I am He

by LA UBF   06/21/2007     0 reads




(2007 West Coast UBF Summer Bible Conference – Lesson I)


John 4:1-26 

Key Verse 4:26 


                Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.” 


Read verses 1-6. Who were the Pharisees and what did they hear about Jesus? In what sense was this a good thing, but also a problem? Why did Jesus decide to go to Galilee? Where did he stop along the way? 

Read verses 7-10. What was unusual about this woman coming to the well at that particular time? What did Jesus ask her? Why did she refuse? What did Jesus offer her? What does this offer reveal about this woman and about Jesus? 

Read verses 11-14. How did the woman respond? What does this show about her? What, according to Jesus, is the difference between the water from Jacob’s well and the water he gives?  

Read verses 15-18. What did the woman ask Jesus for? What did he tell her to do? What does her answer reveal about her? Why do you think Jesus brought up such a painful and sensitive topic? 

Read verses 19-24. What did the woman think of Jesus now? (19) Why do you think she brought up the controversy about which place to worship at? What did Jesus teach her about true worship and God?

Read verses 25-26. Why was the woman looking for the Messiah? What did Jesus reveal to her? What did this mean to the woman? What does this mean to you?





John 4:1-26

Key Verse: 4:25,26

"The woman said, 'I know that Messiah' (called Christ) 'is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.' Then Jesus declared, 'I who speak to you am he.'" 

In this passage Jesus meets a Samaritan woman. It seemed that no one cared about this woman. But Jesus cared for her deeply. In his compassion, Jesus gradually and patiently led her to the living water that wells up to eternal life. He led her to himself. Through this passage, may Jesus meet us and reveal himself to us newly, that we may know him more and have life in his name. 


This event took place by a well near Sychar in Samaria. How was it that Jesus came to this place when the Jews did not associate with the Samaritans? Verse 1 suggests that Jesus wanted to avoid unnecessary confrontation with the Pharisees, who had heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John. Therefore, Jesus left Judea to return to Galilee (1-3). Judea was located in the south and Galilee was in the north. Samaria lay in between. The most direct way from Judea to Galilee was through Samaria. But because of the centuries-old feud between the Jews and the Samaritans, the Jews usually did not pass through Samaria. The alternate route took twice as long, but the Jews did not mind taking the longer route in order to avoid the Samaritans. However, Jesus was different. He passed directly through Samaria, ignoring human prejudices and barriers. Verse 4 also says that Jesus had to go through Samaria. It was necessary for Jesus to go through Samaria. We might say that he had a divine appointment with one Samaritan woman. 

Verses 5,6 say, "So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near a plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour." The sixth hour means that it was noon time -- the hottest part of the day.

At this time a Samaritan woman came to draw water. She seems to be a lonely woman, for they say that women usually went to draw water in the early morning or in the cool of the evening, to avoid the heat. Furthermore, it was a social occasion for the women in a strict, male-dominant society. But this woman came all by herself in the heat of the day (7). She could not come with the other women because they shunned her and despised her because of her immoral lifestyle. She was indeed a lonely woman. 

But what did Jesus do? First of all, Jesus initiated a conversation with her. Read verse 7. "When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?'"

Humanly, she was an indecent woman. But Jesus humbled himself and asked a favor of this woman to start a relationship with her. Jesus loved her and asked her for a drink. He wanted to save her soul. The Samaritan woman was wounded so deeply by her past that her heart was closed, and her heart was so hardened that no one could even talk to her. She tried to forget everything, but how could she when all the memories of anger, bitterness and sorrow troubled her day and night? As long as she was alive she would not forget her past, because she was human. And no one could help her. No one could open her closed heart. But Jesus asked her quietly, "Will you give me a drink?" His words are full of God's grace. His words immediately warmed her closed heart so that she was able to talk to Jesus. Because of his initiative, all kinds of lonely and hard-hearted people can know Jesus and his sin-forgiving grace. Praise Jesus for his wonderful grace! 

What was the woman's response to Jesus' request? Look at verse 9a. "The Samaritan woman said to him, 'You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?'" 

We sense in the woman’s response a calloused and disdainful attitude toward Jesus. It was her defense mechanism to protect her wounded heart. She talked about the racial barriers between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Jews had not associated with the Samaritans since the Assyrians had invaded Samaria around 720 B.C. The Assyrians made them intermarry with foreigners, so they lost their racial purity. Out of their self-righteousness, the Jews despised the Samaritans, instead of having God's compassion for them. In addition to being a Samaritan, this woman was a woman, and Jesus was a man. In a strictly male-dominated society, it was not common for a man to even speak to a woman in public. 

