John 4:16-26 Changing the Subject

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

Changing the Subject

The Samaritan women gets pressed about her own condition and she doesn’t want to go there.  It is possible to see her changing the conversation in order to defend herself.  The point might be that if the leadership of Israel and Samaria argue over where people should worship, how can anyone have authority to tell her what she should be doing with her life?  She then continues in a coherent vein by saying that it’ll all be sorted out when Messiah comes.  Busted!  “I am he,” responds Jesus. 

Many people today look at religious disagreement and use it to change the subject away from religious claims.  Look at ISIS in Syria and Iraq? These people are religious fanatics, so why get involved in questions of religion?  Look at how many denominations there are.  Surely that is a sign that church is messed up.  However, Jesus cuts across these arguments about disagreement through the ages.  The reality of his existence demands a response.  Jesus walked the dusty roads of Samaria, Galilee and Judea and he taught the people.  He revealed a kingdom of closeness with God and he proved that he had authority as the King of Heaven.  Will we try and distract ourselves and others from the personal claims he makes on us or will we submit to his questions and insights?

So how are you growing through the difficulties that surround you?  How have your past mistakes highlighted your need for Jesus?  How is your life stagnant and stale and how does Jesus want to revitalize your relationship with him and show you the path forward?

Prayer

You come to us and ask us to be taught by you.  You use scripture, mentors, friends, family and circumstances.  Help us not to deflect your touch on our lives by raising objections or changing the subject.  Help us to be open to your work to give us strength in our circumstances and a will to grow.

Questions

  1. What does Jesus tell the woman about herself?
  2. How does she try and change the subject?
  3. What is Jesus’ purpose in this conversation?
  4. What is Jesus trying to tell you about yourself?
  5. How might you attempt to deflect his attempts to communicate through scripture, mentors, friends, family and circumstances?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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21 Responses to John 4:16-26 Changing the Subject

  1. Jenna says:

    1. Jesus tells the woman that she had had five husbands, and that the man she was living with now she wasn’t married to.
    2. instead of talking about her sin, the woman tries to change the subject by bringing up an often disputed subject between Samaritans and Jews: the proper place of worship.
    3. Jesus wants this woman to recognize her need for a savior, and He wants to show her how He is that savior!
    4. I sometimes tell God what I’d like Him to work on in me; I might pray, “God, please make me more loving towards others,” when I really should be praying, “God, break my heart about my lack of repentance of my sins.” When God convicts me of some sin in my life, I am very quick to change the subject by focusing on another sin I know I struggle with, that I’d much rather deal with. I need to stop trying to control how God sanctifies me and allow Him to mold me how He desires.
    5. I can be a very critical thinker, which is good in some sense. But, when someone is speaking to me and God is convicting me, I tend to get defensive and begin to over-criticize the person’s words in my mind – hanging onto particular phrases or expressions that aren’t particularly biblical instead of focusing on the main point of what they are saying.

  2. Kathleen says:

    1. Jesus tells the woman about her past and the number of husbands she has had. He also says the man she is with now is not her husband.
    2. She brought up the disagreement about the place to worship between the Jews and Samaritans.
    3. I think Jesus is establishing His authority with the woman by telling her information from her past. He wants her to realize she needs more than men in her life. She needs a savior.
    4. I think Jesus is trying to tell me to be confident in the woman He created me to be.
    5. I can tend to question what people tell me. I also need to work on being content with where I am in life at this moment.

  3. Sara Cavitt says:

    1) He talked about her past relationships and also the relationship she was currently in with a man who was not her husband.
    2) She probably felt uncomfortable talking about such a personal matter. She may have known that she was living in sin, but she did not want to personally deal with it or talk about it with another person.
    3) Although Jesus already knew the answers to His questions, He wanted her to think about them and give her the opportunity to deal with them.
    4) Lately, I have been learning to trust Him more in every aspect of my life.
    5) Rather than addressing what is happening in my life and in my heart, I find myself occupying myself with my school work, my friends, my job, etc.

  4. Nick says:

    Jesus tells her that she has had five husbands and that she is currently in a relationship with a man who is not her husband. She quickly changes the subject by bringing up the proper place of worship for the Samaritans and the Jews. I think that He is trying to show her that she needs a savior and that He is that savior that has come for her. I think that Jesus is trying to tell me to reset my focus on Him and off of myself. I often times listen to people and act like I am retaining things and act like I am listening, but really I am just letting what they are saying go in one ear and out the other. This is true of when I read God’s Word as well sometimes.

  5. Janice Lee says:

    1. Jesus tells the woman that He knows about her past and her current situation.
    2. The woman tries to change the subject by asking Jesus opinion on the proper place to worship.
    3. Jesus’ purpose is to show the woman her need for a Savior and to offer her a new life.
    4. Jesus is reminding me of my deep need for Him, to repent of my sins and come to worship Him.
    5. I might attempt to deflect His attempts to communicate by losing myself to a busy schedule in which I become the central focus when He should be the center.

