"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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DISCIPLESHIP - 102: SESSIONS 3 & 4



 Click on the link provided to buy your own copy of Josh McDowell’s book, GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR BIBLE).
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For the Bonus Materials that includes all the charts, lists and diagrams necessary for this study, plus examples of these filled out by students, click here.

SESSION THREE: MAKING OBSERVATIONS and ANSWERING The RIGHT QUESTIONS

In any sport, before you can enjoy the event, you have to know the rules of the game. Once that is understood, you know enough to enjoy the sport, having an understanding of how the game is played and appreciate what to look for among all the players of the sport.

The same can be said of Bible study – if you don’t learn ‘the rules of the game’ as it were, you will not understand what’s going on or what to look for among these 66 players (actually, the writers) of the Bible. The Word of God will become an obligation to read, instead of a thrilling exploration of the revelation of the LORD.

The crucial element to understanding is observation. Like the detective, trying to solve a murder mystery, before he can understand ‘whodunnit’ he must make careful, exact and thorough observations of the clues at the scene of the crime (The FBI uses training films to teach their agents the art of observation as well). 

The great detective Sherlock Holmes often told his companions who were amazed at his brilliant deductions, “You see, but you don’t observe!

Not knowing what to look for is only one deterrent to learning “to see it”. Another is not knowing how to look. Go to any art museum and you may well see two different sorts of people – those who stroll on by, glancing at paintings and sculpture; and others who will stop and gaze, and study and discuss the artwork at length.

What’s the difference between the two? The first group doesn’t know what to look for, or how to look; whereas the second group does. They know what mood, and lighting, and texture, and depth and color are all about in a painting; the first group does not.

Like miners digging for precious stones, gold and silver who use various tools in order to excavate, we will use six different tools – or words, to help us dig into the Word of God. These are Word-Questions we will ask ourselves as we read through chapters, paragraphs and verses:

1) Who? 2) What? 3) When? 4) Where? 5) Why? And 6) How? 

These are the same sort of questions that any journalist uses in researching and writing a newspaper story. Bear in mind, these questions can be asked in any order, not necessarily as you see them listed above.

They force one to penetrate the surface and dig out all the pertinent information available; these are the tools used for probing beneath the surface. For this reason, we can refer to these six Word-Questions as ‘surfacers’ because they bring information to the surface that may not be immediately obvious.

Let’s see how our surfacers will work for us in examining the Scripture; we’ll use JOHN 1:21 for an example:

JOHN 1:21
And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No
.

John the Baptist denied being the Messiah before the religious leaders, and so they ask him, Well, then, who are you?” That is the question you need to answer for your study! Who is John the Baptist? You can find answers to the surfacer, “Who?” in the next three verses, and elsewhere in Scripture.

The second surfacer is “What?” – What is the passage saying? What is happening? If people are mentioned in this passage, what did they do? What caused their action? The list of “What?” questions can become quite long.

The third surfacer is “When?” When did the event in the passage occur? Or if the passage is prophetic, when will it occur? Or even when can it occur? The “When?” question brings the dimension of time into play. It locates the event historically in the past or prophetically in the future. The “When?” question can help you relate one passage with another when their times coincide or when a prophetic passage in the Old Testament matches up with its fulfillment in the New Testament.

The fourth surfacer is “Where?” Where did the event described happen? Where is the character involved, going? Where will the prophetic fulfillment take place? Where do we see this event elsewhere in Scripture?

The fifth surfacer is “Why?” This helps us to delve into motivations and reasons. Why did he say that? Why did he go there? Why did he do that?

Finally, the sixth surfacer is “How?” How did the event of the passage happen? How could it happen? How will it happen (prophetically)? The question of how involves process. How was the wall of Jerusalem built in Nehemiah’s day? How was Jesus crucified? Or Peter? 

How did Jesus heal the blind man in JOHN 9? How did He heal other blind men in Scripture? The How question can uncover more than just factual information. You can use it to explore the emotion of the passage. How do circumstances affect the attitude of the Bible character? How would you feel if you were the blind man of JOHN 9, and Jesus healed you?

Ask all of these six questions in every verse of the chapter you are studying but be aware not all six surfacers will have an applicable answer in every verse.

These surfacers will help us to dig out the information from the Scriptures, and we will compile the answers we get from these six questions in an OBSERVATION CHART (refer to hand out). We can look at some examples of this process on a sample chart (pg 10).

