Study Series in John's Gospel

The Witness of the Living Water

Study Series: The Gospel of John

Larger Context: Jesus’ Self-Disclosure in Word and Deed (1:19-10:42)

This Study: The Witness of the Living Water (4:1-42)

Murray McLellan

The ground of meaning in every section, as we have seen, is the Old Testament Scriptures. Jesus, in this next dialog, continues to disclose Himself as the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises and institutions. As we read this portion of John’s gospel, we will not see powerful miracles, but many in a town are converted through the testimony of one forgiven sinner. What a testimony to the truth that it is not signs and power evangelism that is needed – just the changed life and testimony of a saved sinner speaking of the Christ!

V. 1-3 “Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples). He left Judea and departed again to Galilee.

Knowing that His hour had not yet come, Jesus chose to avoid a confrontation with the Pharisees. (After this, He visited Jerusalem only occasionally, until the end of His ministry when He entered in triumph and stayed to die in triumph!)

V. 4 But He needed to go through Samaria.

He needed.

There was an alternate route – one taken by most Jews in order to avoid the Samaritans. So why did He need to go through Samaria? There was one reason why Jesus needed to do anything ? Luke 2:49. (See also: Luke 4:43; 9:22; 13:33; 17:25; 19:5; 22:37; 24:7; 24:44; John 3:14; 3:30; 9:4; 10:16; 20:9) So this is a must need that is part of that compulsion to do His Father’s will – to be the Redeemer, to be the suffering Servant, to have fellowship with His people. It is the gospel work He must do. The Samaritan woman was not seeking Him, but He comes seeking her. She didn’t know who He was, but He knew her. He knew all about her. She came for earthly things, but He gave her heavenly things!

Samaria came to be as a result of the division of the kingdom after the death of Solomon. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was a foolish and weak king, who took bad advice and governed the people poorly. As a result there was a large rebellion against him, led by Jeroboam, and the kingdom split into two parts. In the south, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to the house of David. Following this split, they were known as the kingdom of Judah. The other tribes broke off and declared Jeroboam to be their king. They became known as the kingdom of Israel. The new capital of this northern kingdom of Israel became the city of Samaria. To prevent the people of Israel from drifting back to the house of David, Jeroboam established a new worship center to replace Jerusalem. (Read 1 Kings 12:25-33) Jeroboam established his home in Shechem and set up worship centers at the northern and southern extremes of the kingdom, with idolatrous golden calves – the very idols that had caused God to say that none of the earlier generation should enter into the promised land. For this reason, Jeroboam was always known thereafter as, “Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.”

So the province of Samaria was the descendent of that original northern kingdom of Israel; a kingdom built on blasphemy, idolatry, and rebellion against God. It is not difficult to see why the religious Jews shunned both the people and the place itself.

Centuries later, when the Assyrians conquered the kingdom of Israel, and later when the Babylonians controlled the region, most Israelites were taken captive. The region became inhabited by outsiders who, contrary to God’s laws, inter-married with the remaining Israelites. Those who returned later had mingled their blood with the nations among whom they had been placed. Therefore, by Jesus’ day, it was a region of mongrels and half-breeds. They were regarded with the deepest disdain by the Jews who could trace their pure bloodlines back to Abraham. To the Jews, the worst thing about the Samaritans was that they were part Israelite. They were a living declaration of apostasy, sin, and lawlessness.

V. 5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

When we read and compare Gen. 33:18-19 and Josh. 24:32, we see that Sychar is in the same location as ancient Shechem. It would seem that Sychar and Shechem are one and the same. Isn’t the Bible a sufficient source of all we need to understand the Scriptures?

Shechem was a place of great historical significance. This was the first identifying mark of the promised land (Gen. 12:6-7). It is not surprising that Joshua gave his farewell address to the people from Shechem. Read Joshua 24:1, 22-25. Shechem became one of the cities of refuge in Israel, where an accused manslayer could go to escape the avenger of blood. (Josh. 20; 1 Chron. 6:67) Now we have Abraham’s Seed come to this place – the seat of Israel’s great apostasy. And really, was that not the state of Israel when Jesus came – sinful, self- righteous Israel that would at length murder the One who was sent to it, rather than acknowledge and repent of their sin?

