It was not a cool morning that day nearly 2000 years ago, as Jesus walked along a hot, dusty road. It was nearing the hottest part of the day and Jesus had been walking with His disciples for a while now.
I want to give an analogy this morning based upon this story of the woman at the well as she met Jesus. In this example of Jesus’ love for humanity, if we look very closely, we will see ourselves as that woman, lost in sin, in a hopeless situation, and ever thirsty for something that we are unable to find, until Jesus comes to us, sits with us, and begins to lead us into the way of salvation and deliverance.
John 4:3-4, "He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria."
It is interesting to note that Jesus chose to go against the acceptable route that most of the Jews would take to get from Jerusalem to the Galilee. The Samaritans were considered as outcasts from Jewish society. I know that most of you would probably already know that they were considered outcasts, but have you ever heard why? Why did the “old-line”, “traditional” and “those who held to the strict Law of Moses” teachings, hold nothing but condescension for their fellow Jews in Samaria?
There were several very good reasons why any good, self-respecting Jew would never mix with those outlaw Jews from Samaria.
first and formost
During the revolt of the 10 tribes and the formation of the Northern Kingdom of the Jews under King Jeroboam, the golden calves were set up in Dan and Bethel to cause people to fall into idolatry and not go to the temple in Jerusalem to worship. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the south stayed true to temple worship. (For those of you who have been studying the teaching on the Tabernacle, you know how important it was to the Children of Israel to worship only at the Tabernacle, for there was the only place where the presence of the Lord would be.) Thus the Samaritans were blamed for splitting the nation and bringing in idolatry that led to Israel falling into slavery under the Assyrians and then the Babylonians.
While Samaria was under their control, the Assyrians had created colonies of heathenistic and idolatrous people, including priests whose whole purpose was to discourage the Jews from rebuilding their land when the captivity was over.
We will remember from the book of Nehemiah the names of Sanballat and Tobiah, two of the main adversaries that Israel faced when they came back to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. Sanballat seems to have been one of these Assyrians spies and the Jews of Jerusalem would never forget the fight they had with Sanballat while trying to reestablish the nation under Nehemiah.
Manasseh, brother to Jaddua the high priest, married Sanballat’s daughter while Sanballat was the governor of Samaria. This added insult to injury and Jaddua was removed from the priesthood. Jaddua begged Sanballat to build a second temple in Mount Gerizim so that he could be the High Priest in Samaria and not have to obey the High Priest at Jerusalem.
That fit into Sanballat’s plan to anger the Jews so he got permission from Alexander the Great and built a second temple, insulting Judah and defying the Jewish law.
Last but certainly not least
Jaddua drew a great many of the wild and rebellious Jews over to his side, who mixed with the Samaritans and set up their own worship, religion, and priesthood in direct opposition to the Sanhedrin Council in Jerusalem. All of these things were a constant source of contention and fighting between the Jews and Samaritans and that’s why the Jews would have no dealings with the Samaritans.
The contention was so strong that, normally, the good Jews from the area around Judea and Galilee would go out of their way, taking the longer journey through the areas of Perea and Decapolis rather than the direct course through Samaria. That would easily add another 60 to 80 miles to the trip, but at least they wouldn’t have to deal with those pesky Samaritans.
Can you imagine the shock then that the disciples must have felt when Jesus announced that He was not only leaving Jerusalem and going to Galilee, but that he was going straight through Samaria? I wonder if they might have complained a little before resigning themselves to follow along?
Nevertheless, they followed Jesus into Samaria, to a little town called Sychar. They had already walked for quite a while, covering about 30 miles. No doubt they were all getting hungry, thirsty and tired. That’s a long distance to walk in mountains, hills and desert under the hot sun. Finally, the town came into sight. It was a welcomed sight. There they could rest in the shade for while. They forgot for a while that this was still Samaria. Their need outweighed their prejudices.
John 4:6-8, "Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat)"
Jesus had come to Samaria, not just to shorten his journey to Galilee, but for a very different reason. He had come to bring the truth of the gospel to his fellow-countrymen in that rebellious land. Jesus understood that the rebellious, idolatrous, outcast Jews of Samaria, were really no different than the hardheaded, hard-hearted and self-centered Jews of Judah and Galilee. Both of them were Jews, his chosen nation on earth, and both were in need of a Savior and a Messiah. Jesus’ whole intention was to give the Samaritans the same chance as Judah, to see that God’s only Son was walking among them.
