Seeing Beyond the Physical – John 4:27-43

Download MP3

(If you would like to receive Pastor Harris’ weekly sermons via e-mail, Click Here)

(To download the PowerPoint file for this sermon, Click Here)

Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

August 4, 2013

Seeing Beyond the Physical

John 4:27-43


One of the great joys of proclaiming God’s word to others is seeing people come to understand it and respond with a desire to know more about Him. Many times it seems like those that respond are the people you would think the least likely to do so. Those of you who actively share your faith with others know from first hand experience what I am talking about. You also know the frustration of proclaiming very obvious truths and those you are talking with either do not seem capable of understanding, or they reject those truths in favor of the lies and deceptions they have been taught in the past. Jesus encountered the same problem as we shall see today in John 4:27-43.

Jesus had come up from Judea where He and the disciples had been involved in same ministry as John the Baptist of calling people to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand, then the baptizing those that did repent. Jesus’ ministry had increased to the point where His disciples were baptizing more than John. When Jesus knew the Pharisees had learned this and John had been arrested, Jesus and His disciples left Judea to return to Galilee. It was not yet time to antagonize the Jewish religious leaders, so Jesus avoided it by going back to Galilee. It would have been easier for Jesus to return by just traveling north along the Jordan river, but Jesus had to travel through Samaria for the Father had a divine appointment for Him with a Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well near Sychar. Last week we looked at the conversation between Jesus and this woman. To set the context for this morning’s sermon, let’s quickly review it. (See: Witnessing to Strangers)

The Woman at the Well (John 4:1-26)

While Jesus is sitting by Jacob’s well, a Samaritan woman comes to draw water from it. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” The woman is surprised at this because there is animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans. They would deal with each other, as is shown by the fact that the disciples had gone into the village to buy food, but they would not share in things together. John’s comment in verse 9 is better translated as “For the Jews do not use together with the Samaritans.” This woman was surprised that a Jewish man would ask to share her cup.

Jesus used His request to open up the conversation with her. In verse 10, Jesus aroused her interest further by saying to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” She does not understand the spiritual nature of what Jesus is talking about so Jesus further explains in verse 13 & 14,“Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

The woman still did not understand the spiritual nature of what Jesus was talking about even though He talked about eternal life and qualities for a water that could not be physical. Jesus then sought to bring her to an understanding of her spiritual need by bringing up a subject that would reveal her sin. Jesus asked her to call her husband, but she replied that she did not have a husband. At this point Jesus demonstrated His omniscience by telling her that she had spoken truthfully for He was already aware that she previously had five husbands and the man she was currently living with was not her husband (Jn. 4:16-18). Jesus exposed her sin in a gentle manner by letting her come to her own conclusion rather than bluntly pointing it out.

The woman then perceived that Jesus was a prophet and was talking about spiritual matters and not some sort of miraculous physical water. She then asked Jesus a question wanting to know how to correctly worship God. Her people said it had to be done on Mt. Gerizim, but the Jews said it had to be in Jerusalem. Since this was a prophet, perhaps He could tell her the truth. Jesus’ answer was more than she could have ever expected.

John 4:21-24 – Jesus ^said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. 22″You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23″But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24″God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Jesus told her that the true worship of God would soon no longer have anything to do with the location for location would be made obsolete by what would happen in the near future. Jesus was referring to his own sacrificial death, burial and resurrection which would remove the need for animal sacrifices.

True worship of God is not a matter of location or religious rituals. It is a matter of spirit and truth. It is not what you do outwardly, but what is going on inwardly to produce the outward actions. If you are to truly worship God, then that must arise from within you, within your heart, from out of your spirit. This is in reflection of God’s very nature for He Himself is spirit. He is not a physical God made of wood or stone. He is not a God limited to some physical geographical area. He is the God who transcends all physical things because He created all things. He is immaterial spirit and He who created you must be worshiped by that immaterial part of you which reflects Him – your spirit.

Proper worship of God must also be according to truth. Even if it is within your spirit to want to worship God, if you do so in ignorance or defiance of what God has commanded concerning worship of Him, then it is false worship. Right actions of worship are not enough, for the Spirit must also be correct. Right motives are not enough either, for you must also worship God according to the truth of His commands. You must worship God with the right heart and in the correct manner. Worship of God must be in spirit and in truth.

