“I am the Messiah”
The Scripture reading for this study is John 4:7-30, 39-42
A very interesting meeting
In our Scripture reading for this week we find Jesus introducing himself to the Samaritan woman as the long expected Messiah
Answering the following questions should give you an insight into the background against which this meeting and conversation takes place.
1. Where did Jesus meet this woman – place and area? (vss. 5-7)
2. Where were the disciples according to verse 8?
3. There are two reasons why the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman would be frowned upon. What reason is given in verse 27?
4. What is the reason given in verse 9?
Addendum – Samaritans
The Samaritans are people from Jewish descent who intermarried with people from other nations. This happened after 722 BC when the Assyrians deported the people of the Northern Kingdom (Called Israel, with their capital city, Samaria). After deporting the Jews, the King of Assyria replaced them with people from Babylon, Cutah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim (cf. 2 Kings 17:24-41). As the people settled, they married Jewish people and became known as Samaritans. The people of the Southern Kingdom (Known as Judah, capital, Jerusalem) despised the fact that they married foreign people and this caused huge animosity. During the rebuilding of temple under Zerubbabel, the Samaritans wanted to help but they were rejected (cf. Ezra 4:2, 3). Therefore, they decided to build their own temple on Mt. Gerizim, this temple was destroyed by John Hyrcanus after the death of Antioch VII (128 BC) and never rebuilt.
This mountain was important because it was one of the mountains on which the Israelites renewed the covenant with the Lord after entering the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua (Joshua 8:30-35). This became another point of contention because the Jews believed that the only place where God could be worshipped was at the temple in Jerusalem. This was the greatest point of contention between the Jews and the Samaritans during the time of Jesus.
Another problem arose concerning the Scriptures. The Samaritans only accepted the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) as the word of God. The rest of the Old Testament (The Prophets and the Writings) was not a part of their Bible.
A teaching opportunity
The conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman reveals the reason for Jesus coming into this world. It also provides some insight into how he “lived” the message.
Answer the following statements by providing the Scripture verse that corresponds with each statement (start at verse 7. As you do this take note of where the conversation is going. Also, look for misunderstandings and how Jesus uses that to help her see who he really is.
1. Jesus connects to that with which the woman was busy.
2. The woman is surprised by the fact that he would talk to her (Why?).
3. Jesus implies that he has a spiritual message for her.
4. The woman only thinks of temporal things.
5. Jesus tries to relay his message in a more understandable way.
6. The woman again takes his words literally.
7. Jesus takes a new approach and points to that which is trying to hide from everyone. (Why would he do this?).
8. Again, the woman’s answer is elusive.
9. Jesus goes for the jugular.
10. The woman realises that “the man” has a message for her. She tries to steer the conversation in a different direction, away from her own life, to a more controversial religious conversation.
11. Jesus answers her question but shows her that worshipping God is not a question of who is right or wrong but a question of opening your heart and mind to God.
12. The woman professes her belief in the Messiah.
13. Jesus reveals that he is the Messiah.
The Hebrew word, Messiah, in the Old Testament is māsjīach, which means, “anointed”. It is derived from the Aramaic word mesjichā, which means, “the anointed one”.
· What is the Greek word for Messiah in the New Testament? (John 4:25)
In the Old Testament, when someone was anointed it meant that they were ordained or inducted into a specific office, to do a specific task. For instance when we read about the “anointed priest” in Leviticus (4:3,5,16; 6:22) it is an indication of the High priest (i.e. someone who served in a specific office). In the Old Testament, the king of Israel is called the anointed of the Lord (cf. Ps. 2:2). David in particular is seen as the anointed one, a man to God’s own heart, with a promise that the Messiah would come from his house (2 Sam 7). So being the anointed one created the expectation of one who could change things, who could make something new happen.
1. Was Jesus ever anointed for his ministry?
2. Where and when did this happen?
The Messiah at work
There are many promises in the Bible concerning the coming of the Messiah. Although the Jewish people made the mistake to only expect a king that would follow in the footsteps of David (remember 2 Sam 7), the Messiah would fulfill a threefold office.
1. He would be a Prophet that would speak God’s will to the people (i.e. be a witness).
2. He would be a King that would reign over all the world and break the authority of the evil one.
3. He would be the Priest who would bring the last and final sacrifice that would bring salvation to people in need (cf. Hebrews 10:11-18).
Read the following texts and decide to what office (of the Messiah) they refer. The Jewish people regarded these texts as promises referring to the Messiah.
In John 4 the focus is on one specific office of Jesus. Let’s see if we can find out which one.
1. Look at John 4:25 again and decide which one of the offices mention above the Samaritan woman had in mind when she spoke of the Messiah?
2. Of what office did Jesus’ behaviour remind her in John 4:19?
3. Does this office have any benefit for us?
A prophet is called
Our calling as believers is to be prophets for our time, speaking God’s word, living a godly life and professing our faith in Jesus the Messiah. After her meeting with Jesus, this woman’s life is totally changed and she becomes a prophet to her own people. Time to listen to her prophecy.
1. What did the woman say about Jesus when she got back to town (vss.29, 39)?
2. What was the initial reaction of the people (vs. 30)
3. What was their confession after getting to know Jesus (vs. 42)
4. After answering question 3, what does this teach us about faith and having a personal relationship with Jesus?
All of us
· Name at least three possible ways in which we can act as “prophets” (witnesses) for Jesus.
· What in your opinion is the greatest obstacle, preventing believers to openly witness about their relationship with Christ and the salvation that they found in Him?
· Who grants us the courage to be witnesses for Jesus?
Take time to pray, asking God to provide you with the courage to be a witness in every circumstance.