Jesus approaches a well in a city with cultural strains between Jews and Samaritans. Jesus sits down to rest His wearied human body, but then sees a Samaritan woman approaching the well. Jesus speaks to her. He asks this lady to assist Him getting a drink from the well. She is taken aback clearly surprised that a Jew would ever speak to a lowly Samaritan. She marvels saying, “How is it thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me..? She wasn’t informing Jesus that He was in fact a Jew, but merely stating the surprise of her situation with this man.
Jesus responds “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him and he would have given thee living water.” In other words, If you knew who you were speaking with, you’d be asking me for a drink! The woman is obviously confused and even a bit critical of Jesus’ words which is evident in her response, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob??” When it comes to soul-winning and trying to show people their need for the Saviour, we constantly deal with people who are ignorant to their true need. Jesus very gently explains this to the woman, just as He explained Nicodemus’ ignorance to him. “If thou knewest the gift of God…” Truly if this woman really understood her need, and who in the world she had sitting beside her, she wouldn’t be marveling, but she would be asking Jesus to fulfill her need! Her need of the Saviour!
In order to reveal her need, Jesus calmly explains the difference between this water, and living water. If the woman had been an expert in the Scriptures she may have caught on what living water actually is. In fact, the gift that Jesus is offering to her is not something that He had brought with Him, and it is certainly not anything of an earthly source, but indeed Jesus is the source of this living water, water for the thirsting soul.
Stepping away from the story for a moment, we can see from Old Testament Scripture that living water is prophesied to have three purposes. They are:
1. To Cleanse Away Sin and Uncleanness–Zechariah 13:1
“In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.”
2. Living Water Fulfills Your Life, But Not Through Broken Cisterns–Jearemiah 2:13
“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
3. For Salvation From Sin and Death–Isaiah 12:2-3
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.”
Truly at the start, the woman of Samaria had no idea just how close she was to the well of salvation, to Jesus. Jesus gently explained to her that the water Jesus offers will become a well IN you, ever flowing to life everlasting. Obviously everlasting life includes a home in heaven, but more importantly implies the soul who drinks from the deep wells of Jesus will receive a life that will never know thirst again. What a promise worth waiting for!! She has no hesitation, she’s ready now, “Come on and give me this water!!” Just one problem, she’s got a broken cistern. (Jer. 2:13)
The woman’s spiritual cistern is broken by sin, it would not be able to hold water. Here’s where the story starts to kick us modern day Baptist’s in the rear end. If it were us in this situation many of us would hurriedly exclaim, “Alright! Well here’s all you gotta do. Just say this prayer and mean it in your heart and you’ll be saved!” Looking back in my ministry, I’ve done this numerous of times. I’ve been either at the kitchen table or at the door step with somebody sharing the Good News of Jesus with them and come to this point where they are ready for a big gulp of this living water, just like the woman of Samaria. But to my shock, Jesus doesn’t whip out the sinners prayer right here. Actually, He does something that most of us would criticize by changing the subject!! “Go, call thy husband, and come hither.” Careful now of her word choice, the woman replies, “I have no husband.” Perhaps her choice of words is an attempt to hide her sin, but Jesus revealing the heart of the matter says, “Yes I know, you’ve had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband…” Jesus had to deal with her sin, her broken cistern.
Jesus can’t ignore the sin. Have you ever wondered at God’s motive for driving Adam and Eve away for the Tree of Life after they sinned? If Adam and Even would have eaten of the Tree of Life, they would have lived forever. But isn’t that what God wants most of all, that we just live forever?
“And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth is hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever. There for the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden..” -Genesis 3:22-23
If God’s ultimate desire was so men would live forever, He could so easily snap His fingers and it would be so, but God will not ignore sin. That’s why using heaven as the focal point of evangelism is dangerous. God will not ignore sin, so how can we ignore it when we’re talking with somebody about the Lord?
After the Lord reveals His power to uncover sin, this changes the whole story. Her sin comes into the light and she realizes how pitifully short she comes of God’s law. Real conviction sets in. She just had met a man who saw right through her, but did it with gentleness and love, such power! This man wasn’t like the other men of town who knew she was, knew the things she’s done! She had already begin to drink of the living water and she brings up a topic that had long plagued her heart. She finally has met someone who as the power and authority to say God’s mind, and so she wants to know… “Our fathers worshipped in the mountain, and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Her statement reveals what lies at the heart of the contention between Jews and Samaritans.
Whenever you engage in soul-winning, you’ll come across instances like these. Folks will bring up the things that bother them about religion. They may bring up a bad experience that they had while attending church, they may bring up theories of evolution, or they may bring up personal hurts they received from Christians. In the woman’s case, she brought up something that was both political and a personal wound. “Why is it the Jew’s say we have to do what they do to worship God, why can’t we worship God in our own way here in this mountain?” As a soul-winner, we often dread these types of roadblocks because, for one, they often detour you from leading them to Christ, and two, we’re afraid we won’t know how to answer and look silly. But Jesus shows us how to handle it.
Jesus simply formed an answer that brings it back to the Messiah. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, the Father seeketh such to worship him.” Jesus, the Messiah, is on His way. When He comes again, as like His first appearance, He revealed mysterious that the prophets and the religious crowd long guessed at. The matter of fact is, that the woman had no idea how irrelevant her objection was. Christ is coming, and that is all that matters.
Jesus Christ the Messiah is the answer to all such roadblocks, objections, and questions people have. What He hasn’t revealed already during His first coming, He will settle the score in all things in His second coming, and all else is irrelevant. Darwin will be forgotten. From the woman’s own lips says, “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.” Jesus reveals Himself, the source of the living water only after her sin has been brought to light. The woman leaves her waterpot in the excitement running into town to tell the people about Jesus! How ridiculous would it have been to send the woman into town before Jesus had dealt with her sin! How effect is a witness for Christ that is still living in open rebellion to God, unchanged, unrepentant!? This woman was excited, she dropped what she was doing, she forgot her water pot and ran into town…
She is running to the same people she attempted to avoid! These people knew exactly what kind of person she was, and how many husbands she’s had. Shame had driven her to the well when no one was around, but courage has driven her to the cause of the Saviour! And the message she brought with her is astounding! She says to the men, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did…” She didn’t say come see a man that showed me how to get to heaven, she testified of convicting power of Christ! “He told me all things that I ever did!” Clearly this woman had met Jesus, her sin had been uncovered (but not condemned by Him!), she had humbled herself before Him, and is now ready for the living water which she joyfully receives. Her excitement is evident in her reaction, but she is ready now.
Jesus doesn’t restrain her this time. He doesn’t say, “Hey wait, you gotta learn how to soul-win first.” She takes off running into town knowing nothing more other than she had just met the Saviour. What lessons we can learn here by the courage, attitude, and responses of this woman who had genuinely met the Saviour! This is how its done! The story doesn’t end there though! She run’s into town telling the men about Jesus and He uncovered her sin. “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.” Praise the Lord, the woman already has fruit to her account, but it doesn’t end there! The men who believed her testimony dropped what they were doing and ran to Jesus, (they came to church that Sunday, Amen?!) and “many more believed because of his own word.” Now for the final “zinger”, the final knock-out punch…
The men after hearing Jesus for themselves, convicted of their own sin on a personal level come back to say to the woman who started this whole thing, “Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” They didn’t make a camp around this woman’s opinion, like we Baptists make camps around men and their philosophies, they wanted to hear it directly from Jesus and they weren’t disappointed. Let it be our passion to point them to Jesus, and not be satisfied for the testimony of the woman, as wonderful as it is, but let us also believe because of His own word!