In a recent article published on his website Dr. Albert Mohler speaks of the loss of Christian liberty amid the current sexual revolution we’re seeing in our day. In the article, he states Christians today need three things to endure a culture redefining the very definition of right and wrong: courage, conviction, and clarity. Indeed, these three things have been needed in the Church throughout many other generations in history. And so we, along with saints of the past leaving an example for saints of the future, have a need to grow in our gospel resolve.

This morning God, through the writing of the apostle John, would like us to consider three lessons that are intended to do just that: grow our gospel resolve. Seeing these lessons will deepen our reverence, boost our evangelistic vigor, reveal the source of fullness and abundance in God’s work, and show how a sight of the glory of Christ transforms the deepest of racial divides.

Our passage for this morning is John 4:27-42, found on page 519 in the Bibles we’ve provided for you in the back. Here we pick back up with Jesus and His life changing conversation with the Samaritan woman. John 4:27-42, follow along as I read.

A Lesson about Inactivity and Activity (v27-30)

There is something of a contrast for us to see in v27-30 between the silence of the disciples and the vigor of the woman. As the disciples get back to the well, with the lunch Jesus had earlier sent them to get, it says they marveled at Jesus. Why did they marvel? For two reasons: first, they marveled because it was forbidden for Rabbi’s to publicly speak with women, and yet here is Jesus doing just that. Second, they marveled because this woman was a Samaritan. So again, we see historical hostility present in this time rise up in the disciples as they see this, and we can say without a doubt that they, at least initially, thought what Jesus was doing was entirely inappropriate. I say they initially thought it to be inappropriate because they didn’t say anything to Jesus about it. Usually if someone is doing something obviously wrong we will immediately tell them. For example I recall washing my Father’s car with him when I was very young, and I thought the way we get the soap off the car was the same way we got the soap on the car. So after rubbing the soap filled sponge all over the car to get the soap on, I grabbed the hose, squeezed the nozzle to get water coming out, and proceeded to rub the nozzle all over the car to get the soap off. Almost immediately my Father ran over and stopped me, I guess he could hear all the scratches I was making.

Notice, that even though the disciples marvel at what Jesus is doing here, they don’t say anything in v27. Why are they silent? John Calvin explains this silence well in his commentary on John’s gospel when he says, “It is useful to observe…that they did not venture to put a question; for we are taught by their example that, if any thing in the works or words of God and of Christ be disagreeable to our feelings, we ought…to preserve a modest silence, until what is hidden from us be revealed from heaven.”[1] So though chauvinistically and racistly puzzled and marveling at what Jesus is doing for sure, their silence does show a proper reverence for Christ. They didn’t say anything about the inappropriate nature of this because they knew Jesus most likely knew things they did not.

What about you? This is far from the main point of this passage but it demands that I ask, do you have this kind of proper reverence toward Christ? When God says something in His Word that you disagree with, do you immediately put it down thinking it to be an outdated irrational book? Or do you pause and think, “Well, God’s Word is always right and true, perhaps I am wrong about this, I should keep reading.” The attitude of proper reverence toward God, His Word, and His ways should be as natural to the Christian as swimming is for a fish.

Now contrast the disciples marveled silence here with the vigorous evangelism of the woman. In v28-30 she leaves her water jar, runs back to town, and says “Come see a man who told me all I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” to as many people as she can, and upon hearing it, people actually leave the town and come out to Jacob’s well to see Jesus. That her witness caused such a stir for Christ is a great thing. That her witness occurs directly after the disciples had just been to town and back is a greater thing.[2] The disciples, the very ones who were with Jesus, went into town and a no one even flinched. She went into town, and a frenzy occurs. Lesson? If any of you feel weak or foolish, perhaps too sinful for God to use you, ostracized or written off by your family or peers, than be of good cheer! Church, here’s an example of God being pleased to use someone who is weak, foolish, and sinful for His glory. If God can use this woman, He can and will be just as pleased to use you.