COLUMN ONE: Scripture
Here you will write the Scripture reference and the entire verse.

COLUMN TWO: Observations
The center column is where you enter all your observations as you answer the six ‘surfacer’ questions, along with any spontaneous observations you might see. This column represents the end-result of your observation of the Scripture text.

COLUMN THREE: Questions
Now that we have information recorded in the Observation column, using any of the surfacers, we can begin asking questions about that information. Let’s see how this works out by using JOHN 3:1-2a as a model:

1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2 The same came to Jesus by night

Word-Question 1: “Who?”

In the Observation Column write “Who” and put a box around it, or highlight it, or underline it. The answers will go in the Observation Column, under “Who”.
Using this first surfacer, we read the passage again and start asking questions about it: “Who was Nicodemus?” “Who were the Pharisees?” “Who were the Jewish rulers?” and record this in the Questions column. Now take the first question (“Who was Nicodemus?”) and spend a few minutes to see how many observations you can make:

In the Observation column you will record the answers to what you have written in the Questions Column: “Who was Nicodemus?” according to what we read in these verses:

1) He was a man. 2) He was a Pharisee. 3) He was a ruler. 4) He was a Jew. – we get these four facts all from verse 1. These surfacers will allow you to focus on the details of each verse, instead of breezing past them, and cause you to really think about the facts that they uncover.

And these answers will lead you to more questions, like “What is a Pharisee?” “How did one become a Pharisee?” “How did one qualify?” “What did a Pharisee do?” “Where did Pharisees come from?” “What education was necessary to become a Pharisee?” 

And then the other facts regarding this verse: “What is a Jew?” “What does a ruler mean here?” These aren’t all “Who” questions, but that’s OK – write them down in your Questions column anyway, because we want to answer all of ones that are most important in the Observations column (you can decide later which questions you want to get answers to).

Word-Question 2: “When?” (Write this down in your Observation Column)

JOHN 3:2
The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him
.

In the Observation column write “When” and box it (or highlight or underline) – then in the Question Column you ask, “When did this happen?” and record your answer in the Observation column under the “When” box – the answer is “at night”. And this will lead to other questions, especially:

Word-Question 3: “Why?” Write “Why” in the Observation column, box it – and then in the Questions Column you ask:

Why did Nicodemus come to Jesus by night?

And you record your answer in the Observation Column. Put your imagination to work here and place yourself in Nicodemus’ situation. Why come at night instead of broad daylight? Maybe he didn’t want anyone to see him, a respected religious leader, talking to someone like Jesus, out of a sense of pride? Perhaps he was too busy to see Jesus during his day time schedule? Maybe he wanted to opportunity to discuss things with Jesus without interruption or distraction? Perhaps it was too hot to be out and about during the day, so he decided to visit Jesus in the cool of the evening?

Why Did Nicodemus Come to See Jesus After Dark Chart:

I. So no one would see him
           A) Because of fear of:
                        1. of the Pharisees
                        2. of the rulers
                        3. of the Jews
                        4. of the teachers
          B) Because of pride
                         1. Protect his teaching     reputation
                         2. Jesus, an unauthorized upstart
II. Too busy in the day time
III. Wanted to talk alone

By exploring these possibilities and motivations, we are getting inside the passage and feelings its impact. Now that we see a little how this process works, we will proceed in asking these other questions, like: 

Word-Question 4: “What?”

Do you see anything in this sample passage that we can apply this question to? Such as What is a Pharisee? What was a Pharisee’s job? What was the relationship between a Pharisee and a ruler? What was Jew? What was a ruler? 

These types of questions won’t require you to guess at a person’s motives, like “Why did Nicodemus visit Jesus by night?” These other types of questions have definite answers that you may (or may not) choose to explore, even if you provide a simple, brief answer. 

Some answers might require you to go outside of the Bible to find the answers – and again, a good Bible encyclopedia will be very helpful if you choose to explore these things; otherwise, you can just Google them and find out that way!

And remember, these questions will be recorded in your Questions column, and you can list whatever answers you find under the Observations column (and write extended notes on a separate piece of paper if you have lots of notes).

Word-Question 5: "How?"

Here are some questions we can ask after reading our text from JOHN 3:2:

“How did Nicodemus know of Jesus? How did he know where to find Him? How did one become a Pharisee? Some ‘how’ questions may be a guess, others with definite answers to be found. Remember, not every one of these surfacers – or Word-Questions may have an answer in each and every verse.

Word-Question 6: "Where?"

