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John 4:31-54 Discussion Guide

Read: John 4

27 Just then his disciples arrived, and they were amazed that he was talking with a woman. Yet no one said, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

28 Then the woman left her water jar, went into town, and told the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They left the town and made their way to him.

31 In the meantime the disciples kept urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32 But he said, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.”

33 The disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him something to eat?”

34 “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work,” Jesus told them. 35 “Don’t you say, ‘There are still four more months, and then comes the harvest’? Listen to what I’m telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, because they are ready for harvest. 36 The reaper is already receiving pay and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. 37 For in this case the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap what you didn’t labor for; others have labored, and you have benefited from their labor.”

39 Now many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of what the woman said when she testified, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of what he said. 42 And they told the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, since we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world.”

43 After two days he left there for Galilee. 44 (Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 45 When they entered Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him because they had seen everything he did in Jerusalem during the festival. For they also had gone to the festival.

46 He went again to Cana of Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. There was a certain royal official whose son was ill at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea into Galilee, he went to him and pleaded with him to come down and heal his son, since he was about to die.

48 Jesus told him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”

49 “Sir,” the official said to him, “come down before my boy dies.”

50 “Go,” Jesus told him, “your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus said to him and departed.

51 While he was still going down, his servants met him saying that his boy was alive. 52 He asked them at what time he got better. “Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him,” they answered. 53 The father realized this was the very hour at which Jesus had told him, “Your son will live.” So, he himself believed, along with his whole household.

54 Now this was also the second sign Jesus performed after he came from Judea to Galilee.

Q1: Jesus said “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” The context for this statement is Deuteronomy 8. Read that chapter with the Lord’s words in mind.

Read: Deuteronomy 8

“Carefully follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase, and may enter and take possession of the land the Lord swore to your ancestors. Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these forty years in the wilderness, so that he might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then he gave you manna to eat, which you and your ancestors had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out, and your feet did not swell these forty years. Keep in mind that the Lord your God has been disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. So keep the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams, springs, and deep water sources, flowing in both valleys and hills; a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without shortage, where you will lack nothing; a land whose rocks are iron and from whose hills you will mine copper. 10 When you eat and are full, you will bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.

11 “Be careful that you don’t forget the Lord your God by failing to keep his commands, ordinances, and statutes that I am giving you today. 12 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, 13 and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, 14 be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. 15 He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. 16 He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. 17 You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ 18 but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. 19 If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods to serve them and bow in worship to them, I testify against you today that you will certainly perish. 20 Like the nations the Lord is about to destroy before you, you will perish if you do not obey the Lord your God.

Q2:  God let them go hungry, then provided food for them to eat. He miraculously provided clothing that lasted, physical health (their feet didn’t swell).  He led them through many dangers and brought them to a place of prosperity.  Why?  (Hint: It’s in verse 3 and Jesus gave the answer in John 4.)

*Living by “every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” means that we trust him. We take him at his word.  We do what he wants done.  God used their physical needs and his physical provision to point them to their greater need and his greater provision.

*Ultimately, Christ was that greater provision.

Q3: Why is God allowing hardship or providing blessings in your life?  Hint: Same answer as the last question.  God’s desire is that you know him and trust him and love him.  Literally everything else is secondary to that great end.  This often runs contrary to our own desires.  So, we dig our own wells, wells that cannot hold water.  How has God used hardship to show your need for him?  How has God used blessings to show you that he is your provider?

Read:  Philippians 4

 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. 12 I know how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me.

Q4: Paul learned the lesson of the Exodus and he learned to live like the Lord Jesus.  How was he able to be content in Christ whether in need or abundance?  Why is it often harder to be content in Christ in abundance than when we are in great need?

Q5: Each member of the group needs to answer one of these two questions. No one gets a pass on this. We are here to feed on God’s Word and to let it expose our hearts.  Be honest, it doesn’t matter whether you feel like answering this question or not, but answer it specifically and honestly.

*Ask the questions, then be quiet for a few minutes and let everyone think.

  1. “I am finding contentment in Christ in my abundance and/or in my need as evidenced by…what?
  2. “I am not finding contentment in Christ in my abundance and/or in my need as evidenced by…what?

(3). *It may be that we find ourselves in the middle of those questions.  “I am (sometimes) and I am not (sometimes) finding my contentment in Christ.” If so, then tell why you are living in this tension.

Q6: We should follow Christ because he is the Way, truth, and the life. We often, perhaps without even realizing it, follow him because we want him to fill the wells that we have dug for ourselves. This seems to be the case for the people from the Lord’s hometown. This didn’t seem to be the case for the Samaritans. How do you think this fact helps us understand why many fall away from the faith when they suffer or fail to get what they desperately wanted?

Read:  2 Corinthians 4

Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. 10 We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed in our body. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’s sake, so that Jesus’s life may also be displayed in our mortal flesh.

Q7:  There is balance in this passage. We are to be honest and admit it when we experience extraordinary stress and trouble, but this does not have to take us from Christ. It can (and it should) take us towards him. Talk about the balance we find in this passage.  (For instance: Trouble reveals that we are clay pots, but that revelation of our weakness reveals God’s power in our lives. What else?)

*Drinking deep from Christ’s living water doesn’t mean we will not suffer, it means that we will suffer in ways that make us more like Christ.