Category Archives: JOHN 4:1-54

True worship, and the healing of the nobleman’s son.

JOHN 4:1-54

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NOTES ON JOHN 4:1-54

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN CHAPTER 4, VERSES 1 TO 19

 4:1  When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,

4:2  (Though Jesus Himself baptized not, but His disciples,)

4:3  He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.

4:4  And He must needs go through Samaria.

4:5  Then cometh He to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

4:6  Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

4:7  There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give Me to drink.

4:8  (For His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

4:9  Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him, How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of Me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

4:10  Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.

4:11  The woman saith unto Him, Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast Thou that living water?

4:12  Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

4:13  Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

4:14  But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

4:15  The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

4:16  Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

4:17  The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:

4:18  For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

4:19  The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that Thou art a prophet.

Structure of the chapter

Section 1 Verses 1-19        The gift of the Holy Spirit.
Section 2 Verses 20-26      Truth about worship.
Section 3 Verses 27-42      Truth about service.
Section 4 Verses 43-54      The miracle at a distance.

SECTION 1               VERSES 1-19        The gift of the Holy Spirit

Survey of section 1

In these verses the Lord Jesus unfolds to the woman of Samaria important truths about worship. The Samaritan nation originated from those people that the King of Assyria had transported into the Land of Israel after he had taken the ten tribes of Israel into captivity, 2 Kings 17:21-34. When Ezra refused their offer of help in building the temple at Jerusalem, Ezra 4:1-5, they built a rival temple on the top of Mount Gerizim where they carried on a form of worship.  The Lord Jesus deliberately positions Himself within sight of this mountain in order to highlight important truths about Samaritan worship, Jewish worship, and the Christian worship which would replace them both.
He also positions Himself at a well, for He uses the water of the well as a figure for the Holy Spirit, and it is by His power alone that true worship can be sustained.
One other thing should be noted.  Before true worship can be offered, the offerers must have come to an end of themselves.  So it is that the secrets of this woman’s life must be exposed, so that, having repented of her sin, she may receive the great gift of the Holy Spirit.
The apostle Paul summarises these things for us in Philippians 3:3, where he speaks of the worship of God in the Spirit, boasting in Christ Jesus, and having no confidence in the flesh. The woman of Samaria was enabled to do these things as the Lord deals with her in grace.

Structure of section 1

Verses 1-15      Water offered.
Verses 16-19    Waywardness confessed.

Verses 1-15  Water offered

4:1  When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,

When therefore- this follows on from 3:26, where the Jews tell John the Baptist that Jesus baptised also, and “all men come to Him”.  The Jews are clearly concerned about the popularity of the Lord Jesus.  John adds to their concern by pointing out that the Lord Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Messiah of Old Testament prophecy, and in that case He must increase until He occupies the throne of Israel, and John must decrease, since he is merely the herald of the King. 
The Lord knew-
the apostle John has only used the word “Lord” once before, and this in a quotation from the Old Testament in 1:23.  Clearly the Lord in that verse means Jehovah, the God of Israel, but now John is using this word of the Lord Jesus without qualification, or apology.  Everything he has written so far is calculated to teach us that Jesus of Nazareth is equal with God.  See, for example, John 1:1-4; 14-18.  This is very significant in this context, for only the persons of the Godhead can give the Holy Spirit, who is Himself a Person of the Godhead. Only God can give God!  And this is what the Lord Jesus claims to be able to do, for the living water He gives is nothing less than the Spirit of God.  See John 7:38,39; 1:32-34. 
How the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptised more disciples than John-
the Jews had clearly reported back to the Pharisees after speaking with John, 3:26.  Note that the report used the word Jesus in a purely natural sense, for it was the name He was commonly known by.  John the apostle uses this name in an historical sense, for he is writing of real events which took place when the Lord Jesus was on earth.  The New Testament epistles, however, use the single name Jesus in a very specialised way, (see, for instance, the 7-fold mention of Jesus in the Epistle to the Hebrews), and not as the normal mode of address.  Even when He was here on earth, we never read of the disciples addressing Him as Jesus.  How much more should believers now address Him with His full titles, for “God hath made that same Jesus…both Lord and Christ”, Acts 2:36.

4:2  (Though Jesus Himself baptized not, but His disciples,)

4:2 (Though Jesus Himself baptised not, but His disciples)- this is one of those expressions referred to as “John’s asides”, being words of explanation which the apostle is guided to include in the narrative.  It would not have been appropriate for the Lord Jesus to personally baptise those who repented in preparation for His coming, since this would have detracted from the unique ministry of John the Baptist.  It was important that there be no confusion introduced at this critical time.  Note the way John the Baptist deals with the question of an apparent rivalry between him and Christ, in John 3:25-36.

4:3  He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.

He left Judea- the word for leave indicates a leaving with no intention of returning in the near future.  The centre of Judaism is rejecting Him, for they feared that His popularity would mean their downfall.  They need not have worried, for He “made Himself of no reputation”, and deliberately withdrew.  How solemn to be left by the Lord; just as solemn as when the glory departed in Ezekiel’s day.
And departed again into Galilee- note the “again”, for John has already recorded His first journey into Galilee, 1:43.  It is important to remember that the events of John 1:19-4:54, (a period of several months), took place between verses 13 and 14 of Luke 4.

4:4 And He must needs go through Samaria

And He must needs go through Samaria- it is true that the road from Judea to Galilee does indeed go through Samaria, but there are other reasons that make this route a necessity for Him, as follows:-
(i)  He must show Himself to be different to the Pharisees, who made a lengthy detour, crossing the Jordan and travelling up the further side in order to avoid “contamination” from the Samaritans.  The Lord is teaching us that sanctification and isolation are not the same.
(ii) He is preparing the way for the spread of the gospel into Samaria after His ascension, Acts 8:4-25.  The hostility of the Jews to the Samaritans must not be shared by believers.
(iii) He must address the matter of the Samaritan worship. Where better to do this than within sight of Mount Gerizim, at the top of which they worshipped.