Here’s an example of a question that doesn’t have an answer – we are not provided with any answers at all as to where this takes place. The question of “where” may be answered in a later verse, so just keep this in mind as you proceed.

This process of asking all of these questions on each and every verse may seem tedious, and take too long – you might get impatient and want to ‘get on with it’ but just remember that these are small steps that will lead to a greater and deeper understanding of the Bible, each of its 66 books, its chapters and verses. The manner of extracting information in these charts allows you to spend 15 minutes or 15 hours, depending on how much time you have available to you – it’s very flexible!

DIGGING DEEPER: Probing Beneath The Surface

Questions are vital if we are to get answers; and so in this session we are going to ask: MORE QUESTIONS!!

In the last section we asked the six primary surfacer ‘Word-Questions’; this time we are going to ask relationship questions – 12 Relationship Questions – which will add another dimension to our knowledge by examining how terms, people, places or ideas in one passage of Scripture interconnect with each other and with other passages. Everything that we discover from asking these questions will also go in the Observation column on your chart.

Here are the TWELVE RELATIONSHIP Questions:

1) What things are alike or similar
2) What things are different?
3) What things are repeated?
4) What evidence of cause and effect do you see?
5) What movement from the general to the specific do you see?
6) What progressions are evident?
7) What questions or answers are given?
8) What problem and solution are presented?
9) In what way might the length of the passage be significant?
10) What relationship words are used?
11) What commands do you see?
12) What promises do you see?

Let’s go over these questions one by one to see how you can use them as digging tools to uncover knowledge of the Scripture:

1. What things are alike or similar?
This question is designed to help look for comparisons found in the Scripture. Remember, the reason people don’t see things in Scripture is because they don’t know what to look for. These questions will help isolate things that should be looked for.
Let’s look at two chapters in the Gospel of JOHN and find out what things are alike or similar between them; we will compare chapter 3 with chapter 4. What things in these two encounters that Jesus had with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman are similar?
In both chapters Jesus had the opportunity to witness to these people; here are some similarities:

·         Both encounters were one on one.
·         Both involved people interested in religion.
·         In both cases Christ guided the conversation to spiritual things.
·         In both cases Christ focused on key issues.
·         Christ refused to get side-tracked into secondary issues.

These similarities demonstrate Christ’s single-mindedness in giving the people He encountered exactly what they needed to know to come to Him. It also shows that regardless of differences in station or background in their lives, the essential needs of all people are the same – they all need Christ! Take all your observations of ‘things similar’ and place them in the Observation column.

2. What things are different?
With this question, naturally, you are going to do the opposite of what the first question asked. Here you will look not for similarities but contrasts and again, we can use the same two chapters of JOHN 3 and 4:

               DIFFERENCES BETWEEN NICODEMUS and the SAMARITAN WOMAN
JOHN Chapter 3 - Nicodemus
JOHN Chapter 4 – The Samaritan Woman
A man
A woman
A Jew
A Samaritan
Socially esteemed
A Social outcast
Comes by night
Comes by day
Still questioning
Comes to faith
Judaic religion
Samaritan religion
Religious Leader
Religious pagan
Ashamed (?)
Bold

By outlining it just this way, some of these contrasts might be surprising. Note how these contrasts make these two chapters parallel to each other. It helps us to understand how John (and really the Holy Spirit) arranged these two events to be next to each other in this Gospel account. Nicodemus was highly revered and respected as a religious leader; the Samaritan woman (we don’t even know her name!) was an adulterous social outcast. Yet Christ ignores all the differences and treats them both equally, showing great interest in them and leading them into a greater understanding of the truth.

3. What things are repeated?
There are phrases and key words that are repeated over and over in Scripture: for example, Jesus often says, “I say unto you” or “Verily, I say unto you” or even, “Verily, verily I say unto you”. This repetition indicates that Jesus was interested in overcoming people’s doubts with the truth – watch for repetition of words in your study: they will indicate what the writer is trying to convey to the reader.

Another example is Paul’s use of the phrase “in Christ” in the book of Ephesians; he uses this phrase eleven times to show how we the church have our very spiritual lives invested completely in the Person of Christ, and how without Him, we have no hope whatsoever.


SESSION FOUR: DIGGING DEEPER: Probing Beneath The Surface - Cont’d

(Briefly review the first 3 relationship questions in the previous session)

4. What evidence of cause and effect do you see?
Cause and effect means that one thing leads to another. Sometimes passages containing cause and effect won’t jump out at you, but certain words will give you a clue that this is happening – words that link cause to effect, like: because, for, therefore (wherefore), since, if and others.