One day long ago, Joseph was sent by his father to this location to see his brothers (Gen. 37:12). So, too, now Jesus, doing His Father’s will comes to Shechem – to Sychar.

Now we narrow the focus to a well – a particular well.

V. 6-8 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.

(See also v. 12) Jacob himself met Rachel at an encounter at a well, at the sixth hour, when Rachel had come to water the sheep. That was not a chance encounter and neither is this! Here we have, at the same hour (6th hour is twelve noon when the sun is at its highest – compare Gen. 29:7), two bridegrooms meeting two brides. One meeting led to the birth of a nation – Israel. The other espousal leads to the birth of a new nation – the church. The church, like the woman of Samaria, in its original state is worthless, defiled, unlovely, and wicked. But He has chosen her for His bride! (See Song of Solomon 4:15 and earlier context). Jesus has come to this particular well at this particular time because some sheep needed to be watered with living water!

It is hard not to notice the contrast between Nicodemus who came at night. We saw a “holy man” in darkness and now we are about to see an immoral woman in the light. The gracious God of heaven and earth is about to shine in her heart the glory of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ. In fact, the Son of Righteousness in this episode shines so gloriously in magnificent grace and mercy to such a sinful wretch that the sun pales in comparison!

We have set the stage. Let us now look to the action.

Jacob's WellAs we look again at our text in verse 6, we see “Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well.” Jesus was wearied to the point of utter exhaustion. Why? Why did He labor on in the full heat? Why did He bear the heat and the burden of the day? It was to bring this woman salvation! He had not just travelled from Judea to meet this woman. He had come from heaven itself!

Jesus sat down, having finished His journey. Now He was in a position to bring salvation to this woman and the others who are far from God (v. 39-42). What about you? Where do you quench your thirst – from the well from which you will thirst again; the water which will not ultimately satisfy, or from Jesus – the fountain of living waters? (See Ps. 63:1; Ps. 42:1-2)

“And in that day you will say: ‘O Lord, I will praise You; though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me. Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’ Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Isa. 12:1-3)

For that woman and for many of her fellow citizens, that day had arrived!

What are you thirsty for?

What is your greatest need? Is it forgiveness and cleansing from your sin and acceptance with God? Oh, Jesus can satisfy that thirst! This is Jacob’s well. It is not called Israel’s well. Jacob is the deceiver, the scoundrel – you worm, Jacob. Israel is the prince. I am so glad He tells us He is the God of Jacob. That God is my hope and salvation!

Let us continue to gaze on this man, sitting by the well, who is Christ the Lord. We see Him ask the woman for a drink. This is not the last time He would need refreshment. What a picture provided of His hour to come – when on the cross when He would cry out, wearied and exhausted, “I thirst.” (John 19:28) At that moment, some nearby took and filled a sponge with sour wine and put it on hyssop to give to Him. If they would have know who it was who asked them for a drink, they would have asked Him for living water!

In Gen. 24:42-43, we see a parallel where Abraham’s servant was not really after a drink of water. He had another mission. He had something to give to the woman – a husband and an inheritance! (See also 1 Kings 17:8-16 where the prophet Elijah asks for a drink, and ends up supplying all this woman needs.)

Jesus’ journey does not end at this well in Samaria. It ends at the cross. Nicodemus came to Jesus, seeking Him out, thinking he’d be accepted. Jesus came to this outcast, seeking her out. Notice that He didn’t wait for her to ask. He came in the spirit of compassionate and friendly “aggression.” Jesus’ willingness to receive sinners is such an incredible truth which ought to be treasured up in our hearts and diligently impressed on others.

The Lord Jesus is far more ready to hear than we are to pray, and far more ready to give favours than we are to ask them. He has thoughts of pity and compassion towards the vilest of sinners, even when they have no thoughts of Him. All day long He stretches out His hands to bestow mercy and grace on the worst and most unworthy, if they will only cry to Him. The penitent thief on the cross, the publican, Zacchaeus, and this Samaritan woman are all testimonies of Christ’s readiness to show mercy. You may have, up to this day, been as careless, thoughtless, and sinful as this woman whose story we have been studying. But yet there is hope. He who spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well is yet living at God’s right hand and He never changes. Ask and He will give you living water!