The woman then presented to Jesus her great longing. He was looking for the coming of Messiah who would teach her all things. Jesus then revealed to this somewhat ignorant Samaritan woman the wonderful truth that was not understood by the Jewish leaders who should have known better. Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am (He).” Jesus is the promised Messiah. It is at this point that we pick up our text for this morning.

Surprised Disciples – John 4:27

And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He had been speaking with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why do You speak with her?”

In God’s providence of His perfect timing, the disciples return just as Jesus finished His discussion with the woman by declaring that He is the Messiah. They do not come earlier, which would have interrupted the conversation. They do not come later and miss the lesson tha
t Jesus is about to teach them. They arrive just in time to marvel at what they were seeing.

The reason for their amazement is that common convention among the Jews, and especially among the Rabbis, was that a man was not to talk to a woman in public. There was a separation of the sexes and such public discourse between two strangers would have been considered uncultured. Some of the Rabbis went so far as to say, “Let no one talk with a woman in the street, no not with his own wife.” Add to this that Jesus was talking with a Samaritan woman, and their surprise was even greater. Yet, out of respect for Jesus, none of His disciples intervened with the woman asking her, “What do you seek?”, or to question Jesus, “Why do you speak with her?”

The Witness of the Woman (John 4:28-30)

The woman now leaves to tell the people in the city what she had found. John 4:28-29 So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city, and ^said to the men, 29″Come, see a man who told me all the things that I [have] done; this is not the Christ, is it?” 30 They went out of the city, and were coming to Him.

Some have said that the woman was so excited that she forgot her waterpot and left it there, but our text does not say she “forgot” it, but that she “left” it. This is in response to Jesus’ first request for a drink. She accepts what He has said and leaves it so that Jesus can get a drink. She would pick it up later when she came back with the people from the city.

Her report to the men of the city is an exaggeration in quantity, but not in quality. Jesus had not told her all the things she had done, but He had demonstrated His omniscience so that she knew that nothing was hidden from Him. Her question to them is not uncertainty on her part of Jesus being the Messiah, but was the proper manner for a woman to defer in humble submission to the men and present to them what was already in her mind. “This is not the Christ, is it?”

This was a small town. She would have been well known. Her verbal report and the change that must have already occurred in her after meeting Jesus compelled the people to come to Jesus themselves. Our text says that “They went out of the city, and were coming to Him.” The grammar here indicates a precise point in time. They had already responded to the woman’s report and had left the city and were now in the process of coming. They were on their way to meet Jesus for themselves.

A Lesson for the Disciples – John 4:31-34

After the woman left and before the people of Sychar come, the disciples learn a lesson. They had returned from the village after purchasing some food. They show both respect and concern for Jesus in verse 31, In the meanwhile the disciples were requesting Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” They had left Jesus by the well for He had been wearied from the journey (John 4:6). They went and got food so that He could rest, and now they want Him to eat to regain His strength. But Jesus has another lesson He wants to teach them, so He answers in verse 32.“I have food to eat that you do not know about.” Jesus makes a statement that causes them to wonder.

The disciples respond in the same way the Samaritan woman had responded earlier. They could only see what was in front of their eyes, so they respond in verse 33, The disciples therefore were saying to one another, “No one brought Him [anything] to eat, did he?” They could not imagine a Samaritan giving Jesus food, so where did He get the food He was talking about. Notice that they do not address Jesus directly, but are discussing this among themselves. Jesus answers their question in verses 34-38.

First, Jesus deals with the general lesson and then He directs their attention to what was happening even then. John 4:34, Jesus ^said to them,”My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work. This is quite a profound statement. Jesus had been physically weary and in need of food and water, but what had refreshed Him was not anything physical, but the doing of His Father’s will. Jesus points out to His disciples that there is a realm that is much more important than the physical. There are things which are much more important than bodily sustenance.

This is not just the thought of Jesus, but the desire of all who want to be godly. Job said it this way, “I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food (Job 23:12). David said God’s word was “more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:7-10).

It really comes down to what is important to you. Jesus wanted His disciples to understand that the primary purpose of life is fulfilling God’s will. Everything else is secondary. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4). God wants your mind fixed on Him and not the mundane things of life including food. That is why Jesus promised in Matthew 6:33 that if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then He would give us the food, drink and clothing we need for daily life.

