Lesson 63: John 4

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

While traveling to Galilee, Jesus passed through Samaria and taught a woman at a well. The woman testified to others that Jesus was the Christ. Later, Jesus healed the son of a nobleman.

Suggestions for Teaching

John 4:1–42

Jesus teaches a woman of Samaria

Write the following question on the board:

What is the most valuable natural resource on the earth?

Ask students to respond to the question on the board. Consider displaying pictures of natural resources such as soil, iron, coal, oil, gold, or diamonds.

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder David A. Bednar

“We might initially think that gold, oil, or diamonds have the greatest worth. But of all the minerals, metals, gems, and solvents found on and in the earth, the most valuable is water” (“A Reservoir of Living Water” [Church Educational System fireside for young adults, Feb. 4, 2007], 1, lds.org/broadcasts).

Display a clear glass of clean water.

  • Why is clean water so valuable? (You might invite one or two students to share an experience that helped them appreciate the importance of water.)

Invite students to look for what Jesus compared water to as they study John 4.

Summarize John 4:1–3 by explaining that Jesus left Judea and traveled to Galilee.

Ask a student to read John 4:4 aloud, and ask the class to look for the area Jesus passed through while traveling to Galilee. Ask students to report what they find.

Invite students to locate Judea, Samaria, and Galilee on the chart “The Mortal Life of Jesus Christ at a Glance” (located in lesson 5), or invite them to look at Bible Maps, no. 11, “The Holy Land in New Testament Times” to locate the three regions.

  • Why is it significant that Jesus traveled through Samaria instead of going around it? (Jews typically traveled around Samaria rather than passing through it because of the hostility that existed between Jews and Samaritans [see James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. (1916), 172]).

Ask a student to read John 4:6–9 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what Jesus asked of a woman when He stopped in Samaria.

  • What did Jesus ask of this woman?

  • Why was she surprised when Jesus asked her for a drink?

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman

Display the picture Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 36; see also LDS.org).

Ask a student to read John 4:10–12 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for Jesus’s response to the woman.

  • According to verse 10, what did the Savior offer the woman? (Explain that the phrase “gift of God” refers to Jesus as the Savior of the world.)

  • According to verse 11, what did the woman ask Jesus?

Invite a student to read John 4:13–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jesus said about the water He offered.

  • What did Jesus say about the water He offered?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar. Ask the class to follow along, listening for what the living water represents.

Elder David A. Bednar

“The living water referred to in this episode is a representation of the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel. And as water is necessary to sustain physical life, so the Savior and His doctrines, principles, and ordinances are essential for eternal life. You and I need His living water daily and in ample supply to sustain our ongoing spiritual growth and development” (“A Reservoir of Living Water,” 2).

  • According to Elder Bednar, what does the living water represent?

On the glass of water that you have displayed, place a label that says The Savior and His gospel.

  • Why is water an appropriate symbol of the Savior and His gospel?

  • How would you summarize the Savior’s words in verse 14 as a principle? (Students may use their own words but should identify the following principle: If we come unto Jesus Christ and earnestly partake of His gospel, then we will receive eternal life.)

Ask a student to read John 4:15–18 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what the woman requested of Jesus and how the Savior responded.

  • According to verse 15, what did the woman request of Jesus?

Explain that Jesus’s response helped the woman understand her need for the living water He offered.

  • According to verses 17–18, what did Jesus reveal about this woman? (Point out that Jesus’s answer indicated that He knew this woman had struggled to find a meaningful and lasting marriage relationship but that by living with a man who was not her husband, she was not obeying the law of chastity.)

  • What thoughts or feelings might this woman have had when Jesus revealed details about her that a typical stranger could not have known?

  • How might the Savior’s words have helped the woman realize her need for the living water He offered?

  • What truth about the Savior can we learn from these verses? (After students have responded, write the following truth on the board: Jesus Christ knows our sins and offers us His gospel to help us overcome them.)

  • Why is this truth important to understand?

Invite a student to read John 4:19–20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the woman said to Jesus.

  • What did the woman say that demonstrated that her perception of Jesus was changing?

Explain that in Samaria is a mountain named Mount Gerizim. Centuries before the Savior’s mortal ministry, the Samaritans built a temple there as a place of worship. Unlike the Jews, however, the Samaritans did not have the priesthood authority to perform ordinances, and they rejected many teachings of God’s prophets.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from John 4:21–23, including Joseph Smith Translation, John 4:26 (in John 4:24, footnote a). Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jesus taught the woman about worshipping God.

  • How do true worshippers worship Heavenly Father?

  • According to the Joseph Smith Translation, what blessing comes as we worship God “in spirit and in truth”?

  • What principle can we learn from these verses? (Students may use different words but should identify the following principle: If we worship the Father in spirit and in truth, He will bless us with His Spirit.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to look for and mark what it means to worship the Father in spirit and truth.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

“Our purpose is to worship the true and living God and to do it by the power of the Spirit and in the way he has ordained. The approved worship of the true God leads to salvation; devotions rendered to false gods and which are not founded on eternal truth carry no such assurance.