Consider JOHN 10:17
Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again
.

The effect is that the Father loves the Son; the cause is that because the Son loves so much that He sacrifices His life. What we learn is that the sacrificial love that Christ has for us, endears Him to the Father. Cause and effect show relationship that enhance our understanding of Scripture.

The word “therefore” occurs 27 times in the book of Romans alone! Let’s look at this passage:

ROMANS 3:20
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin
.

Paul makes the conclusion that by the deeds of the Law, no one will ever be justified before God. How did he come to that conclusion? Read the chapters and verses prior to verse 20: there you will read Paul’s air-tight argument that neither the religious Jew or the moral pagan are righteous before God on their own, and he sums it up at the “therefore”.

Because all of mankind is unrighteous in thought and word, then no one will be justified by the Law.

5. What movement from the general to the specific do you see?
This kind of movement often happens in Scripture; for example:

JOHN 1:10-11
10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

He came into the very world that He created and was not recognized; He then came to His own people – the Jews – and even they didn’t recognize Him, but actually rejected Him! The general observation was that the entire world didn’t know Who He was; and the specific observation dealt with His own people failing to do so – the very ones who had the Scriptures that described Who the Messiah would be, what He would do, etc. 

And yet we come to learn much later on is that while so many in the Gentile world did come to know Him, still, His own people refused to accept Him.

6. What progressions are evident?
Look for an idea or an event that is building up, developing or unfolding. Often the progression will climax with a specific act or idea. For example, the entire book of John shows such a progression. Jesus’ public ministry began slowly and moved with increasing visibility and conflict until it climaxed in His triumphal entry into Jerusalem which initiated the passion week, resulting in His crucifixion. 

What we examined previously in JOHN 4 shows a progression as well. First Jesus goes through Samaria, then Sychar at the ancient well of Jacob. He then meets a woman drawing water, and enters into a conversation with her, and this leads to her being confronting her sin and then her conversion. She then tells all of her friends, who all come out to see Jesus and soon all of Sychar is converted! 

Another progression we see is this woman’s perception of Jesus: first He is a man, then she identifies Him as a Jew, but later as a prophet, and ultimately as the Messiah.

7. What questions or answers are given?
Questions and answers often carry arguments that result in teaching important biblical principles. Questions force us to think, examine issues and stay on target. Questions can be rhetorical – though posed as a question, they point to the obvious answer. OR they can be used to search for answers that are unknown like Nicodemus asked of the LORD regarding “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” (JOHN 3:4). The question allows the LORD to answer, clarifying the difference between physical birth and spiritual birth.
Another example is:

ROMANS 10:13-15
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

8. What problem and solution are presented?
Problems and their solutions are often important insights into the meaning of Scripture, such as that found in:

JOHN 2:1-3:
And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.
3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

Mary presents this problem to her Son and in vs. 6-10 we read about the solution that the LORD provided. This was documented as the first miraculous sign in Cana of Galilee, and resulted in people expressing faith in Him.

9. Is the length of the passage significant?
A major global event will often take up the entire front page of any given newspaper; a bank manager speaking at the community Rotary Club however will probably only get a paragraph on page 5. The importance of the story will determine the amount of news coverage. It is the same with the Bible:

How much of Scripture addresses God’s act of creation? Creation is an important biblical subject and so it has several chapters throughout the Bible. Yet, how important is God’s act of redemption? This is the highest and most important of biblical subjects and so there are entire books of the Bible, whose theme centers around the theme of redemption.

From JOHN 1:29 to 12:50 covers the three-year ministry of the LORD Jesus; Then in Chapter 13 to 21, Jesus and the Last Supper and his arrest, trial, death, resurrection and post-resurrection events – that take up a few days – occupies the rest of the Gospel account (eight chapters worth). It’s obvious that the Holy Spirit through the apostle John wanted the emphasis on these latter events!

10. What relationship words are used?
Relationship words are ‘connectors’ which connect certain words to other words and provide a particular point that the author is making. Such connectors are: but, since, and, if, therefore and other words as well (there could also be two or three words used together as a connector). These words can also deal with cause and effect, which we talked about previously – but connectors generally will show relationships between one event and another, or one idea with another. Here is an example:

EPHESIANS 2:3-5
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved;),

In verse 3 we read that we were in our former life, driven by the lusts of our flesh and were children under God’s wrath. Then there is the connector “but” in vs. 4 and this is an important word because it shows a contrast. Even though we were motivated by our sinful nature and under the wrath of God, GOD was rich in mercy and had love for us and even though we were dead spiritually, gave us eternal life through His grace in Christ Jesus!
Identify the connector words in the following passages:


JOHN 7:7 
The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.