Is the will of God your food? Let me make some statements and ask some questions that might help you to see your own heart and where you might still need to grow. If there are areas that convict you, then repent, that is, turn from what is sinful, ask God to forgive you, and move on to greater Christlikeness so that your food will also be to do the will of God.

First, it is God’s will that you know His will. He wants us to stand fully assured in all of His will (Colossians 4:12). Paul prayed for the Colossian believers that they would “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9). The purpose of this was that they “may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respect, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

What is your desire to know the will of God? It starts with a knowledge of God and what He has revealed in the Scriptures. Is your food to be entertained or to know the Word of God? How many hours per week do you spend in front of the TV or playing games as opposed to reading and studying the Bible? How much time do you spend pursing hobbies in comparison to learning the word of God? If you can learn all the details about your hobby – the stats of the players on a sports team, the keystrokes for a computer game, the techniques to build or make whatever, know the names of the actors and actresses in a movie or a TV program, then you can also learn the Bible. Those activities may not be evil in themselves and may be fine things to do, but what is your food, your great desire? The blessed man will meditate day and night on the Scriptures (Psalm 1). It is his food.

What is your desire to do the will of God? It starts with simple obedience to God’s Word. Romans 12:2 tells us that we are to resist the pressure of the world to conform us into its image and be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we can prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Do you value what the world values such as fame, money, power, or what God values such as humility, holiness and generosity? Is it your food to do God’s will or be seen as successful by the world?

God’s will is that you are to be holy even as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16) and be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). Is it your food to be holy like Jesus or do you think that is too fanatic and you are more comfortable being like everyone else in society? How are you doing at obeying God’s moral commands? God’s will is that we are sanctified and flee sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Do the things you see, read and hear promote holiness in life or put your mind into the gutter? God’s will is that we are good citizens including paying our ta
xes (Romans 13:1-7). Does your tax return reflect that godliness?

God’s will is that you use your gifts in the church, the body of Christ (Ephesians 4; 1 Corinthians 12). Are you using them? And if so, is it for your own glory or His? How much time and money do you spend in making sure your life is comfortable? Compare that to what you are doing in making sure that others hear the gospel so that they will not be left ignorant and on their way to hell. Is your life self-centered or God centered? If you are a Christian, it should be becoming progressively more God centered.

Jesus’ food was to do the will of God for that was the purpose of His life. What is your food? What is the purpose of your life? If it is something other than the will of God, then you will miss both God’s blessing in fulfilling the reason He created you and you will suffer the consequences of your failure.

Seeing the Harvest – John 4:35-38

Even for those that want to do God’s will, it is easy to miss simply because we focus on the daily stuff of life and do not perceive what the Lord is doing right in front of us. That was true for the Samaritan woman and for Jesus’ disciples. Jesus had to point it out to them. We need to look at the world from God’s perspective and see what He sees. Jesus describes this in verses 35-38. “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and [then] comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. 36 “Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal; that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37″For in this [case] the saying is true, ‘One sows, and another reaps.’ 38″I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

Understand what Jesus is pointing out to them. They are by Jacob’s well which is in a valley between the ridge of the Mountains of Ephraim to the south and east, with Mt. Gerizim to the West and Mt. Ebal to the North. The village of Sychar is over a little ways to the northeast and the city of Shechem is directly north. At that time of year, the valley would be planted with a small grain, either wheat or barley, so that the fields are green. The harvest would not be until April or May. Jesus first points out to them what was obvious. It would be four months before harvest. But he then He points out to them what was not so obvious.

Verse 30 stated that the people from the city were on their way to meet Jesus. As they are coming, they make a sharp contrast in their white clothing to the green barley and wheat they were walking through. Jesus tells His disciples to look up and see what He saw. There was a harvest of people coming to them.

Jesus had sown the seed in the Samaritan woman who took it back to the men of the city. Now they were coming to Jesus and the fruit of eternal life would be gathered. Jesus was already receiving the wages of His work. The disciples had not done this work, but they would now be involved in reaping the harvest and they would rejoice together. Jesus was not only pointing out to them what they did not see themselves, but was inviting them to now join in the labor of reaping the harvest which is described in verses 39-42.

