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Jesus and the Woman of Samaria


Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John” 2—although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— 3he left Judea and started back to Galilee. 4But he had to go through Samaria. 5So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8(His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” 13Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” 28Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29“Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” 30They left the city and were on their way to him.

31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” 34Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 36The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41And many more believed because of his word. 42They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

Jesus Returns to Galilee

43 When the two days were over, he went from that place to Galilee 44(for Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in the prophet’s own country). 45When he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the festival; for they too had gone to the festival.

Jesus Heals an Official’s Son

46 Then he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. 47When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my little boy dies.” 50Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. 51As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. 52So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, “Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.” 53The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he himself believed, along with his whole household. 54Now this was the second sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee.


42. On account of thy speech. Though I have followed Erasmus in rendering this word by oratio, (speech,) because loquela, which the ancient interpreter uses, is a barbarous term; yet I wish to warn my readers that the Greek word λαλία has the same meaning with the Latin word loquentia, that is, talk, or talkativeness; and the Samaritans appear to boast that they have now a stronger foundation than a woman’s tongue, which is, for the most part, light and trivial.

We believe. This expresses more fully the nature of their faith, that it has been drawn from the word of God itself, so that they can boast of having the Son of God as their Teacher; as, indeed, it is on his authority alone that we can safely rely. True, indeed, he is not now visibly present, so as to speak to us mouth to mouth; but, by whomsoever we happen to hear him, our faith cannot rest on any other than on himself. And from no other source proceeds that knowledge which is likewise mentioned; for the speech which comes from the mouth of a mortal man may indeed fill and satisfy the ears, but will never confirm the soul in calm confidence of salvation, so that he who has heard may be entitled to boast that he knows In faith, therefore, the first thing necessary is, to know that it is Christ who speaks by his ministers; and the next is, to give him the honor which is due; that is, not to doubt that he is true and faithful, so that, relying on so undoubted a guarantee, we may rely safely on his doctrine.

Again, when they affirm that Jesus is the Christ and the Savior of the world, they undoubtedly have learned this from hearing him. Hence we infer that, within two days, the sum of the Gospel was more plainly taught by Christ than he had hitherto taught it in Jerusalem. And Christ testified that the salvation, which he had brought, was common to the whole world, that they might understand more fully that it belonged to them also; for he did not call them on the ground of their being lawful heirs, as the Jews were, 8787     “Ainsi qu’estoyent les, Juifs.” but taught that he had come to admit strangers into the family of God, and to bring peace to those who were far off, (Ephesians 2:17.)

45. The Galileans received him. Whether or not this honor was of long duration we have not the means of determining; for there is nothing to which men are more prone than forgetfulness of the gifts of God. Nor does John relate this with any other design than to inform us that Christ performed miracles in presence of many witnesses, so that the report of them was spread far and wide. Again, this points out one advantage of miracles, that they prepare the way for doctrine; for they cause reverence to be paid to Christ.

46. And there was a certain courtier. This is a more correct rendering, though Erasmus thinks differently, who has translated βασιλικός by a Latin word, Regulus, which means a little king. 8989     “Lequel l’a traduit par un mot Latin Regulus, qui signifie un petit Roy.” I acknowledge indeed that, at that time, they gave the name of Reguli (or, little kings) to those who are now called Dukes, or Barons, or Earls; but the state of Galilee at that time was such that there could be no person of that rank dwelling in Capernaum. I think that he was some nobleman 9090     “Quelque gentil-homme.” of the court of Herod; for there is some plausibility in the opinion of those who think that he was sent by Caesar. 9191     “Par l’Empereur;” — “by the Emperor.” This is expressly mentioned by the Evangelist, because the rank of this personage made the miracle the more illustrious.

47. When he had heard that Jesus had come. When he applies to Christ for aid, this is some evidence of his faith; but, when he limits Christ’s manner of granting assistance, that shows how ignorant he was. For he views the power of Christ as inseparably connected with his bodily presence, from which it is evident, that he had formed no other view concerning Christ than this, — that he was a Prophet sent by God with such authority and power as to prove, by the performance of miracles, that he was a minister of God. This fault, though it deserved censure, Christ overlooks, but severely upbraids him, and, indeed, all the Jews in general, on another ground, that they were too eager to behold miracles.

