Believe & Evangelize
Topic: Evangelism Passage: John 4
Well, good morning everyone. I just wanted to say a special Happy Canada Day to everybody. Yeah, that's pretty cool. Tim's clapping because I remembered it. I just wanted to tell you guys so you'd be impressed. Last year, I totally forgot. This year, I’ve got it on the calendar.
Also, just a couple of administrative things, to mention a few things going on in the life of our church, as many of you know, we put out a devotional every week called Grace For Your Day. It's just a paragraph or two telling you about the upcoming sermons. So, for instance, this week's Grace For Your Day talks about John chapter 4 and the Woman at the Well. Next week's Grace For Your Day is going to talk about John 5. And the week to follow, we'll talk about John 6. So, you can read the passage and kind of meditate on it throughout the week.
I just mentioned that because if you're not getting those and you'd like to, please e-mail Judy Petkau, and she can get you signed up on the list there. Her e-mail address is email@example.com. Again, that's firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you let her know, she can make sure those devotionals get to you. You can also receive some discussion questions that we have that go along with the sermon during the week as well.
One other note on that, I want to let you know that our sermons are also being transcribed online. That's kind of a newer feature we've had on the website for a little while now. But they're being written out, so that if you miss a sermon and you want to hear it or read it, you can do that now. They’re typed up for you online there. And we're doing that because we want you to think about the Bible, not just on Sundays but all throughout the week. We don't want you to be hearers of the word only, but doers as well.
You know, a young man once said, he had gone through the Bible many times and received no inspiration from it. And so, he was told, “Well, now you need to let it go through you.” We're doing this so that the Word of God can go through you, throughout the week; to enter your hearts and do its work there. And that's what we're doing this morning. If you want to look in John chapter 4, that's our text for today, which we've read just a moment ago. If you want to open up your Bibles to John, the Gospel of John chapter 4.
As we're doing this, I want to start a little differently today. We've done this before, but it's been a little while. I'd like to give you a pop quiz. Yay! I can hear the groaning. This one's a good one, because if you get it right Richard Procee will again give you $100. Right Richard? He’s sitting in the back there. What’s that face for? He looks shocked in expression. You know, it was $100 last time, so let’s do $200 this time.
But here's the question, here's your pop quiz for today, because it ties … get you thinking about our passage. Here's the question: how do you reach the worst person on earth? How do you reach … what's that? Look in the mirror. That's a good one, yeah, that's a good one. I don't know if there's just one answer to this. How do you reach the worst person on earth?
If you think about it, it's not really Biblical to do this, but we all tend to lump sin into categories, right? If we're honest about it. And we all, in our hearts say that, “These sins over here are really bad while those ones over here are okay.” So, how do you reach the bad people? How do you reach those who do terrible things and win them for Christ?
Just as an illustration of this, I came across an obituary that made the news a couple of months ago, because it talked about someone sins, her really bad sins. As one reporter said, “People don't usually speak ill of the dead,” but this one did that. And listen to this obituary - I've changed the names in it - but it says this, “Sally was born March 19th, 1938 to the Davis family of Wabasso, Florida. She married Jack at St. Ann's Church in one 1957, and they had two children, Gina and Jay. In 1962, she became pregnant by her husband's brother and moved away to California.” This is what the obituary actually says.
“She abandoned her children, Gina and Jay, who were then raised by her parents. She passed away on May 31st, 2018 in Springfield and will now face judgment. She will not be missed by Gina and Jay, and they understand that this world will be a better place without her.”
Wow! Right? I think we would all say wow to that. I mean talk about some bitterness and holding a grudge. But it sounds like in some senses, she might have actually earned some of that. How do you reach a person like that, who has abandoned their children and slept with their brother’s husband? How do you reach them for Christ?
I want to tell you, there's a lot of different ways you can answer that question, at least a lot of different ways that are out there today. And I could just mention some of them to you. Some people would say, “You need to meet her needs.” That's one way to reach somebody like this-you meet her needs. Find out what she needs and you accommodate it, you meet it. She needs money, give her money. If she needs time, give her time. If she needs a friend and a companion and a shoulder to cry on, give her that, but give her what she wants. That's one way to answer that question.