4:5  Then cometh He to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph-

Then cometh He to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph- here is another reason for the “must needs” of verse 4.  This spot is important because of its symbolic meaning.  It is near Mount Gerizim indeed, but it also near the parcel of ground which Jacob gave to Joseph to signify that he was his firstborn, and therefore had the right to a double portion.  His words were, “Moreover I have given thee one portion above thy brethren”, Genesis 48:22.  Now the word “portion” is the word Shechem, and this was the name of a place near Sychar.  It was here that Joseph was eventually buried, after Israel had conquered the land under Joshua, Joshua 24:32.  But significantly it is not as Joseph’s burying place that John notices this parcel of ground, but as the sign that Joseph was the firstborn of Jacob, with the right to administer everything for the father.  This is exactly how the Lord Jesus is described in John 3:35, “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand”.  As God’s Firstborn Son, (as well as His Only-begotten), the Lord Jesus administers everything for His Father.  And this is what He is doing in the passage before us, for He is ensuring that the Father’s desire for worshippers is satisfied.

4:6  Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

Now Jacob’s well was there- John uses the word fountain for this well, and the Lord Jesus uses the same word for the fountain of spiritual water which He gives. The woman, however, uses a word that simply means a pit, or cistern.  Clearly, Jacob had discovered that there was an underground spring in this place, and had dug a shaft down to it.  The woman, however, only looked upon it as a pit of water- she was not interested in the source of the water, nor the energy which caused it to spring forth from the rock. 
Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey-
He was Lord, and as such was the creator of the ends of the earth, who fainteth not, neither is weary, Isaiah 40:28.  But He had come into real manhood, and as such had accepted the limitations that having a body involves.  He now has two natures, but is still one Person.  This is a great mystery, but the believing heart accepts what Scripture says even though it cannot explain it.  How relevant are these things to the subject of this chapter, for it is precisely because God has been manifest in the person of His Son, that we are able to intelligently worship Him.  Christ has given to us the fullest expression of who and what God is, that we might have the material to be able to worship Him acceptably.
Sat thus on the well- He sat on the well just as He was, wearied, yet Lord of all.  He neither desired, nor needed, to pretend to be anything other than what He was.  It was in a state of readiness to work for His Father, even though He was weary in body, that the woman discovered Him.  Notice His word in verse 28, “Other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours”.  And it was about the sixth hour- whether this was according to Roman or Jewish reckoning, the fact remains it was daylight, and a public place.  The Lord Jesus was prepared to meet with a man like Nicodemus at night, but, being supremely circumspect, would not do the same with a woman.  He abstained from all appearance of evil, as believers should do, 1 Thessalonians 5:22. 

4:7  There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give Me to drink.

There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water- whereas Nicodemus, a religious Jew, had come to Him, He had come to this Gentile woman.  The fact that she came to the well was secondary to His coming to meet her.  He “must needs” come to this place to do so.  The purpose for which the woman came provides the Lord with the opportunity to speak of the water He alone is able to give.
Jesus saith unto her “Give Me to drink”- this initial request introduces the three themes that immediately follow.  “Give” reminds us that He also is willing to give.  “Me” reminds us who He is.  “To drink” reminds us that what He gives is indeed living water.

4:8  (For His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

(For His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat)- another of John’s “asides”, or words of explanation.  He is excusing the disciples for not being at hand to minister to their Master’s needs.  No doubt the woman would have been disconcerted to find several men at the well-side.  She would have felt intimidated, especially as she would discern they were Jews.

4:9  Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him, How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of Me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans

Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him- we learn from this expression that this woman was not only a woman “out of” Samaria, verse 7, who might merely be a Jewess visiting the place, but that she belonged to Samaria, and therefore is a Samaritan, as she herself implies at the end of the verse.  As such she was a Gentile. 
How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?-
because of their origins, and the fact that they had built a rival temple on Mount Gerizim, the Jews detested the Samaritans, and the feeling was mutual.  To her credit, the woman does not seem to harbour this prejudice.  Her heart is good ground into which the Word of God will soon fall and spring up. The Lord Jesus had come into the world to save sinners, of whatever nationality, creed, or persuasion.

How did she know He was a Jew?  Either by His dress, with its border of blue, in accordance with Numbers 15:37-41, or by His features, or by His speech.  “Give Me to drink” in Aramaic is “Teni lischechoth”.  A Jew would pronounce the “s” as “sch”, whereas the Samaritan would simply pronounce it as an “s”. Compare Judges 12:6; Mark 14:70. 
For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans-
whilst it is true that the Lord was not sent but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, nevertheless as the True Joseph, His branches ran over the wall to bless the Gentiles, Genesis 49:22.  This is seen in its fulness after Pentecost, Acts 1:8.

4:10  Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.

 Jesus answered and said unto her, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give Me to drink- notice two things she did not know.  First, what the gift of God was, and secondly, who was offering her that gift.  It is true that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, and in that sense He is the gift of God, yet the Lord distinguishes between this gift and Himself.  The nearer context suggests that the gift is the giving of all things into the hands of the Lord Jesus, as stated in 3:35.  And one of the things He gives is the Holy Spirit.
Second, she did not know that He was God’s Son, the Lord of all, the One given the task of administering everything for His Father.
Thou wouldest have asked of Him- if she had known He alone was able to give the most desirable things, she would have made her request before He made His. 
And He would have given thee living water-
thus the water of the well becomes a parable, leading this woman on to higher things.

