Lesson 19: John 4:16-30 – The Husband-Calling Contest Loser

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

You're listening to Lesson 19 from the sermon series "The Gospel of John" by Pastor Ricky Kurth. When you're done, explore more sermons from this series.



When the woman at the well didn’t understand the Lord’s reference to “living water,” He told her to call her husband (John 4:16) not to help her understand (ICor.14:35) but be-cause He knew she had none. He was trying to bring con-viction of sin on her. But why was having 5 husbands sin?

In I Corinthians 6:15-18, Paul references Genesis 2:24 to describe fornication because when you are intimate with someone you marry them. Men gain a wife, women gain a husband. But unless you get married, you do not have a legitimate husband, which is why the children of such unions are called illegitimate. The woman at the well had had 5 illegitimate husbands, and now had another.

When He knew her past, why did she think Him a “proph-et” (John 4:19 cf. Luke 7:36-39)? Because in Israel’s history, the prophet Elisha knew Gehazi was up to no good (IIKi.5 cf. 6:12) and so people knew prophets knew things about you. When the prophets in Corinth told unbelievers their secret sins, they worshipped God (ICor.14:23-25).

But the woman at the well couldn’t worship God, for she was confused as to where to worship (John 4:20). Her religion said Mt. Gerizim, the Lord’s faith said Mt. Zion. Mt. Gerizim was where Abraham built an altar (Gen.12:6, 7), and Jacob built an altar (33:18-20), and Israel became the people of God (Deut.27:12). Like a lot of people today, her religion had a lot of religious tradition behind it!

The controversy started when God predicted He’d pick a place for Israel to worship (Deut.12:10,11), and named it (IIChron.6:5,6). But since it is said that Samaritans didn’t accept anything but the Pentateuch, they didn’t accept Jerusalem as the place to worship. This division divided millions of people for 700 years—all because people didn’t accept the entire word of God!

What “hour” (John 4:21) would Jerusalem not be the right place to worship? Most commentaries say this is a prediction of our dispensation, for we don’t worship in Jerusalem. But our age is a mystery! It can’t be the millen-nium, for they’ll worship in Jerusalem then. It must be when Antichrist sits in the temple claiming to be God (IITh.2:4), for then the Jews must head for the hills (Mt.24: 15,16) and worship God away from Jerusalem. That “hour” was near, and would have come, if God had not interrupted prophecy with the mystery.

Salvation was of the Jews (John 4:22) when the Lord was on earth. If a Gentile wanted to be saved, he had to come to God through a Jew. Today salvation is of the Gentiles, and if a Jew wants to be saved, he must learn how from the apostle of the Gentiles (Rom.11:13).

But why does the Lord say “the hour cometh, and now is” (John 4:23)? Because when they flee from Antichrist, they won’t be able to worship in Jerusalem, they’ll have to wor-ship in the hills “in spirit and in truth,” and that’s how the Lord wanted them to worship now! But what’s that mean?

In Romans 2:28,29 we learn that to worship “in the spirit” means worship that is “of the heart,” not physical, like physical circumcision. And Philippians 1:18 defines “in truth” as the opposite of “in pretense,” which means to pretend. Jews were famous for pretending to worship God by just going through the motions of their religion. The Lord explains this wasn’t good enough (John 4:24).

How did the woman “know” Messiah was coming, and that He would be a prophet that could tell her “all things” (4:25)? Moses had predicted Him (Deut.18:15-18).

Leaving her waterpot (John 4:28) must be significant, else it wouldn’t be mentioned. Perhaps she left it for the Lord, knowing He had nothing with which to draw (4:11 cf. Gen. 12:3; Mt. 10:42). Maybe she was so excited to go tell others about Him she forgot it, or left it behind so it wouldn’t slow her down. Or maybe this symbolized how she no longer needed it, since the only other time waterpots are mentioned they are used for purification (John 2:6), and now that she was saved she was clean. She spoke to “the men” (4:28) because the women probably shunned her.

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