How did Jesus respond to her defensiveness? Jesus really wanted to give her the gift of God. Look at verse 10. "Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.'"  

The living water is Jesus himself, in whom there is eternal life. This is the gift of God. There are many kinds of gifts, but in one way or another, they all have strings attached. There is only one truly free gift. It is the gift of God through Jesus Christ.  Romans 6:23 says, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." God freely gave us his one and only Son as a precious gift (Jn 3:16). Furthermore, we cannot afford to reject this gift, because without it we remain condemned in our sin. 

If this woman had known the gift of God, she would have been really happy. But her spiritual eyes were not yet opened. So she said, "Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob...?" (11,12a) 

She wanted to know if Jesus had a bucket. She also wanted to know if Jesus was greater than Jacob. She did not know that the living water that Jesus gives comes from God. Revelation 22:1 says that the living water flows from the throne of God. She saw Jesus humanly and no more. But Jesus saw her spiritually and spoke to her about spiritual things, even though it seemed unlikely that she would respond to spiritual things.

Jesus knew that she was a thirsty soul. Look at verses 13,14. Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Jesus quenches human thirst, because he is the Creator God and the source of all human need. John 7:38 says, "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." If we have no Jesus, we are like cut flowers in a vase. But when we remain in Jesus, our lives become abundantly fruitful, and Jesus satisfies our souls. After hearing the word of life from Jesus, the Samaritan woman opened her heart wide. Look at verse 15. "The woman said to him, 'Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.'" She admitted that she not only was a thirsty soul, but also was weary with her life in the world. Jesus began with a simple question: "Will you give me a drink?" Here we learn that Jesus asked the question, not to get something, but to touch this woman's heart and offer her the gift of God. Praise Jesus for his humbleness and his wonderful grace!

When Jesus met me I was a pleasure-seeking teenager. Even though I was a church goer, I had no relationship with Jesus. It seemed my life mission was to squander my youth on wild living -- parties, drinking, girlfriends, etc. I had lot's of fun, but like the Samaritan woman I was lonely and unhappy in my soul. I tried to find happiness and companionship in all sorts of pleasures, but I was never satisfied. Then during Christmas time of my final year of high school Jesus met me and spoke to me. One December evening as I was taking a walk I received a gospel tract from a passerby. When I went home I read the Scripture on it. It was John 3:16. "For God so loved the world..." I had heard this Scripture many times before, but this time I heard Jesus voice speaking to me and his word pierced my heart and soul. I cried many tears because of my sin and because of Jesus' wonderful grace that covers all my sin. And from that time on I decided I wanted to dedicate my life to Jesus. 

Jesus' sin-forgiving grace is truly amazing and sweet. But along with Jesus' grace comes his truth. Sometimes the truth is hard to accept, but Jesus leads us into all truth so that we may enjoy the light of Jesus and walk no longer in darkness. As we think of Jesus who is full of grace, let's also think about Jesus who is full of truth. 


When Jesus told the Samaritan woman about the living water, she said, "Sir, give me this water..."  The woman was ready to receive the living water from Jesus, but first Jesus needed to address a problem in the woman's life that was debilitating her spiritually. Look at verse 16. "He told her, 'Go, call your husband and come back.'" This request of Jesus touched a very sore spot for this woman, because it had to do with a deep problem in her life. But Jesus did not shy away from addressing this woman's problem because Jesus is full of grace and truth.

Usually, people don't want to address others' problems because they don't want to be burdened. So many people are burdened and heavy laden with sin problems, but nobody wants to lift a finger to help them because they are too self-centered. They may find it in themselves to give some charitable contribution, but they they do not consider actually sharing someone else's burden, helping bear their problem until they can be healed. When people sense someone else's problems they do their best to ignore it. But Jesus did not ignore this woman's problem. He said, "Go call your husband and come back." Jesus touched on an area in the woman's life that no one wanted to address. Jesus shows that he is willing to share our burdens and address our problems until we can be healed. This is Jesus' divine love. Sometimes Jesus' love hurts. It may hurt our pride; It may uncover an old wound; it may sting a very tender nerve. But in his love,  Jesus does not ignore our problems, which left untreated only get worse and worse. Rather, he takes the time and devotion to address our problems until we can be healed. It is not easy to love others like this, but Jesus loves all lost sinners who suffer from all kinds of inner problems with his divine, one-sided love so that we might be healed and receive the living water in our souls. 