At just about noon, when the sun was high in the cloudless sky, beaming down on the hot, weary travelers, Jesus decided to stop at Jacob’s Well and rest, while the disciples went on into town to buy something to eat. (I guess they were going to have to interact with these Samaritans whether they liked it or not.)
It was at that same moment in time, that a woman of Samaria came down to the well to draw water. She was going about her daily routine, just minding her own business. She didn’t know that she was about to meet Jesus, face to face, and that her whole life would forever be changed. But Jesus didn’t let her fears and her distrust stop him from doing what he came to do.
It was Jesus who broke down the barrier. This Samaritan woman knew that Jesus was a Jew and that it was not acceptable for her to speak to him. All she could think about was getting her water and getting away from him. But Jesus didn’t let her fears and her distrust stop him from doing what he came to do.
He broke the ice by asking for a drink; just a common request, something that she would think was as natural as could be under the circumstances. “Would you mind giving me a drink of water?”
Isn’t it good to know that Jesus won’t come and hit you in the head with a bolt of lightning because you failed him? Isn’t it good to know that God always comes to us in love and compassion? He always knows the right thing to say to us to get our attention. He always behaves like a perfect gentleman and never forces us to do his will. He only draws us closer through his love and His gentle ways of persuasion, to get us to understand what his message really is.
John 4:9, "Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans."
I don’t know if she was being polite or sarcastic, honestly
Even a simple thing can be hard for us to swallow sometimes. Jesus only asked for water, but what this woman saw and heard, was a man whom she did not know, asking a question that he should not ask, and by even talking to him, she was putting herself in a place of ridicule.
That’s how Jesus comes to each of us too. He comes with a simple request – “Will you learn of me and give me what I need?” “Will you make me the Lord of your life” “Will you rely on me and trust me lead you through life”
What goes through our mind? What do you hear?
“Who is this Jesus? What does he want of me? I have nothing to give to him. All of my friends will think I am nuts to listen to him and do what he asks. A Jesus freak, Don’t want to be that, thank you but no thanks, get out of here, I don’t feel comfortable around him. But his words are so compelling. Maybe I’ll just listen for a little before I leave. There is something different about Jesus, something that we just can’t ignore. His voice is compelling; his words are filled with power; and his presence seems to bring peace. I want to hear more.”
John 4:10, "Jesus answered and said unto her, 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."
The plot thickens
Jesus knew that he only had a short time to reach out to this woman, lost in sin, so he came straight to the point. This soul was too important to let the opportunity pass while she ran away in fear.
Let us never forget that this is our mission too. The salvation of souls are hanging in the balance and what we have to do for the Lord we must do quickly. Strike while the iron is hot! Seize the moment! Don’t let an opportunity pass without sharing Jesus with whomever you are around. You may be their only hope. This moment may be the only moment that this person will ever have to hear about Jesus and respond. Once the opportunity is past, it may never come again and that person may never be saved because we allowed the chance to slip away. Like sand slips through your fingers.
Oh, if we could only understand, like that woman at the well, just Who Jesus really is! If we could only understand his great love, his unending mercy, his great power and his compassion for all of us! The more I know of him, the more I love him. The longer I walk with Jesus, the sweeter the journey gets.
There’s an old song titled, “Sweeter as the Days Go By”. It’s lyrics say something like this:
The more I trust Him, the more I love Him
Nothing good for me He’ll deny
The longer I know Him, the better I can show Him
I couldn’t stop now if I tried
Oh, the moment He saved me His good grace He gave me
He placed His love down deep in my heart
There’s great joy in knowing with Him I am going
And never more from Him to depart
It gets sweeter as the days go by
It gets sweeter as the moments fly
His love is richer, deeper, fuller, sweeter
Sweeter, sweeter, sweeter as the days go by
This woman at the well was having a “Close encounter of the God-Kind” and her soul hung in the balance. Would she hear the words that Jesus spoke? Would her journey through life become sweeter, or would she continue on living in sin and despair?
