My sister introduced me to a new digital art program last week. She set it up, taught me the shortcuts and let me have a go. “It’s the Samaritan woman at the well,” we decided as my first piece began to take shape. As I drew, I thought about her story, her encounter with Jesus. I had written about it before, and now I was drawing it. I noticed her proclamation and revelation as she shared her encounter with the people of her town:
[John 4:29] – “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ.”
First, she saw that Jesus truly knew her and all her deeds. Then she realised that He could be the Christ. This Samaritan woman, encountering Jesus at the well, was not the only one to have such an experience. Nathanael recognised Jesus as the “Son of God”, and “King of Israel” after Jesus said He had seen Nathanael under the fig tree, before he came to meet Him. To Simon, Jesus gave the name Cephas (a stone). His brother, Andrew, brought him to Jesus saying, “We have found the Messiah” [John 1:41].
When we realise how truly and fully Jesus knows us, our deeds, our coming and goings, and our name, then we also realise that He must be God, and Lord over all. There is something God reveals to us about Himself when He shows us how He knows us.
1. Nathanael by the Fig Tree
God knows us more than our friends and family do. He sees our “inner man”, the potential He has placed in us and the heart He has given us. In John’s account of Nathanael’s first meeting with Jesus, we see Nathanael go through a transformation of mind [John 1]:
(v.46) “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
(v.48) “How do You know me?”
(v.49) “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
When Philip first calls Nathanael, he is skeptical about Christ. The background of the man, as one coming from Nazareth, does not fit with Nathanael’s assumptions of how the Son of God and King of Israel would arise. How does he move from doubt to revelation? We see Jesus speak the following words to Nathanael in John 1:
(v.47) “Behold, an Israelitite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”
(v.48) “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
(v.50) “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”
(v.51) “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
With these words, Jesus shows Nathanael the following things:
- He knows his character and his heart, being without deceit.
- He knew him even before his friend, Philip introduced him.
- He knows what God has in store for him, that he would see the resurrection of Christ.
In this way, Jesus reveals Himself to be God to Nathanael – knowing present, past, future and all that is in a man’s heart and life. Only God could know such things and Nathanael recognises this. As a result, he surrenders his biases, and embraces Jesus as King over Israel.
2. (Simon) Peter the Rock
God gives us a name; not just any name, but His name. Simon Peter’s brother, Andrew, first met Jesus and believed. He found his brother to show him the Messiah, and Jesus told Simon his name. He was “Simon, the son of Jonah”, but he would be called “Cephas”, meaning stone.
In [Matthew 16:18-19], we see Jesus expand on the meaning of Simon Peter’s name:
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Simon had a name, and an identity wrapped up in it. He was Simon, the son of Jonah, a fisherman. Then Jesus met him and gave him a new name – Cephas, Peter, a rock. Peter played a big part in spreading the gospel and building up the early church. He was no longer just a fisherman, but he was Peter, a son of the living God, and a fisher of men for the Kingdom of God.
God has a name for us all and we can find our identity in us. We are sons and daughters of the living God, made holy by the blood of the Messiah, and commissioned to spread the good news by His Holy Spirit.
3. Woman at the Well
(See also “Woman at the Well – A Retelling of John 4”: https://lostnowfoundk.com/2013/06/29/woman-at-the-well/)
God knows our past, and He also knows our future. His love breaks through preconceptions, through culture, through societal norms. When Jesus sees the Samaritan woman by the well, He demonstrates this aspect of His love.
Firstly, He, a Jew, speaks with her, a Samaritan, at a time when Jews and Samaritans did not interact with one another.
Secondly, He makes a claim to living water that would cause a person never to thirst again. This causes the woman to question Jesus saying, “Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well…?” [John 4:12]
Thirdly, He reveals His knowledge of her personal life; that she has had five husbands, and that the man she currently was with, was not her husband. The woman could have been offended, but instead, she continued to speak with Him, thinking Jesus was a prophet.
Fourthly, Jesus questioned her beliefs saying, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” [John 4:23] The woman had identified that Samaritans worshipped on this mountain but the Jews designated Jerusalem as the place to worship. Jesus, however, redefined worship in saying it did not matter where you worshipped, but that you worshiped the Father in spirit and in truth.
Finally, when the woman tells Jesus she knows the Messiah is coming, Jesus plainly tells her, “I who speak to you am He.” [John 4:26]
Had Jesus begun by telling her straight out that He was the Messiah, the woman may not have listened. However, through the conversation, Jesus demonstrates his nature and the woman sees that this could indeed be consistent with Him being the Christ. God does not contradict Himself. Jesus shows the woman He cares about her when He speaks with her. He shows His supernatural knowledge of her life. He speaks to her about living water, and about true worship. Then He tells her He is the Messiah. The woman at the well knew the Messiah would “tell us all things” when He came, and here was Jesus, doing just that.
. . .
He knows us. Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God and King of Israel. When we see the way He loves and knows us, we are given revelation to worship Him at the One True God.