How did the woman respond to Jesus' request? She replied in verse 17, "I have no husband." Clearly she wanted avoid the uncomfortable subject, but Jesus did not let her give up so easily. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true." 

Jesus knows our hearts. Jesus knows the condition of our hearts. Even if all looks well outwardly, Jesus knows that we are suffering inwardly due to our sin. Jesus sees all our ugly sins and all our dirty laundry and all our filthy problems. And he still loves us. He loves us with his divine love and wants to heal our broken hearts. But we have to be wiling to accept Jesus' divine love and receive the healing that comes only from him. We all try to fix our sin problems; when that doesn't work we try to ignore them and pretend they don't exist. This woman's problem was that she was thirsty for love and tried to satisfy her thirst with men. When her first marriage failed, she married again, and again and again. She thought a husband would satisfy her desire for love, but she was never satisfied. Each husband did not quite measure up. But because of her cursed desire she kept searching for Mr. Right. Perhaps her new boyfriend would be the one. 

My lovely wife always says: in this world there is no Mr. Right. Of course my pride was injured a little bit by this observation, but she is right! She will testify that before she met Jesus, she too was in desperate search for the right guy who would love her as she desired to be loved and make her supremely happy. But like the Samaritan woman she was disappointed time and again. But then Jesus met her and she received him in her heart. When she let go of her cursed desire and when Jesus and his divine love filled her heart she was completely satisfied and happy. Now Jesus has come to offer complete healing in our souls. We simply need to open up and receive him in our hearts humbly and by faith. 

In his divine love Jesus exposed the Samaritan woman's marriage problem. As a sort of defensive reaction, she tried to change the subject. Look at verses 19 and 20. "Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim the place we must worship is in Jerusalem." 

The woman recognized Jesus as a prophet, because it was undeniable. But why did she bring up the subject of worship? On the one hand, she wanted to change the subject from her marriage problem. On the other hand, she had a conflict in her mind concerning the matter of worship. The Samaritans worshiped on the mountain according to the godless tradition created by their fathers long ago. Nevertheless, this was what her people were accustomed to, and they took offense when the Jews said they must worship in Jerusalem. 

How did Jesus respond? Sensing her desire to know the true meaning of worship Jesus answered her in verses 21-24. Jesus declared, "Believe me woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." 

Jesus commented that the Samaritan's worship was false and that true worship which brings salvation comes from God through the Jews. Still, Jesus de-emphasizes the place of worship, whether on this mountain or in Jerusalem, and points out that the most important aspect of worship is to worship the Father God in spirit and in truth. What does it mean to worship the Father in spirit and truth? To worship in spirit means to commune with God through his Holy Spirit. To worship in truth simply means to worship God in the only true way through his Son Jesus Christ. Jesus says later in John's gospel, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (Jn 14:6) True worship is believing in God's one and only Son Jesus Christ. When we put our faith in him and receive him in our hearts then living water springs up within us welling up to eternal life. 

Jesus knew that this woman thirsted for the living water; he sensed that she wanted to worship the Father in spirit and truth. In fact she confessed in verse 25, "I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes he will explain everything to us." So finally, Jesus declared in verse 26, "I who speak to you am he." 

Though the Samaritan woman had a marriage problem and a deeply wounded heart, she longed for the promised Messiah who was coming. So Jesus revealed himself to her. Jesus revealed himself so that she might receive from him the living water welling up to eternal life. Jesus revealed himself so that she might receive him as her true husband and be healed from her wounded heart. Jesus reveled himself so that she might receive him who alone satisfies our thirst for love. 

From his initial question, "Will you give me a drink?" Jesus conversed with this woman, speaking not superficially but speaking directly to her heart, slowly and patiently revealing himself as the Christ of God. Also, Jesus spoke so gracefully and yet truthfully until the calloused and wounded woman could begin to open her heart and allow Jesus to come in.  When she did so she could receive Jesus' healing touch and partake of the living water which truly satisfies our souls. 