May these studies enhance your understanding and appreciation of Christ and His gospel work. I hope you see that this woman stands for more than herself. She represents all of God’s chosen redeemed people called by the gospel into faith, repentance, and new life.

A type is a piece of metal or wood with a raised backward letter. Its purpose is not to be read but to have ink rolled on it and when pressed on paper, it makes a readable impression. The type itself is backwards and obscure. The thing you read is the anti-type, where it is clear black on white. The type serves to present the anti-type. The anti-type takes over from the type which has fulfilled its purpose when you see the clear message – the clear Word! The woman had revered the well (see v.12), but she was soon to revere and worship the One who alone could forever satisfy her true thirst and need.

The Samaritan woman’s whole path is predestined. Had she decided to stay in bed later that morning, or get up earlier, or for some other circumstance, missed this encounter with Jesus. NO! That could not have been. This encounter was orchestrated long before the sun arose that morning! She made her choices freely, and yet all in accordance with the determined, eternal purposes of God and His immensely wise plan of salvation and providence. This was not a stroke of luck for this woman. It was the purpose of One who had set His love upon this woman before time began!

God was not holding His breath, hoping this woman would make the right choices and then being relieved when she showed up. No, God is sovereign – gloriously so! Thankfully so, for the sake of this woman. Thankfully so, for you and me!!!

“And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:16)

“Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” (Rom. 8:30)

Jesus Christ found her out and like Lydia, He opened her heart to receive the things she heard. She had been blind. She had been dead. Now she saw. Now she lived! She heard truth and she believed it. This is the pattern of all conversions. “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17)

V. 9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

Jews wouldn’t touch a Samaritan. That was a result of their wrong external and physical focus. It isn’t that which goes in from the outside that corrupts, but what is inside – the spiritual reality. (Matt. 15:1-20)

It is so delightful to see that Jesus sanctifies what He touches. Others who touch lepers become unclean. Jesus touches a leper and brings healing!

The woman is surprised that a man – a Jew – would condescend to speak to a Samaritan woman, and even condescend so low as to drink out of the same cup! (The phrase “have no dealings with” could be translated as “do not use vessels together with”). However, the condescension is even greater than she realizes. The glorious Son of God has come to die for such a rebel creature – to drink the cup of wrath she deserved – to bring her into everlasting fellowship – sharing the same cup of blessing!

V. 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “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.”

The “gift of God” – God gives.

(See John 1:9; 1:12..this is a gift!; John 6:32; 17:2; Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9).

Death is earned and deserved, but eternal life is a gift – unearned, undeserved, unmerited. The woman had the idea that salvation lay in right law-keeping works and sacrifices in right places (v. 20). She needed to realize that salvation is a gift.

Secondly, she needed, not only to know the gift, but also the Giver. (i.e. “and who it is who says to you”)

  • He is the One who has come from Judea to speak to this woman.
  • He is the One who has come from heaven to speak to this woman.
  • He is the One who has laid aside the glory and honor of the only begotten Son of God, to suffer in the heat and burden of the day to speak the words of life to this woman.
  • He is the One who made the waters in the first place.
  • He is the One who separated the waters from the dry land.
  • He is the One who appointed to the waters their limits.
  • He is the One who caused the mist to rise up in the garden.
  • He is the One who set a river in Eden which went out from there, forming four rivers.
  • He is the One who spread the windows of heaven and broke up the fountains of the deep.
  • He is the One who parted the waters for the children of Israel to go through.
  • He is the One who gave water from the rock to keep Israel in the wilderness.

Oh, if you only knew who it was who asked you for a drink. The winds and the waves obey Him! In truth, the gift and the Giver are one and the same (see Isa. 9:6; Isa. 49:6,8).

He would have given living water. (See Isa. 43:20; Jer. 2:13) The New Covenant has come! The prophets looked forward to a time when “living water will flow out from Jerusalem.” (Zech. 14:8-9; see also Ezek. 47:8-9 where we read of a healing stream. Remember ch. 3 – “born of water” [a cleansing] “and the Spirit”; see also John 7:37-38! And 19:34). The water is the satisfying eternal life mediated by the Spirit that only Jesus, the Messiah and Savior of the world, can provide.

