Setting

After Jesus’ revelation to the Samaritan woman that He is the Christ, the woman went back into the city to report about Jesus. The present passage records Jesus’ words with the disciples in the interim as well as the enthusiastic acceptance of Jesus by the Samaritans after they come out to meet Him. In the following narrative, the scene switches to Cana of Galilee, where Jesus has turned water to wine. Now, He performs yet another sign—healing the nobleman’s son.

Key Verse

(4:42)

Did You Know...?

1. Nobleman (4:46): The term usually refers to someone in the service of a king [ref] (in this instance, Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea).

2. Capernaum (4:46): The distance between Capernaum and Cana is at least 23 kilometers (14 miles).

3. Seventh hour (4:52) was probably equivalent to 1 p.m.

Outline

Keywords/Phrases

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General Analysis

  • 1.

    Compare and contrast how the Samaritans and the Galileans received Jesus.

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    The Samaritans came to believe in Jesus first through the testimony of the woman and ultimately because they heard Jesus’ own word. Subsequently they developed a conviction in Christ (4:39–42). Their faith did not depend on seeing signs and wonders. On the contrary, the Galileans received Jesus only after seeing all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast (4:45). The passage does not indicate that they put their faith in Jesus. Their reception of Jesus based on what they saw did not translate into whole-hearted commitment nor knowledge of the Savior (cf. 4:48).

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Segment Analysis

  • 4:31–38

    1.

    Is doing the work of God as food to you? What does the metaphor of food suggest?

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    The metaphor of food suggests how doing God’s work is so essential to our being and satisfying to our soul.

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  • 2a.

    Consider the context of Jesus’ message to the disciples. What is the harvest Jesus referred to?

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    Jesus was speaking about the harvest of souls for eternal life (4:36). Because of the work begun by the Lord Himself, the hearts of people were ready for harvest. His message was timely because the disciples were about to witness the conversion of many Samaritans. Just as the Lord Jesus was a winner of souls, He had sent the disciples to win souls by preaching the good news of salvation.

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  • 2b.

    Where do you see yourself in this grand work of harvest?

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  • 3.

    What is Jesus’ point in quoting the saying in verse 37?

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    The work of saving souls into God’s kingdom involves the efforts of many servants of God over time. Those who sowed and labored would be the many workers of God, including John the Baptist, who paved the way for the final harvest (cf. Mt 23:34). Jesus’ point is that the time has come to see the cumulative labor of God’s workers come to fruition, and the disciples are indeed blessed to take part in the work of the harvest.

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  • 4:39–42

    4.

    What was the final outcome of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman?

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    Many Samaritans put their faith in Jesus (4:39–41).

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  • 5.

    Observe the Samaritans’ progression of faith. Why is this significant?

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    Initially, the Samaritans believed in Jesus because of the word of the woman who testified (4:39). After Jesus had stayed with them two days, many more believed. In the end, they no longer believed just because of the woman’s words, but because of Jesus’ own word (41–42). They also came to know that Jesus was the Christ, the Savior of the world (42). Jesus’ presence and interaction with the Samaritans had a transforming impact on the Samaritans. Jesus’ words are spirit and life (6:63). As a result of hearing Jesus’ words, they came to the knowledge that He was not only a prophet, but the Christ and the Savior. It is through this faith that a person may receive eternal life.

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  • 6.

    Have you also reached the same conviction about Jesus?

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  • 7.

    How is the title the Samaritans ascribed to Jesus appropriate in light of how the Jews viewed Samaritans as Gentiles?

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    Jesus is the Savior of the world, not just of the Jews. His ministry in Samaria is a wonderful testimony of the fact that He had come to bring salvation to the whole humanity, regardless of race. The conversion of the many Samaritans confirmed that through faith, they, too, could receive the gift of eternal life.

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  • 4:43–45

    8.

    Explain the seeming contradiction between verses 44 and 45.

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    The Galileans received the Lord Jesus initially because they had seen the signs Jesus did in Jerusalem (45). This superficial reception was not based on lasting faith in the Lord Jesus (cf. 48). As we shall see later, many of the Galileans rejected Jesus in the end (Jn 6:59–66; cf. 7:5).

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  • 4:46–54

    9.

    In what ways was this sign remarkable?

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    1. The Lord was able to save the nobleman’s son even though he was at the point of death. 2. The Lord healed the nobleman’s son from a distance. The fever was gone at the very hour Jesus assured the nobleman that his son would live (50–53).

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  • 10.

    What does this sign show about Jesus?

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    Jesus is the Lord of life, and His words carry authority and power.

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  • 11.

    What was the response to the sign?

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  • 12a.

    Why did Jesus make the comment in verse 48?

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    Jesus used the occasion of the nobleman’s plea to expose the people’s inadequacy of faith. They would not believe in Him unless they saw Him perform some miraculous deeds. In the story, however, the nobleman took Jesus at His word (50) even before witnessing the miracle. We may thus say that the nobleman’s faith in the Lord’s command stands in contrast to the general unbelief of the people.

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  • 12b.

    What does this say about what He expects of us?

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