Which, if you think about it, you should love people. Right? You should go the extra mile. But the problem is that a non-believing sinner doesn't know what they need. Right? So, you can't follow that.
Another answer to this question, is to build a relationship. Some people say you need to build a relationship with her, find some common ground. If she likes ballgames, go to ballgames with her. If she likes collecting stamps, collect stamps. If she likes birdwatching, watch birds, but connect with her.
A couple of other ways to answer this question; one is to walk in her shoes. There's some other ways we could talk about as well. But what is the answer to this question: how to reach the worst of sinners? Well, the answer to this is found in John chapter 4, in our passage for today.
If you're joining us for the first time today, we're in a series on the Gospel of John called the “That You May Believe” series. Because John says he wrote this book so that you may believe. He says at the end of the book in John 20:31, “Therefore many other signs Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.”
John says, “Jesus did more than what's in this Gospel. He did more than these miracles and these conversations, but these have been written,” John says, “I put these down to win you for Christ. And to help you win others as well.” I'm going to answer this question that I got in your minds here in just a moment. But I want to read some statistics to you that I've read before.
Researchers estimate that something like 95% of Christians never lead someone to the Lord; 95%. Tak and I were just talking about how few Christians there are in Japan. I think if places like Canada and the US don't turn things around, it's going to be the same here; 95%. And 61% don't share their faith on a regular basis. They never evangelize at all. One out of every five never pray for the lost. Two out of every five never invite them to church. And I would add that these statistics probably get worse when you look at the worst of sinners, right? They get worse when you look at people who do really bad things, like abandon their kids and have an affair. We tend to shy away from those people.
You know, I'm still getting to know Chilliwack a little bit. But it's interesting to me that I go up the hill from my house and I run into million-dollar homes, and I go down the hill from my house a couple of miles and I run into homeless people. You know, I go up one way and I see what could be considered mansions to some degree, I go down the other way and I see people living in the streets. And whether you're up or down, they're both sinners, amen? I mean whether you’re up or down, they're both doing evil things. But there can be a tendency to focus on those at the top of the hill and ignore those at the bottom.
You know, my mother told me once about a church in the States that would evangelize by driving through their neighborhood and looking at the cars in the driveway. And if they were nice cars, you know, BMWs or Mercedes, they would stop and tell them the Gospel. And if they were not nice cars, they would just keep going. And my mom told me, she said, “May God curse a church like that.” I think He will. I think God will curse a church like that. She said, “May God pronounce an Ichabod, no glory on that place,” and I think He'll do that. We have to remember that.
But it still leaves us with the question, well, how do we reach the worst of sinners? And the answer is very simple. It's found in John chapter 4, it's just all throughout the chapter. The answer is very simple. It’s so simple, you might laugh: we talk to them. That’s how you reach the worst of sinners; you talk to them. That's the answer to our pop quiz. If you got that right, see Richard, he'll give you $200. If you didn't get it exactly right but close, he'll give you increments - $175, $150. Just go see him.
But we open our mouths and we tell them the Gospel with words, with things that we say out loud. I mean you can meet their needs and build a relationship and walk in their shoes if you want to, that's fine. There's some merit in that, but at the end of the day, you have to talk to them. You have to tell them about Jesus. Romans 10:14 says. “How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard.” Which means, people need to hear the gospel in order to believe it. They need to hear it said.
Mark 16:15 says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel and he who believes shall be saved.” The Gospel must be preached. And in John chapter 4, Jesus does this with the worst of sinners. He evangelizes a woman who is at the bottom of her society because of her sin. And I want you to notice as you read this passage, Jesus doesn't do any miracles, although He could have done that. The Lord does plenty of miracles in the Gospel of John, but He doesn't do that here. He doesn't say, “You know, we can't really have this conversation until we build a relationship.” Not that that's wrong. Again, it's fine to do that. But He talks to her. That's how He wins her for Christ, for Himself.
