John 4 records some important events that contain a mind-stretching lesson.
The Jews were terribly prejudiced against the Samaritan people—even calling them dogs. They viewed the area they were from as a wretched ghetto. Nevertheless, Christ traveled there. While His disciples were off in the city buying meat, He went to Jacob’s well and there met a woman of Samaria.
Jesus dared to ask this woman for a drink of water from the well. If His disciples had been there, surely they would have tried to stop Him. So how did John know about this, in writing his Gospel? He probably learned about it later, maybe during one of those evenings when he was lying on Christ’s bosom, and Christ was teaching him and correcting him. This event really does have some strong correction for John and the disciples—and for all of us if we fail to reflect the world-encompassing love that Christ demonstrated here.
The woman was taken aback that Christ would talk to her, since the Jews were so contemptuous of Samaritans. She said, “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” (John 4:9). What despicable self-righteousness! What a horrifying misunderstanding of God’s holy and righteous Word.
Jesus Christ took this opportunity to begin teaching this woman—a human being who was made in the likeness of God.
Christ answered 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 theeliving water” (verse 10).
This was the Word—God in the flesh—talking to her, and telling her that He would give her living water.
The Jews treated the Samaritans like they were a plague. Christ, on the other hand, went straight into this ghetto area and began to deal with this Gentile woman. Why? Because Jesus Christ came to die for theWORLD!That’s what this is all about!
Christ didn’t die for a particular race or ethnic group. He came to die for the world! And to anyone who repents, comes to Him and asks to drink, He will give living water! To anyone and everyone!
Jesus Christ carefully planned this episode at Jacob’s well to teach the world this lesson. It is a lesson that every person must learn before he or she can enter God’s Family. Water is a type of the Holy Spirit, and it gives life. In a dry desolate place without water, you have no life. That’s the way this world is: There is no real life, because there is no living water. People don’t know what life is. This woman didn’t know. Our temporary, chemical existence isn’t really life.
But what water that living water is—and whatlifeit brings! This water leads to everlasting life—endless glory. What a lesson at the well!
Ask the Big Questions
This Samaritan woman asked for water from Christ. When she did so, He revealed that He knew a great deal about her and her very sordid past. She responded, “Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet” (John 4:19).
This woman must have been very sobered by Christ’s statements. He knew all of her sins. He knows about ours. But no matter how dark our history, when we repent God removes those sins from us as far as east is from west! He no longer remembers them, and He doesn’t want us to think about them either.
Now Christ really had this woman’s attention. She must have been quite a humble, lowly woman, to accept what He had to say to her. He really began to teach her. (If only the “religious” Pharisees and Sadducees had been so teachable!)
“Ye worship ye know not what,” Christ said (verse 22). Telling people that today could get you killed! In fact, it did eventually get Christ killed. But this woman accepted it. “[W]e know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews,” Christ continued. “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” (verses 22-23).
Again Christ pointed to His Father as the Head of the God Family—unlike Christians in this world.
We must worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. We obey in the letter of the law, but we also take it to the spiritual level. With God’s Spirit, we can worship Him in Spirit and in truth.
We not only don’t murder, we now know it is a sin to hate our brother. We not only don’t commit adultery, we don’t lust for another person in our minds.
The Father is looking for people who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth! Christ was giving this woman some strong spiritual meat.
“The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he” (verses 25-26). This woman had heard all the prophecies about the coming Messiah—and here He was standing right before her! This moved her deeply.
But then the disciples came along, and they were apparently upset at what was going on, though they didn’t say anything. John records, “[Y]et no man said, What seekest thou? Or, Why talkest thou with her?” (verse 27).
John wrote this—these were not the words of Christ. John knew what he and the other disciples were thinking.
There is tremendous depth in this verse. Today, we always need to be trying to understand what Christ is doing and why. The Bride needs to understand her Husband’s mind.
