A Woman, A Well, and the Way of Salvation
This passage is well known to many who have read the Gospels; Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus has a divine appointment with this woman who was an outcast even to her own people, the Samaritans. Jesus uses thirst and the well of Jacob as an example and opportunity to lovingly reveal Himself as her Savior from sin. Today the sermon is called: A Woman, A Well, and the Way of Salvation.
I. Divine Appointment (v. 1-7a - Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water).
Jesus was always about His Father's business. And this time was no different. Jesus did everything according to the will of His Father; every miracle or healing, every word He spoke, and every place that Jesus went was for the glory of the Father and by the leading of the Spirit. We see by verses 3 & 4, that Jesus left Judea to go to Galilee and it says “ He needed to go through Samaria”. Jesus and His disciples left Judea traveling through Samaria to eventually get to Galilee. But Jesus made a stop at Jacob's well in Samaria, He had this divine appointment to meet a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, the Heavenly Father set the time and date and place, and Jesus was there. Jesus sat down by the well being tired from walking in the heat. We know that Jesus is God but this also reminds us that God the Son added humanity to Himself and Christ's human body was tired and thirsty. Here is an example from Jesus that we need to also emulate. Jesus is at the well to meet this Samaritan woman. Jesus was there at the place God the Father wanted Him to be, He was there at the time God wanted Him to be there, and Jesus was there willingly, His only desire to do the Father's will. Now, do we do the same? To be honest, we usually go where we desire to go, when we want to, and do things according to our will and desire. But we need to be like our Lord, to be in God's place, at God's time, with a desire to do God's will. Jesus said in Matt. 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”; let's start by first seeking to do the will of the Kingdom of God instead of seeking the kingdom of self. We can do that by viewing our lives as opportunities to glorify God. Look for divine appointments to tell someone about Jesus, that what this appointment was about, Jesus graciously and lovingly revealing Himself as Lord and Savior. Now let's look at this divine appointment this woman had with Jesus.
II. Divine Encounter (v. 7-26 - A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." The woman said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? "Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?" Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw." Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have well said, 'I have no husband,' for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly." The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He.").
We now see this is who Christ was waiting for, He is watching the approach of the Samaritan woman to this well. And Jesus asks her for a drink. The woman is startled at Him talking to her because cultural standards of the time was that men did not address women in public, because it was beneath a man to acknowledge women in public. Secondly, her reply of “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” showed a embarrassing fact that Jews despised Samaritans. Jews did not even walk through Samaria, except Jesus. A “good” Jew would not set foot into Samaria, in fact, to get to Galilee from Judea, a Jew would cross the Jordan from Judea into Galilee, up the eastern side of the Jordan until the they got to Galilee, very much out of the way instead of the shortest route straight through Samaria.
There was bad blood from the time of the divided Kingdom of Israel and Judah. Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians and the people of the Northern Kingdom, Israel, that was left were taken into captivity never to return (lost 10 tribes). Judah years later, was defeated by Babylon and those not killed were taken into captivity to Babylon. After 70 years, Judah (tribes of Judah and Benjamin) returned under Nehemiah to Jerusalem. Under Nehemiah and Ezra, the city walls and temple were rebuilt but of course not to the full glory as once before. Any remaining Jews that were in Israel (Ephraim) intermarried with what pagan peoples settled in that land. After Judah rebuilt in Jerusalem a temple to worship God, the half-breed Samaritans wanted to worship in the temple but were forbidden by the full-blooded Jews. So the half-breed Samaritans set a false temple in Samaria on Mt. Gerezim. So there was bad blood, wars fought, and the Jews destroying the Samaritan temple completely. Bad blood between the two and the Jews despised them and vice versa. To the Jew, Samaritans were unredeemable, worse than a Gentile. And Jesus asks her for a drink, Jesus didn't have any thing to draw from the well and He did not have a cup to drink from. Jesus was asking to drink from her own pitcher or pot, unthinkable to any Jew because that broke down that cultural and social barrier formed out of hate, to drink from or use a utensil of a gentile and especially a Samaritan was considered to defile a Jew (traditional view, not biblical). She recognized Jesus as a Jew, His facial features, noticed His clothing, maybe the blue hem that a rabbi wore. But not only was she a Samaritan but also she was an outcast from her community. She came at a place to draw water that was over a ½ mile away from town. Towns built around a water source and those particular hills had an abundant amount of springs, Dr John MacArthur comments that, “What in the world is she doing a half a mile away from the village? Well, she had to come a long ways. Why? No water? Plenty of water. Water coming out of the springs in the Judean hillsides all over the place. Why did she go a half mile away? Because she was an outcast. Very likely because of the background that she had, the other women didn't want her around”. We see in verse 18 that she was most likely a prostitute for she had had 5 husbands and now just living with a man, in those days and even among the Samaritans, it was taboo behavior and it made her an outcast. In spite of all this, as He crushes these barriers to present His salvation to her, Christ begins to reveal Himself to her. Jesus answers her by