Just to give you some background for this, to set the stage, if you look in the first couple of verses of John chapter 4, they tell us (we just read this a moment ago) that, “The Pharisees had heard that Jesus was baptizing more disciples than John the Baptist (or His disciples were baptizing).” And as a result, Jesus leaves Jerusalem and it says He heads to Samaria. Verse 3 continues the story this way, it says,
3 He left Judea and went away again into Galilee. 4 And He had to pass through Samaria. 5 So He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; 6 and Jacob's well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 There came a woman of Samaria to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”
You know, as we've been going through this series, it's helpful to talk about some of the background here, because you might miss it if you fly through it. But just to kind of break down some of what's being said, to go from Judea to Galilee as verse three says, you had to travel through the heart of Samaria. Israel had three provinces to it. It had Judea in the south where Jerusalem was. It had Galilee in the north where Nazareth was (Jesus' hometown), and then it had Samaria in the middle. So, to go from bottom to top like he's doing here, you had to travel through Samaria.
It was about a three-day trip; 60 miles, one way. I looked it up, that's about from here to Surrey. So, if you’re going to walk from here to Surrey, that's about how long it would be with a lot of mountains. And to add to this, some Jews out of disdain for the Samaritans would actually go around that province making it a six-day trip and 120 miles one way. They would literally double the trip rather than walk through the land of Samaria, because they thought the land was filthy.
The book of 2 Kings tells us that a few centuries before this, when the Babylonians invaded Israel, the wealthier Jews were deported and exiled. But the poor Jews were left behind to work the land, and the Babylonian sent people from other nations to intermarry with them. And they produced a race of people called the Samaritans. If you follow some of the Christian news in the States, there's a lot of uproar right now about what to do with the topic of race in some churches. That's a 2000-year old problem. That's been going on for centuries. This is racism in the first century.
The people were named after the land of Samaria. They were called the Samaritans. It’s interesting, Matthew Henry called them Mongrel Jews. He called the Mongrel Jews or half breeds. Because that's how they were treated back then. They were treated as half breeds. They weren’t Jewish, they weren’t Gentile, they weren’t God's people, they weren't something else. They just were nothing, they didn't belong anywhere.
And because of this, the Israelites, many of them despised them. We just read about Nicodemus in John 3 last week. A man like Nicodemus probably would never walk through Samaria. So, men in John chapter 3 would never talk to this person in John chapter 4. So, just some quotes from this time period.
One rabbi said, “He that eats the bread of a Samaritan, eats the flesh of a pig.” In other words, their bread is dirty, you can’t eat with them. It will pollute you like pig will. The Jews had a very great revulsion to pig. Another one said, “No writing is valid which has a Samaritan as a witness, except for a divorce, in the case of a divorce.” So, in other words, you can't trust the writing of Samaritans. They're liars.
Another one said, “A Samaritan conveys uncleanness by what he lies on, sits on or rides on.” And listen to how descriptive this is, “…by his spittle including the phlegm of his lungs, throat and nose.” And it says, “The daughters of the Samaritans are unclean from the cradle.” In other words, they're born filthy people. That's how the Jews looked at the Samaritans in the first century. They hated them. They wouldn't set foot in their land, they wouldn't do business with them, they wouldn't talk to them. Some of the Pharisees had laws against that sort of thing.
But verse 4 says (if you notice in our passage), it says that Jesus had to pass through there. It was not an option for Him, He had to go through Samaria. Why? Because He had somebody to talk to. He had someone to save. And verse 5 tells us that when He got there, He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar. That's actually the Old Testament town of Shechem. If you read about Shechem in the Old Testament, it was located in the middle of Samaria. So, it was about a half way in Jesus' journey. It was 20 miles from Jerusalem, 20 miles from Nazareth, right in the middle. And it was rich in history.
Verse 5 talks about the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph, and Jacob's well was there. Some of the Old Testament history in this town: Genesis 48 says just before he died, Jacob gave this area to Joseph. And Joshua 24 says Joseph’s bones were buried there. So, some of the history in this town. It was also the place where the Lord first appeared Abraham, and where Joshua addressed the nation of Israel before he died.
