March 12, 2023 |Living Water|John 4:5-42
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This morning we come to another very familiar story to most of us in the woman at the well. What we see here is a clear picture of Jesus talking to a sinner and exposing them to their need to know Him. Jesus lays out how we should go about giving the Gospel to a lost and unbelieving world.
While we look at this story and how Jesus evangelizes to the lost it is also important to remember why John wrote his Gospel. John 20:31 says- but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
So, we see His Humanity and His weariness. Here we see Him in His deity and omniscience. More than it is anything else, this scripture is a presentation of Christ. And what makes it unique is that up to now in the gospel of John, he has presented Christ as the Son of God. John the Baptist has presented Christ as the Messiah. The disciples of Jesus have given testimony to the fact that He is the Messiah. So, we have the witness of John the apostle.
We have the witness of John the Baptist. We have the witness of the disciples. But this is the first time that Jesus will declare who He is from His own lips and that we find in verses 25 and 26 where the woman speaks of the Christ, the Messiah who will come, and Jesus said to her in verse 26, “I who speak to you am He.”
I find it very interesting that Jesus doesn’t tell any significant religious leader, or to any in Jerusalem. Instead, this revelation is given to a woman who is by every sense of the definition an outcast. She is not only a Samaritan, but an immoral woman. Simply put she is a sinner and she has no understanding of true religion.
Compare her story to Nicodemus who came seeking Jesus, she has no idea, clueless who Jesus is. MacArthur puts it like this,
” She is from the dregs of corrupted culture and society. She is a pariah in her own realm. She is an unclean woman. She’s the very opposite of Nicodemus. Nicodemus is moral, he’s religious, he’s an upstanding Jew, he is learned, he is a theologian, he is from the socially elite, he is a prominent leader, he is devout, he is respected by everyone, and it was he who sought out Jesus that he might know the way of salvation, the way into the kingdom.”
It is mind blowing to me that this is the first-person Jesus, in the Gospel of John, chooses to reveal His true identity to. But why would Jesus choose this woman?
It is a testimony that salvation has come to all who believe as He declared in John 3:16-for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Jesus Himself is declaring the Gospel is not just for the Jew, but the gentile also. Acts 10:34-35 says- 34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
JESUS THE WEARY MAN VS 5-6
5So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
It would be easy to skip over these first two verse like they are just written here to add detail to the story, but nothing is written in scripture without a purpose. John is showing us that Jesus was in fact 100% man. That when He humbled Himself and took on flesh that He did not pardon Himself from the hardships of His creation.
Philippians 2:6-8 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross
As a man He would know what it was like to be hot, cold, hungry, thirsty, and as we see here weary. I have always wondered why Jesus was so weary here that He needed to rest at the well while the others were able to carry on into town to pick up food. Well while the Gospel of John doesn’t tell us about the temptation of Christ, we know that this had to have happened before the trip back up north from Judea to Galilee. So here we have Jesus who probably is still recovering physically from a 40 day fast in a weakened physical state unable to walk another step without a rest. Jesus’ humanity may seem like a small issue, but it was so important to the early church that they would form a counsel to settle the matter of Jesus’ nature.
What came out of that counsel in 451 is still the standard that all Christians hold fast to. What they set forth would be called the Chalcedonean Creed which 5 main truths are:
1. Jesus has two natures — He is God and man. 2. Each nature is full and complete — He is fully God and fully man. 3. Each nature remains distinct. 4. Christ is only one Person. 5. Things that are true of only one nature are nonetheless true of the Person of Christ.
Understand that it is only the blood of the perfect spotless man that could ever fully atone for the sins of men. So why is this small detail about Jesus being weary found here. Because our savior had to be fully man.
Question 16 of the Heidelberg Catechism reads;
Q: Why must He be a true and righteous man?
A: He must be a true man because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which has sinned should pay for sin. He must be a righteous man because one who himself is a sinner he cannot pay for others.
Louis Berkhof in his book, Systematic Theology says,
“Only such a truly human Mediator, who had experimental knowledge of the woes of mankind and rose superior to all temptations, could enter sympathetically into all the experiences, the trials, and the temptations of man (Heb. 2:17, 18; 4:15-5:2) and be a perfect human example for his followers (Matt. 11:29; Mark 10:39; John 13:13-15; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 12:2-4; 1 Pet. 2:21).
