“The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4:25-26).
As Jesus and the woman at the well engaged in their dialogue, Jesus continued to reveal more to her about Himself. He not only revealed to her particulars of her personal life that He would not otherwise know unless He was God, but He also revealed to her the true nature of worship. Finally, He revealed to her His true identity.
There are many people who deny that Jesus ever identified Himself as God. While they will admit, because the biblical evidence in the New Testament is overwhelming, that others claimed Jesus to be God (e.g. Romans 9:1-6) they deny that Jesus ever explicitly said as such. However, John 4:25-26 proves otherwise.
The woman, following the discussion about worship, says that she understands that the Messiah is coming. The word Messiah means the Christ or the Anointed One of God. The Samaritans believed that He would personally come as God’s special Chosen One to redeem sinners. It would be He who would reveal and announce all things, such as the location and form of true worship.
Jesus’ response to her is emphatic: “I who speak to you am he.” In these seven words we have an independent clause along with a dependent clause contained in one sentence. Let me first begin by explaining that an independent clause in a sentence is a series of words which can stand on their own. They form a complete thought containing a subject, a verb and a direct object. The independent clause in vs. 26 is “I … am He.”
However, we also see a dependent clause, which means just that. It is a series of words which are dependent upon the independent clause in the sentence for meaning and clarification. The dependent clause in vs. 26 is “who speak to you.” It is also true that the dependent clause can be placed in the sentence for emphasis.
This is what we see in John 4:26. Jesus emphatically tells the woman He has met at the well that the Messiah who she speaks of is the person who is speaking directly to her. In saying so, Jesus identifies Himself as Yahweh.
Dr. John MacArthur explains, “Twenty-three times in all we find our Lord’s meaningful “I am” (ego eimi, Greek) in the Greek text of this Gospel (John 4:26; 6:20, 35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12, 18, 24, 28, 58; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 13:19; 14:6; 15:1, 5; 18:5, 6, 8). In several of these, he joins his “I am” with seven tremendous metaphors, which are expressive of his saving relationship toward the world.”
Those seven metaphors include the following. (1) “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35, 41, 48, 51); (2) “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12); (3) “I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7, 9); (4) “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11, 14); (5) “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25); (6) “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6); and (7) “I am the true vine” (John 15:1, 5).
Dr. R.C. Sproul comments, “Jesus was forthright with the Samaritan woman about His messianic identity when He usually did not make such direct claims to be the promised Son of David. This reticence is best explained by the fact that for first-century Jews, the title “Messiah” frequently had military connotations. The Jews thought the Messiah would be the one to overthrow the Romans and establish a new, politically independent Jewish state. If Jesus were to have announced His messianic office so plainly to the Jews, they would have likely been incited to revolt against Rome. Because the Messiah was not a political or military figure for the Samaritans, Jesus could speak of His messianic office more straightforwardly. That Jesus was unafraid to have gentiles tell others about Him (Luke 8:26–39) would seem to confirm that Jesus refrained from calling Himself the Messiah among Jews lest it cause problems for His ministry.”
Jesus’ invoking the title “I am” (ego eimi) is a specific claim of deity. It reminds us of Exodus 3 and God’s self-disclosure to Moses. Jesus was not willing to only accept the woman’s speculation that He was a prophet. Rather, He identified Himself as God. In doing so, He satisfied her thirst.
What about your thirst? Have you received the living water of salvation which is only available by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone?
Soli deo Gloria!