The Harvest – John 4:39-42

And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I [have] done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to Him, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His word; 42 and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”

These Samaritans demonstrated a faith that was lacking in the religious leaders in Jerusalem. Many of them were actively looking for the Messiah, and based on just the testimony of what the woman said about Jesus, they believed in Him. They persuaded Jesus to stay with them for two days, and what a glorious two days it must have been. Our text says nothing about what work Jesus did during that time. There is no record of a miracle. There is no recording of what He taught them though we presume that it included teaching them about Messiah and the kingdom to come, for we know Jesus had invited His disciples to join Him in gathering the harvest of souls for eternal life, and that was the result of the labors.

Many believed initially because of the testimony of the woman. Verse 41 states that even more came to believe when they heard Jesus with their own ears with verse 42 adding that hearing Jesus also confirmed those who had believed because of the woman’s testimony. What they believed is stated at the end of verse 42 – that this One, Jesus, is indeed the Savior of the world.

Pride blinded the religious leaders in Judea from recognizing that precious truth. They should have been looking for the Messiah, but even though Jesus did signs among them, they would not recognize Him as the Messiah. They certainly should have had a better understanding of the Hebrew prophecies, but the Samaritans demonstrated a stronger belief in them. They should have understood that Messiah would come to save sinners, but they restricted salvation to those that met the standards of conduct they themselves had set up. They should have know that Messiah would come to bring God’s grace to all people for the Jews were already supposed to be doing that, but they wanted a political Messiah that would restore Jewish power, prestige and dominance among the nations.

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Psalm 138:6; James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5, etc.). Jesus’ dealings with the Samaritans is a demonstration of that truth. The Samaritans were humble. They received the report of the woman and then came to Jesus themselves. They were filled with joy at finding that Jesus was the Messiah and understood that He is “the savior of the world.”

The same principle is still at work today. If you want to know Jesus Christ, then you need to be humble and come to Him and learn from Him. If you want to be used of God, then you need to be humble and obey what He says. If you are proud and resist, then you can be sure that God will also resist you. You may get what you are after, but it will not be Jesus Christ or the blessings of God.

Verse 43 tells us And after the two days He went forth from there into Galilee. The Samaritans were asking Jesus to stay with them (verse. 40). The sense here is that they kept asking Jesus, not that they just asked him once. Their persistence paid off and Jesus stayed with them for two wonderful days as they learned for themselves from Jesus’ own lips that He is indeed the savior of the world.

Jesus did not stay longer because he had to return to His primary ministry which was presenting the kingdom to Israel first. Yet, Jesus had compassion to minister to these people, just as He would with a syrophonecian in a time to come (Mark 7:26f). Jesus still extends the same compassion. No one is outside the realm of His grace and mercy regardless of background, heritage, or personal sin. This immoral Samaritan woman was an outcast, yet God’s grace was given to her and through her to a whole city of people who had a false understanding of God and therefore false worship of Him.

Perhaps you are like that woman at the well. You have a desire to worship God, but no understanding of how to properly do so. Or perhaps you are like one of the people from the city. You have heard about Jesus, but you have not yet met Him personally. The invitation is open to you to come meet the Savior of the world and gain everlasting life through belief in Him. Talk with myself or one of our leaders and we would be happy to show you from the Scriptures how you can have your sins forgiven and have everlasting life.

Or perhaps you are like one of the disciples. You w
ant to serve the Lord, but you do not yet see what is around you the way that God sees it. You see the obvious, the wheat and the barley, but you do not yet see the fields that are white unto a harvest for eternal life. Learn as the disciples did from Jesus. Ask Him to teach you that you may also see how God can and will use you as a laborer in His fields. It starts with a humble, searching heart that will ask, seek and knock. It will continue in your own study of the Scriptures that you may know God’s will in your life. It will culminate in a heart that has faith because its desire is like that of Jesus. Your food will be to do the will of the Father. The mundane things of this life will diminish in importance as you find greater and greater joy and satisfaction in serving God.

John 1:14 states, And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. Verse 17 adds, For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

Grace and truth came to a Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well. She responded and reaped its benefits. She told others, and they responded and reaped its benefits. Today, you have heard a message of grace and truth. What will your response be? Will you tell others?


Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Tell in your own words what Jesus meant “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me.” 2) Discuss with your parents what is important in your life.


Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is the setting for John 4:27-43? What “grace” did Jesus give to the woman at the well? What is the proper nature of the worship of God? Why? Why did the disciples marvel that Jesus spoke to the woman? What was the woman’s response when she found out Jesus was the Messiah? Why did she leave her water jar? How did the people of the city respond to what the woman told them? Why do you think they responded in this manner? Why were the disciples requesting Jesus to eat (vs. 31)? Why wasn’t Jesus interested in eating (vs. 32f)? Why do you think the disciples did not ask the woman or Jesus directly their questions (vs. 27 & 33)? What did Jesus mean by His statement in verse 34? What is your “food?” How serious are you about doing God’s will? What in your life demonstrates that? What needs to improve? Do you know God’s will? How can you know it? What was the harvest Jesus was talking about (vs. 35-38)? What “harvest” might there be around you that God would want you to reap? What was the Samaritans response to Jesus? What is yours response to Jesus?

Sermon Notes – 8/4/2013

Seeing Beyond the Physical – John 4:27-43


Proclaiming God’s word to others can bring great _________or frustration depending on how the response

Jesus’ ministry in Judea was increasing, but He left for Galilee to ___________ antagonizing the Pharisees

Jesus had to go through ___________ in order to keep a divine appointment with a woman by Jacob’s well

The Woman at the Well – John 4:1-26

The woman was surprised Jesus asked her for a drink since Jews would not _______a cup with a Samaritan

Jesus provoked her _______________ in order to bring up spiritual matters ( John 4:10-14)

Jesus brought up a subject that allowed Him to ___________reveal her sin and spiritual need (John 4:16-18)

Perceiving Jesus to be a prophet, she wanted to know the proper ___________ to worship (John 4:19-20)

John 4:21-24, Jesus explained the true ______________of worship

Worship ________be in spirit and in truth – proper inward motivations must produce proper outward actions

The woman was longing for the coming of ___________________, and Jesus revealed that it was He

Surprised Disciples – John 4:27

In God’s perfect timing, the disciples return and are surprised Jesus is talking with the ______________

Out of respect for Jesus, they _______________________Him or her any questions

The Witness of the Woman – John 4:28-30

The woman left her jug so that Jesus could _______, and then went back to Sychar to tell people about Jesus

She told them about _________________omniscience, then suggested to them that He was the Messiah

Her report about Jesus __________________ the people to go meet Jesus for themselves

A Lesson for the Disciples – John 4:31-34

The disciples are concerned that Jesus should ____________since He had been wearied before (vs. 31)

Jesus states He has food they did not know about – which ________________ them (vs. 32-33)

John 4:34 – Doing God’s will is more important than ______________ food (Job 23:12; Ps 19:7-10;)

The primary _______of life is fulfilling God’s will – Everything else is secondary (Deut. 8:3; Matt 4:4; 6:33)

God wants you to know and ____________ in His will – Colossians 1:9; 4:12

Knowing God’s will begins with learning what He has revealed in the _____________- Are you studying it?

Doing God’s will begins with __________to His word – do you value what God values or the world values?

God’s will is that you walk in __________________- Are you obeying His moral commands?

God has equipped you to serve Him – Is your life progressively becoming more God _______________?

Jesus’ food / purpose of life was to do the will of God – what is your ____________/ purpose of life?

Seeing the Harvest – John 4:35-38

They are in a valley with the fields green with wheat or barley that will be harvested in _______________

The ________________ coming from Sychar make a sharp contrast in their clothing to the green fields

What Jesus had sown was already bringing those ready to be _____________________

The Harvest – John 4:39-43

These Samaritans demonstrated a ____________that was lacking in the religious leaders in Jerusalem

Many believed because of the testimony of the woman, many more _______________when they heard Jesus

The Jewish religious leaders _______the Messiah they should have been looking for though He was present

If you want to know Jesus and be used of God, then you must be _________and come to Him and obey Him

Jesus stayed with them for ___________ days before continuing on His journey to Galilee (vs. 43)

Ask the Lord to show you were He wants you ________________ Him in His harvest

(If you would like to receive Pastor Harris’ weekly sermons via e-mail, Click Here)

Grace Bible Church Home Page || Sermon Archives

For comments, please e-mailĀ  Church office