Three Questions of Superiority in John 4:7-15
1. How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?
2. Where do you get that living water?
3. Are you greater than our father Jacob?
These questions all have one thing in common. They all are asking what is superior. In the case of the first, the woman asks about the superiority of Jews to Samaritans. In the second, Jesus is raising the question about a superior satisfaction. In the third, which is closely connected to the second, Jesus is concerned with the superiority of his gift over against that of Jacob.
How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?
Jesus challenges her at this tender point. Yes he is a Jew and she is a Samaritan; but he is more than a Jew and that is why he wants to visit with her. He is the Messiah, the savior of all kinds of people in all kinds of places in all times. He is suggesting something radical – true religion unites rather than divides.
Where do you get this living water?
Jesus has already told her the answer to this question before she asks it. “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.” That is to say, Jesus is the source of the living water.
Are you greater than our father Jacob?
What do you suppose the answer is? Jesus answers this question in much the same way as he had answered Nicodemus by diverting the question about himself to consider the thing he offered. Yet the paradox is that the superlative thing he offers is precisely himself.