Summary: Who can spread the Gospel? Let’s see that the Gospel is spread by ordinary people who have had an encounter with Jesus. Let’s examine the woman at the well in John 4:5-42.
Who can spread the Gospel? Let’s see that the Gospel is spread by ordinary people who have had an encounter with Jesus. Let’s examine the woman at the well in John 4:5-42.
An Unbiased Savior
John 4:5-9 Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
Sychar is between Gerizim (“rocky mount”) and Ebal (“bald mount”). On “rocky mount” Israel shouted the blessings and on “smooth mount” the cursings (Deuteronomy 11), picturing how blessings may look rocky and cursings seem the easy way. St Photini Church is built over Jacob’s well, named for this Samaritan woman.
Jesus broke several taboos, talking with a Samaritan woman alone, entering a Samaritan village despite local bigotry. Sychar is possibly a nickname meaning “place of drunkards,” like Sin City or Filthadelphia. Would we enter a neighborhood with a sinful reputation or a biker bar for the sake of the Gospel?
John 4:10-15 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
Jesus aroused the woman’s curiosity by speaking about living water, a term for flowing water. She assumed he meant good water from the well. But she was about to find out that he was speaking metaphorically about something entirely different, deeper truths which the whole world desperately needs to know.
Unlike well water, living water is like a stream or river. It flowed from the woman’s encounter with Christ into her community as the Gospel flows into our communities. We were all once enemies of Christ, drinking still water. Jesus offers us living water that quenches regardless of our background.
Worshiping in Spirit and Truth
John 4:16-24 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband—for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth! But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Who was the woman Jesus met at the well? Let’s not read more into the story than it says. She’d had five husbands. Whether simultaneously, sequentially, divorced or widowed we don’t know. What is clear is that Jesus did not condemn her. Without bigotry, He taught her about true worship.
Outward things like music, languages, robes, crosses, gestures and liturgies are NOT worship. They may accompany worship, but true worship is in spirit and true or sincere. We do not need to conform to any outward show of religion. We are free to worship the Father in spirit and truthfully.
Photina of Samaria
John 4:29, 34, 42 “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” … Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work… Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”
The best evangelists are ordinary people. The Samaritan woman may have even been a loner, who fetched her water at a time when the crowds were not there. The best evangelists are often new people and those from the fringes, but always those who have had an encounter with Jesus.
Like Jesus our food is also to do the will of God and finish His work. A harvest is ready to be reaped. God has already prepared that harvest in our community. Hearts are ripe for harvesting a new crop of Christians. Even lone Christians can tell others about Jesus.