4:11  The woman saith unto Him, Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast Thou that living water?

The woman saith to Him, Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence hast Thou that living water? the woman for the moment is only thinking on a natural level.  She has noticed He has no leather bucket like the pilgrims in the travelling caravans carried with them to draw water with.  The well was deep, so the water was out of reach without a bucket.  And, she assumes that He, a Jew, would not be prepared to use the same bucket as her, a Samaritan.  She perhaps thinks He knows where the spring is that feeds the well, and this would be all that “living water” meant to her as yet.

4:12  Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

Art Thou greater than our father Jacob which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? she is saying in effect, “have you greater knowledge about wells than even Jacob had, who secured for himself a water supply independent of the wells of the strangers around him at that time?”  A supply, moreover, which was abundant, for it satisfied him and his family, and was enough for all his herds as well.  Notice she claims Jacob as her father, since the Samaritans had interbred with those Israelites who had not gone into captivity, but had remained in the land.

4:13  Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

Jesus answered and said unto her, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again- since she insists on limiting her thoughts to the well they were both beside, the Lord compares its water to the water He is able to give.  All natural things fail to satisfy permanently.  No matter how abundant the supply, the waters (joys) of earth can never give enduring pleasure.

4:14  But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst- the expression “never thirst” is very strong, and may be translated “in no wise thirst for ever”.  For no reason will one who drinks of this water ever at any time need to drink again.  The “whosoever” of verse 13 means “everyone that”, meaning the whole multitude of those who, like Jacob, his sons and his cattle, all drink from this well, they shall thirst again, and need to come again to fetch water.  However, the whosoever of verse 14 is individual, and emphasises that the drinking of the water Christ speaks of is an act of personal faith. 
But the water that I shall give him-
in contrast to the natural water, hence the “but”.
Shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life- instead of coming to an external source of natural water, the believer in Christ has the source within himself.  Note the energy and force of this water as it gushes forth in the believer’s heart; and this promise is from a physically weary Saviour!
In John 7:39 the apostle makes it clear that when the Lord Jesus spoke of rivers of living water He was speaking of the Spirit of God.  Isaiah 44:3 also uses water as a figure of the Holy Spirit of God- “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring: and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses”. The Jewish rabbis taught that this was a Messianic passage, and that the water was the Holy Spirit.
Some have difficulty with the idea of asking for the Spirit, seeing that the Holy Spirit is definitely given immediately a person believes and is saved.  That this is so is seen from Galatians 3:2, where the apostle asks, “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”  If the Spirit was not given when a person heard with the hearing of faith, then the argument of the apostle totally falls down.  There is no difficulty, however, for when a soul gets saved it is not a question of asking for each blessing individually.  Every blessing is granted immediately, so the cry for salvation on the part of a repentant, believing sinner, includes them all.  The asking is only specific here because of the way the Lord Jesus instigated the conversation, even by asking for a drink.  It is not that there is a time lapse between conversion and receiving the Spirit, as if the Spirit is only received after a while, and when specifically asked for.
The water, then, is the Holy Spirit, and with Divine energy He introduces the believer to the whole range of things that everlasting life, (the life of God), involves.  The foremost of these is the knowledge of God.  The Lord Jesus, in His prayer to His Father said this, “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent”, John 17:3.  The following things should be noted about that verse:

First, life eternal is put in contrast to the natural life which unsaved persons have, those who are only “flesh”, verse 2, and who are therefore weak and mortal.  Eternal life, on the other hand, is the Life of the Eternal God, and as such is strong and everlasting.  When a person is born again, John 3:3, he is born of God, John 1:13, and now has the life of his Father within, being one of His children.
Second, the life a natural man in the flesh possesses enables him to appreciate the natural world around.  Eternal life, however, enables a person to know the things of God.
Third, the word “that” used by the Lord Jesus in John 17:3 means “in order that”.  Once a person has eternal life they know God in principle.  But God gives eternal life so that the recipient may get to know Him increasingly well, a process that stretches into eternity.  We see now the significance of the words “springing up into everlasting life”, in John 4:14.  The Spirit of God enables us to appreciate God in increasing measure, and thus we are equipped to worship God intelligently.

4:15  The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

The woman saith unto Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw”- if she had simply said, “Sir, give me this water”, we would have thought she had grasped the meaning of the Saviour’s words, and was asking for spiritual water.  As it is, the Lord Jesus has to uncover the secrets of her heart, so that the repentance which always accompanies true faith in Him may be produced. It is because she has not realised that she is a sinner that she does not understand.

4:16-19 Waywardness confessed

4:16  Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

Jesus saith unto her, “Go, call thy husband, and come hither”- it is said of the Lord Jesus in John 2:24 that He “knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man”, and the woman now discovers this to be true, for He knew her circumstances, but acts to get her to confess them.  One of the basic things that God requires from those who worship Him is that they have come to end of themselves, or as Philippians 3:3 puts it, “have no confidence in the flesh”.  This only happens when a person repents of their sin, confessing it to God.  This the Samaritan woman is about to do.

4:17  The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:

 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband”- a statement which may, if spoken to anyone else, have led them to believe she was single.  On the other hand, Christ, with His full insight into her heart, knew otherwise.
Jesus said unto her, “Thou hast well said, I have no husband- the tense of the verb “said” implies that there had been a pause in the conversation after the woman had stated that she had no husband.  The fact that the Lord Jesus commends her for saying that, (even though her status, as He now reveals, is not that of a single person), would indicate that the pause was on account of her obvious signs of repentance.  He would not have commended her for trying to deceive Him.