There’s more here. That she left her jar, and never got water from the well indicates her haste to go and spread the news of Christ. See in her actions the nature of true faith.[3] When we encounter and are changed by the power and grace of Jesus Christ in the gospel, a new desire comes to life in us. A desire to bring others along with us. Why does this new desire come alive? Simply put, we want them to know! Or to say it in another manner, when the gospel changes us we want others to know the gospel because God won’t allow us to remain content in gospel inactivity, but instead works through us by His Spirit to spread this good news and bring many others into the kingdom. Yes the gospel is massively personal, but the gospel must never remain a private matter. Or as one commentator put it, “The gospel comes to us in order that it might run through us.”[4]

So here in v27-30 we see the reverence that rids us of our most natural beliefs, like hostility or racism we may harbor toward others, in the inactivity of the disciples. We also see the gospel produced vigor we ought to have in sharing this good news with our own city in the activity of the woman.

A Lesson about Eating and Reaping (v31-38)

In v31 the disciples urge Jesus to eat, but apparently Jesus is already full. In v32 He explains this saying, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” The disciples do not understand and make it clear in v33 when they say, “Has anyone brought Him something to eat?” Here we have a classic misunderstanding the disciples often make, thinking that Jesus is speaking in literal terms when He is speaking in spiritual terms. I don’t want you to make this mistake. So take a moment and think deeply about your life, about what you love to do, or a book you love to read, or a place you love to go. Got it? Ok, have you ever been doing this thing, or been reading this book, or been at this place and you get so lost and caught up in the moment that you forget about everything else? Has the thrill of the moment ever been so thick that you forget to eat, and even after recognizing this you don’t even feel hungry because your soul is full of happiness and wonder? This has happened to me a few times: the first time I read The Lord of the Rings my freshman year of college, and then a year later when I read the gospel of John for the first time, and then a few years later on my wedding day. I was so caught up in these moments that I didn’t feel the urge to eat at all, and when I remembered I hadn’t eaten I had to force myself to because I didn’t want to. I’m sure you have had moments like this in your life too.

Come back now to Jesus’ words in v32 and v34, “I have food to eat that you do not know about…My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” What Jesus is saying to His disciples is that for Him, accomplishing His Father’s work is His food. After deeply engaging with the Samaritan woman He now feels full because doing the will of His Father filled Him up. Or to say it another way, doing the will of His Father is His most satisfying sustenance in life.[5] Jesus could’ve merely taken the lunch they’ve bought, thanked them, and then talked about his chat with the woman, but He doesn’t. I think He speaks like this to arouse their interest. ‘I have food you do not.’ By arousing the disciples interest Jesus is making much of the great work of doing the will of God. I think will of God here in this text is a reference to spreading the message of the Lord Jesus. This is a work Jesus just did with the Samaritan woman, a work the disciples will soon be doing throughout the whole world, a work that needs to be the highest priority in the disciples life, and a work that needs to be the highest priority in your life. Food must be eaten, yes, our bodies need it to live. But all those who follow Christ and His commands must not be content have full bellies and empty souls.[6] Rather we must glut our souls on the great work of doing the will of God.

Pause here. Streaming out in bright glory from the truth of that doing the will of God by spreading the message of God fills our souls is one giant application. The emptiness so many feel now in our day has an origin. Souls are searching and empty because we’re caught up with ourselves, our needs, our jobs, our stuff. No wonder so many souls are empty, we’re a narcissistic people only concerned about ourselves. Yet, see the offer extended here? The same fullness Jesus is offering to this woman, He’s offering to you through this passage. Do you want your souls to be full? Glut them on God, doing God’s will, spreading His message. Do not be content to allow your happiness and eternal joy be riding on something that can be taken away from you. Seek it in God and watch your soul fill up.