They were obviously confused—and, truthfully, they should have been asking these big questions! Christ wasn’t speaking with this Samaritan woman in vain. He had a lot to teach the disciples about what He was doing, and they had a lot to learn!
I’m sure that later Christ told John and the rest of them how their attitude was wrong. There is something important you don’t understand! He surely told them. I’m not here on Earth in vain. This is very important, and you all must learn it: You are here learning to teach the whole world!
We all have to learn to think about and ask the big questions: What is Christ doing? Why would God give me this trial? Why must I go through this? Why does God command tithes and offerings? We may never know all the reasons, but at times God can reveal quite a lot of them to you. But we are hard-headed, and there is a lot we don’t get because of that. We all have carnal nature, and we must continually ask God to bring His Spirit into our lives and show us where we are wrong. We all need to open ourselves up to God’s correction and humble ourselves before the Father the way our Savior does. If He can do it, surely we can do it. There has never been humility on this Earth like Christ had—not even close! And He was the Word—God made flesh! The disciples had to learn that, and we do too.
We are supposed to think like Christ! That means we need to begin to ask the big questions: What is Christ doing? What does this mean? He does nothing in vain!
This example is taught only in the Gospel of John. That is because John’s purpose was to help us understand the mind of Christ.
We are to let His mind be in us (Philippians 2:5). That means we must constantly be seeking how He thinks and why. Then we can think more deeply the way He does.
John carries this lesson on in the following verses.
Christ’s Meat—God’s Work
After the episode at the well, the disciples tried to get Christ to eat something. He responded, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of” (John 4:32).
This confused the disciples. They were so concerned about Him eating. Jesus Christ told them something here that we all need to learn deeply.
“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (verse 34). That’s my food, Christ said. My way of life is just to do the Work of God with all of the passion I possess. That is all I’m here for! That is my main delight—to finish the Work the Father has given me to do!
This is the key to having passion and high spirits! The Work of God has a built-in vision of joy! It always keeps us looking beyond the difficulties of the present and seeing where this is all leading! What difference does it make to miss a meal? Christ wasn’t even thinking about physical food. His mind was on why He—the Word—was made flesh.
If you get your heart into God’s Work and give it everything you have, it will give you all the exuberance and joy God has to give us on Earth!
Of course there will be trials. The very fact that you’re doing the Work will bring trials. Jesus Christ knew that in a short while, He would be savagely beaten, crucified and killed! There had to be a strong nagging pull toward self-pity. Yet here He was missing meals to serve a Samaritan woman! That made no sense to the Jews, but it made a lot of sense to Jesus Christ, because He saw how it all fit in with His wonderful, beautiful master plan! He was energized and in high spirits by doing God’s Work.
Whenever Mr. Armstrong spoke about a project that would help the Work, he conveyed tremendous excitement about it. He was thrilled because his heart was in the Work. That was his life. Every time something good happened, he rejoiced in that—and he had a lot to get excited about. Of course, he had some heartaches too; some things went wrong. That’s the way it is if you love—you can get hurt. But you know how to really live.
Every member in the Philadelphia Church of God can be energized that way. Whatever you are able to contribute, do so. If you can only pray and fast, just do it. This is the Work of God! We are part of the Work of the Word, who came to Earth to declare His Father!
Jesus Christ just wanted to finish His Father’s Work. That was His great passion. We ought to think as He does. “Let this mind be in you.” We have one splendid goal: to finish God’s Work. That is why we were called today!
Christ continued: “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” (verse 35). The same is oh, so true today! The work is there—it is ready for more growth! The fields are already white to harvest! We must not fail to harvest the crop. Times are urgent! Prospective members and co-workers and Laodiceans are waiting to hear this message, and then for ministers to help them while there is time! People we don’t even know about urgently need to hear what God is saying! If you are like Christ and you miss some meals to do the Work of God, that’s not bad! Christ had enough passion and excitement that He didn’t mind those kinds of inconveniences. His mind was teeming with the vision of God! He was thinking about the World Tomorrow, not the world today. If you are really doing the Work, you have vision!
