Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE WOMAN WHO CAME TO THE WELL”

John 4.4-29

 

I once brought a message from God’s Word that featured the Savior’s dealings with a woman caught in the act of adultery, and her accusers who brought her to the Lord as He sat teaching in the courtyard of the Temple in Jerusalem.[1] The record of that encounter is found in John chapter 8. This morning I want to bring a message featuring the Lord Jesus Christ dealing with a very different woman in a very different setting.

Please begin to make your way to the fourth chapter of John’s Gospel, while I provide a bit of context for your consideration. The most recognizable verse in the Bible has to be John 3.16: 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

That verse is found closely following the account of Christ’s discussion with a Jewish Pharisee named Nicodemus that took place one evening in Jerusalem.

Before we begin to read John’s Gospel record in chapter four, allow me to read some comments made about the two people the Lord Jesus Christ carried on discussions with, the Jewish Pharisee named Nicodemus in Jerusalem one night (John 3) and the unnamed Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well one day not long afterwards (John 4): 

The Samaritan woman contrasts sharply with Nicodemus. 

He was seeking; she was indifferent.

He was a respected ruler; she was an outcast even among her own people.

He was serious; she was initially flippant.

He was a Jew; she was a despised Samaritan.

He was (presumably) moral; she was clearly immoral.

He was orthodox; she was heterodox.

He was learned in religious matters; she was ignorant in religious matters.

Yet in spite of all the differences between this “churchman” and this woman of the world, they both needed to be born again.

Both had needs only Christ could meet.[2] 

With some idea now of what to look for, I invite you to stand with me and read as I read aloud from John 4.4: 

4  And he must needs go through Samaria.

5  Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

6  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.

7  There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

8  (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

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.

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.

11  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?

12  Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

13  Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

14  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.

15  The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

16  Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

17  The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:

18  For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

19  The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

20  Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

21  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

22  Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

23  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.

24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

25  The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

26  Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

27  And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?

28  The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,

29  Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? 

There is so much profound truth compacted into this passage that scores of sermons could be developed without visiting any of the items contained herein twice. Therefore, allow me to provide for you an overview of the Savior’s dealings with this one woman of terrible and tragic experiences, that you can use as a jumping off point for further consideration of what we have read and reflection upon the Savior’s dealings with this woman: 

First, CONTACT IS MADE 

Verses 4-7 bring us from considerations of such things as John the Baptist and baptisms, Pharisees, and the Jewish culture and people of the day in Judaea and Galilee, to the very different region and people that lay between, the Samaritans and the region of Samaria: 

4  And he must needs go through Samaria.

5  Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

6  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.

7  There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 

Because Samaria was populated by an ethnically mixed population of Gentiles intermarried with Jewish people from the time of the Assyrian captivity seven centuries earlier, and because of the religious differences that existed between Jewish people and Samaritans owing to their claim that only the five books of Moses should be recognized as Scripture and their denial of the claims of the priesthood in Jerusalem, Samaritans were utterly despised by Jewish people as a matter of course.

For this reason, traffic between Galilee to the north and Judaea to the south routinely avoided Samaria, preferring to travel alongside the Jordan River to the east and sometimes using the coastal route that connected the cities along the Mediterranean coast. When Jewish people and Samaritans did come in contact with each other, their differences were easy to see. Samaritans and Jews did not look alike and did not dress alike.[3] As well, once a bowl or cup had once been used by a Samaritan it could never be used by a Jewish person, but had to be destroyed.

Thus, the racial, ethnic, and religious prejudices that existed between Samaritans and Jews was far worse than anything existing in the worst slave cultures, where slaves were commonly used to wet nurse infants, to keep their master’s houses, to satisfy the sexual appetites of their masters, and to prepare their master’s food. Such contact between Samaritans and Jewish people was unthinkable in our Lord’s day. His approach to the Samaritan woman would have been unimaginable to any other Jewish person.

As for the time of the day. By Jewish reckoning, the sixth hour would be midday, the hottest part of the day. However, Alfred Edersheim, that 19th century Jewish Christian scholar and expert on all things Jewish in the first century, writes in his book, The Life And Times Of Jesus The Messiah, that he is convinced John’s Gospel refers to time using what he calls the Roman civil day. Thus, he is of the opinion that the sixth hour is six hours after midday, or the onset of evening, therefore providing a better explanation of our Lord’s fatigue referred to in verse 6.[4]

Most important, however, is the contact our Lord Jesus Christ makes with this Samaritan woman, stepping over a wide chasm of racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious divides with the words, “Give me to drink.” Amazing, is it not, what can be done with a few words? You might suggest a nod or a smile, as well, though it was very unlikely that the woman would have so much as looked directly at a man she did not know or know about, much less a Jewish man to make eye contact with him in such circumstances. Therefore, it had to be words, so words were the tools our Savior used to build the bridge necessary to make contact with the Samaritan woman. 