As we read this passage, I think we need to give some considerations regarding our evangelism as we observe Jesus. We are not saying that these are absolutes, but some observations to consider. We need to ponder what Jesus did in this particular situation – not every time, but this time.

Notice that He asked her a question. He made contact. He was the one who took the initiative. Being a woman, she would never have said anything to Him, a Jew. He didn’t start with a religious argument or even rebuking her sin. He didn’t start by calling her to repent of her sins. He asked her for a drink. He humbled Himself to relate to her.

He also “salted” her curiosity to make her think. (i.e. “If you knew the gift of God”)

Let us look for every opportunity to reveal the grace of God – to witness of the gospel. There are no accidental circumstances. Let us be ready always and cross any barriers to take the gospel to needy sinners.

If you are not a Christian, it is not because you know Christians and they’re a bunch of hypocrites etc. That may be true, but that’s not why you aren’t a Christian. If you are not a Christian, you are ignorant of who Jesus is and what His so great salvation is. “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.” If you knew the gift of God – you’d want it! If you really understood who Christ is, you couldn’t help but want Him! If you knew what His grace was and if you had ever tasted it, you could not help but to want all you could get! Don’t close your eyes to who Christ is. Don’t plug your ears to His gracious invitation. Many do, because they don’t want to know. How incredibly sad.

V. 11-12 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”

She ends up saying a lot more than she meant! (John 4:14; 7:37-38) Indeed the well is deep. There is no well deeper than the love of God shown to sinners, in which we have eternal life, peace, and fellowship with God – forgiveness, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

Jesus appeared without any apparent resources to draw out water from the well of salvation. He appeared powerless. On the cross, He appeared powerless, but there He defeated the devil and overturned the fall and the curse!

Where do you get living water? It is obviously not from this well of Jacob – for Jacob drank here and died. Is a greater than Jacob here? Yes! Jesus is the fullness and substance of all the shadows. “in this place there is One greater than the temple” (Matt. 12:6) “indeed a greater than Jonah is here” (Matt. 12:41) “indeed a greater than Solomon is here” (Matt. 12:42) One is there who is greater than Abraham – One who said, “Before Abraham was, I am.”

Jesus is indeed infinitely greater than Jacob. Jacob had to cover himself to gain his father’s blessing. Jesus covers us that we might be blessed! And He does so righteously – before all – in Him is no darkness at all!

V. 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,

It is temporary. The old – Jacob – Israel – the old covenant – they are earthbound. Whoever drinks of the old covenant well will thirst again. (See John 6:48-50, 58, 63).

As valuable as Jacob’s well was, it quenched thirst only for a short while. He that drinks of the living water that Christ gives shall never lose the cleansing and purifying and soul refreshing effects which it produces. The gift of grace and mercy and peace which Jesus is ready to give, shall be in the heart of him who receives it as an ever- flowing source of comfort, satisfaction, and spiritual refreshment that will never dry up – but continually flowing on unto life eternal.

V. 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” “But” shows the contrast. The new is better, like Hebrews declares over and over.

Isaiah 12:1-3 is an amazing passage to read in light of John 4.

“And in that day you will say: ‘O Lord, I will praise You; though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me. Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’ Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Isa. 12:1-3)

In three places, as shown by the bold print, the Hebrew word “yeshuwah” is translated. This is the Hebrew word for Joshua or Jesus! Behold, God is yeshuwah! He also has become my yeshuwah! Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of yeshuwah! The well is indeed deep!

(See also the echoes of Isa. 49:8-10; Rev. 7:14-17; Isa. 44:3-5; Isa. 55:1-5 [for all peoples!]; His Word is like water – Isa. 55:10-11; Joel 3:18-21; Rev. 21:1-6; Matt. 5:6)

The next few verses show where this woman has been drinking and it hasn’t satisfied!

V. 15-18 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”

The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”

Jesus appeals to her thirst for satisfaction and happiness in life. This woman had had five husbands and another and it didn’t satisfy. She could not find the one to satisfy her. She did not have true and lasting happiness. Obviously, she was finding no permanent satisfaction in these relationships, so she had to keep going on to find a new “love”. She could never be satisfied until she began drinking from the water He alone could give her.