As we have heard so many times, we are not here to save ourselves—but to save the world! You don’t attend Church services just to socialize and maybe pick up a nice idea or two. You are here to learn to teach the world! We are preparing to educate the world in a different way of life! Christ is preparing an office for you according to how well you are going to do as a teacher, and how hard you have worked to prepare for that! If you miss a meal in order to secure a greater office in God’s Kingdom, that is wonderful!
The Savior of the World
After Christ’s conversation with her, that Samaritan woman went out and told a lot of people. Samaritans came running after Christ and begged Him to stay there and teach them!
This is extraordinary! Here was the Messiah, spending time in this undesirable area, responding to the enthusiasm of these underprivileged people. They were excited about the truth of God, so He stayed. He stayed with those poor and persecuted people for two days, doing everything He could to help them. The Messiah gave His time to those “dogs.”
That whole area was filled with excitement and joy. And they only received a tiny fraction of what Christ gives us today.
In truth, no people are dogs. God detests the prejudice, hatred, evil and ugliness in this world! Jesus Christ DIED FOR THE WORLD! He died to save EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING ON EARTH!
That magnificent truth gives inspiring potential to each one of us—if we want it.
These Samaritans were so excited about the truth that Christ was willing to miss meals and alter His schedule in order to stay with them and teach them. Surely people would have asked, what possible interest could Christ have in that ghetto? But He was clearly excited about it.
This gives us a small taste of what we are about to do for the whole world!
Jesus Christ and God the Father are passionate about this. They are working slavishly to bring this Family about—they are going to give every individual on Earth an opportunity to be in that Family! When Christ experienced just a taste of that future among these Samaritans, He really came to life! And it should do the same for us!
Christ set this example for us to follow. How much more each one of us can do if we deeply look to His example!
Notice what the Samaritans said: “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 ofthe world” (verse 42).
Men cannot save the world—they only destroy it. Only God can save the world! This is why the Word was made flesh. Christ did not come just to save Jews. He stayed two days with the Gentiles to drive that lesson home. He is the Savior of the world! And He is incredibly excited about that! Are you?
These Samaritans were talking to the Son of the living God. That same Christ is the Head of this Church. Are we stirred and rejoicing as these Samaritans were?
When you see an opportunity to serve the Work, do you act like Jesus Christ? Do you act the way the Head of the Philadelphia Church of God acts? If we are the Bride of Christ, we act like our Husband! That is what He is telling us to do.
Of all the Gospel writers, only John brings this incident out. This is the subject he focused on. Jesus Christ came from God the Father to save the world.
Do you realize deeply with every cell in your brain that this is why you are here? God’s Church is a teachers’ college—training people to help teach and save the world!
In the end, I suspect that none of these Samaritans were part of the 120 disciples who remained at the time of Christ’s death. I suppose they went as far as Christ could take them at that time.
In our work, we take people as far as we can. In many cases, it won’t work out until the Tribulation, or the World Tomorrow, or the second resurrection. God has the big overview. If they respond vigorously to that opportunity today, even if they don’t become converted, He will probably give them some kind of a leadership role, even as physical beings, in the World Tomorrow. God is doing all He can to try to bring this world to its senses. Our real harvest is in the Great Tribulation. That is when the great multitude of people will turn to God—because they received our message and knew where God was working.
We don’t have much time left to do this Work. As God views it, we have only minutes left, and then the moment will be gone! If you have an opportunity to do the Work, seize it! Don’t miss the moment!
How many meals have we missed in doing God’s Work? We are called now to help Christ save the world. We must be willing to give up our own hopes and dreams, so we can fulfill God’s dreams!
Christ also said this: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12).
