Christ Evangelizing the Woman of Samaria
Text: John 4:1-15
Why was the Lord compelled to travel through Samaria at this time? He is on his was to Galilee, heading north. The Jews had a particular route to get to Galilee from Judea by avoiding Samaria, such was the bitter hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans. The language of v4 shows a pressing need, and I think this need was more than even just the meeting between Him and the woman. What we have here I think is a foreshadowing of the fact that the gospel would one day expand beyond Judea and into Samaria, before going into the uttermost parts of the earth. John is showing that even before the day of Pentecost, Christ was indicating from the earliest days of His ministry, the expansiveness of His mission.
The Samaritans, unlike the Jews at that time, were a mixed race. They had their own temple, priesthood, and system of worship. So this woman of Samaria was disadvantaged by birth, but also disobedient by nature, since she has been living an immoral life. She is the complete opposite to Nicodemus. Different in family life, religious life, and moral life to Nicodemus. Nicodemus sought Christ, but here Christ seeks the woman. Nicodemus went away after the conversation without salvation, this woman embraces it. But her ignorance, indifference and morality do not put Jesus off, and we need to learn from that. Very few will come to us like Nicodemus. Most of our evangelism will require being like Jesus here, not being distracted by the things that bother us, like a person’s sin or corrupt religious beliefs.
v1-3 give us the setting. Jesus hears of the dispute over His baptism and John’s, and that there is attention arising from the Pharisees about His ministry, and thinks it best to move up to Galilee to prevent the comparisons and to avoid the religious leaders. Note that Jesus delegates the baptizing to His disciples to prevent those who may have thought themselves better because they were baptized by Jesus. Baptism is not about the one baptizing, but the name of the one in whom you are baptized.
But the direct pressing need that’s developed in this record, is the Lord’s burden for this woman of Samaria, and so the language of v4 cannot be detached from that desire to meet with this woman and share the gospel with her. This is a sovereign appointment.
But we would be wrong even to constrain that His decision was just for this woman. Any decision or action of the Lord is never linear. That’s how we work. He works differently. When Hs acts it will have INFINITE repercussions that not only happen, but that He intended to happen. And that’s the case ever time God puts bumps in your road. He is sovereign.
He reaches this woman and His humanity becomes apparent by His weariness due to the journey. Christ wearied Himself to reach sinners. You who are here without Christ, you need to realize that the invitation, appeal, longing for your soul is NOT primarily from me. It is from Christ.
I. THE PLACE WHERE HE EVANGELIZED v5-6
Jacob’s well. It originally belonged to Jacob and was given to Joseph. Gen 48:21-22 – this seems to be the plausible reference to the land wherein the well was. Since Jacob was a stranger in the land, he must have bought this well. Sychar actually means ‘purchased’. Gen 33:18-19 – here is the purchasing of the land. Now the significance of the well in this passage is because the well is a symbol of salvation. The well was a gift from Jacob to Joseph, but it had to be purchased at a cost, just as the salvation Christ provides had to be purchased by Him for us before it could be given and offer to you.
Gen 48:22 – after he bought the land, the Amorites tried to rob Jacob of the well that he had purchased. So he not only purchased it, but he preserved it from the enemy. And Christ always preserves the well of salvation and makes sure there is access to it for sinners. No matter how many evil Roman emperors, or popes, or kings have tried to stop access to the well, they have failed and the church continues to this day. This land belonged to Reuben, not Joseph. Reuben was the firstborn, but Joseph got it because Reuben fell. “Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but forasmuch as he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel” 1 Chron 5:1
Adam failed us, and has passed on a failed human nature to every one of us. Just as because of Reuben’s sin all his posterity missed out of the land and well, so do we. But the greater Joseph has earned the right to the well, and offers its sustenance of salvation to all who will come.
II. THE PERSON HE EVANGELIZED v6-7
1. A Woman of Guilt – The Lord very gently deals with her sin.
v6 – getting water was the work of the woman. However, she went to the well at noon, which she knew was a time when no one else would be there. Normally they went at the cooler part of the evening. So this woman avoided society to some degree. There was shame associated with her sin, since her character was no doubt public knowledge. He had five divorces, probably all due to immorality. So this was a lifestyle of years of sin. Yet, Christ condescends to meet her where she is – consider v9
Notice, Jesus is breaking a lot of traditions here. Not only is He dealing with this a woman in public (which Jews didn’t do), He is dealing with a Samaritan. Furthermore, He’s breaking down those sinful traditions that sinfully divided the Jews and Samaritans by sending His disciples into the city to buy Samaritan food from Samaritan businesses.
2. A Woman Shown Grace – She’s not going to the well to look for the Saviour. This isn’t Zachaeus or the like who sought for the Lord. And even when she sees Him, she doesn’t seek Him. But the story shows us the seeking spirit of the Lord. He is there at the well before her, waiting for her, just as I trust you find the Lord waiting for you before the end of this meeting. v7 – Jesus asks for a drink. But look through this passage and you will see that there’s no indication that the woman ever gave Him a drink. And this highlights two important truths:
i) the right the Lord has to demand obedience from us;
ii) the inability we have to do anything for the Lord in your sin. What grace the Lord shows.
Again, He is not distracted by all He knows about her. He shows grace and mercy regardless of her sinfulness, just as He did for all of us. 3. A Woman Offered a Gift v10 – “the gift of God” – this language is used elsewhere, “the gift of God is eternal life…” Rom 6:23. Let me ask you, have you taken the gift of God? There’s no way to be saved by DOING. It is about asking and receiving.
III. THE PICTURE HE USED FOR EVANGELISM
v10b – Christ then changes the picture of physical water and spiritualizes it. “…living water”.
Sinner, if you knew who stood before you now, if you really ‘got it’ you would just ask for salvation. You would ask for living water. You would embrace the giver. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Is 55:1
v12 – She senses something about the Lord. Are you greater than Jacob, the original owner of this well? I am superior and my water is superior.
v13-14 – Jesus continues with the picture in a gracious and enlightening response. He makes His point clear. He is offering eternal life. Satisfaction for the sinner forever. You will never need sex, drugs, music, etc, ever again!
v15 – She now asks the right question, but she still doesn’t get it. It’s about physical prosperity at this stage. It would be convenient to not need to draw water. But Jesus isn’t a convenience. He is necessary!
Just as physical water is universally required by men, so the salvation offered by God through Christ is universally needed. We can do without a lot of things my friend, but not God’s salvation.
Close – this is a wonderful revelation of 1:16, no? As Christians we should not be so quick to place ourselves now in the place of Jesus and we’re reaching sinners. We are still sinners and Christ is still seeking us.
While we noticed the differences, how similar this woman is to Nicodemus. ‘Ye must be born again’ ‘How can I get in a womb to be born again?’. With the woman; ‘You must have the water I provide’ ‘Where is your bucket?’
I wonder do you see?