4:18  For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly”- Romans 7:2,3 states “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.  So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man”.   There are no exceptions to this doctrine, or else the point of the  argument is lost. We  are not told whether each of the husbands mentioned here in John 4:18 had died, thus enabling her to marry another man legitimately.  So we are not able to derive any lessons from the fact that she had had five husbands, for we do not know if her relationship with them had been appropriate or not.  But we know certainly that her current state was unlawful, since the emphasis is on the word “thy”, implying that the man she was living with was someone else’s husband.  She, then, has honestly stated the situation when she said she had no husband.  Hence the Lord is able to say to her that when she said she had no husband she was speaking truly, and not trying to deceive Him.

4:19  The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that Thou art a prophet.

The woman saith unto Him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet”- she has claimed a connection with Jacob in verse 12, and he, of all the patriarchs, did the most prophesying.  See Genesis 49, for instance, where he foretells what will happen to the tribes of Israel in the last days.  She realises that He has the ability to speak for God.  He has already done it in regard to her own sin, and now there is growing in her heart a desire to know the God He represents.  As yet, she does not know the relationship between this stranger and God, but she acts on the light she has.  The Samaritans only accepted the five books of Moses, and therefore when she referred to a prophet she meant the one promised in Deuteronomy 18:17-19.  But Peter in Acts 3:22,23 and Stephen in Acts 7:37 make it clear that that prophet is Christ.  So she has now come to the conclusion that He is the Messiah, the prophet.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN JOHN’S GOSPEL CHAPTER 4, VERSES 20-26:

4:20  Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and Ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

4:21  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

4:22  Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

4:23  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.

4:24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

4:25  The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things.

4:26  Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am He.

 SECTION 2        VERSES 20-26       Truth about worship


4:20  Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and Ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain- note she is appealing to the force of tradition.  She feels that what has been going on for a long time is correct.  There are many still who fall into this trap.  Yet she realises there are differences of opinion on the subject, as she goes on to imply.
And ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship- she believes that He is a Jew, and therefore puts the emphasis on the word “ye”, meaning, “ye Jews”.  She is about to discover that whilst He will defend the Old Testament worship of Israel, for it was ordained of God, He will introduce her to something far better.  There is no reason to suggest that she was using the question of where to worship as a means of evading the question of sin, for she has repented by this time.

4:21  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Jesus saith unto her, “Woman, believe Me”- having disclosed the secrets of the woman’s heart, He now proceeds to unfold the secrets of His Father’s heart in regard to worship. In the Old Testament, Joseph was given the title “Revealer of secrets”, because he could interpret dreams, Genesis 41:39,40,45.  And this incident took place near Joseph’s inheritance, and a greater than Joseph is now revealing secrets.  With these words the Lord Jesus emphasises two things.  First, that worship will be open to women on the same basis as it will be to men.  Second, those who worship God in the future will not rely on natural, seen things to help them.  Those who subsequently believed in Israel were greatly concerned by the fact that they had no visible temple and altar. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews encourages them with the truth that entrance into the presence of God is in the full assurance of faith, so they need have no misgivings about leaving the visible, earthly temple behind, see Hebrews 10:22.
The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father- first of all, there is information for her as a Samaritan worshipper.  He announces with authority that there is a time coming when she will not worship on the top of Mount Gerizim.  But that does not mean she will transfer to Jerusalem.  Something far more radical than that awaits.  The hour referred to is this present age, whose beginning was marked by two things.  First, the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, by which He set aside the things of the First Covenant, Hebrews 10:1-14.  Second, the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, that He might indwell God’s people. Note the way in which God is described here.  When Abraham was at Shechem, he built an altar to the Lord, or Jehovah, who had appeared to him, Genesis 12:6,7.  When Jacob was there, he built an altar to El-Elohe-Israel, or God, the God of Israel, Genesis 33:18-20.  Now the Lord Jesus is near Shechem, and speaks of the worship of the Father.  It is the same God who is spoken of in each instance, but revealed in a different way.  The highest revelation of God that there ever could be is through His own Son, John 1:18.  Hence He is to be worshipped in His character as Father.  How profound are the truths being revealed to this Gentile Samaritan woman!  When Joshua was at Shechem, he appealed to the people to worship God in sincerity and truth, and this they resolved to do, Joshua 24:1,14-28.

4:22  Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

Ye worship ye know not what- what was lacking in the Samaritan worship was a personal knowledge of God.  And this stemmed from its beginnings.  When the Assyrian king transported people from Assyria to the land of Israel, they brought their gods with them.  In superstitious fear of the God of Israel, however, they worshipped Him too!  See 2 Kings 17:24-34.  So it was that they were confused and in ignorance as to the nature of the True God; for He cannot be worshipped as if He is one of many gods. 
We know what we worship-
the Lord Jesus defends the Old Testament system of worship as being one where God revealed Himself to His worshippers, and clearly set out His requirements if they were going to know Him and honour Him.  This the Samaritans had rejected by building a rival temple, even though they accepted the books of Moses as Scripture. 
For salvation is of the Jews-
the Jews had been protected from idolatry by God, and as such, ideally, were an example of that salvation from false worship which the other nations of the earth should have learnt from.  And inasmuch as He was a Jew, and was enlightening her as to the future mode of worship, salvation from future errors in relation to worship was of the Jews also.

4:23  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.