“A knowledge of the truth is essential to true worship. …

“… True and perfect worship consists in following in the steps of the Son of God; it consists in keeping the commandments and obeying the will of the Father to that degree that we advance from grace to grace until we are glorified in Christ as he is in his Father. It is far more than prayer and sermon and song. It is living and doing and obeying. It is emulating the life of the great Exemplar [Jesus Christ]” (“How to Worship,” Ensign, Dec. 1971, 129, 130).

  • According to Elder McConkie, what does it mean to worship God in spirit and truth?

  • When have you been blessed as you have sought to worship the Father in spirit and truth?

Invite students to consider what they can do to better worship the Father in spirit and truth.

  • Ask a student to read John 4:25–26 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what Jesus revealed about Himself to the woman.

  • What did Jesus reveal about Himself to the woman?

Invite a student to read John 4:27–30 aloud. Ask the class to look for what the woman did after talking with the Savior.

  • What did the woman do after talking with the Savior?

  • What did she say that indicated she had gained a testimony of Jesus Christ?

  • What truth can we learn from this account about what will happen as we gain a testimony of Jesus Christ? (Students may use different words but should identify the following truth: As we gain a testimony of Jesus Christ, we are filled with a desire to share it with others.)

Summarize verses 31–37 by explaining that Jesus’s disciples returned with food. When they asked Him to eat, He taught them that He was sustained not by eating but by performing His Father’s will. He then invited them to see that opportunities to preach the gospel were abundant.

Invite a student to read John 4:39–42 aloud. Ask the class to look for the impact of the woman’s testimony on the people in her city.

  • What impact did the woman’s testimony have on the people in her city?

  • According to verse 42, what did the people say to the woman?

Testify that as we come to know the Savior and partake of His living water, we will be filled with a desire to share our testimonies of Him with others.

John 4:43–54

Jesus heals a nobleman’s son

Summarize John 4:43–45 by explaining that after Jesus taught the woman in Samaria, He entered Galilee, where He was received by the people.

handout iconProvide students with copies of the following handout. Invite them to read John 4:46–54 silently and answer the questions on the handout.

John 4:46–54

  1. 1.

    Who met Jesus and what blessing did he seek from the Savior?

  2. 2.

    Based on what Jesus said, why did He delay granting the blessing this man sought?

  3. 3.

    How did this man demonstrate that he did not need a sign to believe?

  4. 4.

    According to verses 51–53, how was this man’s belief in Jesus Christ confirmed?

  5. 5.

    What principle can we learn from this man’s experience?

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After sufficient time, invite students to share their answers. As they report the principles they learned from the nobleman’s experience, help them identify the following truth: As we believe in Jesus Christ without needing signs, the Lord will confirm our belief.

  • Why is it important to believe in Jesus Christ without needing signs?

  • What are some ways that the Lord confirms our belief as we exercise faith in Him?

Conclude by testifying that as we seek the Lord in faith, He will bless us with evidence to sustain our beliefs.

Commentary and Background Information

John 4:4. “He must needs go through Samaria”

Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles provided understanding as to why it was significant that Jesus passed through Samaria: “The direct route from Judea to Galilee lay through Samaria; but many Jews, particularly Galileans, chose to follow an indirect though longer way rather than traverse the country of a people so despised by them as were the Samaritans. The ill-feeling between Jews and Samaritans had been growing for centuries, and at the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry had developed into most intense hatred” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 172).

John 4:10–14. The Savior offers living water

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles quoted the Savior’s words in John 4:14 and taught that drinking “deeply of living waters” will bring us great happiness. He then asked:

“Do you wish to partake of this living water and experience that divine well springing up within you to everlasting life?

“Then be not afraid. Believe with all your hearts. Develop an unshakable faith in the Son of God. Let your hearts reach out in earnest prayer. Fill your minds with knowledge of Him. Forsake your weaknesses. Walk in holiness and harmony with the commandments” (“The Abundant Life,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 100).

John 4:10–14. The scriptures are one way to partake of Christ’s living waters

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that one way we can partake of Christ’s living waters is studying the scriptures:

“The scriptures contain the words of Christ and are a reservoir of living water to which we have ready access and from which we can drink deeply and long. You and I must look to and come unto Christ, who is ‘the fountain of living waters’ (1 Nephi 11:25; compare Ether 8:26; 12:28), by reading (see Mosiah 1:5), studying (see D&C 26:1), searching (see John 5:39; Alma 17:2), and feasting (see 2 Nephi 32:3) upon the words of Christ as contained in the holy scriptures. By so doing, we can receive both spiritual direction and protection during our mortal journey” (“A Reservoir of Living Water” [Church Educational System fireside for young adults, Feb. 4, 2007], 2, lds.org/broadcasts).

John 4:46–54. Healing the nobleman’s son

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasized the significance of this miracle:

“This is the first healing miracle that is set forth in detail in the Gospels. Those performed at the Feast of the Passover and throughout all Judea are not described or explained. This miracle—the second performed in Cana—adds a new dimension to Jesus’ healing ministry that we have not seen up to this point. It is in fact a dual miracle: one that healed the body of the absent son, and one that cured unbelief and planted faith in the heart of the present father” (The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols. [1979–81], 2:12).