Christ went to the Father and left us down here, and said we would do greater works than He did. Certainly that is the case in this end time, with the technology we have. We have greater means to reach around the world—through television, satellite, publications and mail distribution, and the Internet. That enables us to do greater works than Christ could do! Despite our small numbers, Christ continues to bless our work with significant growth.
“If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he [God the Father] may abide with you for ever” (verses 14-16).
Remember, John was the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2; 21:7, 20). He spent time leaning on Christ’s bosom (John 13:23). At that time, John didn’t have the Holy Spirit in him, but it was with him. And he was certainly comforted by Christ’s presence. Christ was very comforting to His disciples.
Here Christ told them that, though He would be going away, the Father would supply them another Comforter so their heart would not have to be troubled. God the Father Himself would abide with them!
“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you,” Christ continued (John 14:18). John is the only Gospel writer who related this conversation, because it ties in so perfectly with the central message of his Gospel.
By the time he wrote this, John had had God’s Spirit for a number of years, and he really knew what it was to be comforted by Christ! He had been personally comforted by this other Comforter.
God is no respecter of persons. I am absolutely convinced that John was saying, I was called the disciple whom Jesus loved, and I leaned on Christ’s bosom. But with this other Comforter, every single one of you can figuratively lie on Christ’s bosom, and have that close relationship with Him! He is right there with you, and that’s why your heart need not be troubled. Now the Holy Spirit is available to each one of us so you and I can become the one whom Jesus loves!
John was given this special revelation to show us how we can enter into Christ’s bosom and be comforted by the Holy Spirit.
We face tribulation in this world. As we fight to enter God’s Family, we must be comforted to continue the struggle.
The subject is the Holy Spirit. God is teaching us spiritually. God’s Spirit truly is a Comforter! That word could be translated Consoler or Encourager. When you’re having a problem, just get down on your knees and pray and pray until you stir up God’s Spirit and are consoled! That is the only way to truly be consoled.
John is looking at this spiritually. To lean on Jesus’s bosom physically is not the ultimate lesson. To have God’s Spirit within us is true comfort! Jesus Christ knows how to look after His wife! He is a loving Husband and knows how to comfort. He comforts and encourages her because He loves her. John gave us a physical picture of what our Husband does spiritually. Every human being can have that kind of a relationship with Jesus Christ. You can lie on Christ’s bosom spiritually—as John did physically. The physical was only a type of what happens to each one of us spiritually. Christ loved John in a special way to show how He loves and comforts each one of us spiritually—with the Holy Spirit.
Youare the one whom Jesus loves!
If anybody has ever illustrated His love, Jesus Christ has. And now He is coming to each one of us—like He came to Peter—and asking: Do you really love me? Then do the Father’s Work. That is what He did when He was on this Earth. This was His passion and delight.
That’s the kind of agape love that comes into our lives with God’s Holy Spirit. Then we can become encouragers like Christ is.
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. … If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (verses 21, 23). What a change that makes in our lives when the Father and the Son come to make their abode with us!
We show our love to the Father by keeping His commandments. And the Father loves us in the most supreme, fatherly way when we obey His law. He and the Son come and live in us. We are then the Kingdom, or Family, of God in embryo.
“These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy [Spirit], whom the Father will send in my name, [it] shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (verses 25-26). The Holy Spirit will teach you all things and bring to remembrance what you have been taught. We no longer look to men!
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (verse 27). Christ repeats this point to strongly emphasize it: Don’t let your heart be troubled! Don’t be afraid! You have a Comforter. I am right there with you! Christ is right there! But we have to know that, and we have to use that power. If we don’t deeply understand what Christ was explaining here, many problems in this world will deeply trouble us.
Christ repeats the words of John 14:1 with a new and stronger force! Is your heart troubled? Are you afraid? God’s Holy Spirit will conquer those fears.
Christ is there to console you—to comfort and encourage you—to give you real peace. He’s not just saying that. This is real. He offers real peace in the midst of times when you would normally be afraid. Don’t let your heart be troubled.