But the hour cometh- the “but” prepares for the change that is to be brought in at a season soon to start. 
And now is-
now we know what the Lord Jesus was doing as He “sat thus on the well”.  Without adopting any special posture; or putting on special clothes; with no temple or altar, He, wearied by His journey, worshipped God in the energy of the Spirit of God.  As such, He becomes the example of a present-day true worshipper of God, who needs no earthly means to enable worship to be given to God. 
When the true worshippers-
so this new mode of worship will render all others outmoded.  Only Christian worship is “true”, that is, corresponds to reality.  Hebrews 8:2 says that the Lord Jesus is now the minister in the true tabernacle, and in spirit those who worship God are able to come into that sanctuary. 
Shall worship the Father in spirit-
they will be enabled to enter into the very presence of God in heaven, by the power of the Spirit of God acting upon their spirits.  They will not need the things of time and sense to help them, (things which the natural man appreciates, such as splendid buildings, ornate rituals, costly vestments), but their faith will lay hold on spiritual realities.
And in truth- the idea of the word is that of full development, and full conformity to things as they really are.  Now that the Lord Jesus has made God manifest, the ideal situation has arrived.  The Lord Jesus accused those of His day of drawing near to God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him, Matthew 15:8, but the true worshippers will come to God in sincerity and reality.  They will also come near to God in submission to the truth which He has revealed about Himself, and not be influenced by error.
For the Father seeketh such to worship Him- how affecting to the hearts of God’s people that they are in a position to satisfy this strong desire on the part of their Father.  He had made man so he might glorify Him, but Adam and his race seek their own glory.  There has been a blessed Man down here, however, who could honestly say that He sought the glory of Him who had sent Him, John 7:18; 8:49,50.  Those who believe in Him are enabled to do this, too, in their measure.  The book of Leviticus, “the priest’s handbook”, begins with God calling from within the sanctuary to Israel, that they might come and worship Him, Leviticus 1:1,2.

4:24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

God is a Spirit- This expression should not be read “God is Spirit”.  Although the Scriptures speak of God as if He has arms, eyes, and suchlike, this is simply to enable us to appreciate His spiritual features using earthly language.  Since God is the Supreme Spirit Being, those who worship Him must be enabled by the Spirit so to do, for they cannot worship God by natural means. 
And they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth-
not only does the Father seek this sort of worshipper, as verse 23 indicates, but now we learn that these are the only ones that can worship Him aright; they must worship like this if they are to worship at all.  It follows that those who do claim to worship God, but who cling to the mixture of Old Testament and pagan rituals that makes up the worship of Christendom, are mistaken if they think they glorify God by such means.

4:25  The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things.

The woman saith to Him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things”- this statement shows that she was intelligent as to the hopes of Israel, even though the Samaritans only accepted the first five books of the Bible, and the first mention of Messiah is in 1 Samuel 2:10.  She is clearly interested in spiritual things, despite the fact that her life-style might suggest otherwise.

4:26  Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am He.

Jesus saith unto her, “I that speak unto thee am He”- at last the one has arrived who, being God’s Only Begotten, is able to fully tell out God so that we may intelligently worship Him.  One, moreover, who is God’s Firstborn Son also, given the task of bringing God’s family into the privilege of worshipping Him in spirit and in truth.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON WORSHIP

Definition of worship.
In the Old Testament the word used for worship means to bow down, suggesting self-effacement and holy fear, whilst the word used in the New Testament is “to kiss towards”, suggesting love, (kiss), acknowledgement, (towards), and reverence. 

Display of worship
Worship is closely connected with sacrifice.  In Hebrews 10:1,2 those who come to the altar with their sacrifices are called worshippers.  The Christian worshipper comes, not with an animal, but with the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips which confess the name of Christ, Hebrews 13:15.
They may also come with other sacrifices that please God, even acts of kindness, and material help,  for the word is, “But to do good and communicate, forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased”, Hebrews 13:16.  A miserly spirit is not a worshipping spirit, however grand the words uttered in the hearing of men may be.
Furthermore, there is required of the Christian the sacrifice of his body, for it is to be a living sacrifice, Romans 12:1.  Formerly that body was the headquarters of the sin-principle, Romans 6:6, and self’s desires and ambitions were advanced through it.  Now the body has been set free from the tyranny of sin through association with the crucifixion of Christ, and can be used in the service, not of self and sin, but of God.
Service also is worship.  Sometimes a distinction is made between these two things, but the fact is that service is a priestly activity, and should be conducted with dignity and reverence. The apostle Paul refers to the service of the Philippian believers as “the sacrifice and service of your faith”, Philippians 2:17. Paul spoke of preaching the gospel as a worshipful service, for such is the precise meaning of the word for serve that he used in Romans 1:9.
We see then that worship is not to be confined to an hour or two on Sunday, but is to be the constant attitude and activity of the believer.  Even the necessary duties of daily life should be sanctified to God as rendered unto Him. The apostle Paul reminds the believing slaves at Colosse that they served the Lord Christ as they slaved for their earthly masters, Colossians 3:24.

