BSF Study Questions John Lesson 5, Day 2: John 4:1-10

Summary of passage:  Jesus’ reputation was spreading and the Pharisees caught wind that Jesus was baptizing more people than John the Baptist although in fact it was Jesus’ disciples who were doing the actual physical act.  Jesus traveled back up north to Galilee from Judea, crossing through Samaria.  At a town named Sychar, Jesus stopped to rest at a well near Jacob’s well while his disciples went to town to buy food.  A Samaritan woman drew water at the well and Jesus asked for a drink from her (something forbidden to do since Jews do not associate with Samaritans).  Jesus tells her if she knew he were God, she would have asked him for the living water instead.

Questions:

3)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  She needed to know the gift of God, who it is who is asking for a drink, and ask Jesus to drink the gift of living water.  The “when” is every day.  The “how” is accepting Jesus’ sovereignty in my life and receiving the Holy Spirit as my guide–again, every day.

4a)  Nicodemus knows about Jesus and who he claims to be.  The Samaritan woman has never heard of him.  Nicodemus approaches Jesus.  Jesus approaches the Samaritan woman.  Nicodemus speaks first.  Jesus speaks first to the Samaritan woman.  Jesus tells both truths and things they need to do.  He tells Nicodemus he must be born again.  He tells the Samaritan woman she needs to receive the gift of living water.  The Samaritan woman realizes who Jesus is; Nicodemus does not.  She tells others (testifies); Nicodemus does not.  She is responsible for others’ belief; Nicodemus is not.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Speak the truth and keep it simple.  Use analogies.

5a)  Samaritan religion closely followed Judaism but was considered a cult.  They only accepted the first 5 books of the Old Testament and insisted that Mount Gerizim, not Jerusalem, was the proper place to worship God.

According to 2 Kings 17, when God allowed the Jews to be removed from their homeland by Assyria, the king of Assyria resettled the land which was Samaria with foreigners around 721 BC.  They intermarried with the remaining Jews.  These people eventually did not worship the Lord so the Lord sent lions to kill them.  The king of Assyria sent a Jewish priest to the people to teach them the ways of the Lord.  However, each group made their own gods.  They worshipped the Lord but had all sorts of people be their priests.  They don’t follow the Lord’s commands or ordinances and worshipped their own idols.  Hence, the Jews cut themselves off from the Samaritans because they were unbelievers.

Ezra tells us how the Samaritans tried to stop the temple from being re-built, creating more resentment from the Jews against them.

The height of this rift between the Jews and the Samaritans was in Jesus’ time.  This scene is remarkable and could only have taken place by Jesus.  His purpose was to show how he is for everyone and how he can bring those lost back to him.  There is no prejudice in the eyes of the Lord and no bounds to His love.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Mine is not about cultural at all.  I need the courage to speak to others about Jesus period.

Conclusions:  I found the history behind the rift between the Jews and the Samaritans the most interesting part of this passage.  I always knew they didn’t like each other, but I didn’t know the reasons behind it.  Cool stuff!

End Notes:  Jesus knew the time for confrontation had not yet come.  Hence, he returns to Galilee.

Note Jesus did not baptize.  This was a sign to all of Jesus’ status above John the Baptist.  Yet, he sanctioned baptism as a sign of acceptance of him and repentance of sin.

The road from Jerusalem to Galilee lay through Samaria, but Jews often went around to avoid the Samaritans.  (Cool map HERE of the route around.  It’s a long way just to avoid people you don’t like.).  The Samaritans were considered half-breeds if you will.  When Babylon exiled the Jews, they left behind the lower classes, not wanting them to mix with the Babylonians.  The Samaritans are a mix of these left-over Jewish peoples and non-Jews who immigrated to the area afterwards.  This new race of people took on some aspects of the religion of the non-Jews and built their own temple to God on Mount Gerizim.  The Jews burned this temple around 128 BC.

Jesus went this way because the Samaritans needed to hear him.  He could have gone around but didn’t.

