This Sunday, in many of our Unity churches, someone will go to the podium and read the DAILY WORD. The lesson for this Sunday, December 29, 2013 begins "I am alive, alert, and enthusiastic about life!" and concludes with the Gospel of John 4:14 "The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life."
Are your congregants alive, alert and enthusiastic and do they know their inner well of eternal life?
I'm writing to let you know that this Sunday's lesson which comes to us from the Gospel of John through Unity's DAILY WORD has a nice summary of how one woman, many years ago, came to know her own inner well of eternal life. By the end of the story you are about to read, she is off telling everyone "come see a man who told me everything I ever did."
Would you like that enthusiasm in your church? Would you like an outline based on Sunday's Daily Word for your Sunday lesson? If so, read on ...
A Metaphysical Interpretation of John 4:5-42Listen to a story. It may be a story that took place many years ago in Palestine between a rabbi and a woman. It may also be a story about what takes place each Sunday between congregants and their minister. And it also be a story that takes place everyday in consciousness between our higher, spiritual nature and our everyday personality.
4:5So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 4:6Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
4:7A Samaritan woman came to draw water,
It is a story about a dialog between Jesus and a woman that takes place at a well just outside of a city named Sychar in the region of Samaria. So, to understand this story, we must know something about the nature of Jesus and the woman, we must know something about about the well and it's history and we must know something about the city and region - Sychar in Samaria.
Jesus is our divinity. He is our I AM nature. The woman is the intuitional side of our soul. Let's remember that Spirit and soul are inseparable. They must work together according to their divine nature. This dialog between Jesus and the woman is our own inner dialog about how we view life, make choices and live freely.
The story takes place in Samaria, which was part of the original lands settled by the Patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Samaritans also saw themselves as descendants of Jacob and they kept to the Law of Moses. But many years earlier the inhabitants had been exiled and the region was populated by a foreign race. So the Samaritans were a mixed race and their religious customs were also a mixed bag of beliefs. This set up a tension with the more pure form of Judaism, from which Jesus came.
So the woman is the intuitional side of our soul, but she is a Samaritan woman, which means her intuition is open to a mixed-bag of beliefs.
Finally, there is the well. The well is our source. The well of Jacob is a limited form of source, that of intellect. It is the source from which the Samaritan woman draws her sustenance. Jesus will call her to a new well, that of living water which provides eternal life.Here are teachings taken from Unity Bible Lessons:
What does the Samaritan woman signify? The Samaritan woman signifies that faculty in man "which first perceives the Truth as taught by Jesus; that soul power which is seeking something higher than the traditional religion, and joyfully welcomes the first glimpse of spiritual light.
What does the "woman of Samaria" represent? The Samaritans were a mixed race, both in blood amd in religion. Metaphysically, the "woman of Samaria" represents the feminine quality of man aspiring io the understanding of Truth, but drawing most of its understanding from the intellect instead of from Spirit.
What does the Samaritan woman here at Jacob's well represent in man? She represents the soul (Eve, the mother of all life). She is a Samaritan, or double minded, and is open to both the mortal and to the spiritual.
Samaria means watch-tower — which refers to that department of the objective consciousness functioning through the head. Sychar means drunken — that is, a confused state of mind. It is located near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph — which is the forehead, seat of intellectual perception. Here was Jacob's well—inspiration through the intellect alone.
In what respect are most persons Samaritans? Most persons have a mixed consciousness of good and evil. The Samaritan woman represents the psychic or soul nature in which Truth and error are intermingled.
Why is the psychic sometimes mistaken for the spiritual? Because the psychic penetrates beneath the surface of conscious knowledge its so-called revelations are sometimes mistaken for spiritual enlightenment. The psychic realm is not the true source of wisdom. It is limited in scope and is subject to exploitation by those who are willing to profit by their knowledge of subconscious forces in undertaking to enlighten others with the half light that they themselves have.
Jesus — I Am — has been compassing the whole man, has been journeying from Dan to Beersheba, from within to without, and he rests at the point where the intellectual and the spiritual meet. The "woman of Samaria" is the feminine or emotional side of objective consciousness. It also gets its life and inspiration from the [unreadable] or subjective consciousness.
What kind of well do these states of mind draw from? They draw from Jacob's well, which represents a personal concept of Truth.
"Give me a drink"
and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 4:8(His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.)
