Character of Jesus – John 4:1-42

The purpose of the Gospel of John is to reveal who Jesus is. It is the most theological of the four Gospels as it shows not just the events in the life of Christ, but the very character of Christ. Nestled within the account of the woman at the well, we find great truths concerning the character of Jesus.

His Compassion (v. 1-9). As Jesus and His disciples left Judea on their way to Galilee, they took the shortest route which lead them through Samaria. Some Bible scholars suggest that the more customary route for Jews traveling to Galilee was to go around Samaria. However, there is no concrete historical evidence to substantiate such an argument. Verse four seems to indicate that Jesus insisted that they take the route through Samaria. There is no doubt that His meeting with the Samaritan woman was a Divine appointment.

The Jews and the Samaritans had very little to do with one another. They may have traded with each other and showed common courtesies, however, they would not befriend each other. It is similar to some racial divides that we see today. The Samaritan woman had no problem with giving a Jew something to drink, however, she was surprised by the fact that Jesus would ask her for a drink. She knew by Jesus’ dialect that He was Jewish and that He was a distinguished individual. The fact that Jesus humbled Himself to her level and asked for a drink astounded her.

This clearly shows the compassion of Jesus. He did not care that she was a Samaritan. He was going to befriend her anyway. He did not see the racial divide. He saw her as a person created in the image of God and He cared deeply for her. We should follow the example of Jesus. Since Jesus showed compassion for all people, so should we. When you see someone that is different from you, what do you think? How do you perceive someone who is different? As Christians, we should look past those differences and see every soul on the face of the earth as someone who is created in the image of God and who has a God-given purpose. As a church, how do we see our community? Do we care for all people no matter who they are or do we just take care of our own? Do we focus our ministry only on those who are like us, or do we extend our ministry to those who are different than ourselves? May we have the same compassion for people as Jesus has.

His Message (v. 10-14). The message of Jesus is very clear: Come to Me and I will give you eternal life. The living water that Jesus spoke of is a reference to the Holy Spirit who indwells us and does the work of regeneration when one believes on Jesus by faith. The Samarian woman misunderstood Jesus. Just like Nicodemus in John 3, the Samaritan woman was filled with the things of this world and had very little spiritual understanding. It is very difficult for anyone who is focused on physical things to come to Christ and believe. In order to believe on Jesus, you must break through the physical and into the spiritual. You must put aside the cares of this world and trust in Jesus completely. What about you? Have you received that living water? Has there been a time in your life when you said no to yourself and this world and you said yes to Jesus?

His Grace (v. 15-18). Again, in verse 15, the woman was focused on physical water. She did not understand what Jesus was talking about. Jesus then revealed her sin. It was her sinful lifestyle that kept her from understanding the spiritual truth that Jesus was trying to convey. It is revealed that the woman has been married and divorced five times and the man she is living with is not her husband. Notice how Jesus does not condone her sin, neither does He condemn her. He very compassionately, pointed out her sin. We cannot shy away from the fact that divorce is a violation of a marriage covenant and is, in fact, sin. Nowhere in scripture does Jesus condone and encourage divorce. It is also clear that Jesus takes marriage seriously and does not approve of couples who are not married living together. The interesting thing we see here is that Jesus does not ignore her sin nor does He condone her sin and neither does He condemn her. He simply reveals the obvious. She is living in sin and it is her sin that is keeping her from partaking of that living water. However, that living water is still available to her in-spite of her sin. This is grace. Jesus does not hide her sin or just look the other way. As a matter of fact, He gets her sin out in the open and then He offers her forgiveness and salvation. This is the same pattern you and I should follow. We should not shy away from calling sin for what it is. We should not ignore sin or try to hide sin. We should not look the other way when it comes to sin. However, as we reveal the sinful state of mankind, we should offer grace that is found in knowing Jesus. The church is not a place of condemnation. It is a place of openness and realness. It is a place where people can come and be open about their struggle with sin and find grace, healing, and freedom from sin.

His Purpose (v. 19-24). The Samaritans built a temple where they could have their own place of worship apart from the Jews. Jesus explained to her that salvation is of the Jews, meaning, the Savior is a Jew and the Jews are the first messengers of salvation. Jesus also explains to her that it does not matter where you worship; however, the important thing is who you are worshipping. God is seeking those who would worship Him. This reveals the purpose of Jesus. The purpose in everything is that God be glorified. This is what we refer to as the doxological purpose of God. Everything is for His glory. Our entire purpose of living is for the glory of God. Everything that we say and do is to be for His glory. We are to live a life of worship. This was the purpose of Jesus when He was on this earth and it is the very purpose for which we were created. Jesus mentions that we are to worship in Spirit and in Truth. The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, “To worship in truth is to worship God through Jesus. To worship in Spirit is to worship in the new realm which God has revealed to people. The Father is seeking true worshipers because He wants people to live in reality, not in falsehood. Everybody is a worshiper (Rom. 1:25) but because of sin many are blind and constantly put their trust in worthless objects.”[1] To worship God in truth is to recognize the Deity of Christ. To worship in spirit is to worship Him with all your heart, with everything that is about you. It is to enter into God’s presence through Jesus and lay everything at His feet. Jesus gave all for us, therefore, we should surrender all to Him in worship.

His Revelation (v. 25-26). Here, Jesus very plainly states that He is the Christ. He is the Messiah. He is God. “The use of ego eimi (I am) represents an important theological theme in this Gospel. Usually there is a metaphoric connection such as Bread of Life (6:35) or the Good Shepherd (10:14). But here it becomes what is called: the shocking reality of a confession of the divine-human presence. An absolute declaration of deity. You are waiting for the Messiah? Then you should be interested in this conversation because I have come and am speaking personally to you.”[2]

His Passion (v. 27-38). In these verses, we find that the great passion and desire of Jesus was to do the work that He was sent to do. When He said that He did not care to have the food that the disciples brought Him, He was not saying that He did not need physical nourishment. However, He was saying that He was not concerned with the things of this world. He was living for a much higher purpose. This should be the same for you and I. Everything that we do should be for the Glory of God and for the advancement of His Kingdom. We should live to serve Him? Think about it. What are you living for? What is your passion? What is your desire? Is it to please yourself and meet your own needs or is it to please Him?

His Influence (v 39-42). As these events unfolded, many of the Samaritans came and believed in Jesus. He had a tremendous influence on those around Him. What about you? What kind of influence are you? Are you making an impact on those around you?

Jesus had tremendous character. His character is on perfect display in His conversation with the woman at the well. As we consider His character, what kind of character do you have? Do you see some of the same characteristics of Jesus in you? If you are a born-again believer, you should see the characteristics of Jesus in you and so will others.

[1] Blum, E. A. (1985). John. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 286). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2] Gangel, K. O. (2000). John (Vol. 4, p. 79). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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