Back

LESSON 9 - THE MANTLE OF HEALING (JOHN 4:1-26)

Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to
the NIV unless otherwise noted. Suggested answers are found within
parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard.

INTRODUCTION: Is "healing" part of the gospel? When we talk about
spreading the gospel, does that mean we should also be healing?  Is
it possible for us to heal?  What, exactly, does it mean to "heal?"
We will look for the answers to these questions in a Bible story
which is not about a physical healing!  Let's jump in!

I. THE MISSION

     A. Read John 4:1-4.  Why did Jesus go to Galilee? (The 
     Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining more disciples than
     John.)

          1. Whatever our job, don't we like to be "number 1," "top
          dog?" If you were an evangelist and you baptized more
          than the "other guys," wouldn't it be logical for you
          stay and make the others move? Why would Jesus' success
          cause Him to move?(You remember that in our study of
          Jesus' healing He often instructs the person He just
          healed not to tell anyone. (See, eg. Luke 5:14; Luke
          8:56) Jesus did not want to arouse any more opposition
          from the Jewish leaders than necessary. Since He was
          getting a "reputation" around Judea, He decided to move
          to Galilee.)

               a. Is there a lesson in this for us in our work of
               advancing the gospel? 

                    (1) What is it? (If you know that something is
                    going to cause trouble, and it is not a matter
                    of principle, then avoid creating a
                    controversy.)

     B. Verse 4 tells us that Jesus and His disciples "had to go
     through Samaria."  Anyone know about the geography here?  If
     your Bible has a map of Palestine during Jesus' time, take a
     look at it. Did they really have to "go through Samaria?"
     (Judea was south, Galilee was north, and Samaria was between.)

          1. If they had gone east and crossed the Jordan river,
          would they have had to go through Samaria? (They could
          have easily bypassed Samaria. Barclay, in his book The
          Gospel of John (p.147), tells us that if you went through
          Samaria it was a three day trip. If you bypassed Samaria
          it was a six day trip. However, time was not the only
          consideration. The Jews and the Samaritans did not get
          along. Josephus, in his book Jewish Antiquities, page 273
          (Maier,ed., condensed), tells a story about Galileans
          travelling through Samaria to worship at Jerusalem (about
          A.D. 44) and being attacked and killed by Samaritans. So,
          as you were traveling along, you did not find only "good
          Samaritans!")

          2. So what does v.4 mean when it says Jesus "had to go
          through Samaria?"  I wouldn't "have" to go through a
          place where the people do not like me and might decide to
          kill me? (Since it is obvious that Jesus could not
          possibly have been talking about geography, He must have
          been talking about mission: He had to share the gospel
          with the Samaritans.)

II. THE SAMARITAN WOMAN AT THE WELL

     A. Let's go on. Read John 4:5-9.  The "sixth hour" is noon. It
     is hot and Jesus is tired so He sits down by a famous well. A
     Samaritan woman comes by and He asks her for a drink.

          1. Does she just give it to Him? (No. She has to talk 
          about it.)

          2. Could Jesus have gotten His own drink? (No. Barclay
          says the well is more than 100 feet deep.)

          3. So what is the woman's point with Jesus? Why does she
          seem to object to His simple request? (The gap between
          this Jew and this Samaritan was so great that it was
          shocking to her to have a Jew ask for something He was
          helpless to do by himself.)

               a. What made the gap so great between Jesus and this
               woman? (First, she was a woman, which would be one
               strike against her in that culture. Second, she was
               a Samaritan, which was another strike if you were a
               Jew.)

               b. Can you imagine a group that was so "low" you 
               could not even ask a favor of them without creating
               a shock?

     B. Let me share a problem with you that is not obvious from
     the text. Merrill Tenney in his book John, The Gospel of
     Belief, points out (p.92) that noon was not the customary hour
     for woman to go to the well. Barclay points out (p. 148) that
     the well was half a mile from the town, and there was water in
     the town!

          1. So what do you think is going on here?  Why is this
          woman coming to get water at an unusual time and an
          unusual place?

               a. What you be doing if you bought your groceries at
               midnight at a store that was outside your
               neighborhood? (She apparently did not want to run
               into anyone she knew!)

               b. Why? (If people do not like you, or think poorly
               of you, or are apt to harass you, you want to avoid
               them, right? Vernon Magee, in 4 Through the Bible
               389, has a colorful way of describing the woman's
               situation: "This woman is obviously a dissolute
               woman. I think she is probably as common as pig
               tracks. She is rude and immoral. Today we would
               call her a hussy ....")

III. THE APPROACH

     A. We all have come across women (and men) who are like this.
     They know you are not "their kind of people," they do not
     really like you, think you are a "stuck up" Christian.  In
     fact they do not really get along with anyone.  As a result
     they do not seem to care about anything or anyone and are
     shockingly rude.

          1. Your assignment, should you decide to accept it (hum
          "Mission: Impossible" music), is to convert this rude
          dog. How do you do it?  What is the first step?

     B. Let's read on: John 4:10-14.  Describe the steps you see
     that Jesus took with this woman? (First, He got her attention
     in a way that would not excite her normal prejudices (by
     asking for a drink).  Second, He offered her a gift that she
     did not understand ("one time only water"). He kept her
     attention (and engaged her in conversation) because she
     thought that something was in this for her, but she did not
     understand how to "get it.")