So here in these 2 seemingly throw away verses we find an essential truth about Jesus, that He was a man who in the heat of the day after a long walk became weary. And that in this weary man was also to be found the only one who could satisfy the one true need in your life.
ONLY LIVING WATER CAN SATISFY VS 7-14.
7A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8(For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) One commentary says this phrase can be translated “Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans. 10Jesus answered her, “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.” 11The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
In this passage contrasted to VS 2-3 we see Jesus’ deity is on display because He meets a woman whom He has never met in His life and He knows her entire history. She and the other Samaritans that come to know Him are why VS 4 tells us He HAD to pass through Samaria. This is the divine appointment that He had to keep as it was her day of visitation.
There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Now I have to stop there and like someone I know very well say,” I got questions.”
Why is she coming at the heat of the day?
Why is she coming to the well alone?
Now her coming to the well is not uncommon at all as drawing water in this time was a woman’s duty while the men worked the fields. Drawing water in a hot arid land where water is scarce every day is also normal. What is not normal is that she did not come at dusk or dawn when it would have been much cooler. It is not known for certain why she came when she did, but we do know that she was a woman of poor reputation. Although Samaritan, they did keep and follow much of the law of Moses so her immoral lifestyle would have made life hard on her and avoiding other people was probably much easier way for her to deal with than the social stigmas that were placed on her. By man’s standard a woman not worthy enough to even mention much less get the full attention of Jesus. By the Jewish standard of the day Jesus should have no dealing with here what so ever, but what does He do. He takes the initiative and asks her a simple question. “Give me a drink.” J.C. Ryle says, “This is a gracious act of spiritual aggression on the sinner, a gracious act of spiritual aggression on the sinner.” This quote stuck me hard as I had never thought of sharing the Gospel as aggressive, but we should because what we see as a simple request from Jesus was beyond shocking in His day. He was willing to bypass the religious norms of the day in order that He might seek out the lost. Jesus often dismissed illegitimate Jewish traditions that came not by the law of Moses but religious leaders and traditions of the day. Another example of this is Paul in Acts 17:22-34 following Jesus’ style of evangelizing in the Areopagus where he not only aggressively inserts himself into their lives he finds a common ground which to enter into conversation with them.
In VS 9 we see an almost snide response from the woman. “How is it that You being a Jew ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” John gives us the extra “For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” Which is literally translated from the Greek “they don’t use the same utensils.” Imagine being this woman and looking at Jesus and seeing that He has no cup and telling Him I know your rules and you can’t drink after me so we are you bothering me. But Jesus had no interest in following the traditions of the day that would make it impossible for Him to obey the will of the Father. Jesus was only interested in revealed truth. Point in case He sent the 12 into town to buy Samaritan food that was prepared by Samaritan hands. These non-biblical traditions had shut them off from the Father, His will and His heart. So, God had to send His only begotten son to do what the people would never do, what the Pharisees and Sadducess would never do. The sad part is for the most part they weren’t really interested in their own people’s salvation, must less outsiders.
So once again Jesus is in this conversation with a woman who is immoral, indifferent, an outcast, and by tradition should be completely ignored. But in VS 10 Jesus has no time for this conflict between the Jew and Samaritan, between the sinner and Himself. Instead, He offers her unsolicited mercy. “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. He offers her what she could never find on her own. He identifies her thirst for water and offers Himself as the source to draw from. Obviously, she doesn’t understand what He is talking about but Jesus shows us that this is where evangelism starts. You simply start a conversation and find common ground and offer the sinner the gift of God without regard to who or what they have done. Understand we are sharing mercy with no regard for morality, with no regard for their religious standing.
Look at Christ example here He is offering just mercy and grace. Leave your presuppositions at the door and the Gospel do the work of changing lives.
This is what makes the Gospel so different from any other religion out there. All others say hey you need to do this, or do that. If you do you will get this reward, possibly. I was talking with my Muslim coworker they other day about how he could reach heaven. Besides being all works based there was no assurance of salvation for him. That even if he did everything right, he still might not get in heaven. On the contrast the Gospel of Jesus says come as you are and receive His mercy! Not because you are good enough, not because you were religious enough, not because you were able to fix your life enough. This is the free Gift of God lived out by Christ. Jesus is standing there telling the woman if you only knew who I am, you would ask and I would give it to you freely.