Sychar was ancient Shechem and was the capital of Samaria.  The history of this place is astounding:

This is where Abram first came when he arrived into Canaan from Babylonia. (Genesis 12:6)

This is where God first appeared to Abram in Canaan, and renewed the promise of giving the land to him and his descendants. (Genesis 12:7)

This is where Abram built an altar and called upon the name of the Lord (Genesis 12:8)

This is where Jacob came safely when he returned with his wives and children from his sojourn with Laban. (Genesis 33:18)

This is where Jacob bought a piece of land from a Canaanite named Hamor for 100 pieces of sliver (Genesis 33:19)

This is where Jacob built an altar to the Lord, and called it El Elohe Israel (Genesis 33:20). This established the connection between Jacob and what became known as Jacob’s well there in Sychar.

Sychar (Shechem) was also the place where Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, was raped – and the sons of Jacob massacred the men of the city in retaliation. (Genesis 34)

This was the plot of ground that Jacob gave his son Joseph, land Jacob had conquered from the Amorites with his sword and bow in an unrecorded battle (Genesis 48:22)

This is where the bones of Joseph were eventually buried when they were carried up from Egypt (Joshua 24:32)

This is where Joshua made a covenant with Israel, renewing their commitment to the God of Israel and proclaiming, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24)

Jesus is tired after a long day of walking.  Jesus was fully human and fully God and as fully human experienced the same things we do.

The sixth hour would have been around noon–the hottest part of the day.

The woman at the well was unusual.  Mostly women came together and came during the early part of the day for water for the day.  Maybe she ran out of water or had a sudden need or maybe she was an outcast.  Like a pub today, the well was a gathering place, a place to exchange news and gossip.  Furthermore, men would come, knowing it was a place where young women frequented.  It was also a place where prostitutes hung out as well.

Rabbi never spoke to women in public, not even their own wives of daughters.  Some even closed their eyes when passing a woman on the street.  Furthermore, Jews never asked favors from Samaritans.  Jesus was breaking all the rules–and showing us all how to live.

Also, Jews believed they would become ceremonially unclean if they used a drinking vessel handled by a Samaritan since they held the belief all Samaritans were unclean.

Jesus makes a simple request to the woman–water.  He makes a simple request of us–faith.

Jesus often speaks to us similarly:  “If you knew….” on a quest to draw us closer to him, to investigate more, to pray more.

In Ancient Times, living water was the name for bubbling water.  However, for Jews living water is associated with God (Jeremiah 2:13; 17:13).  It is fresh, flowing water not water that is sitting and stagnant.

Fun Fact:  The Greek word for gift is used only this time in this Gospel here.  It emphasizes God’s grace through Christ.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 4, Day 2: Acts 8:1-8 & John 4:6-42

Summary of passages:  Acts 8:1-8  On the day Stephen was executed a persecution against the church so all the believers except the Apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.  Stephen was buried and Saul began a relentless drive to destroy the church.  Philip went to Samaria and began to preach the word there.  Great job was brought to that city because of Philip’s deeds.

John 4:6-42:  Jesus, tired from his travels, sits down at a well in the Samaritan town of Sychar. When a Samaritan woman comes to draw water, Jesus speaks to her.  Shocked, the woman asks why he is speaking to her since Jews do not associate with Samaritans.  Jesus explains everyone who drinks living water will never thirst again.  Indeed, the water will well up inside of you and lead to eternal life.

The woman accepts his offer.  Jesus tells her to go and get her husband.  She replies she had none.  Jesus tells her a time is coming where everyone will worship the Father in spirit and truth and not just at certain holy places.  He tells her he is the Messiah.

The woman runs back into town and fetches the people, telling them the Christ is here.  Meanwhile, Jesus tells his disciples his food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.  He also says they are reaping the hard work of others and will have eternal life.

So many Samaritans were converted that day and Jesus stayed 2 more days with them.

Questions:

3a)  Because of Stephen’s death all believers except the Apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria and they preached the word wherever they went (Verse 1 & 4)

b)  God has sent Assyria against the kingdom of Israel (Northern Kingdom) for their idol worship.  Assyria deports the Israelites to Assyria.  God’s reasons are listed in 2 Kings 7-23.  Then the King of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim to settle the former lands of the Israelites (Samaria).  They took over Samaria and lived in its towns.  They did not worship the Lord either.  This was a war strategy of the Assyrians. Mixing peoples up made it harder for them to re-group and rebel against them.

