Focus Text: John 4.19

Truth is a beautiful thing even when it hurts. It was doubtless somewhat painful for the Samaritan woman to admit that Jesus was right in His assessment of her when He said, “…you have had five husbands, but the one whom you now have is not your husband.” But, that revelation was just what the woman needed to cause her to finally realize that there was more behind the stranger’s claims than mere idle words. It was this intimate knowledge of her life that led her to conclude, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.” (John 4.19).

Incidentally, it should be noted here the common meaning of “prophet” as used throughout the scriptures. Many think of a prophet as someone who has special insight into the future, but here it was someone who had special insight into the past and present. In short, a prophet as used in the scriptures is simply someone in whom God has directly and in addition to physical agency, placed truth.

At any rate, the Samaritan woman “perceived” (saw, understood, determined, ascertained, etc.) that He was a prophet. His special knowledge of her circumstances was the proof she needed to reach such a conclusion. As marvelous as her understanding was, it was not yet enough. At this moment in time, she believed Jesus to be “a prophet.” That was not enough! Hundreds of prophets had journeyed this earth before, but Jesus was more than just “a prophet!”

God treats sinners in such as way as they can know Messiah! We will see this as the story of the Samaritan woman unfolds, but we want to make that unmistakable point now. The claims of Jesus were never that He was a mere prophet; they were always that He was that Singular Prophet of whom Moses had spoken in Deuteronomy 18.15-19. For Jesus to be merely a prophet is to deny the larger truth, the truth that saves! The evidence that is presented to prove the case that Jesus is Messiah is unmistakable and absolutely overwhelming. God has not left Himself without witness in this matter, but has declared from eternity past that Jesus is the Very Son of God, Immanuel (God with us! See Isaiah 7.14 and Matthew 1.22-23).

The Samaritan woman had perceived truth when she perceived that Jesus was a prophet, but she had not yet reached the point at which she could proclaim Jesus to be Messiah; that point would come as evidence was presented, but it was yet future. God stacks evidence upon evidence to prove that Jesus is Messiah and this entirely for the benefit of sinners! We can know who Jesus is and that without any doubt whatsoever! Faith is the product of evidence and not speculation! That’s the way God designed the system of faith by which man is saved. Those who say things like, “You can believe that Jesus is Messiah, but you can’t prove it!” do the faith a serious disservice. We can know, and we can know that we know (see 1 John 2.3-5).

Faith that Jesus is a prophet is but a stepping stone to the larger truth that Jesus is THE prophet! If is not enough to view all the evidence and declare Him to be a prophet; in fact, that is absolute disbelief! For those who patronize the Christian faith by admitting Jesus to be a prophet, we say, “Thanks, but no thanks!”

Questions:

1. As far as the woman could understand, how could this stranger have known about her marital state? What part did this have in her conclusion that He was a prophet?
2. What does this show about the definition and popular use of the word prophet?

3. When John says that we can know that we know, how sure is that? Is it arrogance to state that we know that we know? Why or why not?

4. Why is admitting Jesus to be a prophet not enough? What conclusion must sinners reach?