There may be many interpretations about Jesus asking the Samaritan woman for a drink. In recent years, we have learned much from feminist interpretation of the Bible. Here are some teachings from Unity Bible lessons:
Why did Jesus say to this woman: "Give me to drink"? Man, represented by Jesus, draws inspiration (water) through many avenues. The feminine, or intuitional side of man's soul is one of the main sources of inspiration.
Why did Jesus, the I AM, ask a drink of the Samaritan woman, who is one of a mixed race that was despised by the Jews? The work of Jesus, the I AM, is to reconcile all that seems alien or that is in opposition to Truth. As Jesus was baptized by John, so here he makes contact with that which is this up and saves. The Samaritan woman had been getting her understanding from a mixed doctrine - both good and evil. She represents Eve eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Jesus reveals to her the "living water," the quickening Spirit.
In a preceding verse Jesus said to the woman of Samaria, "Give me to drink." Please explain. Man, represented by Jesus, draws inspiration (water) through many avenues. The feminine, or intuitional, side of man's soul is one of the main sources of inspiration.
How is that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me?
4:9The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)
Perhaps the woman feels she has been judged either because of her ethnicity or her sex. Perhaps she does not feel good enough to give Jesus a drink of water. She has been shamed. Do we not sometimes try to hide form our spiritual nature because of shame? Rather than trying to make the woman feel good, Jesus tells her how Truth is a gift that can set her free.
Unity Bible lessons have many things to say ...
Why was the Samaritan woman surprised that I Jesus should ask her for a drink — "For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans"? The feminine quality of the soul does not have the, full understanding of Truth. It is necessary that man educate his soul by proclaiming his I AM identity and; that he is the source of the absolute spiritual inspiration, or living water.
Why should Christ, the spiritual I AM, want to drink from the soul consciousness? In order to lift up the life and the love therein expressed, the Christ must touch it with spiritual understanding. As it is the warm rays of the sun that awaken the life in the seed and cause the plant to grow so it is the touch of love in the heart that quickens the consciousness and awakens it to an understanding of the pure spiritual life.
Jesus has power to impart to intellect the inspiration of the Spirit —- here designated as "living water." But in order to do so he must get the intelligent attention of this mixed state of consciousness. The Samaritans were a mixed race, being a combination of both Hebrew and heathen blood, and the woman at the well recognizes the separation which exists between the Absolute Truth and the mixed thoughts of intellect. But Jesus is not afraid of being contaminated by the communion. He is willing to imbibe the inspiration of this realm of mind, and by so doing get into touch with its thoughts and sympathies.
If you knew the gift of God ...
4:10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
This Jesus consciousness is appealing to intellectual people to recognize the gift of God, the Spirit of universal love and brotherhood, and appeal to the living inspiration which may be had for the asking. But man must ask. "Ask and ye shall receive."
You have no bucket, the well is deep ...
4:11The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 4:12Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?”
Perhaps the woman has no faith in the power of religion. She begins to mock Jesus and his Jewish traditions. But Jesus doesn't defend himself or his religion. He simply explains how his teaching can help her.
Here is what we find in the Unity Bible lessons:
Why did the woman, question Jesus' ability to draw water, saying that he had nothing to draw with and that the well was deep? Why did she ask: "Art thou greater than our father Jacob," and so forth? The soul functions on a plane somewhat higher than the material, but it has no real concept of the absolute, the spiritual. It questions and doubts the ability of the I AM to draw its inspiration direct from the fountain-head — Spirit.
"How can you draw this living water? There is no visible means that I can see whereby you can get the everlasting water of life. Are you greater than all the precedents and antecedents of intellectual inheritance and experience? The assumptions of the spiritually-minded that they have a truth higher than human reason, seems to me far-fetched and ephemeral."
Everyone that drinks of this water will be thirsty again
4:13Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 4:14but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”
What is the well of living water in man? The well of living water is the fount of inner inspiration within man's consciousness, which, when the seal is broken, flows forth peacefully, majestically — vitalizing and renewing mind and body. In this clear light of Truth, we are conscious that life is never-changing, eternal.
To what did Jesus refer when he promised that the water that he should give would spring up into eternal life in one who drank it? Jesus referred to spiritual water (spiritual understanding), which is quickened and begins to flow in the consciousness of one who acknowledges the presence and the life-giving power of Spirit within.
What is the meaning of the words "but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life"? The inspiration (water) that the I AM gives to the soul establishes in the center of consciousness that is connected with the eternal-life idea. One who fulfills the law, through Christ, and lays hold of eternal life will never thirst again; that is, that one will be satisfied.