But how comes it that Christ is now so harsh, who is wont to receive kindly others who desire miracles? There must have been at that time some particular reason, though unknown to us, why he treated this man with a degree of severity which was not usual with him; and perhaps he looked not so much to the person as to the whole nation. He saw that his doctrine had no great authority, and was not only neglected but altogether despised; and, on the other hand, that all had their eyes fixed on miracles, and that their whole senses were seized with stupidity rather than with admiration. Thus, the wicked contempt of the word of God, which at that time prevailed, constrained him to make this complaint.

True, indeed, some even of the saints sometimes wished to be confirmed by miracles, that they might not entertain any doubt as to the truth of the promises; and we see how God, by kindly granting their requests, showed that he was not offended at them. But Christ describes here far greater wickedness; for the Jews depended so much on miracles, that they left no room for the word. And first, it was exceedingly wicked that they were so stupid and carnal as to have no reverence for doctrine, unless they had been aroused by miracles; for they must have been well acquainted with the word of God, in which they had been educated from their infancy. Secondly, when miracles were performed, they were so far from profiting aright, that they remained in a state of stupidity and amazement. Thus they had no religion, no knowledge of God, no practice of godliness, except what consisted in miracles.

To the same purpose is that reproach which Paul brings against them, the Jews demand signs, (1 Corinthians 1:22.) For he means that they were unreasonably and immoderately attached to signs, and cared little about the grace of Christ, or the promises of eternal life, or the secret power of the Spirit, but, on the contrary, rejected the Gospel with haughty disdain, because they had no relish for any thing but miracles. I wish there were not many persons in the present day affected by the same disease; but nothing is more common than this saying, “Let them first perform miracles, 9292     “Quils facent premierement des ntiraclcs?” and then we will lend an ear to their doctrine;” as if we ought to despise and disdain the truth of Christ, unless it derive support from some other quarter. But though God were to overwhelm them by a huge mass of miracles, still they speak falsely when they say that they would believe. Some outward astonishment would be produced, but they would not be a whit more attentive to doctrine.

49. Sir, come down, ere my child die. Since he perseveres in asking, and at length obtains what he wished, we may conclude that Christ did not reprove him in such a manner as if he intended altogether to reject him, and refused his prayers; but that he rather did so for the purpose of correcting that fault which obstructed the entrance of true faith. And we ought to remember — what I have formerly stated — that this was a general reproof of a whole people, and was not peculiarly addressed to one individual. In this manner, whatever is improper, or distorted, or superfluous, in our prayers, must be corrected or removed, that dangerous obstructions may be taken out of the way. Now courtiers are usually fastidious and haughty, and do not willingly submit to be treated with harshness; but it deserves notice, that this man, humbled by his necessitous case, and by the dread of losing his son, does not burst into a passion, or murmur, when Christ speaks to him roughly, but passes by that reproof in modest silence. We find the same things in ourselves; for we are astonishingly delicate, impatient, and fretful until, subdued by adversities, we are constrained to lay aside our pride and disdain.

50. Thy son liveth. The first thing that strikes us here is, the astonishing kindness and condescension of Christ, that he bears with the man’s ignorance, and stretches his power beyond what had been expected. He requested that Christ would come to the place and cure his son. He thought it possible that his son could be freed from sickness and disease, but not that he could be raised up after he was dead; and therefore he urges Christ to make haste, that his son’s recovery may not be prevented by his death. Accordingly, when Christ pardons both, we may conclude from it how highly he values even a small measure of faith. It is worthy of observation that Christ, while he does not comply with his desire, grants much more than he had requested; for he testifies as to the present health of his son. Thus it frequently happens that our Heavenly Father, while he does not comply with our wishes in every particular, proceeds to relieve us by unexpected methods, that we may learn not to prescribe to him in anything. When he says, Thy son liveth, he means that he has been rescued from the danger of death.

The man believed the word which Jesus had spoken to him. Having come with the conviction that Christ was a prophet of God, he was on that account so much disposed to believe, that, as soon as he had heard a single word, he seized it and fixed it in his heart. Though he did not entertain all the respect that he ought for the power of Christ, yet a short promise suddenly awoke new confidence in his mind, so that he believed the life of his son to be contained in a single word of Christ. And such is the promptitude with which we ought to receive the word of God, but it is very far from producing always so immediate an effect on the hearers. For how many will you find that profit as much by many sermons as this man, who was half a heathen, profited by hearing a single word? So much the more ought we to labor with zeal to arouse our sluggishness, and, above all, to pray that God would touch our hearts in such a manner, that we may not be less willing to believe than He is ready and gracious to promise.

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