In John 3 we saw that we had to be born again from above and we have no work in that, but all we can do is ask. All we can do is say Lord I am thirsty and He is faithful to give you a drink of living water. In this short answer Jesus has told her what the gift of God is, what the living water is…it is salvation through Him. It is His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness, His justification flowing forth without ceasing AMEN!!!
It is a fulfillment of Romans 10 that whoever call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. This is the Gospel! It is His mercy given to the sinner no matter the sin or religious standing. Romans 5:31 tells us that His grace abounds all the more. Jesus tells her if she knew she would have asked for this living water.
In VS 11 we see her response to this free gift of God. I think it is astounding that both Nicodemus and her both respond to Jesus literally. Nicodemus asks how can a man be born again when he is old and she states that Jesus has nothing to draw the water up from the well. Make no mistake this a scornful remark by the woman. Notice her who do you think you are tone; you think your better than Jacob who gave us this well? Understand that when confronted by truth people lash out. I remember standing in a coffee shop reading Ephesians 2 to a man who was at the end of himself but when confronted with the truth and authority of scripture became very angry and confrontational with me.
Jesus responds not with judgement or hostility to this mockery but with mercy. In VS 13 He leads her to the truth that everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst again, but the water that I will give him will become in a him a well of water springing up to eternal life. As one commentary puts it Jesus is contrasting temporary with eternal satisfaction, teaching that all earthly pleasures, even if legitimate, are fading. We see here in VS 14 that what Jesus promises this endless well is so great in its abundance in its endlessness. This is permanent, consistent, full, satisfying, everlasting mercy and blessing from God to the sinner who asks. MacArthur puts it like this “The doctrine is the doctrine of eternal life. He’s offering her eternal life which is a spiritual reality—the gift of mercy, the gift of grace for all who ask. What is it? It’s living water. It’s satisfaction forever, soul satisfaction forever.”
THE EFFECTS OF LIVING WATER VS 15-42
15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” 16Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” 27Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30They went out of the town and were coming to him. 31Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” 39Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41And many more believed because of his word. 42They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
In Vs 15 she still hasn’t quite put it all together that Jesus is not interested in meeting a fleshly need, but her most urgent spiritual and eternal need. You can feel her exasperation with Jesus as she once again points out the physical reality that they are in. There is only one source of water here and you can’t even access it. But sure, give this water so I don’t have to come back here day after day, please make it easier to hide my sin from those around me. She plays the role with Jesus for the time being. But in VS 16 Jesus as she is most likely about to walk away thinking about the crazy man at the well issues her a direct command. And if there is one thing that we learn from scripture is that Jesus speaks with an authority that is unmatched. In the Army we call this a command voice or presence. You can just hear it in their voice, and it makes you really stop in your tracks. You understand that this is a person of authority, this is how Jesus sounds to her. Jesus tells her go and get your husband and bring him here. Of course, she tells Jesus that she has no husband. To which Jesus responds with you have answered correctly that you have no husband.
In this exchange we see the next part of Jesus giving of the Gospel.
He so far has...
...found common ground,
presented unsolicited mercy,
and provided an unparalleled promise.
The fourth thing we see here from Jesus is his uncompromising conviction of sin. Now I must ask what if we stopped and prayed with her before conviction of sin? Sadly, we would probably have a false convert because the issue of sin wouldn’t be dealt with. We must be careful not to purely evangelize based of the gifts of God because, let’s be real who in their right mind wouldn’t sign up for that. You are telling me I get this most wonderful gift and absolutely nothing changes in my life. This is what Bonhoeffer would call cheap grace. But church Jesus shows us that conviction of sin is absolutely necessary, and by this conviction her whole understanding of who Jesus is begins to change. It is essential and necessary to bring the sinner face to face with the weight of their sin to tell them of the consequence of that sin. Why? Because faith must be accompanied by What? Repentance! She’s an adulterous woman and she knew the Old Testament law of adultery. It is not enough to present all the blessings of the gift of God, without the full counsel of God. If all we do is speak of salvation without repentance then ask for a response we are going to be left with a false conversion and lead someone to be deceived about their true condition.