Preparation for worship
John chapter 4 indicates to us four necessities before genuine worship can be engaged in.
First, the worshipper must have the indwelling Spirit of God.
It is only those who have the Spirit of God within them that can truly worship God.  To be a true worshipper means to worship in a manner that corresponds to the reality of the demands that God makes on us.  The Holy Spirit is said in John 4:14  to spring up into everlasting life, or, in other words, energetically lead the believer’s heart into the things connected with everlasting life, which are the things of God.  True worship is not sensual and self-satisfying, but gratifies the heart of God.  Such worship is boring and tedious to the unbeliever, so the religions of men have to accommodate the desires of the natural man in some way.  To some, contemporary music is the answer, and noises indistinguishable from a modern pop concert are passed off as being the worship of God.  Of course, nothing can be further from the truth.  To others, chanting and solemn droning fulfils their need, as if worship is a miserable occupation.  This too is false.  Only occupation with the glories of God and His Son, as prompted by the Spirit of God, can be called true worship.
The Spirit of God energises the believer to approach God the Father and give to Him His due.  This only can be described as the worship of God in the Spirit, Philippians 3:3.  All other is worship in accordance with the doctrines and thoughts of men, and as such is vain and pointless, Matthew 15:8.
Second, the true worshipper has known inward cleansing.
This principle is set out in the dealings of the Lord Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well.  The Holy Spirit is not given to those who have not repented of their sins.  Nor can He do His work of prompting and energising worship all the time the believer harbours unconfessed sin in his heart.  The psalmist said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me”, Psalm 66:18.
Third, the true worshipper has insight into the person of Christ.  This was indicated when the Lord said to the woman, “If thou knewest…who it is that saith to thee give Me to drink…” John 4:10. The Spirit of God delights to take of the things of Christ and reveal them unto the believer, that he may have material with which to express the glories of the Son of God in His Father’s ear.  The Father is the Seeker of worship, the Son is the Subject of worship, and the Spirit is the Sustainer of that worship.
Fourth, the true worshipper has intelligence as to the way worship is to be offered.  This is seen in the two-fold description of worship as being in spirit and in truth.
True worship is in spirit because God is a Spirit, and we must worship Him in a way that is compatible with His nature and character.  Worship is not sensual, but spiritual, being the moving of the believer’s spirit towards God is acknowledgement and reverence for Him, and in adoration for the manifestation of Himself that He has given in His Son.  Those who know not God need rituals, ornaments, impressive buildings, rousing music, singing, and richly-robed priests in order to worship.  Such should not deceive themselves that they are worshipping God in this way, for the worship of God in this present age is not connected with anything earthly or sensual at all, but is offered in the heavenly sanctuary, which is not available for the natural senses to appreciate.  A reading of Hebrews 10:19-22 will confirm this.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN CHAPTER 4, VERSES 27 TO 42

4:27  And upon this came His disciples, and marvelled that He talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest Thou with her?

4:28  The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,

4:29  Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

4:30  Then they went out of the city, and came unto Him.

4:31  In the mean while His disciples prayed Him, saying, Master, eat.

4:32  But He said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

4:33  Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him ought to eat?

4:34  Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.

4:35  Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

4:36  And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

4:37  And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.

4:38  I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

4:39  And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

4:40  So when the Samaritans were come unto Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them: and He abode there two days.

4:41  And many more believed because of His own word;

4:42  And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

SECTION 3 VERSES 27-42 Truths about service


4:27  And upon this came His disciples, and marvelled that He talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest Thou with her?

And upon this came His disciples, and marvelled that He talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest Thou with her?  Their first reaction was to wonder what the woman was doing speaking to the Lord.  Then they wondered why He was speaking to her.  Sadly, the Jews were prejudiced against women, and the disciples seemed to share this wrong attitude.  They marvel not so much that He spoke with that particular woman, but that He spoke with a woman at all.  The Lord Jesus came to deliver from every sort of captivity and wrong attitude, and Christianity, rightly understood and practised, elevates womanhood to the highest level possible.  Something held them back from voicing their queries.  Hopefully this was out of politeness, and an unwillingness to embarrass the woman by discussing her when she was present.

4:28  The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,
4:29  Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?  The disciples are clearly not able to deal with this situation, and have nothing to contribute to the conversation.  Sensing this, perhaps, and filled with her new-found joy, the woman returns to her city.  She left her waterpot, for she now had water that was not to be found in any well, but was within her, a fountain of water springing up.  As a result, she was eager to communicate the source of true joy to others.

4:30  Then they went out of the city, and came unto Him.

Then they went out of the city, and came unto Him- the men begin to come out of the city.  They wish to hear Him themselves, and not indirectly.  They would find, however, that the woman’s testimony was true.  All who know the Lord and therefore speak of Him should be faithful in their witness.

4:31  In the mean while His disciples prayed Him, saying, Master, eat.

In the mean while His disciples prayed Him, saying, Master, eat- the conversation of verses 31-38 takes place whilst the Samaritans were travelling to Sychar.  Having used the water of the well to impart important doctrine about worship, the Lord is about to use the subject of food to tell important things to His disciples about service.

4:32  But He said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

But He said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of- just as He spoke of living water to the woman, so He speaks of spiritual food to the disciples.  Up to that point they had not learnt about these things, and would not fully do so until chapter 6.

4:33  Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him ought to eat?

Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him ought to eat?  Like the woman beforehand, they persist in thinking on natural lines, not realising that the Lord is teaching them an important lesson about spiritual food.

4:34  Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.

Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work- meat was the old word for food, and included flour, Leviticus 2, and fish, John 21:5,6.  In His temptation experience, the Lord showed that He was sustained to do God’s will, even though He did not have physical food.  Clearly they are not able to supply that sort of food.  All will be explained in chapter 6, and especially when He says, “As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me shall live by Me”, John 6:57.

4:35  Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest- they might in everyday conversation quote proverbs about the natural harvest, but He is speaking on a higher level, and about spiritual harvests.  No doubt the Samaritans as they approached were the harvest in view to the Lord at that moment, but an earnest also of the Gentiles who would be saved in the age of grace.

4:36  And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

4:37  And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.

And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.  And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth- those who bring in the sheaves to be threshed, and those who sowed the seed in the first place, may both rejoice together at threshing time in the fruits of their combined labours.  Part of the reward for those who work to produce that harvest is to eat of the threshing-floor.  Even oxen were provided for by God, Deuteronomy 25:4, and see 1 Corinthians 9:9.  There are those who patiently sow the seed of the word of God in the hearts of men, and there are also those who come along after that has taken place and finalise the process, and souls are saved, and receive the great gift of eternal life.
The mention of life eternal indicates that the subject of the teaching is spiritual in character.  The Lord is preparing His disciples for the time when they will go forth amongst the Gentiles preaching the gospel of God.  They must not expect to be reaping always, but may have to persevere in the sowing.  They should not be disappointed if they do not see any results from their labours in the short-term, but God’s word will always accomplish God’s will, as Isaiah 55:10,11 declares, and this will be evident eventually, either in time or in eternity.  Lack of immediate results should not deter the believer from earnest sowing of the seed.  “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season”, 2 Timothy 4:2.

