The Atonement of Jesus, Accomplished and Applied.

Old Testament and gospel narrative is the product of inspiration, revealing historic accounts inerrantly and infallibly. In these accounts, God is always the hero, and Jesus is the heroic representative of the Godhead in the Gospel of John. We are reminded in 1 Corinthians 10 that these accounts are given to us as examples. Jesus’s atonement, accomplished and applied, dramatically changes life for the coming new faith community, the church.

We read in the gospels how Jesus ushers in the last days, the church age. John 4 is a mountaintop chapter with sweeping changes for the coming faith community, the church. Up to this point, these communities lived under the promise and the expectation of fulfillment of an atonement. For the first time, a faith community will live under an atonement, accomplished and applied. Jesus announces some colossal changes with respect to salvation history. It is critical that we observe the dialogue and interactions Jesus has with the people in John 4.

Jesus and the Pharisees

Throughout the book of John, the Pharisees persist in diverting the attention of crowds and individuals from Jesus. In John 4, Jesus seems to be saying to the Pharisees that He will deal with them later. John proclaims what Jesus declared: that He would lay down His life and take it up again, that no one would take His life from Him, and that He had the authority to lay His life down and to take it up again (John 10:14-18). Jesus knew what the Pharisees were doing. Nothing was hidden from Him. Jesus’s absolute control, mastery, and authority is displayed when He uses the energy of His aggressors to accomplish His purpose. We have been benefiting for millennia from the Pharisees’ aggression against our Lord and Savior when He allowed their aggression to come to its peak.

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman

Instead of dealing with the Pharisees in John 4, Jesus keeps a critical appointment with the Samaritans. His message to them and all Gentiles is that they need to see Jesus as Savior of the world. Jesus’s approach to the Gentile world begins with a lowly woman at a well (John 4:7). Tired and thirsty, Jesus leverages His shared humanity for the sake of her eternal destiny, and not just hers but for each of ours, becoming our faithful High Priest. We observe the woman’s cultural patriotism exacerbated by her religious rivals, the Jews, and the resulting view of her gender. These are classic Gentile responses to Jesus. All of these would prevent the Samaritan woman from being able to know the truth of Jesus.

The Gift of God

There are always two issues with the Gentile community; they do not know the gift of God, nor do they know who Jesus is. Jesus reveals this to the Samaritan woman, offering her spiritual Living Water which quenches forever the deep spiritual thirst of the soul in rebellion against God. Jesus gives this Living Water to the one who asks (John 4:10) with no religious or racial requirements (John 4:14). Whoever wants to drink enjoys a limitless source of truth with a curative effect. Jesus declares we will never thirst again, leading to a transformed life for each who possesses this Living Water (John 4:14) and to the flourished living which the God of heaven intends.

The Identity of Jesus

Jesus lovingly proves that His identity necessitates an authority to call the Samaritan woman to repentance in order to meet her greatest need. She responds with eagerness for this Living Water (John 4:15), but Jesus desires for her to understand who He really is (John 4:21-26). Jesus demonstrates an incommunicable attribute of God in human flesh. He directs His omniscience to a particular area of this woman’s life and what she knows is true in the Mosaic Law. She was living with a man who was not her husband, and she had had five husbands (John 4:16-18), contrary to the moral law of God, making her an offender. The intended purpose of the law identifies sin as an offense against the holy God of Israel, teaching us that we cannot measure up and that we need help. Jesus is the source of the forgiveness and righteousness needed by this Samaritan woman and is the source needed by each of us.

The Samaritan woman considers Jesus to be a prophet and possibly the Messiah (John 4:19-20). Jesus kindly says she is uninformed and ignorant. He commands her to believe Him as a new source of revelation, for He is revealing to her the very will of God. From this point forward, salvation history will never be the same. The divinity, authority, and coming atonement of Jesus will unilaterally change worship forever (John 4:22-24). Christ’s atonement, accomplished and applied, completely reorganizes worship. Jesus comes in human flesh to be forever identified as a human being, making it possible for human bodies now to be the dwelling place of the glory of God (Romans 12:1-2). The wrath of God for our sin has been dealt with and satisfied once and for all. God’s wrath and the worship of the church saint is now memorialized by the practice of communion. Born again, we no longer fear the wrath of God.

Finally, Jesus states to the Samaritan woman that He is the Messiah and declares all things. God desires worshipers who worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). Overwhelmed, she goes into the city to tell the people to come see Jesus (John 4:28-29). The people are impacted and awed by Jesus who commands on His own authority, and they beg Him to stay (John 4:40). Jesus stays with them for two days. This is the longing of the church as also expressed by Paul in Philippians 1:21. Our blessed hope is bodily resurrection from the dead to eternal life with Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 4:17-18).

The Samaritans believe in Jesus, no longer because of what the woman has said, but because they have heard for themselves and each know that Jesus is the Savior (John 4:42). In the era of salvation history in which atonement is accomplished and applied, salvation is individual and objective. Words from a self-attesting revelatory source from God enable us to articulate the truth we know. We know the Gift and the Giver, and we believe.

Jesus and His Disciples

The disciples in John 4 appear to miss the larger significance of the moment, as we disciples of Jesus often do. Essentially, Jesus informs the disciples that they have much to learn concerning ministry. The disciples arrive and are amazed, but no one asks why Jesus is speaking with the Samaritan woman. Jesus has just changed the whole landscape of worship, and the disciples have missed it! Instead, they encourage Jesus to eat, but He provides them with spiritual food (John 4:31-38). The possibility of spiritual productivity in individual lives in this era of salvation history is comparable by analogy (John 4:35-38) to the amazing physical blessings of the millennial kingdom mentioned in Amos 9. Jesus says in this new era of an atonement accomplished and applied, we can experience stunning spiritual productivity as never before.

In John 20:31, John states clearly: humanity must believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God in order to possess eternal life. Therefore, Jesus, not self, must be the central focus of one’s life. Jesus’s primary concern for each of us is that we know the gift of God and that we know clearly the identity of Jesus, the Messiah, the God-man. Jesus’s atonement, accomplished and applied, makes the wrath of God an important memory, not a present reality, and creates the opportunity for unprecedented spiritual productivity.

Application Points

  • Are you drinking from the Source of Life, being conformed in your character to resemble Christ?
  • As a child of God, is your priority knowing Jesus and living for Him?
  • As an ambassador of Jesus Christ, are you giving the gospel in your community and to others in the areas of your life where the Lord has placed you?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Prov. 4:18; John 15:8; 2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 1:9-11; 3:15-16; Col. 1:6; 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Thess. 1:3; 2 Peter 1:5-8 – Christian Growth