Jesus was saying it this way, “Woman, I know I’m a Jew and you’re a Samaritan. I know I’m accepted and you aren’t. I know that we shouldn’t even be conversing. But I’m willing to step across the boundaries of shame and reach out to you because I have the “Words of Life”. This water will never fail. My words, if you accept what I say, will spring up in you into a well of living water, coming from a pure heart and not some hole in the earth. Open your heart, open your mind and listen.”
That’s how Jesus comes to you this morning. He knows that none of us are acceptable as we are. We can’t approach him in our sinful and shameful condition, so he comes to us. He came from Heaven, to walk among sinful men, to give his very life for sinful man, so that we could hear, understand and accept his Words that bring everlasting life to us.
John 4:11-12, "The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?"
Isn’t that just like us too? Why is it, when Jesus speaks in terms of spiritual and eternal things, that our mind always tries to relate what he is saying to earthly, natural terms?
That’s the way that mankind is. Until Jesus opens our eyes and our understanding, we cannot grasp the things of the Spirit. We are blinded by sin and shame. It is by God’s mercy and grace that we are able to come to understand just what Jesus is saying and what His words are all about!
John 4:13-14, "Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
One step at a time, Jesus leads this conversation with this sinful woman. He gently leads her into understanding what he has to say. But he never gets sidetracked. He never goes off on a tangent discussing the differences between Samaritan worship and Jewish worship. He doesn’t get caught up in discussing the prejudices and who is wrong and who is right. He doesn’t get concerned with what’s socially acceptable. He just gets right to the heart of the matter. He is focused only on delivering the message that he has come to give! Let’s learn from Jesus example and do the same thing!
John 4:15, "The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw."
This woman has finally begun to understand just a little. She has taken a baby-step into accepting what Jesus is trying to say to her. Little by little her understanding is being enlightened, and now she realizes that Jesus has something that she really wants. What if what this Jew is saying could be true? What if he is right? Where does that leave me?
She takes the bait and begins to get really involved. She didn’t fully understand but she was hungry for more!
Maybe you are here this morning and you don’t fully understand whats going on with your walk with the Lord either. Like this woman at the well, you are hungry for more, but you just don’t know if you can go any further without losing something that you want to hold on to. Let me tell you that all you need to do is just keep taking the next step. Just get to know the Lord a little better. Each day will be better and you’ll understand more in time.
John 4:16-18, "Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly."
The next step in changing her life was to get this Samaritan woman to realize her sin. Before Jesus can forgive; before he can change your life; and before he can give you that well of living water springing up from within your soul, he must first get you to realize your sin, confess your sin, and ask him to come into your heart. Only then can that living water begin to flow through you.
Just like this Samaritan woman, we must come to realize that we are “shacking up with the devil” and living in sin. The woman at the well had been married and divorced five times and was now living with a man out of wedlock. That was a crime punishable by death in Samaria as well as Judah and Galilee. But Jesus wasn’t there to condemn, only to bring healing and forgiveness. He hadn’t come through Samaria only to reveal sin and bring judgment to a poor Samaritan woman, but to give her a chance for a new life!
Once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and we begin to walk with him according to the Word of God, we become a part of the Bride of Christ. Jesus is coming again one day soon to take his Bride away for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. But while we are living in sin, we are living with the devil, being unfaithful to God and His Law, and we are under the condemnation of sin and death. But thank God, Jesus came back to reconcile his unfaithful Bride and make us whole again, giving us a new life in Him!
John 4:19-29, "The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers 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 woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. And upon this came his disciples, and marveled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, (If I was the author I would have written dare to say) What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?"
Jesus’ mission through Samaria was now finished! He had come to reach out to one little Samaritan woman and now her life was changed forever!
Have you had a “Close Encounter of the God-Kind?” Have you sat with the Lord at the well and heard his words of love? Have you opened your heart and allowed Jesus to come in and forgive you of all that you have ever done to break his Law?
Jesus left Heaven and went far out of his way, coming right into the very land of his enemy, just to bring you a message of hope, life and living water. Have you heard him and do you have that living water flowing inside of you? It’s the water from the wells of salvation, springing up into everlasting life.
You can have that water right now if you want it. Jesus is here, speaking to you right now. Will you come and take a drink? Come and give your heart and life to Jesus!