2 COR 5:19-20
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

ROM 8:7-9
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
11. What commands do you see?

Could you identify any words as connectors in the above three verses?
In the reference from JOHN, the word "because" is the connector - Jesus tells us that the world cannot hate us (for ourselves, without Christ in us) BUT it hates Him - why? "because" He testifies against the evil works the world does.
In the reference from 2 CORINTHIANS the connector is "Now then" and in ROMANS the connector word is "so then". Can you understand why?

11) What commands do you see?
Always be alert for commands in the Bible because they are important: they apply to us today as much as to the people back then.

12. What promises do you see?
Be alert for any of God’s promises and consider any conditions that may be attached to them (not all of them have conditions however). While commands are important for practical reasons, promises are important because they are inspirational and give us hope!

HOMEWORK:
Make observations from JOHN 2 on your chart using the twelve relationship questions discussed in this session.

SEE HOW IT WORKS: Stepping Through the Process

Let’s do another exercise that will include a study of JOHN 4; we will ask “who” of the one this chapter focuses on, and go from there. This chapter of course involves the Samaritan woman and we will see how much we can learn about her by asking ‘surfacer questions’ and related examinations.

Who is the Samaritan woman?
1) She was a Samaritan (vs. 9)
2) She was sensitive to the Jewish-Samaritan racial issue (vs. 9)
3) She was a nationalist – proud of her heritage (vs. 12)
4) She did not like to draw water (vs. 15)
5) She was a prostitute or an adulteress (vs. 18)
6) She was a religious formalist – she thought that there was only one way to worship (vs. 20)
7) She was hungry to know the Messiah (vs. 25, 28-29).

Now let’s take the next step and ask the first two relationship questions about these two, the Samaritan woman and the LORD Jesus: “What things are alike or similar?

1) Both were physically thirsty
2) They had a common heritage in Jacob (vs. 12)
3) They had an interest in spiritual things (vs. 19-28)
4) They had an obvious interest in speaking with each other.

All of the information that we gather from these questions will go into the Observation column with the rest of any information we dig up. During the surfacer and other questions the kind of information you will gain will cover a wide area; everything from: 

Jesus speaking with common people such as this Samaritan woman. How He loved everyone He encountered. His humanity gave Him the same needs that we all have: the need for water, for rest, for food.

Another relationship questionWhat things are different?
We saw a contrast between Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman previously – let’s compare her with the LORD Jesus now:

                   BETWEEN The SAMARITAN WOMAN and the LORD JESUS
DIFFERENCES OBSERVED
Woman
Jesus
Adulteress
Son of God, rabbi
Woman
Man
Samaritan
Jew
Samaritan religion
Judaism
From Samaria
From Judea

Remember the three major steps of Bible study? Observational (See it, what does the text say); Interpretational (Know it; what does the text mean); Applicational (Do it; how does the text fit into my life). 

In the interpretation step you will ask of these differences between Jesus and the Samaritan woman: 

“What do they mean? How do they affect relationship and communication? Do the create barriers or are they insignificant?” To uncover these answers, ask the “What?” question – 

“What barrier would this difference create between Jesus and the Samaritan woman?”

Simple observation of the text will not give you all the answers you need. External research will be necessary in answering these questions. Gleaning from resources will not be observation only, but also interpretation, because they will go beyond what is stated in the text and get into exploring the meaning of the text.

While exploring the contracts between Jesus and the woman, you need to do one of two things: either move temporarily into the interpretation step while the subject is on your mind OR record your interpretational questions as they occur to you so you can answer them when you do move into the interpretation step.

Obviously Jesus was very effective in breaking through the barriers that separated Him from the Samaritian woman. Therefore the “How?” question pops up. How did He do that?

He ignored boundaries and prejudices – the Jews would never walk through Samaria, because of their mutual hatred for each other. 

But Jesus did! 

He ignored the traditions of not talking with a ‘sinner’, a Samaritan and a woman. Jesus, Who could have called water out of the very air with a spoken Word, instead asked this Samaritan woman for a favor and give Him a drink of water. This no doubt lowered her defenses as Jesus places Himself in the inferior position of someone in need. 