It was where Solomon’s son Rehoboam split the kingdom. Do you member that story? He said, “My father disciplined you with whips, I will discipline you scorpions.” That's where this happened. It was where Moses told the Levites to stand when they pronounced blessings and cursings on Israel. If you remember that story, it said, “When you go into the Promised Land, half the Jews are going to stand on one mountain, half are going to stand on another mountain. The Levites will stand in the middle and pronounce blessings on cursings on you.” That happened in this town.
Which, by the way, shows you how deep racism can go, right? All this history happened here in Israel. All these wonderful things and they despise these people so much, they wouldn't even walk there. But here Jesus comes through and He sits down.
Verse 6 says (this is another important detail here), it says, “And Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. And it was about the sixth hour.” Now that phrase “sixth hour” doesn't mean much to us, but that means the sixth hour after sunrise. The Romans started their clocks at sunrise. So, six hours after sunrise would be what time? Noon, right?
Now, if you think about this for a minute, why would a woman draw water at noon in the desert? In that day, there was usually one source of water in a little village like this. It was the well. And it was the job of the ladies of the village to come and get the water and they would do it early in the morning because it was cooler and because they needed it for their tasks of cooking and cleaning, and that kind of thing. This woman came at noon. Now, why did she do that? It would be hot. Half your day would be gone, and you wouldn’t have any water. It's very strange.
Verse 7 doesn't tell us why she does this. But if you look in verse 16, it tells us exactly why she does this. You just look up a few verses. Jesus said to her, “He said, ‘Go, call your husband and come here.’ The woman answered and said, ‘Well, I have no husband.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘You have correctly said “I have no husband,” for you’ve had five husbands and the one you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.’” She came to draw water at noon because she’d had five husbands and the man she was now living with was not her husband, and she didn't want to be the source of town gossip.
In fact, the Greek word for husband here, it's the word aner, which means “man”. So, she’d had five men and the man she was now living with was not her man. You could maybe translate that word “lover”. She’d had five lovers and she's not even living with her lover right now, she's just shacking up. She's just living in sin. And because of that, she's the butt of all the town jokes. She's the one who's getting sneered and slandered at. In response to that, she's fed up with it and she comes to the well at the sixth hour, when nobody would bother her, when she could be all alone.
You could say it this way, just kind of putting this passage into perspective before we dive into it, not only is Jesus visiting the worst place on earth, the land of Samaria, He's visiting the worst Samaritan on earth. Do you guys remember the story of the Good Samaritan, remember that story in the Gospel of Luke? What's so shocking is that Jesus puts a Samaritan on such a high pedestal.
Here, in John 4, any Jew from this period, would read this story and say, “Yeah, that sounds like a Samaritan. The worst one on earth.” And not only does she come from a dirty land, she comes from a dirty race (or at least the people back then would have seen it that way), and she lives a dirty lifestyle. Which makes you wonder what does Jesus say to a person like this?
Let me ask you this question, what would you say to a person like this? Would you say anything? I think in John chapter 3 with Nicodemus, most of us never would have said anything to Nicodemus, because we'd say, “This guy's okay, right?” We wouldn’t say anything to this lady because it would be very awkward. I mean you're watching her walk through the town at 12 o'clock in the middle of the day, you know why she's doing that, and you wouldn't talk to her. Most of us wouldn’t. Jesus does.
He tells her four things about Himself here. So, if you're taking notes in John 4, Jesus shows us how to talk to the worst of sinners by telling this woman four things about Himself. Let's just jump on into this. We've kind of set the stage, talked about the kind of person this is, the kind of area this is, the whole background of the story. Let's just talk about or look at the conversation. Jesus doesn't leave her alone, He doesn't treat her like everyone else in the town. He opens up to her and He tells her four things. The first one is this - this is the first thing Jesus says to this woman.
He says, “I can give you living water.” That's how He starts off the conversation. He says, “I can give you living water.” They're sitting by a well in the middle of the day, they're sitting there at high noon. And in that context, He talks about living water. And He says this in verse seven, he says,
7 There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. And Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 9 Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that you, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 And 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.”