What water have you been drinking from, and how has it left you thirsty? As Jer. 2:13 tells us, the jars are leaking, and thus, you’ll have to go back to refill them again and again. Jesus offered this woman living water – a relationship that would truly satisfy!

Sin has a subtle way of taking you in further and further. Though it promises to satisfy you, it never does satisfy eternally. Sin is like salt water that just makes you crave for more. Stop spending your time, energy, and money on that which will never satisfy you. Drink the water that brings delight, joy, and life to your soul. Contrast Psalm 36:8-9 with Job 6:14-21. Sin has its season – and then the pleasure turns to dispair.

Jacob’s well had had its day (i.e. Old – shadows) but now the ultimate reality had come to fulfill that which was promised. Knowing God in Christ in the new covenant ? now that is satisfying! That is fullness!

It is interesting to note as we watch Jesus, how He commends her – “You have well said? and?in that you spoke truly.” Even though she didn’t give Him the whole story, He doesn’t say, “You liar!” He is not abrasively confrontational! How would you speak to an adulteress who is shacking up? How many would call her to repent with a harshness? Jesus is a much more gentle and skilled Physician. Jesus is leading her to the living water, every step of the way!

V. 19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.

Indeed, He was the greatest Prophet! (Deut. 18:15-18)

Since she considers Him to be a prophet, she is hoping that perhaps He can answer the age old question?

V. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

Like so many in religion, she doesn’t see her life and immorality as disqualifying her as a true worshiper – as one under condemnation and not acceptance. As long as one does the prescribed rituals etc. people feel they are somehow okay. There is a distinct separation of religion and life.

It seems to me that the intent of her questions is: “If you are a prophet, and you obviously are, how can I know the truth? (i.e. Which is the true church? How can I know what is true? Which religion is proclaiming truth?) How can I know what is right when I see all this confusion and hatred among people who claim to love God?”

Jesus continues to be very gracious towards this sinful and ignorant woman.

The mountain she is referring to is Mount Gerizim – the mountain of blessing. (See Deut. 11:29; 27:4-8,11-15,26; 28:1-2, 15) The twin peaks of Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal dominated the skyline of Shechem. The curses were attached to Mount Ebal and the blessing to Mount Gerizim if one could keep the whole law perfectly. Praise God, there is another covenant – another way of blessing! Such places and times are types and shadows – which are done away with in Christ.

V. 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.

“Woman” – compare John 2:4. Whether you are a Mary or a Samaritan, there is no difference.

“believe Me” – (remember John 3:31-36)

The hour is coming – that hour when the veil would be torn from top to bottom, ending the whole Old Testament system of worship. The Old Covenant worship had its services (see Heb. 9:1). We have escaped the earthly covenant. We don’t gather to worship. Worship is no longer going to a certain place and doing things. It is an inward state! See v. 23-24. Worship takes place in the heart where God resides. It is that day spoken of by Malachi. (Mal. 1:11)

We don’t turn to candles for light under the noon day sun. Let us not turn to old covenant practices when the new has come! In the old covenant, worship took place in a specific place, and for the most part, the people were passive. The priests did everything. A physical location is an irrelevant thing in the new covenant. The new covenant people of God as His temple are worshippers. They are a holy priesthood with spiritual gifts. Romans 12:1-2 describes a new covenant era “worship service.” For the believer, every part of life is worship. The believer’s whole life is to be a worship service. Heb. 10:24-25 exhorts us that when we get together, we are to use our changed lives and spiritual gifts to encourage one another to live lives of worship. So the getting together is preparing, equipping, and encouraging one another to live a life of worship. That’s why when believers get together it is to be a time of mutual participation.

V. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.

“Salvation is of the Jews” – see Isa. 11:10. Jesus tells this woman, “You Samaritans just worship according to your feelings and intuition and sincerity, but not according to truth.” Jesus gives her the truth in love. Some try to love with no truth and end up in sentimental compromise and never get to the gospel. (We’ve probably all been guilty of that at sometime.) Others blare out the truth, with no real love or compassion. Our Lord speaks the truth in love.