     C. Read vv. 15-18. Now what steps is Jesus taking? (He has 
     gone to the supernatural. He is showing that He has access to
     power that is beyond the human. He tells her about her life.)

     D. Read v. 19. (We will not read vv. 20-26 in which Jesus 
     tells her He is the Messiah.) So much for that lesson, right?
     No way we can follow the pattern Jesus has laid out, right? 
     Or wrong? (Let's review just a minute the whole course of this
     story. Jesus' first step was to determine to follow the will
     of His Father by going to Samaria to share the gospel even
     though this was culturally distasteful and possibly dangerous.
     Second, He is not put off by rudeness.  He is not looking to
     convert only those who are as close (in terms of social
     status) to Him as possible.  Third, He takes a self-effacing
     approach that will not excite existing cultural prejudices.
     Fourth, He give "credibility" to His "gospel" talk by using
     supernatural power.)

          1. Somebody read for us Matthew 10:5-8.  What is Jesus'
          formula to His disciples for spreading the gospel? 

               a. What part does healing the sick, driving out 
               demons and raising the dead play in this? (It is
               the "supernatural element."  This is precisely the
               same master plan as Jesus used on the Samaritan
               woman, except it does not have the added dimension
               of a racial/cultural problem.)

          2. As you review in your mind our lessons this quarter,
          is it fair to say that we have always looked at healing
          as an adjunct to spreading the gospel? (Yes! Jesus seemed
          to use healing for two reasons: First (as we discussed
          last week in Luke 7:16), "God has come to help His
          people."  Jesus had compassion on us. But He also healed
          to show us who He was and to draw our attention to His
          message.)

     E. So, let me ask you. Is the supernatural available to us to
     spread the gospel?  Is it an essential element in spreading
     the gospel?  Are we greatly weakened in our attempt to spread
     the gospel by not being able to play the supernatural "card?"

          1. Our lesson this week tells us that we can "heal" and
          thus promote the gospel by visiting the sick (Tuesday's
          lesson), listening to others troubles (Wednesday's
          lesson), praying with them and teaching them a healthier
          way of life (Thursday's lesson). Significantly absent is
          the supernatural approach.  The teacher's helps explains
          that miracles are not possible today for us because Satan
          will K!! our miracles and confuse people.  In case the
          reader is uncertain about this, an italicized note is
          added to highlight the assertion for today and points out
          the dangers of "spiritual healers."

               a. You may have noticed that our lessons were 
               written by the staff of the Florida Hospital. As a
               litigator, I know that a person's perspective on
               life is formed by the person's background. 

                    (1) Is it true that kind and loving medical 
                    care provides an opportunity to promote the
                    gospel? (Yes.)

                    (2) Would a medical care provider be more 
                    likely to see the value of kind medical care
                    in promoting the gospel? (Yes.)

                    (3) Is a medical care provider a "reliable 
                    witness" in saying that the age of
                    supernatural medical miracles is over? 
                    
     F. Considering a person's bias is only a single (and sometimes
     small) factor in evaluating the truth of what they say. Let's
     take head on this argument that the possibility that Satan can
     counterfeit a medical miracle means that the age of
     supernatural medical miracles as a means of promoting the
     gospel is over.

          1. Did Jesus ever comment upon this argument? (Read 
          Matthew 12:22-28.)

               a. What is Jesus response to this argument?

               b. Is the logic that Jesus used then still valid?
               Has anything changed with the passage of time?

          2. Is this problem of Satan counterfeiting supernatural
          signs age-specific? (Consider Exodus 7:9-12; Exodus 7:22;
          Exodus 8:7; 1 Samuel 28:7-14; Matthew 7: 22; Matthew
          24:24; Acts 8: 9-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation
          13:12-14; Revelation 16:14; Revelation 19:20)

     G. So what do you say? Has the age of miracles past?  Should
     we know that "spiritual healers" are operating from the power
     of Satan? (I believe Jesus forever crushed that argument in
     Matthew 12.)

          1. Does Satan perform "miracles?" (The string of texts
          I asked you to consider above, starting with Exodus,
          shows that he does perform counterfeits and will continue
          until the end of the world.)

          2. So how do you know what is God's power and what is the
          Satan's power? (Read 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.  Friend, we
          are only safe as we read God's word and get to know God.
          If you do not know God, and love the philosophy of the
          world, you will believe the false miracles.  As Jesus
          said in Matthew 12, Satan does not oppose himself.  The
          false miracles will be consistent with his philosophy
          that opposes the law of God.)

     H. So, let me ask you the questions that we started out with
     in the introduction: 
     
          1. Is "healing" part of the gospel? 

          2. When we talk about spreading the gospel, does that 
          mean we should also be healing?  Is it possible for us to
          heal?  

          3. What exactly does it mean to "heal?" (I think we need
          to pray for the supernatural. I think it is possible for
          us to heal. And I think that healing not only means
          aiding and helping the sick, it means "no fooling around,
          real, live miracles!"

IV. NEXT WEEK: HEALERS IN NEED OF HEALING. Study!