Give me this water so I won't be thirsty ...
4:15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
The NRSV Bible concludes the paragraph with this verse. The Samaritan woman's perspective has changed from shame and hostility to an openness to God. The next paragraph describes how she is transformed by that openness.
From the Unity Bible lessons:
Why did this woman say "Give me this water that I thirst not"? The soul is always reaching out for an enduring life, and even because the life, and when it is revealed in Spirit, it's eagerly lays hold of it.
Go, call your husband and come back.
4:16Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.”
4:17The woman answered him, “I have no husband.”
Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 4:18for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!”
The woman is a spiritual seeker and she has hooked-up with many spiritual traditions. Jesus does not try to convince her that his teaching is valid because it's just like the others that she has experienced. Instead, Jesus will call her to commitment and discipleship.
From the Unity Bible lessons:
Who is the husband of the soul? Thy maker is thy husband; Jehovah of Hosts is his name. This means that the Christ is the real consort of the soul.
Who were the five husbands that the woman had had? They were the temporary alliances the soul had made through the five senses, but were not real.
Who was the one she was then living with? Spiritual discernment says, "Intuition." She had developed an intuitional consciousness of Spirit, but it was not the true Christ consciousness.
What did Jesus mean when he said: "Go, call thy husband, and come hither"? The woman represents the feminine quality of the soul. The husband a directive power of the soul in the intellect. The Samaritan woman's response to Jesus, that she had no husband, indicates that she had but little intellectual development.
Give the meaning of Jesus' statement, "For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: this hast thou said truly." The five husbands to whom this soul had been attached are the five senses. Jesus, who represents Truth, discerned that the woman (soul) had not the understanding of the true, but was being guided by a psychic force, which was not her true husband.
Sir, I see that you are a prophet ...
4:19The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 4:20Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.”
Because the woman is Samaritan, her consciousness is a mixed bag of error and truth consciousness. Jesus will guide her to truth, but not a truth that is localized in Jerusalem. The truth that Jesus teaches is spiritual.
From Unity Bible lessons:
Where is true worship offered? In no set locality but in spirit and "truth, that is in the mind and heart.
Woman, believe me, the hour is coming ... spirit and truth
4:21Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 4:22You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 4:23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 4:24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
As is noted in the Unity Bible lessons below, the main point of this entire story is the call to worship God in "spirit and truth." That means an alignment of our soul to the promptings of the I AM, the spirit.
What is it to worship in spirit and truth? To keep the mind and soul in tune with the Spirit of love, good will, wisdom, and peace is to worship in spirit and truth.
What was Jesus teaching when He told the woman at the well that the hour would come when she would worship the Father, "neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem"? Jesus was instructing the woman at the well concerning the only locality where God can be contacted by the mind of man; that locality is within one's own soul. Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is within you."
What is the high point in the lesson? "The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be his worshippers." "God is ... Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth."
What did Jesus mean when he said, "Salvation is from the Jews?" The Jews represent spiritual understanding, inspiration; the Gentiles represent material understanding. Salvation comes only through spiritual inspiration; " God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth."
When will wholly formless worship become possible? It is possible now, as it has always been. Faith in God and love of God have always been not only possible to be but impossible not to be in the heart of the sincere thinker and seeker after God. "The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father."
"God is Spirit." What does this mean? The universe and all that exists is permeated with a divine essence that is of an immaterial but at the same time a very real nature. We call it God or Absolute Good, the highest attribute the human mind can conceive of. We call it love, for we ourselves know no deeper, more lasting feeling than, love. We call it Divine Mind, because the wisdom that holds the universe in suspension surpasses our comprehension while it commands our wonder. We call it almighty power, because we too have a certain control of power, and we recognize the transcendency of the power that is infinite. All this and more is the Spirit that we call God.
I know that Messiah is coming
4:25The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.”
4:26Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
Jesus has convinced the Samaritan woman that the form of her worship is not relevant, that what is relevant is what goes on in her Spirit and soul. But it may be that her statement "Messiah is coming!" indicates that she then "goes New Age." In essence, she takes on a sixth husband, a guru who will make all things perfect one day. Jesus disabuses her of this notion. He calls her to commit to her true husband, the Christ within.
