Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 4:14b “The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
The new life Jesus gives is a vigorous, active principle. A true spring never ceases to gush. Long after still waters freeze in cold weather, springs continue to gush forth.
Unfortunately, Christ is obviously not Agushing forth@ from most of our lives. Much of what we do for Jesus is often done under a sense of compulsion.
We display a Ahave to do it@ attitude. Some Christians dislike every religious activity they are involved in. This attitude doesn=t jive with the metaphor of a spring.
Living water referred to moving water. Still waters become stagnant, and picture people who have a sour religion, just enough to make them miserable. Suffering from spiritual indigestion, their well is clogged, not springing forth. They fret, are morbid and miserable. Obedience to Christ is not enjoyed as their meat, but endured as their medicine.
Does our life bubble from within? Do prayer, praise, and service arise spontaneously from within?
Is our life a drudgery or does it spring up from within? For most of us, God has more to give than we have thus far been willing to receive.
John 4:15 ASir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.@
The Samaritan=s response is still totally carnal. She has shown no trace of spiritual understanding. However, she is showing a better attitude toward Jesus. She is now seeking a favor from One who had asked of her a favor.
She has progressed from AThou hast nothing to draw with@ to AGive me this water.@ She doesn=t understand all the details, but can at least ask for the gift she thinks has been offered her.
Something about Jesus was drawing her. She was responding to His words and His acceptance of her.
Though her concern was for her own personal convenience, her faith with low motives was better than no faith at all. Her faith was infinitely less than a grain of mustard seed, but Jesus recognized it.
John 4:16 AJesus saith unto her, go, call thy husband and come hither.@
Since she wanted living water, Christ began digging the well. A hard rock of impenitence had to be crushed and penetrated. The Samaritan didn=t know what she was asking for, but Jesus proceeded with the process of giving it to her anyway.
Jesus is preparing to make a frontal attack. The woman was being drawn to the beauty of Christ, but had to see the ugliness of herself. Jesus had to awaken in her a spiritual need, because salvation begins with a sense of sin.
Her heart had to be pricked before it could be healed. Jesus had to open a wound of guilt so she would be willing to receive the remedy of grace. Remember two vital truths about these seemingly harsh words from Jesus. First, He spoke like this only after the woman knew she had been fully accepted by Him.
Second, His purpose was cure. He only wanted to help. True conviction is Acriticism based on hope.@ If our witnessing drives penitents to despair, something is wrong with our approach.
John 4:17a AI have no husband.@
Jesus had touched a sensitive nerve. The Samaritan=s curt answer exposed her reluctance to deal with this issue. She wanted to stop a dangerous conversation at once.
Jesus, though, was determined to bring her sin out into the open. She had to be reminded how unclean and unchaste her past life had been.
Before she can come to Christ for rest, she must be made weary and heavy-laden under the burden of sin. Witnessing is incomplete until there is this kind of confrontation.
John 4:17b-18 AThou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband.@
Jesus= reply was devastating. He knew all about her. Jesus= supernatural knowledge stabbingly brought the Samaritan to her senses.
Grace is little known or valued until people realize the vast extent of their misery. Since she didn=t respond to Jesus= offer willingly and quickly, a sense of misery had to be brought to pass in her.
John 4:19-20 AThe woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.@
Jesus had touched a sensitive nerve. She liked Jesus, but did not like what He was doing to her. His supernatural knowledge of her past scared her.
The carnal mind is always ingenious in finding ways to cast off conviction. To stave off more, and possibly worse, revelations, the Samaritan used two ploys: flattery and diversion.
Calling Jesus a prophet was the highest compliment she could give Him. The Samaritans believed there had not been a prophet, a person who had direct communications from God, since Moses. To them the next Prophet after Moses would be the Messiah (Deuteronomy 18:18).
Having used flattery, she moved on to diversion. She desperately wanted to keep the conversation away from the unpleasant discussion of her sin. The woman was like most lost people, not angry at the Gospel, just afraid of it.
Wanting to avoid specific application, she tried to change the subject to one of a vague and general nature. It is always easier to talk about religion in general than to apply the message to self.
Samaritans believed Gerizim was God=s chosen site for worship. They rejected all the Old Testament, except for the first five books.
Since Jerusalem is not designated in the Pentateuch as the place of worship, the Samaritans rejected it. Believing many events of the Pentateuch took place on Gerizim, they chose it as the sacred place of worship.
John 4:21 AJesus said unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.@
Jesus refused to argue with her. He told her the controversy is irrelevant. The rival claims of Gerizim and Jerusalem will soon vanish in light of the revelation He is about to unveil.
The very premise which was of utmost importance to her was set aside as indifferent to Jesus. Oh that we all had His wisdom to discern pertinent truth.
Issues that cause turmoil in a fellowship are often trivial, matters passing away. Our discernment is often distorted.
John 4:22 AYe worship ye know not what. We know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews.@
Samaritan religion was filled with pagan practices. Their knowledge of God was terribly stunted. They realized Whom to worship, but did not know Him or how.
The Jews were not perfect, but did have a horror of idolatry. Also, they knew more about YHWH because they accepted all the Old Testament.
Most important of all, Asalvation is of the Jews.@ Be careful to note this means salvation proceeds from, not belongs to, the Jews. Saying salvation is of the Jews was simply a way of stating the Messiah would be a Jew.
John 4:23-24 ABut the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.@
The Father seeks true worshipers. Hence, all who are seeking His face should be striving to become sincere worshipers.
These two verses give four lessons to help us be true worshipers. First, the place does not determine worship.
The chosen site was neither Gerizim nor Jerusalem, but both and anywhere and everywhere. God can be worshiped anywhere people are in the right condition to worship.