Next, CONVERSATION IS BEGUN 

See what a simple request can do? This woman likely as not had never before spoken to a Jewish man, but she speaks to one now. Notice how circumstances, coupled with the contact our Lord has initiated, favors the setting aside of social conventions, sparking an interesting conversation, verses 8-15: 

8  (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

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.

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.

11 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?

12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

14 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.

15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. 

The simple question the Savior asked in verse 7 was met with a question in response by the woman in verse 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.” 

They were both aware of the deep-seated hatred the Jewish people felt toward Samaritans, with reciprocal resentment on the part of the Samaritans. No one likes those who hate him. Therefore, she asks Him how it is He, a Jew, asks her for a drink of water.

This evokes a response in which the Lord begins to elevate the conversation from one of material concerns to one of spiritual concerns, verse 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.” 

Notice how he brings into her conscious consideration “the gift of God,” the matter of who He is, and that He can give to her “living water.”

The conversation proceeds, with her not yet really grasping the significance of what the Lord Jesus Christ is saying, but with her curiosity aroused enough to ask, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob?” in verse 12, and then requesting, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw,” verse 15. Such a premature request by an unsaved person is not unusual.

Notice how the Lord deals with her. Though His knowledge is obviously contrasted with her ignorance, He is not dealing with her in a condescending manner, but respectfully. He is interacting with her in a way she has probably never before experienced, certainly about a topic she has never before discussed. At this point she is interested in Him and what He has to say to her. 

Third, CONFRONTATION IS INITIATED 

By confrontation, understand that I do not mean that the Savior suddenly turns aggressive with this woman He is conversing with, for that is not the case at all. Matthew 12.17-21 is very clearly a citation from Isaiah 42.1-3 showing that our Lord Jesus Christ never dealt roughly with those who were not proud. What I mean by confrontation is that our Lord is at this point quite direct with her. Notice, as we read: 

16  Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

17  The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:

18  For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

19  The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 

Here is revealed the character of the woman, her moral bankruptcy. Here is also perhaps revealed such experiences with men that would lead to her willingness to converse with a man, when other less experienced women might not have been willing to talk with any man outside their own family circle, and certainly no stranger.

In directing her to call for her husband the Lord intentionally brings her sinfulness out into the open as a matter for discussion. After all, no spiritual conversation can do anyone any good until the fundamental spiritual problem is addressed, which is sinfulness. Be mindful, my friend, that it is always and ever a matter of sin.

The Savior has already mentioned living water, with her responding and showing an interest in the convenience of living water that she would never have to draw, verse 15. However, it is not her convenience which is the issue, but her need. By bringing her sexual sins out into the open for discussion, He is bringing her to a recognition of her spiritual need. This is a matter of need, not of convenience.

In response, she says, “Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.” Thankfully, she is not angry. He has spoken the truth to her in a respectful tone. She recognizes from what has come to light that the man speaking to her is a prophet, that He speaks for God. What she recognizes is necessary, but not sufficient. There is so much more she needs to see. 

Fourth, CORRECTION IS MADE 

At this point the Samaritan woman does something most unsaved people do when they are being dealt with about spiritual matters; she changes the subject somewhat and goes off on a tangent. Notice how the Savior stops her, rebukes her, instructs her, and when she grasps an important truth He identifies Himself to her: 

20  Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

21  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

22  Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

23  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.

24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

25  The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

26  Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he

In verses 20-21, notice how she goes off on a tangent about where to worship before the Lord stops her by pointing out that there is coming a day when worship will be unrelated to geography: 

20  Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

21  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 

Next, notice how He rebukes her, verse 22, very directly pointing out that the Samaritan’s religion is erroneous, the Jewish people being those through whom God will bring salvation: 

“Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” 

Referring once more to the hour that is coming, the Lord Jesus Christ then instructs her about the nature of God and how He is to be worshiped by true worshippers, verses 23-24: 

23  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.