Here are parts of Unity's Bible lesson for this verse:
The woman, or intuitional side of the soul, perceives that there is a superior consciousness to come (as explained in the 25th verse). How does man, the I AM, reveal this promised Messiah or Christ? Man, the I AM, when he discerns his real spiritual character, proclaims it to his soul. "Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he."
Jesus has convinced the Samaritan woman that the form of her worship is not relevant, that what is relevant is what goes on in her Spirit and soul. But she then "goes New Age." In essence, she takes on a sixth husband, a guru who will make all things perfect one day. Jesus disabuses her of this notion. He calls her to commit to her true husband, the Christ within.
The woman, or intuitional side of the soul, perceives that there is a superior consciousness to come (as explained in verse 25) How does spiritual man, the I AM, reveal this promised Messiah or Christ? Man, the I AM, when he discerns his real spiritual character, proclaims to his soul: "Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he."
Why the Samaritans responded to the message of Jesus
The woman's concerns are concerns of worldliness. She wants to know how to get her needs met. But Jesus wants to teach her how to drink from the well of life. So he sticks to a narrow path ministry. At the end of this story, Jesus has accomplished three things...
1. The woman has become a disciple
4:27Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” 4:28Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 4:29“Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” 4:30They left the city and were on their way to him.
Even though the disciples are always putting people outside, Jesus doesn't just try coax her into the church by building a loving community of acceptance. This allows the woman to develop her spiritual awareness. The woman is no longer a seeker. She is now a finder, one who has found her spiritual pathway and makes a practice of it. She is now a disciple. Disciples grow churches.
From Unity Bible lessons:
Is the soul always acknowledged by the faculties? No. The faculties sometimes discredit the soul, marveling that it has any relation to the Christ Spirit, "Upon this came his disciples; and they marvelled that he was speaking with a woman."
2. The ministry does not sow, but rather reaps a great harvest
4:31Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 4:32But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 4:33So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” 4:34Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 4:35Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 4:36The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 4:37For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 4:38I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
Most Unity churches today offer a rich spiritual potpourri of teachings. Our bookstores are filled with an endless stream of teachings. We often give up the Sunday platform to the guru of the month in hope of attracting the spiritual seekers. These are efforts to sow spiritual seeds.
Let's put down the many books and the confusing spiritual smorgasbord. Jesus does not call us to sow new spiritual seeds of our teachings. We are called to reap the spiritual harvest of his teaching. We are called to discipleship. Let us tend to the harvest.
From Unity Bible lessons:
Jesus said to his disciples: I have meat to eat that ye know not" Explain. When man enters into the realization of his spiritual being he begins to draw upon the inexhaustible resource of Spirit. Instead of working for the food (meat) that gives temporary life, he begins to carry out the divine law and he immediately appropriates from the omnipresent realms of Spirit whatever he needs. He does not depend upon seedtime and harvest, but he enters into the realization that the harvest has already taken place and that his work is to make it manifest: "Lift up your eyes, and look on he fields, that they are white already unto harvest."
In a succeeding verse in this chapter Jesus aid to his disciples: "I have meat to eat that ye know not." Explain. When man enters into the realization of his spiritual being he begins to draw upon the inexhaustible resource of Spirit. Instead of working for the food (meat) that gives temporary life, he begins to carry out the divine law and he immediately appropriates from the omnipresent realms of Spirit whatever he needs. He does not depend upon seedtime and harvest, but he enters into the realization that the harvest has already taken place and that his work is to make it manifest: "Lift up your eyes, and look on he fields, that they are white already unto harvest."
What meaning underlies the words "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white already unto harvest"? In the exalted state of mind that characterizes the Christ consciousness we see clearly the work to be done in our life before we can be "perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." As long as one remains in sense consciousness this harvest lies untouched awaiting the awakening of the reaper.
In what way do we enter into the labor of others? We profit by the experience and the example of those who have labored before us. We inherit the truth that they have brought to light, and we go on from this point instead of having to pioneer from the beginning.
3. Congregants drink from the well of the living Christ
4:39Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 4:40So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 4:41And many more believed because of his word. 4:42They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”
Our congregants will offer many objections to the well of eternal life. As ministers, we may be tempted to alleviate those concerns with classes, community, service and love. But, in the end, we are called as ministers to teaching the living presence of Christ. For that, there is no substitute.
All scripture references from New Revised Standard Version. Used by permission.
Contributed by Mark Hicks on 12-26-2013
Click here if you have been blessed by this lesson and wish to contribute to Mark's ministry.