Now in v35-38 Jesus continues to teach and gives us another lesson, one about reaping. In v35 He brings up a common agricultural proverb to teach a spiritual lesson. v35, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest.’ Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” Agriculturally this proverb is true, there is a time between sowing and reaping, but spiritually Jesus says things are different. How? We now live in a time when there is no waiting time between sowing and reaping. How is this so? Jesus explains it in v36-38 saying, “Already the One who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

Here Jesus is using imagery from Amos 9:13 to show that He is bringing about the ultimate fulfillment of what Amos spoke of.[7] In Amos 9:13 the prophet says, “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the plowman shall overtake the reaper and treader of grapes him who sows the seed…” Amos here employs metaphorical agricultural imagery prophesying about a time in the future when God will so move among His people that the plowman will be on the heels of the reaper. Or, because the crop is growing so fast, as soon as one plant is put into the ground it needs to be harvested and re-planted. Or to use the other metaphor here, because the grapes are growing so fast, as soon as one vine is put into the ground it needs to be harvested and re-planted. Jesus alludes to this imagery in Amos 9:13 in John 4:36-38 to teach that this day has come! He is the Great Reaper who has come to gather fruit for eternal life and by His commission, both the sowers and lesser reapers, are sent out abounding in joy because they have so much work to do. Why do they have so much work to do? Because with the coming of Christ comes the Kingdom of God and with the Kingdom of God comes the time when gospel will go out in power and change millions of hearts. The Old Testament prophets have labored before this time came and now that this time has come the disciples are joining in with their labor and reaping what they labored for and never got to see. What’s the example of this? The heart of the Samaritan woman that was transformed by her encounter with Jesus.

So, what are the lessons about eating and reaping meant to teach us? That we have work to do, work that the saints of old labored in, work that Jesus came to bring to its conclusion, work that the disciples are here called to join in with and began reaping the fruit themselves, and work that we are called to join in with and reap the fruit of ourselves. This work is the will of God is spreading the message of God about the Son of God. This work is to be the most satisfying sustenance in our lives!

A Lesson about Hostility and Hearing (v39-42)

We find out more about the results of the woman’s evangelistic vigor in the town of Sychar. v39-42, “Many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” There is a great difference in being told that honey is sweet, and tasting the sweetness for yourself. This is what we see here. From the evangelistic witness of the most unexpected sinful woman, many people in Sychar not only came out to see Jesus, but believed in Him after hearing from Him personally. That’s the hearing we see in v39-42. But in order for them to hear, the historical hostility present between Jews and Samaritans had to be overcome. We see this miracle happen in v40. “When the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and He stayed there for two days.”

So the message of the gospel came to Sychar through this woman at the well, and once they heard from her, they wanted to see it for themselves. And once they saw it, the historical hostility between Jews and Samaritans no longer mattered. Did you notice that detail? They, Samaritans who hate Jews, wanted a Jew to not only stay with them but teach them! Why? His message had changed their hearts. Lesson? When the message of the gospel comes into a city, it breaks down walls of hate fueled racial segregation and creates a gospel fueled racial harmony. Here in Sychar we see this, and here in our city we ought to exemplify this. We also see here a glimpse of what will take place across the globe when the gospel goes out in the power of the Spirit from Pentecost to the Second Coming. Adding glory to glory, in v42 Jesus is called the “Savior of the world” for the first time in the gospels, by who? The Samaritans.

Conclusion:

We have a need to grow in our gospel resolve. These three lessons today have showed us: why our reverence ought to deepen, why our evangelistic vigor should increase, why the fullness and abundance of God’s work found in God’s will is the most satisfying food we can ‘eat’ in this life, and why a sight of the glory of Christ transforms the deepest of racial divides. All of these things can and will grow our gospel resolve

Why? v42. They heard it for themselves. Have you?

Paradise gained in creation. Paradise lost in the fall. Paradise regained through faith in Christ who was born, who lived, who died, who rose, who ascended, who rules and reigns, who now calls all men to repent, and who will return again. Do you see glory in this? If you do, a gospel resolve will grow in you.

 

 

Citations:

[1] John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, accessed on 6/6/17 via Accordance Bible Software, paragraph 72327 of 99995.

[2] Study notes, Reformation Study Bible, page 1861.

[3] John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, accessed on 6/6/17 via Accordance Bible Software, paragraph 72330 of 99995.

[4] Study Notes, The Gospel Transformation Study Bible, page 1414.

[5] R. Kent Hughes, John: That You May Believe, Preaching the Word Commentary, page 135.

[6] Wolfgang Musculus, Reformation Commentary on Scripture, John 1-12, page 141-142.

[7] Study Notes, ESV Study Bible, page 2029.

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