saying, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water”. Jesus is offering her salvation, the gift of God is salvation in the Son of God. In chapter 3, we saw that Jesus offers salvation to Nicodemus (a guy that supposed to have it right and supposedly very moral) and now He offers His grace and mercy to this Samaritan outcast (the polar opposite of Nicodemus). It seems that the love of Jesus Christ is not based on our merit or capability of being lovable or our capability of loving God back, salvation is based on the love of God towards us through Christ (1 John 4:19 - “We love Him because He first loved us”). We are saved and cleansed from sin because He chose to love us just like he chose to love this woman, Jesus' love is truly unconditional. We see Jesus is using a natural or physical example to convey a spiritual truth. But we also see she misunderstands Him. Jesus is speaking to her need, a need for a Savior, and she really not understanding her need and Jesus' answer to her spiritual need to be saved. She tells Jesus that you don't have anything to draw up the water with, so how do you plan to get water, is there some easier way to get water from this deep well. Do you know someway to get the water from Jacob's well that even he didn't know? Jesus then clarifies it even more for her by telling her that He has water that can satisfy her parched, dead, dry, spiritually lifeless soul; like real water satisfies her physical thirst, His living life-giving water can give life to her spirit and she will never thirst again. He told her, drink of this well of Jacob and you'll thirst again but if you drink of His salvation, His life giving water, a gushing and living water that will be inside of you, springing up into eternal life. She barely understanding that He is speaking in spiritual terms, she kind of gets it and says, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw”, let me drink from your well! She understands more than she lets on. But Jesus not only tells her she has a spiritual need of salvation but also shows her why she needs salvation, He reveals her sinfulness, “Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have well said, 'I have no husband,' for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly”. We can tell people how they need Jesus, we can tell them how much that Jesus loves them and gave His life on the cross for them but they will never understand unless we tell them how lost in their sins they are. We can just like this woman she wants to drink but Jesus shows her that sin is keeping her from the living water. She desires the gift of salvation, she sees her sins keeping her from eternal life, and now she desires to make it right with God, so she makes this statement and asks this question, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship”; what is she talking about? She tells Jesus, “I know your from God because you, a total stranger, told me of the living water and told me everything wrong in my life, I just want to know where I got to go worship and what I have to perform ritually and religiously to earn this living water, this salvation”. Jesus breaks it down by telling her, that the real temple worship was in Jerusalem but this doesn't matter because “the time will come and now is, when true worshipers of God will worship Him in Spirit and in truth”. So we see the way to come to God, the truth and the Spirit, the truth is Jesus. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”, no way into the presence of God or in relationship unless we know the Truth, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the truth of God, the truth of life, the truth of salvation, the truth of forgiveness, the truth of reconciliation, the truth of redemption. The whole of spiritual truth is revealed in the one person of Jesus Christ. The Spirit brings to life the truth about Jesus, the Spirit convicts us, the Spirit of God produces repentance, and the faith to receive the person of salvation, Jesus Christ. Jesus brought her full face with who she needed to know personally to receive salvation and it will never be found in performing or joining a religion but only found in personally knowing Him as Lord and Savior. She goes on to say, and I think this is where she finally puts it all together and Jesus simply confirms it, “I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He"”. Jesus said in this statement, “I'm Him, your Messiah, your salvation, your God”. What does she do, v.28 tells us she immediately turns around leaves her water pot and goes back to the city.
III. Divinely Proclaimed (v. 28-30, 39-42 - The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" Then they went out of the city and came to Him.; And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all that I ever did." So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.").
This woman did what the disciples failed to do. She went into Sychar and told everyone she could about Jesus, that He was the Messiah and Savior of the world. The disciples let their prejudice rob them of the blessing of leading them to Christ. By this no good outcast of a woman, salvation came to the Samaritans. And they received Him better than Jews did. And when they met Jesus, they believed who He said He was because they heard Him for themselves and believed His truth of salvation that He was the Savior of the world. We see the change in this woman; we can see the gradual realization of her growing in the knowledge of who Jesus was.
In verse 6, just meeting Jesus she called Him, “Jew”; then in verse 11, “sir” as her respect grows while talking to her; in verse 19 she then calls Him “prophet”; and in verse 25 she is finally figuring out He is Messiah, lastly she goes back and finally realizing in her heart that Jesus is the Christ and begins to proclaim it in her town (v.29). After she has her divine encounter and is saved, she shares Jesus with everyone in town and they receive Him as Lord also (v. 42 - “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world”). Jesus and the disciples stayed two days more with the Samaritans revealing who He was. Proclaiming the Kingdom of God and showing the disciples that He came to “seek and to save that which was lost”. We need to recognize our need for Jesus, we must proclaim to others their need for Jesus, and never let race, class, or social differences keep us from showing the love of God through Christ.