Look at Jesus’ response to her in VS 17-18, He clearly and plainly calls her sin out. “You have correctly said I have no husband, however, you just left something out, you’ve had five husbands and the one whom you now have is not your husband.” I have to pause here to point out just like how Jesus didn’t have time for the religious traditions in His time He still has no time for our modern-day religious traditions. Jesus in a very serious and direct manner violates the modern-day religious tradition which Voddie Baucham has called the 11th commandment.
What is the 11th commandment you ask; it is thou shall be nice.
Jesus calls her an adulterer to her face. Jesus has made clear to her the violation of the law that has put enmity between her and the Father. Now with the weight of her sin fresh on her mind how much sweeter does that unsolicited mercy sound now. Though this may not be nice it is the most loving thing that Jesus can do. This is where it all changes for her as Jesus reveals His full deity to her. Just like John 2:22-25 tells us that He needed no one to tell him what was in the heart of man because He already knows the hearts of men. Well, He also in His omniscience knows the history of every man. There is nowhere for her to run, no safe space she can go and not have her sinful life known by Christ. J.C. Ryle says
“It is not hard to deceive ministers, relatives and friends. But it is impossible to deceive Christ.”
She sees Jesus now not as a weary, looney man sitting on a well but now as a prophet. Notice how her need for water is gone and now she has a need to know where to worship God VS 19-20. She knows now that her need for living water is real, she just doesn’t know where to get it. All she knows is external religion, like all sinners. Her questions today would sound like what church do I go to? What ritual do I need to do? What ceremony do I need to do? What words do I need to say? Church, don’t you understand that the hour is here. Jesus has been slain in our place and the vail is torn! Worship of God is not found in the Samaritan temple or in the Jewish temple. Don’t we understand that there are no more places of worship where God is to be sought and found? There is no more priesthood, no more altars, no more sacrifices, no more incense, and all the other things that went into the temple worship. It doesn’t matter if it’s Jewish or Samaritan worship Jesus has ripped it all down. God has always wanted our worship of Him to be from and within the heart. True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. We must understand that Christ ushered in a new era of worship. Worship that is not concerned with buildings, symbols, day of the week, and all the other external things. Christ is talking about worship that is real and genuine. Worship that is grounded in the truth of Scripture and a heart that loves God no matter where it is. God wants and seeks worshipers that will worship Him in spirit and truth, weather we are in a building or not.
Worship, by the way, is not music. Worship is loving God. Worship is honoring God. Worship is knowing God for who He is, adoring Him, obeying Him, proclaiming Him as a way of life. J.C. Ryle says
“If you love Christ, never be ashamed to let others see it and know it. Speak for Him. Witness for Him. Live for Him.”
In VS 25 and 26 She knows that a messiah is coming and that He will declare all things to us. She is telling Jesus I want to know; I want to worship in spirit and truth and that I will never know how until He arrives. This is where Jesus in an awesome moment declares to her I who speak to you, AM. In the original Greek there is no HE. This is Jesus making a I AM statement just as He had given to Moses in the burning bush. The incarnate Christ is revealed in the unveiling of Christ. She is ready for the truth, and He is there to give it to her. I who speak to you, I AM.
Now Look at VS 28 this woman that came to the well for the need water now leaves it behind and runs back to those that she wished to avoid. Remember there is no small detail that is not important in scripture. John points out that this water jar is left for a reason. The satisfaction of living water come and the physical has faded away. Notice now that she knows the who and how to worship in peace and truth it changes everything for her. The physical need she has been left behind, the shame and scorn she wished to avoid is gone, and now a well spring overflowing inside of her. This is what living water produces in the life of a believer. Now because of this formally indifferent and immoral woman many of the Samaritans would come to know Him. Why? Because after meeting Jesus your life will never be the same. She is no longer that woman hiding in shame, but a new creation in Christ born again from above.
This morning we saw Jesus’ humanity and deity on full display. We saw our savior weary from travel, and we saw Him reveal Himself as the Messiah. We saw Him offer all a drink of living water regardless of the sinner’s morale and religious status. So, the question this morning is do you have the gift of God? And if you do are you following after Jesus and telling others where eternal life can be found?