  6. Amy McCashen says:

    1. Jesus tells the woman about herself by agreeing with her answer and explaining to her why her answer is true. He tells her her past.
    2. The woman changes the subject by talking about the disagreement between the Samaritans and the Jews on the proper place of worship.
    3. Jesus’ purpose is to show this woman her need for a Savior and to present Himself to her as such.
    4. Jesus is trying to tell me that he knows everything about me- my past, present, and future. He loves me no matter what I have done and no matter how many times I continuously repeat the same mistakes.
    5. I deflect what Jesus is trying to tell me by simply ignoring it and covering up His words with all the work and school and business of my life.

  7. Dylan says:

    1. Jesus tells the Samaritan woman she has had 5 husbands and the man she is with now is not even her husband.
    2. She tries to change the subject by addressing the issue of place of worship that Jews and Samaritans disagree about, since she perceives he is a prophet.
    3. I think Jesus is trying to tell the woman that he is extremely accessible and unimaginably forgiving. She’s heard worship should be in Jerusalem but now God himself is standing right before her.
    4. In this passage Jesus is trying to tell me to come as I am to him. I can’t hide my sins or put him off till I’m ready to follow without becoming miserable.
    5. Often times I deflect God’s attempts to communicate with me by ignoring the resources he gives me. Rather than use these things I wait for a “miracle” and forget that God is a masterful strategist who wants to work on me through my problems.

  8. Ashley says:

    1. Jesus tells the woman that she has five husbands.
    2. The woman changes the subject by saying that she thinks that Jesus is a prophet.
    3. Jesus’ purpose in this conversation is to expose the fact that Jesus knows everything about this woman, and still he treats her with dignity and respect.
    4. Jesus is telling me to be a true worshipper—one who worships him because of who he is and not only because of what he does.
    5. I can easily try to deflect Jesus by not paying attention to him and avoiding spending time in the Word and with people who I know will point out truth to me.

  9. Beth Coale says:

    1. Her mistakes which were probably the reason why she is getting water from the well at this time of day and why she is outcast so it very much affected her life and had sort of made up her identity
    2. By talking about a theological debate
    3. To challenge her faith to be more than surface level, to something better
    4. I feel like my mistakes & failures also make up my identify, but Christ calls me to something better
    5. By changing the subject like she did, by being defensive, or saying something cynical / sarcastic =/

  10. nataliaria says:

    Jesus reveals to the woman that He is aware of her marital situation. She then tries to steer the conversation to spiritual matters by pointing out that He must be a prophet, due to His inside knowledge on her personal life.

    I believe that Jesus’ purpose in this conversation is twofold: first, to bring her to recognition of the broken state of her life, and second, to share with her that salvation- the worship of God in spirit and truth- is not a racially divided proposal, nor is it something that she cannot attain.

    In this moment, I am honestly not sure what Jesus is trying to tell me. This may be, however, because I have kept my mind and heart exceptionally occupied these past days, and have not allowed much time for quiet reflection or meditation on the lessons that He has for me. I have found the 4-6 hours I spend on the cta every week are wonderful opportunities to talk with God and allow my heart to be still before Him and His Word.

    In moments when I know that God is communicating with me, and my heart does not want to hear (and therefore change) I have felt myself making a conscious decision to close my ears and heart to His message. Thankfully, mercifully, He does not forever allow me to remain in my stubborn disregard of His Word and heart for me.

  11. Mary says:

    1. She is living in sin.
    2. By saying that Jesus, or the Jews rather, are wrong about where people ought to worship.
    3. To reveal her need for a savior
    4. Based on the principle in this passage, I need to listen to Him when he convicts me of sin in my life and not try to rationalize it or ignore it.
    5. By not spending enough time meditating on what I have read in Scripture.

  12. Rachel says:

    Jesus tells the woman that she is sinful, detailing exact accounts of her past sins. She tries to bring up controversial religious issues to change the subject. Jesus is seeking to show her who he is: the bringer of life, grace, and truth. Jesus is telling me the same thing: this is who I am. Who are you in light of my love? I often try to confuse myself with conflicting thoughts and memories about what people have said or ways I have felt. I want things to be much more complicated than simple unadulterated love from a perfect Savior seeking to heal and transform my soul into his image.

  13. zacbodine says:

    What does Jesus tell the woman about herself?
    He tells her the deep dark sins and secrets that she has.
    How does she try and change the subject?
    The topic shows her vulnerable. It’s like the statement, “If you were to know the person I really am, you would not be talking to me.” He sins and scars are pointed out by Jesus.
    What is Jesus’ purpose in this conversation?
    To point her to himself.
    What is Jesus trying to tell you about yourself?
    Jesus: You cannot hide from me, so why do you try?
    Zac: I am afraid
    Jesus: I know you are afraid, but I will not leave you. I cannot leave the one I love, no matter what you’ve done, how big you doubt, or how odd you may be, I love you and will not let you go, Zac. So, stop hiding.