Since most people feel good about helping others in need, this lowered her defenses further. The very fact that He would even address her, was probably something that disarmed her: she would have normally never been addressed by a Jew, and she probably wasn’t addressed by her own people, living in sin the way that she was! 

Yet Jesus did address her!

In recording your observations on how Jesus broke through these barriers you could write: “He ignored traditions” and “He asked a favor”.

Another relationship question that should be asked about this text: “What progressions are seen here?

First, Jesus offered the Samaritan woman something desirable (vs. 10, 13-14). What was it that she longed for? She would love to have a source of water in her house to eliminate the daily walk to the well in the hot sun, where she no doubt also endured the scorn of the other women. 

Jesus offered her such water that she would never thirst again. While she wanted this water, she didn’t understand the spiritual nature of the offer.

Second, Jesus told the woman why she could not have the water He offered. Her sin stood in the way. He had to expose her sin so that she would acknowledge it and repent – but He did this in a very humble, gentle way (not thundering down God’s wrath on her horrible sin!!):

He simply asked her to go get her husband, and when she denied she had any husband, the LORD emphatically agrees with her and furthermore says, “You have had five of them, and the one you’re with now isn’t even your husband!”

Note how this moved the conversation from being about water to this woman’s deep spiritual problem and need. It was then that she realized this was no ordinary Jew, but a prophet as well!

She attempts to deflect the attention from off of her sin, and get into a religious debate – where is the correct place to worship? Jerusalem or Mt. Gerazim (vs. 19-20).
Jesus doesn’t get into the debate – rather uses her words to introduce the concept that God is not dependent on any location to receive worship – and showed her not to get caught up on locations but a proper attitude of heart and life – “in spirit and in truth” (vs. 21-24).

So He progressed from talk about water, to her spiritual need for repentance, to getting one’s heart right before God and to know Him.

She then resigned herself to not knowing what is true, but that she would have to wait until the Messiah came and revealed the truth about such mysteries – and that is when the LORD delivered the ultimate declaration: that He Himself IS the Messiah.

So for a progression that we see here in JOHN 4, we can say the following:

1) Jesus offers her something desirable
2) He tells her why she cannot have it.
3) He tells her what God requires.
4) He challenges her to believe.

Three more relationship questions that we will ask: 1) What evidence of cause and effect do you see? 2) What movement from the general to the specific do you see? 3) What questions or answers are given?

1) What evidence of cause and effect do you see?

In verse 28 it says that when she learned that Jesus was the Messiah, she ran off to go tell others – and forgot about her water jug (a precious item in those days), and apparently forgot all about her need for water! She was excited and in a hurry to share this good news!

Not only did her learning that Jesus was the Messiah cause her to forget her water jug – which was the effect; the effect of leaving the jug behind and rushing off into town had another effect: her testimony of Jesus to her neighbors and people of Sychar.

2) What movement from the general to the specific do you see?

When this conversation first began, it was all about water. Yet the LORD uses water as a metaphor with spiritual meaning to it. He then spoke of her own spiritual condition, worship,  and then the Father (vs. 23) and from the Father, He addressed the subject of the Messiah (Himself; vs. 26). So you see the progression – from water, to her sin, to the idea of worship and Father, and the Messiah.

3) What questions or answers are given?

In vs. 35 Jesus spoke of how there are “four months between planting and harvest, but look around and see: the fields are already ripe for harvest!” Something like this will bring up surfacer questions like, “Who is Jesus talking to here?” (answer: the disciples, vs. 31); and “What did He mean by it?” (answer: metaphor of harvesting crops with winning souls; vs. 38).

Also, when the LORD sent the disciples away to go to the village to buy food, the conversation with the Samaritan woman takes place. At its conclusion the disciples return and offer Him some of the food that they bought, but He tells them that “I have a kind of food that you know nothing about.” 

They thought He was speaking of physical food, just as the Samaritan woman thought He was speaking of physical water; but the LORD raised their minds to a higher goal than just “doing lunch” and about the mission that He came to Earth for: the saving of souls – like the Samaritan woman and the people of the village of Sychar!


HOMEWORK: On the observations you have already made from JOHN 2 using the relationship questions, write down questions that are interpretive: questions that will require further investigation later on.

Coming up next, SESSIONS FIVE and SIX in this ongoing series on HOW To STUDY The BIBLE! (as of 10.19.17)
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