V. 23-24 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The hour is coming (John 12:23, 17:1) and, in fact, now is here in the person of Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant where the temple of worship is His body. The gospel takes away places and times (i.e. no sabbath day or even a “Lord’s Day sabbath) and nationalities (no more genealogy). There is a new creation of one nation of true worshippers! This is what His hour – His sufferings and death accomplished. To bring back these things is to nullify the cross (i.e. Peter in Gal. 2:11-21 at Antioch).

To try to bring back times and places and nations (i.e. like old Israel) is to say that Jesus’ death did not bring in a new and better covenant (Rom. 4:14). To go back to a plan for ethnic Jews as a separate people is to put Christ and His cross to an open shame according to Heb. 6.

The woman brought up the term “father.” (v. 12, 20) This woman was trusting in the fact that she and her people were descendants of the “fathers”. Jesus points out that there is no need to be related to another Father. Jesus speaks about the beginning of a new relationship with God, where He is to be seen as your Father. That is the relationship that matters! Don’t trust in your fathers after the flesh. Trust in the One who is the express image of the Father – the One who alone can reconcile you to the Everlasting Father. The New Covenant people of God cry out by the Spirit, “Abba, Father!”

“for the Father is seeking such to worship Him”

Jesus is saying to this woman, “The Father is seeking you. He is seeking your worship.” And dear reader, the Father is seeking such as you, to bring you to a consciousness of your sin and need, and a consciousness of the amazing love of His Son – our Lord Jesus Christ! As we see the willingness of the Son to save sinners (Luke 19:9-10), here we see the Father’s same willingness to save souls.

He does not merely “wait” for man to come to Him. He “seeks” for them.

Who do you worship? Do you worship the true and living God? Zeal and sincerity is not acceptable to God unless it be in truth. Unless our worship is directed to the true God in the way prescribed by Him, it is unacceptable. We must worship God based on His own revelation of Himself. There is no worship, nor coming to God, except through the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Redeemer.

Since God is spirit, His worship must be spiritual. You must have the Spirit of God (Phil. 3:3). In addition, His worship must be in truth, not in “shadow”. (Spirit – strikes at hypocrisy; Truth strikes at idolatry).

V. 25-26 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

The woman believed that when Messiah came, they’d know the truth. Jesus is very clear when He replies that He is the Messiah. Literally, He replies, “I am who speaks to you.” Jesus is the “I AM” who spoke with Moses from the burning bush. This time there is no burning bush. There is no “Take off your shoes.” Not since Eden has God spoken face to face in this way.

Do we not see our Lord’s mercy? Do we not see our Lord’s remarkable wisdom? Do we not see our Lord’s patience in this scene opened up before us by John? What shocks me in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ, is the obstinate unbelief of the ungodly and their determined perseverance in the way to ruin (Mark 6:6).

V. 27 At this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”

They still didn’t really understand the plan – Christ’s purpose. They didn’t grasp that the gospel tears down all barriers set up by prideful men who think they are something when they are nothing! If our theology doesn’t allow us to sit down with a sinful Samaritan woman by a well to tell her where she can find living water, something is wrong.

There is a place to not ask “why” but just to wonder! Sometimes we have to hold our peace, knowing there are reasons, but it is not necessarily needful that we know why. Let us trust in our Lord!

V. 28-29 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”

She left her waterpot by the side of that old well. (Same word as “waterpot” in chapter 2) She had great eagerness to bear witness before the townspeople. Her whole world had changed. All things had become new. She had new priorities.

She calls them to come and see. (See Rev. 22:17) These are familiar words (John 1:46). “Come see a Man!”, “Behold the Man!” (Zech. 6:12, John 19:5)

Would it be that we become so excited about the gospel that we leave our waterpot and the things we were going to do, to tell some sinners about Jesus Christ. There is a problem with all of us. We are often not excited enough about the gospel, nor do we always take enough time with people to consciously testify of the gospel. The only thing that will make us this way is to be so thrilled with Christ and His gospel that we overflow with Living Water. Then we will tell others, “You just have to meet Him. You just have to hear this good news!”

So many people have lives that are terribly mixed up – just like this woman. May we have the grace to relate and help them. May we point them to Jesus Christ that they might drink the living water that Christ can give them, and satisfy them forever!

