversation,
– but I need to stick with my thesis
• and that is, that John has written a spiritual commentary on the Synoptic gospels

Two facts are highlighted in this conversation:
First, Jesus was talking to a woman

Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but on one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” (v. 27)

– in the Synoptic gospels, two resourceful women got what wanted from Jesus
• one of them by being clever, other by sneaking up behind him
• the key to the success of both was their faith (Mt. 15:28; Lk. 8:48)
– like them, the Samaritan woman is also clever (and she too was “outsider”)
• but her story is the reverse of theirs
◦ she did not want anything from Jesus
▫ rather, he wanted something from her (“Give me a drink”)
◦ at first, Jesus ignored the Gentile woman in Matthew’s gospel–he did not answer her a word (Mt. 15:23)
▫ but here, Jesus initiated the conversation with the Samaritan
◦ Jesus was unwilling to throw Israel’s bread to dogs for the Gentile woman (Mt. 15:26)
▫ but with the Samaritan, Jesus was ready to share the living water
– women are not unimportant in the Synoptic gospels
• but they are given a greater place in John’s gospel

John’s spiritual commentary:
– the call to mission and evangelism includes women
• he sent this woman back to her village with her story
• and through her, many in her village came to believe in Jesus (Jn. 4:41)

The second fact highlighted: she was a Samaritan
– in the Synoptics, the Samaritans are stereotyped
• when sending out the disciples, Jesus’ first instruction was that they not enter any towns of Samaria
◦ that is, do not take the gospel to them (Mt. 10:5)
• one time a Samaritan village closed its gates to Jesus
◦ James and John volunteered to call fire down on them for this insult,
◦ which reveals a prevailing attitude
◦ even in John’s gospel, an insult thrown at Jesus is

Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (Jn. 8:48)

– for this reason it’s a surprise whenever Jesus presented Samaritans in a positive light
• like in the parable of the good Samaritan or the one leper who returned to give thanks
• but in this story, Jesus goes much further
◦ he targets this Samaritan woman
– a few minutes ago, I said that the proverb regarding a prophet’s honor explains why Jesus avoided Nazareth
• he had good reason to avoid Samaria too
◦ most religious leaders took a longer journey to skirt around Samaria
(so as not to be defiled by crossing through their territory)
• but John says, he had to pass through Samaria
◦ not because there was no other way to reach his destination,
◦ but because there was no other way to reach this woman and her village

John’s spiritual commentary:
– the invitation to eternal life includes Samaritans and Gentiles (Jn. 12:21)

There are three statements that powerfully illuminate the Synoptic gospels

Verse 10, If you knew
– this captures the spiritual consciousness of Jesus’ contemporaries and culture
• they did not know

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes (Lk. 19:41-42
You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God (Mt. 22:29)

• Jesus came to let them know

No one has ever seen God; the only [unique One], who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known (Jn. 1:18)

◦ Jesus’ briefest statement to the woman says it all

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.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he” (vv. 25-26)

◦ the Greek sounds awkward, but the way it reads, Jesus said, I am–the one speaking to you
(Jesus’ “I am” statements have long been recognized in John)
◦ what is the significance of this?

When Moses asked God his name, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex. 3:13-14)

– in verse 12 the woman asked Jesus, Are you greater than our father Jacob?
• this is the revelation!

In Matthew 12:6, referring to himself, Jesus said I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. In the same chapter he also said, something greater than Jonah is here (Mt. 12:41) and something greater than Solomon is here (Mt. 12:42)

• the something greater was the ultimate “I am” on earth among humankind
– the reason people did not see this is because their minds were blocked by what they thought they knew
• I know that my mind is too
◦ there is more to my here and now experience than what I know
▫ yes, there’s the well, the water jar, and the mountain
▫ and that’s all I see, although whole world of spirit is present
◦ yet, at the same time, the well, water jar, and mountain,
▫ can be the very channels through which Jesus awakens me

John’s spiritual commentary:
– if we stay with Jesus and listen carefully, he breaks our mental locks

Also in verse 10, Jesus mentions the gift of God
– a free gift–to this Samaritan,
this woman who had lived with five husbands
and now lived with a man who was not her husband
• for those of us who were raised to feel unworthy,
◦ trained to be ashamed of our selves (not just our behavior),
◦ made to believe we’re disqualified for anything good, significant, important
◦ and those of us who have disqualified ourselves,
• to learn from Jesus that what God has for us is gift,
◦ is the most wonderful news we could ever receive

Just one more sentence
– in today’s reading in Matthew, we heard Jesus quote Isaiah, in vain do they worship me
• Jesus said this, because the Pharisees’ worship was wrapped up in rules and regulations
◦ yet they could find loopholes that allowed them to worship God while violating the law
◦ so even though they honored God with their lip, their hearts were far from him (Mt. 15:8)
– this Samaritan woman also brought up an issue regarding worship

Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. . . . God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth (vv. 21-24)

• I said before that in a chapter full of places, Jesus erased the importance of space
God is spirit – and this is what defines worship
◦ “truth” is real, or authentic — actions that are a true expression of what’s in the heart

John’s spiritual commentary:
Jesus brings Spirit to us and us to spirit

Conclusion: I want this

To be more awake to the dimension of spirit
– but it will never happen if my mind is always cluttered with the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things (Mk. 4:18-19)

I need the free gift that breaks my mental locks,
that liberates me from all my worldly preoccupations,
that takes my heart and mind (in that order) to new places
Here is what I need to more consistently and continuously seek:

If then you have been raised with Christ,
seek the things that are above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Set your mind on things that are above,
not on things that are on earth

Colossians 3:1-2

One Comment

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  1. Bill Livingston / Feb 10 2019

    Place of worship.

    When I close my eyes and take a deep breath and say I am yours, come to me, He does. It is a glorious moment when the Lord of Hosts enters your domain. He comes gently. Says do not be afraid. It is I your Lord and Savior. What do you ask of me? I am always available to meet your needs. I know Lord and I trust you, but some healing I am always asking for has not happened. Should I doubt? Son, don’t doubt, wait. But you don’t understand, waiting is difficult. Ha! what do you think I don’t know about you? ………….long silence……..I give up. I trust you.


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