1 July 2017

John 4:27-42

"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 Saviour of the world." (v. 42)

Psalm: Psalm 29


As we noted yesterday, the woman's conversation with Jesus is interrupted by the disciples returning with the shopping. She understandably scurries off as they bite their lips, wanting to express their disapproving shock that he's been talking with her. She leaves her water jar (Jesus has well and truly disrupted her routine for the day) and goes off to be an evangelist for Christ in the city. Rather like the disciples will be later, after Easter, she has lost her fear and has been emboldened by her encounter with Jesus.

There now follows a conversation between Jesus and his disciples of a type quite characteristic in John's Gospel. Sparked off by a perfectly normal remark, that he really ought to eat something, Jesus launches into a metaphorical discourse which probably baffled them. It's about food, the rather similar conversation with Nicodemus at the start of John 3 having been about water, the image of living water also figuring, of course, in the conversation with the woman. This is another aspect of Jesus's incarnational work: using very down-to-earth imagery to explore big, theological concepts.

But the woman's place in the drama isn't quite over yet. She was a successful evangelist and her hearers wanted to meet Jesus for themselves; like Thomas, they weren't content with a second-hand encounter with him. He responded by staying two days among them before continuing the journey home. They acknowledge him as the world's saviour, another key moment in the whole Gospel of John.

This story is not one of the 'signs' in John. We've already had the first, at the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11), and the remainder of chapter 4 is devoted to the second, the healing of an official's son. However, it is still a story of miracle; wherever God is encountered in Christ, miracles happen.

Psalm 29 is a dramatic presentation of God's power in creation, wonderfully set to music by Elgar (and, no doubt, other composers too). That power is exercised in word, the voice of God being the instrument of all the action in verses 3-9. It is clearly a continuation of God's creative word active from the start of creation, and made incarnate in Jesus the Christ, as the prologue to John's Gospel explains.

The hymn Take my life and let it be is a deeply personal prayer of commitment, and complements the universal relationship of God to the world explored in the psalm.

To Ponder

  • When did you last drop what you're doing and share good news (as the woman at the well did when she rushed into town minus her water jar)?
  • How do you think you would have coped with Jesus's evident flouting of convention?


Bible notes author

The Revd Alan Bolton

The Revd Alan Bolton is a Methodist minister serving in the Connexional Team with responsibility for the Church's complaints and discipline process. He is also a musician and was a member of the group producing new music resources for Methodist worship.