4:38  I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours- we saw in 3:23 that Aenon was in the territory of Samaria, and John the Baptist had laboured much there as he preached the gospel of the kingdom.  Now the Samaritans, their hearts prepared by John’s labours, are ready to hear and believe.  It would be the same at a subsequent time, when Philip would go to Samaria, (in obedience to the Lord’s command in Acts 1:8), and many would respond to the message he brought them. So the men who laboured were John the Baptist and the Lord Himself.

4:39  And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did- His insight into the heart of the woman at the well would tell them that He knew their hearts too, and thus their faith was accompanied by repentance, as must always be the case in true conversion.  They did not shrink from the exposure of their sins in the light of His presence, as those do who love darkness, John 3:20.

4:40  So when the Samaritans were come unto Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them: and He abode there two days.

So when the Samaritans were come unto Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them: and He abode there two days- we cannot but notice the difference between this incident and the one recorded in Luke 9:51-56.  The reason the Samaritans were hostile then was because Christ was going up to Jerusalem, and this brought to the fore their religious prejudice.  Now, however, they have learnt from the woman that worship in Jerusalem is to be rendered obsolete.  The stay of only two days was surely because He was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel, Matthew 15:24, but where there was an earnest seeking after Him, He would not turn away. 

4:41  And many more believed because of His own word;

4:42  And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

And many more believed because of His own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world how blessed is the age in which we live, for Christ promised to be present with those whom He would send out into the world, Matthew 28:20.  So it is that Mark 16:20 records that when the apostles went forth, the Lord was working with them.  In line with this, He said to the apostles, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth Me; and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me”, John 13:20.
Perhaps the Samaritans did not understand the full meaning of the title they gave to the Lord, and simply meant that He was sometimes prepared to bless Gentiles like themselves.  Passages like Ephesians 2:11-22 and Colossians 1:21-23 show how wide the scope of this title is.  John takes it up in his epistle, and describes the Lord as the one the Father sent to be the Saviour of the world, 1 John 4:14, so it was not a secondary purpose, but part of the eternal purpose of God to bless Gentiles, Ephesians 3:6,11.
It was said of Joseph that his branches ran over the wall, Genesis 49:22, no doubt in reference to the way he had been used of God to bless the Egyptians as their governor.  But Christ has gone further, and broken down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile, Ephesians 2:14.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN CHAPTER 4, VERSES 43-54

4:43  Now after two days He departed thence, and went into Galailee.

4:44   For Jesus Himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in His own country.

 4:45  Then when He was come into Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went to the feast.

4:46   So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where He made the water wine.  And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.

4:47  When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went unto Him, and besought Him that He would come down, and heal his son:  for he was at the point of death.

4:48  Then said Jesus unto him, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe”.

4:49  The nobleman saith unto Him, Sir, come down ere my child die.

4:50  Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.

4:51  And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.

4:52  Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.

4:53  So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.

4:54  This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when He was come out of Judaea into Galilee.

SECTION 4 VERSES 43-52  The miracle at a distance

4:43  Now after two days He departed thence, and went into Galailee.

Now after two days He departed thence, and went into Galilee- the words are literally, “after the two days”, that is, those mentioned in verse 40. The journey mentioned here is a continuation of the one referred to in verse 3.  It is apparent from Mark 1:14 that the ministry of the Lord Jesus which Matthew, Mark and Luke record at the beginning of their account, only began after John was cast into prison. Therefore their account is not the same as the Galilean journey recorded in John 1:43 to 3:21.  John makes this clear in 3:24 when he states that John the Baptist had not been cast into prison, yet Christ had ministered in Galilee already, according to his account. John thereby deals with any misapprehension that might have grown up on this point.

4:44   For Jesus Himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in His own country.

For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in His own country- a critical time has been reached both in the ministry of John the Baptist, and that of the Lord Jesus.  John is soon to be imprisoned, and the enemies of Christ would be encouraged by that to turn their attention to Christ Himself.  It is important that the situation be kept calm, for the time for His death is not yet.  Accordingly, the Lord withdraws from where His influence is increasing, in Judea, 3:22, 4:1-3, to where His reception would be limited to wonderment at His miracles. When the Lord went back to His home-town of Nazareth, Luke 4:24,  He stated that “no prophet is accepted in His own country”, so that defines for us what His own country is. Later on, Capernaum became “His own city”, as we see when we compare Matthew 9:1 with Mark 2:1.

4:45  Then when He was come into Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went to the feast.

Then when He was come into Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went to the feast- once again there is that attitude of heart which the Lord Jesus rebuked in John 2:23-25 by not committing Himself to them.  The miracles were a means to an end, not the end in themselves.  The persistence of this attitude explains why the Lord Jesus was so severe in His rebuke in verse 48.  See note on that verse.

4:46   So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where He made the water wine.  And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.

So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where He made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum- note the special mention of Cana.  Only two miracles are recorded at this place, which was the town of Nathanael, John 20:2.  The first miracle had to do with the instantaneous production of wine from water, without the long process by which a vine tree turns rainwater into wine.  The Lord shows Himself to be the master of time, and the master of matter too, being able to change one substance into another.  In this second miracle, He shows that the space between Himself and the sick child is no matter to Him.
Now in Genesis 1:1 we are presented with the three things which go to make up the universe, namely, time, (“in the beginning”), space and matter, (“the heavens and the earth”).  He who was there in the beginning creating all things, is now showing Himself to be in control of them still, even though He has become man.
The man of Cana is a nobleman or courtier, probably of Herod, for Cana of Galilee was part of Herod’s jurisdiction, Luke 23:6,7. Herod, even if he has not already imprisoned John the Baptist, will soon do so.  The Lord sends a signal to him, that even though he has control over His herald, he has not ultimate control, for that lies in the hands of Christ, who can deliver the son of one of his very own courtiers from death.