Second, God is spirit. He is immaterial, invisible, incorruptible, independent, and unrestricted. Free from all limitations of time and space, God is not confined to any place, any ritual, or any thing.
Third, we must worship in spirit. The human spirit, the part of us which enables us to communicate with God, is the seat of worship, the sacred site, as it were. Since God is spirit, our offering to Him must include gifts of the spirit – love, loyalty, obedience, devotion, etc.
Though spirit-worship is what God desires, people prefer to worship Him with robes, incense, flowers, ritual, etc. The tendency in worship is always toward complexity. The battle is in keeping us ever striving toward simplicity. God seeks those whose worship is not dependent on outward places and circumstances.
Genuine worship is when people through their spirit attain to friendship and intimacy with God. Worship is our spirit speaking to, loving, adoring, and meeting with His Spirit.
Fourth, we must worship in truth. This entails complete sincerity, and also denotes reality, having a correct knowledge of the One worshiped.
An accurate, true idea of God is essential to correct worship. People can worship God aright only when they accept the revelation of God in Christ as ultimate Truth.
John 4:25 AThe woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh, who is called Christ; when he is come, he will tell us all things.@
The Samaritan woman, unable to answer Jesus effectively, tried another ploy, procrastination. She essentially said they will both have to wait until Messiah comes to settle the debate. She was accusing Jesus of speaking about subjects that should be left in the realm of the Holy One, for only He would know all things.
Realizing she was no match for Jesus, she in effect put the conversation on hold. The cry of the world is too often, AGive me this water, but not yet. I want it . . . later.@
By mentioning the Coming One, she diverted attention from her specific sins, yet still sounded religious.
Samaritans saw Messiah as the perfect Teacher, not a conqueror. To them, Messiah=s mission was truth, not dominion. Though this view was defective (Messiah would do much more than only teach), it was free from fanatic political views of Jewish expectation. Since Samaritans were free from this political stumbling block, Christ felt free to claim among them Messiahship.
John 4:26 AJesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.@
To proclaim Himself Messiah in Samaria would create no problem for Jesus. He could use the term safely here.
Had Jesus used the term in Jewish circles, flames of zealous patriotism would have been lit. With the Jews, Jesus preferred to use the non-controversial and ambiguous term, ASon of man.@
In Samaria, Jesus claimed to be Messiah. He hid His true identity from Jewish teachers and leaders, but revealed Himself to this lowly fallen woman. A Samaritan, a woman, a sinner, was the recipient of the first clear confession from Jesus of His Messiahship. The Lord=s ways are mysterious.
The Lord loves to use unlikely vessels. This assures He will have all the honor, and forces all onlookers to look to Him for help.
Jesus= standards are not our standards. We seek respectable vessels. He seeks true worshipers.
John 4:27 AAnd upon this came his disciples, and marveled that he talked with the woman. Yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?@
The returning disciples were surprised to see Jesus speaking to a woman. Added to their shock was the fact she was a Samaritan and a sinner.
How could the Twelve, after having been with Christ, react in this aloof way? We must remember they were men of their time and environment, ordinary people, common laborers.
Their response to the Samaritan was sad. It is always disappointing when saved ones attain super-fine spirituality, put on airs, and turn away from the very ones Jesus would welcome.
The disciples eventually changed, but at this point were caste-bound, male-chauvinist Jews. In light of their ancient prejudices, we should probably deem their silence much to their credit. The disciples may not have understood fully, but at least knew Jesus had good reasons for what He did, and could be trusted to do right.
The Twelve were learning not to question Jesus. An important step in discipleship is when we realize our prejudices and incorrect customs must end at His actions and commands.
The stretching of the disciples= own hearts to care for all nationalities would take years, be personally painful, and come only after seeing the examples of Jesus, of Philip the deacon with the Samaritans and Ethiopian Eunuch, of a converted Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus, and of Cornelius and Peter.
John 4:28-29 AThe woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, who told me all things that ever I did. Is not this the Christ?@
With Jesus= announcement of Messiahship, the conversation reached its climax. There was nothing more to say. It was time to accept or reject.
The Samaritan woman accepted. Instead of responding with words as before, this time she replied with action.
Suddenly overcome with excitement, she left to tell others about Jesus. Christ had told her to bring her husband. She took it upon herself to invite everybody.
She left her waterpot, no small detail in a dry, barren land. Things of earth no longer mattered. Leaving the waterpot bespoke her urgency. She was in a hurry, intending to return quickly.
In this classic soulwinning encounter, Jesus achieved His objective of bringing a soul to Himself. The Samaritan woman=s experience with Jesus revealed several definite, easily identifiable, and oft repeated, stages.
First, she felt accepted by Jesus (vv. 7-14). Second, she liked Jesus and asked Him for physical water (v. 15).
Third, Jesus convinced her of her sin (v. 18). Fourth, she tried to avoid conviction by using flattery (v. 19), diversion (v. 20), and procrastination (v. 25).
Fifth, confronted with Jesus= claim, she had to decide for or against Him (v. 26). Sixth, she believed. Seventh, she shared her new-found joy with others (vv. 28-30).
John 4:30 AThen they went out of the city, and came unto him.@
There was nothing artificial about this scene. The whole episode depicts a thrilling moment filled with spontaneous words and actions. The woman=s countrymen, moved by her enthusiasm, came flocking to Jesus.
Note one huge, albeit subtle, contrast between the woman and the disciples. They had known Jesus longer and better than she had, but when they went to the town, they brought back only loaves. The woman brought converts.
What are we bringing to Jesus? Only our burdens, confessions, labors, Bible studies, prayer sessions, etc? Where are the converts?