After Jesus met me and I tasted the living water in my soul, I was so happy. However, I still had a major sin problem in my life. Because I came from a broken family my heart was wounded and I tried to comfort myself with all kinds of pleasures. I was conflicted: I wanted to follow Jesus, but I also wanted to follow my sinful desires. When I went to college I gladly accepted an invitation to 1:1 Bible study, but at the same time I wanted to enjoy a pleasure-seeking life. When I studied the Bible deeply through 1:1 Bible study, not only did I receive much grace from God and his word but also much truth which exposed my sin. At that time I wanted to quit Bible study and be free to enjoy my life. But thankfully God helped me not to give up but to struggle with him and his word, so that I could confess all my sins and deeply receive Jesus forgiveness demonstrated on the cross. When I did so Jesus truly gave me a new life. I began to find true happiness in my soul. Even when things did not go well for me, I found that Jesus and his living water satisfied my soul and gave me peace and comfort and joy at all times. I thank and praise Jesus for this new life I have in him! And may God bless you to enjoy a new life in Jesus because of his grace and truth. 

May Jesus give you the gift of God. Especially, may you meet Jesus newly and receive from him the living water welling up to eternal life. And may God give you wisdom to share God’s gift with all people who are thirsty like the Samaritan woman. 





(2007 West Coast UBF Summer Bible Conference – Lesson I)


John 4:1-26 

Key Verse 4:26 


                Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.” 


Read verses 1-6. Who were the Pharisees and what did they hear about Jesus? In what sense was this a good thing, but also a problem? Why did Jesus decide to go to Galilee? Where did he stop along the way?


** The Pharisees were the religious leaders and authorities. They heard that Jesus had been gaining and baptizing more disciples than John the Baptist. 


** John the Baptist was so popular that the religious authorities and all the people thought that he might be the Christ. But so early in his ministry, Jesus was gaining more disciples than John. This certainly might have worried the Pharisees who were already worried about John. It was good that many people were coming to Jesus because he wanted to give them eternal life. But this was a problem to the Pharisees who felt threatened and jealous that people were going to John and Jesus, rather than to them. The Pharisees had already begun to harass John. 


** The passage suggests that Jesus felt it was not a good time to deal with the Pharisees’ possible harassment. 


** He went through Samaria and stopped at a well in the town of Sychar. 


** Jesus was tired, hungry and thirsty from traveling through the desert regions of Judea and Samaria. The journey to Sychar thus far was probably about 35 miles from where he had previously been baptizing. John also notes that it was about the sixth hour, which is arguably noon. He was alone since the disciples had gone into town to buy food. The scene is ready for the woman to enter and speak with Jesus. 


Read verses 7-10. What was unusual about this woman coming to the well at that particular time? What did Jesus ask her? Why did she refuse? What did Jesus reveal that he has to give to her? What does this offer reveal about this woman and about Jesus?


** This woman came alone to the well at the sixth hour. It is very hot at noon, especially in the Middle East. Also, it was the custom for women to come to the well either early in the morning, before dawn, or late in the afternoon, after dusk, when it was not so hot. It was also custom for women to go to draw water in groups to socialize and gossip. But the fact that this woman came alone at noon suggests that something is wrong. She may be purposely avoiding people or is being avoided. 


** He asked her for a drink. Jesus initiated the conversation. This seems to be small. But when we try to begin fellowship with other people, especially those who are not social and with whom we do not have good relationship, to say something first and initiate the conversation is huge. Jesus stood as the one who needed her help and Jesus’ humility probably opened her heart more easily.


** She refused on the basis of the known prejudices of the time between Jews and Samaritans. 


(historical note: The region of Samaria was once the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The division of Israel’s kingdom occurred during the reign of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam. Samaria, the city, became the capital of the kingdom and the center of idol worship. After about 200 years of being a kingdom, in 722BC the King of Assyria captured Samaria and deported all of the Israelites from the land. He replaced the Israelites with Assyrians and other foreigners. They intermarried with remaining Israelites and with some who had come back. And so the blood of Israel was not longer purely Israel. Now the Southern Kingdom of Israel, called Judah, also suffered from capture and exile from the land in rough 587BC at the hands of the king of Babylon. Only parts of Judah had been exiled and captured, mostly the nobility. However, unlike the Northern Kingdom, Judah was repopulated with Israelites and those who had been in exile were allowed to return home. And so the blood of the people of Judah had remained pure—to whatever extent it was already kept from foreigners. Because of this, there was a deep seated prejudice against Samaritans by the Jewish people, the people of the Southern Kingdom Judah. Politically, culturally, and by bloodline, they became distant and antagonist towards each other. There was also the deep seated prejudice among the two groups for each believed that they were rightful kingdom and house of Israel.) 