24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 

Notice, in verses 25-26, how things have seemed to come together in her mind and heart and she seems to grasp something, whereupon the Savior reveals to her that He is more than just a prophet: 

25  The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

26  Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he

It is unlikely that John’s Gospel has recorded the entirety of the conversation between this woman and our Lord, but just the high points. It is crucial to recognize that she realizes that the Messiah, the Christ, is central to God’s plan for saving sinners from their sins. It is also important for us to recognize, in this day of skepticism and unbelief when so many scorners deny the truth and claim the Lord Jesus Christ never made any assertions about Himself. Of course, that is not true. Using a phrase that echoes the words of Jehovah speaking to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3.14, 

“Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you,” 

what the Savior says is crucial. The word order in the Greek text that is translated “I that speak unto thee am he” is literally “I am that speak unto thee.” Therefore, this is rightly seen to be one of the verses in John’s Gospel where the Lord Jesus Christ makes one of those “I am” assertions that declare His deity. Thus, He declares to this woman, using words no other Jewish person would dare use, that not only is He Israel’s Messiah, but He is also the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

Finally, CONVERSION TAKES PLACE 

27  And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?

28  The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,

29  Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? 

At what point is a sinner saved from her sins? Romans 5.1 declares, 

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

The sinner has a righteous standing before God the instant she has faith in Jesus Christ, just as was the case with Abraham in Genesis 15.6, and every other sinner who has come to Christ.

As is usually the case with just about every other sinner after Abraham who is justified, the precise moment of this sinner’s faith in Christ was not recorded. Thankfully, the woman’s new birth likely took place sometime before our Lord’s disciples clumsily stumbled upon the scene, though by now they had been with the Master long enough to know to say nothing, verse 27: 

“And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?” 

If the new birth has to do with the onset of real spiritual life, then conversion has to do with when that new life in Christ becomes evident. I would suggest that verses 28-29 show her conversion: 

28  The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,

29  Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? 

If the woman we once considered in John chapter 8 was likely still a young woman, this Samaritan woman to have had by this time five husbands and to be living with a man to whom she is not married is no longer a young woman, but a woman with vast experience with men, though her experiences have to this point always been with the wrong kind of men. As she runs to the nearby town, she cries to the men she encounters, “Come, see a man!” She had never before met a man like this Man. Every other man she had ever met was a taker, a schemer, a conniver, a cheater, a wretched man who sought only to take advantage of her. Tragically, she proved herself to be a foolish and wicked woman who could easily be taken advantage of by evil men.

How many times since she was a girl do you think she fell in love? How many times had she convinced herself that this guy is really the one, only for things to end up badly with a marriage that ended in divorce? Now she is middle-aged, worn out from the tragic endings that come from bad choices in men, and now living with a man who has so little respect for her that he lives with her without marrying her. How worse off can you imagine a woman being in her day, with respect to morals, spiritual condition, social status, and being a member of what surrounding people groups looked down upon as a mongrel race? So you see, she was not just a very sinful woman. She was a very sinful, morally corrupt, socially outcast, Samaritan woman.

Yet the Lord Jesus Christ must needs go through Samaria, verse 4 tells us. Why must He need go through Samaria? For her. How do we know that? We know that because she is the only one John’s Gospel shows the Savior talking to. Why else did He come this way but to minister grace to her? And in talking to her He leaped over the sex divide that prevented men from speaking to women and women from speaking to men, the Samaritan-Jewish divide that had existed for seven hundred years with bitter acrimony and hatred, and also the moral divide that prevented a moral man from speaking or in any way interacting with a woman who had the morals of an alley cat.

May I point out, in addition to these observations, the rather obvious absence of any anger He exhibited toward her? He treated her kindly, with courtesy, and in a respectful manner. Why would He do that, treat her like no other man of her day ever treated her? Two reasons: On her part, though a fallen women, living in a cesspool of immorality, she was still one who bore the image and likeness of God. Human beings deserve respect and courtesy because we all bear God’s image and likeness. On His part, He treated her the way He did because He is God (kind, gracious, and merciful), because He is the Son of Man (come to seek and to save that which is lost), and because He loved her (God is love).

Think about this woman Jesus Christ saved. No one you know is as despised as she was, is as outcast as she was, is as used up as she was, yet the Savior saved her. Therefore, be it you or anyone else who needs what only He can provide, He can give you living water, a well of water springing up into everlasting life. Will He give living water to you? What do you think? This account was not written and preserved to taunt you, to tease you, to mock or torment you, but to encourage you to come to Jesus Christ.

Therefore, I urge you to come to Jesus Christ now.

__________

[1] http://www.calvaryroadbaptist.church/sermon.php?sermonDate=20131117a

[2] John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 1983), page 284.

[3] See footnotes 12 and 13, Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah: New Updated Version, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993), page 283.

[4] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah: New Updated Version, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993), pages 280-281.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org