We certainly do not see a “canned” approach to the gospel in this or other scenes in the Bible. We do not see such an approach by Christ or by the woman. For the woman, it grew out of her experience. It grew out of the moment and her concern for the people she knew. Despite who she was, she was able to witness of the Christ! She takes the gospel to the men of her city, not worrying about whether it is right or wrong. She is so excited that she just proclaims. She doesn’t think through excuses of why she shouldn’t – she just does.

Something she said and how she said it, was blessed of God unto the salvation of many. I find it interesting that she doesn’t just tell them that this is the Christ, but rather she got the men to inquire and judge for themselves. She doesn’t start a debate. If evangelism was a matter of winning a debate, many couldn’t do it, because they are not good debaters or arguers. All she did was invite people to meet Jesus ?”Come and see?”

If you happened to come across a car accident and a fellow lay dying, and he spoke to you saying, “You’re a part of that church where you preach about heaven and being saved. Can you tell me how to be saved? Can you tell me how to go to heaven and to be sure I’m forgiven?” Could you do it? Could you take the Scriptures and preach to him Jesus?

As believers we want to share the gospel of Christ, because it is the best thing we’ve ever tasted!!

V. 30-34 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”

But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

The disciples continually confused the spiritual with the physical. Even the twelve often thought in terms of the physical. For Jesus, His “Father’s business” took priority over His own bodily hunger. He found such refreshment in eternal purposes that for the moment he did not feel the physical hunger. Christ’s satisfaction (“food”) in doing the will of the Father led Him to seek and to save that which was lost – ultimately going to the cross.

V. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!

This could mean one of two things:

  • You say it is four months until the harvest, but I say that now is the harvest already in the spiritual kingdom.

Or

  • You say it takes four months before there can be a harvest, but, in the spiritual realm, it can be instantaneous. I say to you that it can be right now! You can sow the seed and almost instantaneously, there can be a harvest by the blessing of God. If this is the case then Jesus is saying, “I have just sown the seed and the harvest is already taking place!”

As we look out in our community, do we see the fields white – ripe for harvest or white with the cold snowy slumber of indifference and nobody is interested in the gospel? I wonder if the same could have been said about Samaria the day before?

Do you believe God can use His Word and draw people to Himself in a great white harvest? Then let us pray and labor, sowing the seed!

Do you believe that in your work and weekly schedule, God is providentially setting up meetings like Jesus and this woman? Are you asking God to do that and expecting Him to do it? Do you want God to do that? Are you ready for Him to do that?

Don’t say that we have to have four months or this or that. If you know Jesus Christ, this week God may bring you to a well to talk to some poor soul He has prepared. They may have a heart plowed up to receive the seed of the Word, just as the Wind blows by!

V. 36-38 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”

The reaper doesn’t have to wait. He is employed now, because the harvest time has already arrived. There is a day when sowing and reaping will come together (Amos 9:13).

It may be that you sow and another reaps. Whether we sow or reap, we are working in harmony towards the same goal. (In fact, in the reaping we see in Acts 8:4-8, I believe someone had sown earlier!) Even if you never see the fruit of your labor, you will be rewarded! (1 Cor. 3:8) Do not grow weary in doing good (Ps. 126:5-6). One single soul saved shall outlive and outweigh all the kingdoms of the world!!!

V. 39-42 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

Do you believe, “If God can save me, He can save anybody”? If not, you have not had a clear look at your own heart.

Can God use me, even as He used that woman? Let that be our goal and our prayer. This woman had never evangelized before. She’d taken no seminar, nor had she read any books. Do you have a gospel to preach? What we need is to have ready hearts that feel the power of the gospel we are sharing. It is not a matter of words spoken by a cold heart that is unaffected by the truth of which we are speaking.

Let us look for opportunities to be about our Lord’s business. And let’s be real. We don’t want some method that’s a phony as a three dollar bill.


About Murray McLellan
Murray is the lead church planter and Bible teacher at Grace Fellowship Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. He and his wife Cheryl have labored in the Gospel for many years despite the many discouragements along the way. Our brother is associated with “InDepth Studies”, the Acts 29 network of church planters, and more recently the uniquely Canadian C2C church planting network. In new covenant circles Murray is a long time contributor to new covenant thought and discussion.