From all these mixed races of peoples the Assyrians imported to the land of Israel descends the Samaritans.  They looked different, spoke different, and held different beliefs.  They intermixed with the remaining Israelites.

As the rest of 2 Kings passage shows, they bring their religion mixed with the One, True God (verses 29-33).  They worshipped the Lord but also served their own gods as well.

The Jerusalem Jews (those living in Judah.  Israel had split into two countries, Israel and Judah, around 930 BC.  I am dating this time period where Sargon II King of the Assyrians invaded Israel around 722 BC) still remained relatively faithful to the One, True God with only a minimal amount of idolatry creeping in at this time.  Judah also did not experience the intermixing of races as they still adhered to God’s law of not marrying foreigners; hence staying relatively homogenous.

This is why God only punished Israel at this point in history but Judah’s time is coming.

4) Jesus himself had visited Samaria in his teachings as we see from the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:1-26.  In John 4:39-42 we also see how many Samaritans were converted from Jesus’ teachings.   He also told the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.  And we know from the previous question that the Samaritans still worshipped the One, True God along with other gods so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to convince them of the power and fortitude of the One, True God.  Also, the Jews remaining after the deportation intermarried the foreigners so they probably kept a portion of their heritage and worship culture intact.

So when Philip showed up and started performing miracles, the stage was set for him to reap the rewards from Jesus’ work.

This can be applied throughout the Bible and throughout time into today.  We reap what others have sown.  The Old Testament prepared the people of the New Testament to be saved.  Every small step has been planned by God for His purposes and we (and everyone after us) reap the benefits of this as we continue to plant seeds for the next generation.

1 Corinthians 3:6-8:  “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow…  The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose and each will be rewarded according to his labor.”

5a) Previously, they had only preached within Jerusalem but with Stephen’s death a new persecution broke out in Jerusalem so the believers were forced to scatter throughout Judea and Samaria.  Even though Jesus had commissioned them to preach everywhere (Acts 1:8), they had resisted due to prejudices.

The Jews and the Samaritans had a long history of despising one another (please see link in concluding notes). The Jews thought them the lowest of the low and unworthy to know the Good News.  James and John had once asked Jesus if he wanted them to call down fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans (Luke 9:54), which speaks to how little the Samaritans were thought of by the Jews.  I think the Samaritans would have been the last people on Earth the Jews would have converted.  So, God in His infinite wisdom made them because as we all know they were special in His eyes too.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not let our prejudices stand in our way of telling those who otherwise would have no opportunity to hear about Jesus about him (such as homeless, poor, and minority sects).  Basically, speak in your community where God plants you.

Conclusions:  The beauty of BSF in action.  I had to start this day and leave off due to lack of time.  But I couldn’t stop thinking about Assyria and Israel.  So during the day I started researching–learning more and more–and filling my soul with each passing word.  Great stuff!

Awesome site with the history of the Samaritans here.  If you read nothing else, you gotta read this!

Question 5 made me wonder if the Jews were perhaps getting a little cocky and feeling quite special about being believers and the chosen ones to spread God’s word.  Well, God solved that problem, didn’t He!

Also, today’s lesson was a great opportunity to remember God’s infinite wisdom and how He had planned history throughout.  We are reapers of previous people’s sowing, which can be applied in many different ways:  spiritually, historically, etc.  America herself is a product of countless people’s sweat and toil–our ancestors hard-work.  We need to remember and be grateful for those that have come before us and continue to prepare those who will come after us.

Map of Israel and Judah, showing Samaria:  HERE

Note on the Map:  Sychar is next to Shechem where Jesus met with the woman at the well.  You can see it here at this map but it’s not as definitive as the one above.

Final thought:  My study Bible points out the fact that the conversion of the Samaritans is the first time non-Jews followed Jesus.  Awesome fact!