    How might you attempt to deflect his attempts to communicate through scripture, mentors, friends, family and circumstances?

    Henry Rollins once said, “Cynicism is intellectual cowardice.” My shield is to be cynical and to doubt love and think that people will leave and hurt me. So, why not Jesus? The woman at the well had 5 husbands! Don’t you think there may have been some heart ache? Perhaps she had feelings of insignificance and loss of self knowledge, respect, and love afterwards? I would think so. I am like her. I have been hurt by Christians so I hide from them, I don’t hear God’s voice so I run from praying, I don’t feel like I learned anything like others have from a passage so I stop reading that book of the Bible. I hide; Like Adam, like Jonah, like this woman I hide.
    It’s time I stop hiding…

  14. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    1. What does Jesus tell the woman about herself?
    Her sin of having many husbands and living with one who is not her husband.
    2. How does she try and change the subject?
    It seems that she tries to ask about where worship does and should take place.
    3. What is Jesus’ purpose in this conversation?
    He desires to show the woman that he is omniscient and that he alone can provide a truly satisfying life (not according to the standards of the world). Jesus shows her that he is the Messiah.
    4. What is Jesus trying to tell you about yourself?
    Nothing on this earth can satisfy. Only Christ alone, the Messiah, can provide a satisfying life, which only is eternal life.
    5. How might you attempt to deflect his attempts to communicate through scripture, mentors, friends, family and circumstances?
    I often try and rationalize things away. I make myself believe that that can’t possibly be what God is trying to tell me, or that there is no way he would do it in that way. This is trying to put God into a box and give him parameters to work within in my life. It is a struggle to hear God and to accept the truth he has revealed to us.

  15. Dominic Shortridge says:

    1. Jesus tells the woman that she is a mistress to many men.
    2. She tries to change the subject to a matter of worship.
    3. Jesus point in this conversation is to encourage the woman to worship God in Spirit.
    4. Jesus seeks for us to reveal to him who he is. He knows all, and in that knowledge he wants to us to recognize that we are broken and dirty, and to worship him through the Holy Spirit.
    5. I might deflect all of his attempts by distracting myself, and not allowing those things to speak to me.

  16. 1) That she has lived an adulterous and thus sinful life.
    2) By referencing a conflict of worship that was present between Israel and Samaria.
    3) To draw her unto Himself.
    4) Allow the Holy Spirit to work in my life to reveal hidden sin.
    5) By my prayers being hindered because of sin or because I am distracted during studying the Word or praying.

  17. Karas says:

    Jesus tells the woman about her life. He knows the good and bad and ugly. She tries to change the subject to a religious question about the differences between Jews and Samaritans and where to worship. Jesus’ purpose seems to be to confront this woman with truth, to show her a better way than the life she has been living. I think Jesus has been trying to tell me that I need to have solid faith for what is to come, and to prepare. I think by just giving in to how I feel instead of living by faith I attempt to deflect His attempts to communicate. this would mean that instead of trusting, I would be focusing on circumstances. That’s what I need to avoid doing.

  18. Belle says:

    What does Jesus tell the woman about herself? That she has had 5 husbands and the one she has now is not even her husband.
    How does she try and change the subject? She changes the subject by turning it away from herself by turning it to Jesus.
    What is Jesus’ purpose in this conversation? That salvation is here and for her to worship God.
    What is Jesus trying to tell you about yourself? That I tend to undermine my sin by going to a different topic. Like how the woman changed the conversation to a different topic. I tend to undermine the weight/shame of sin.
    How might you attempt to deflect his attempts to communicate through scripture, mentors, friends, family and circumstances? By rationalizing it into something that it is not. It does depend on the situation really.
    -H. Geneva

  19. Bethany says:

    1. He tell her about her past which was full of sin. He tells her that the man she is sleeping with now is not her husband.
    2. She tries to bring up the conflict of where to worship between the Jews and Samaritans.
    3. He is showing her that he knows who she is and that the men in her life and her sinful ways will not satisfy her.
    4. Jesus is trying to tell me that I only need him.
    5. I need to be better about reading my bible and seeking acceptance through him and not others, whether that be a boyfriend or just friends.

  20. Rebekah Thompson (Bekah) says:

    1) By asking her a question and letting her be honest and telling him about herself
    2) By bringing up a conflict between the two
    3) To let her know that in the end He is what she needs in her life, that Jesus is the Messiah everyone (including her) is waiting for
    4) That I need God, and wherever I am at is not too far for God, God is there at every moment for me to grasp and come close to
    5) To say that I am too busy with school and need to focus on that, and when i have time i can enjoy such “luxury”

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