4:47  When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went unto Him, and besought Him that He would come down, and heal his son:  for he was at the point of death.

When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went unto Him, and besought Him that He would come down, and heal his son:  for he was at the point of death- notice the words and phrases indicating movement, confirming Christ’s mastery of space- “went unto Him…come down…go thy way…went his way…now going down…met him…”  The courtier needs to come from Cana to Capernaum to ask for blessing, but does not yet realise that Christ does not need to go from Capernaum to Cana to give the blessing.

4:48  Then said Jesus unto him, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe”.

Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe- the apostle Paul wrote, “The Jews require a sign”, 1 Corinthians 1:22, for they saw in it God at work, and could subject it to their critical examination.  yet the Lord said, “Blessed are they who have not seen, yet have believed”, John 20:29.  We see certain matters relating to faith in these verses, as follows:

Verse 48     Faith tested.
Verse 50     Faith rewarded.
Verse 50     Faith displayed.
Verse 53     Faith confirmed.
Verse 53     Faith continuing.
Verse 53     Faith influencing.

Note the Lord adds the word “wonders” here, the only occurrence in John’s gospel, emphasising that with the majority there was a superficial view of things, for they only looked for stimulation of the natural senses.  The apparently severe response to this distraught man’s request was designed, no doubt, to test him, and to bring out the genuine faith the Lord is looking for, and not mere wonderment.  It is important to note that “ye” is plural, so the Lord is addressing the man as if he represents Galilee as a whole.
This shows that the Lord had indeed come to a place where he would have no proper honour, for He had to rebuke the people severely, an act which would certainly not gain Him popularity.

4:49  The nobleman saith unto Him, Sir, come down ere my child die.

The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die- the man is convinced that if the child dies all is over, whereas other miracles show that this is not the case, for Christ raised the dead.  Writing dispassionately about the event, John calls the child the man’s son, verse 46.  When appealing to the Lord to help him, the man speaks of him as his “(little) child”.  Once the Lord has dealt with the spurious attitude of the Galileans that this man represents, He is able to manifest His grace by healing the son.

4:50  Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.

Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way- the Lord now gives the child the dignified title of son, which accords with the dignified utterance, “Go thy way.  Thy son liveth”, words of power and sympathy.  The word is not a curt dismissal, but an assertion that He does not need to travel to the scene of the sickness, the man must travel, but He need not.
Note the change from “ye” in verse 48, to the man as representative of Galilee, to a personal “thy” to the man as an individual.  To believe the word of Christ is asserted to be the means of gaining eternal life in the next chapter, 5:24.
Many of Christ’s miracles were more dramatic than this one, but this one is recorded here because it represents the climax of an examination John is making of different types of faith.  Here, a Galilean is prepared to accept the Lord’s word, and believes without actually seeing the result of the miracle for himself.
Does “thy son liveth” imply he would have died otherwise?  The man clearly almost despaired of the Lord arriving in time, before the child died, for he was at the point of death, verse 47.  It was not the Lord’s purpose to allow the child to die, as He would allow Lazarus to die in John 11, for it was evidently not yet the time to reveal the truth as to His power to raise the dead.  (This would certainly gain Him honour, and he was not seeking this). There is a certain progression however, for here is a child at the point of death, Jairus’s daughter was the same, but died before the Lord arrived at her bedside, Luke 8:42,49, the widow of Nain’s son was being carried out to be buried, Luke 7:12, and Lazarus had been in the grave four days, John 11:39.  In each case the power of Christ over the seemingly unstoppable march of death was evident.  It is noticeable in these accounts that Christ is perfectly unhurried in the face of death.  The Lord stops to talk to the widow before raising her son, Luke 7:13, in Luke 8:43-48 He heals the woman on the way to seeing Jairus’s daughter, and especially with Lazarus, where He waited two days before setting out to raise him from the dead, John 11:6.  It cannot be that the Lord of Life and glory should be defeated by death and corruption, for He came to bring life and immortality (incorruptibility) to light, 2 Timothy 1:10.

4:51  And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.

And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth- the servants use yet another word, not the one of tender affection, nor the title of dignity, but simply the word which means a member of the family.  Note that they use exactly the same expression as the Lord, “Thy son liveth”, except they use a different word for son as suited their position in the household, as already noted.
Their testimony is completely unsolicited, for they make their announcement before the man asks, such is their excitement.

4:52  Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.

4:53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.

Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.  So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house- to amend means to get better; not a gradual improvement, or else the servants would not be able to say “Thy son liveth” with confidence.  The child was now doing well.  By the correspondence between the hour the Lord spoke the words, and the time the servants realised he was better, the man knew when the recovery had taken place.  He had believed before, but now his faith was confirmed, and he became a steadfast believer.  But this steadfast faith was shared by his household, for the action of the Lord at a distance had penetrated right into the man’s house.  Needless to say the members of the household must have been old enough to believe, for the idea of some that a man’s household is automatically reckoned to be believing is contrary to the scripture which says that “the just shall live by his faith”, Habakkuk 2:4.  No-one can believe for another, for faith is an intensely personal thing.

4:54  This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when He was come out of Judaea into Galilee. 

This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when He was come out of Judaea into Galilee- the Lord had done many miracles between the first one at Cana, and this one, see John 2:23.  This is the second one to be done after coming into Galilee from Judaea, the first one being in John 2:1.  Isaiah had especially mentioned Galilee as being where the Messiah would come during His ministry, Isaiah 9:1,2, with Matthew 4:15,16.