** He said that he had living water which he could give her, if she asked. 


** The woman: 1) Jesus’ offer of living water suggests that she was thirsting for something more than simply water. She had a different, deeper kind of thirst problem which he came to solve.  The woman’s bitter answer supports this. Thirsty people have nothing to give to others. Jesus was a thirsty, tired traveler. What is the trouble with giving him a drink? No one was looking. 2) Jesus said, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink..." This woman's problem could be understood as ignorance: she was ignorant about the gift of God and about who Jesus was. If she had known these things, she would have asked Jesus for living water. Why don't we come to Jesus and ask him for living water? Maybe it’s because we don't know the gift of God and/or we don't know Jesus that well.

->Jesus: Verse 4 says, "Now he had to go through Samaria." Why did Jesus have to go through Samaria, especially since this was not common at the time? It was to offer this woman living water.


Read verses 11-14. How did the woman respond? What does this show about her? What, according to Jesus, is the difference between the water from Jacob’s well and the water he gives? 


** Read verses 11-12. 


** She was very sarcastic and bitter to Jesus, purposely trying to tear him down. Her answer sounds mean, but it shows that she was a very weary and tired person who was thirsty. She was also hurt by the despise of the Jews upon Samaritans. Samaritan men despised Samaritan women. And she was despised by the Samaritan women as we see later probably as an ‘immoral woman’ because of her lifestyle.


** Read verses 13-14. a) Those who drink from the water of Jacob’s well will be thirsty again. It does not satisfy for more than a little while. It demands people come back for more unceasingly. b) The water from Jesus is “living” water. It does more than just satisfy. It works in us and wells up in us, making those who drink of it springs of life! It satisfies and transforms. 



Read verses 15-18. What did the woman ask Jesus for? What did he tell her to do? What does her answer reveal about her? What had been her life-long problem? Why do you think Jesus brought up such a painful and sensitive topic? 


** She asked for his living water, albeit, somewhat sarcastically and mockingly. She did not understand what Jesus was getting at. By this time she had already called Jesus, ‘sir’. 


** Read verse 16. 


** She was still searching for the right man. 


** Her life-long problem was her thirst problem. She had thirsted for the right man who could make her happy. This thirst had driven her to marry five times, and then settle on a male roommate for number 6, probably because she was so weary and tired from husbands 1-5. She had used all her life and reputation for this sake, but still was not satisfied. She said, “I have no husband.” So indeed what she said, “I have no husband,” is her cry, “No husband ever satisfied me!” 


** Because he wanted to truly satisfy her. To do this, she had to confess her specific thirst to Jesus. She had to recognize her own problem as well so that she could thirst for the right thing. In her current state, she could not receive Jesus’ living water. Although it was the most painful topic for her to talk about, Jesus compassionately and wisely brought out her problem to save her. 



Read verses 19-24. What did the woman think of Jesus now? (19) Why do you think she brought up the controversy about which place to worship at? What did Jesus teach her about true worship and God?


** She was shocked that Jesus had known all about her and said, “Sir, I can see you are a prophet.” She recognized him as a servant of God. 


** The place of worship was a long standing controversy between Samarians and Jews because of what took place during the division of the kingdom of Israel. A separate place of worship was established in Samaria to prevent people from going to Jerusalem and defecting to the Southern Kingdom Judah. But her question now reveals that her thirst really was a deeper problem and longing for more than human love or affection, but something only God can satisfy.


** Jesus taught her about true worship. True worshipers worship God the Father in spirit and in truth. It is in sincerity of heart, not merely outward actions or places, but according to God’s word. He taught her that God was looking for people, just as she was looking for the right man. Jesus told her that worship is a matter of salvation. Her thirst problem revealed her need for salvation from sin and death. Jesus teaches that thirst and worship are related. She was thirsty because she did not worship God. But Jesus wanted to give her salvation and true satisfaction. 



Read verses 25-26. Why was the woman looking for the Messiah? What did Jesus reveal to her? What did this mean to the woman? What does this mean to you?


** She said, “When he comes, he will tell us everything.” He would be her true husband who could be everything to her. 


** Read verse 26. 


** Jesus was her true husband and in him she could be satisfied and happy. She could believe in him and worship him freely.