Jesus starts this conversation by asking the woman for a drink, which makes total sense. It’s kind of interesting if you read Jesus' life in the Gospels. But He never rode a horse anywhere He went or a chariot. He always walked. That’s why the time He enters the City of Jerusalem on a donkey, that’s so unusual because you never read about Him doing that. Which means He was often weary especially in a desert climate.
So, He asked for a drink. And He did that because wells didn't have buckets back then. You had to bring your own bucket. They had a wall around the side to keep animals out. They had a covering at the top with a rope made out of goat’s hair that you could tie the bucket to. But for whatever reason, Jesus doesn't have a bucket. The water's there, He can't get to it. And He asked for a drink, and if you notice, she smarts off to Him.
In verse 9, she's pretty rude when she says, “How is that you, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan?” Now, let me just stop there and say most of us would have ended the conversation right there, amen? We would have said, “Okay, I feel the Holy Spirit telling me this person is not ready.” Right? You know, some of us are going out this afternoon. Guys, some of you are going to smarted off to, okay? We would say, “You know, she's a little touchy. I'll come back later, maybe it's just hot outside, I don't know.” If you noticed, Jesus doesn't stop the conversation, he goes on. And He offers her living water.
The word for “living water” in verse 10 means “living or breathing water” in Greek. In a literal sense, it referred to running water or moving water. It was probably what the woman heard when He said this. It water that was found in a river or a stream. The Jews used running water in their ceremonies at the temple, because it was cleaner than well water. Well water would have algae form at the bottom, maybe disease or … it could possibly have disease in it.
John the Baptist used river water in his baptisms. If you remember, he baptized in the Jordan River for the same reason. And Jesus says to this woman, “If you come to Me, I can give you that. I can give you living water, clean water, breathing water.” And He means more than that here, because several passages in the Bible tie this into the Holy Spirit.
Just a couple of passages on this. In Jeremiah 2:13 it says, “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that hold no water.” Jeremiah says that, “The Lord is the fountain of living water, He's the source from which it springs.” Jeremiah says, “My people have forsaken that and gone after other gods and cisterns that hold no water.” You can see the image there.
Jeremiah says it another way in chapter 17:13. When he says, “All who forsake the Lord will be put to shame because they have forsaken the fountain of living waters.” But I think the most helpful reference to this is found in John 7. So, if you want to hold your fingers there in John chapter 4 and turn over to John 7, I think it would help to read this. If you look in John 7:37-39. This is probably the most helpful reference to living water that really shows what Jesus is saying here. If you look in verse 37, it says,
37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Now, we can't go into all of that, but just notice John relates this directly to the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, “If you believe in Me, I will give you the Holy Spirit and He will make rivers of living water flow from inside of you.” There's a lot of symbolism there. One symbolism there is that you’ll always have enough, right? Rivers of living water. You won't have to keep coming back to the well, you won't have to keep going there in the middle of the day. It will always be enough. It will always we satisfy you. Other images there, that it will cleanse you off, it will wash you from the inside. Another image is, it will give you life, water gives you life.
But just to go back to this idea of satisfaction, you know, if you noticed a woman like this (if you want to turn back to John chapter 4) was very unstable, right? Very unsatisfied with life; jumping from man to man to man to man, relationship to relationship to relationship, looking for something that will satisfy, looking for something that will quench her thirst, and it doesn't work. That’s what Jesus is saying here, “You're always wanting more. More affection, more attention, more romance, more thrills.”
It's been said that living for sin is like waiting two days at Disneyland for a two-minute ride. You guys know what that's like? Anybody been to Disneyland before? You wait and you wait and you wait all day long and you stand and you stand and you stand. Then you get to go on the ride for two minutes. And then it doesn't really satisfy you, and you go back and do it again. That's what living for sin is like. That's what this woman is doing.
Jesus says, “What I can give you is different because it satisfies. You know, the wells you're drinking from are dirty and filthy and polluted. They don't satisfy. What I give you will quench your thirst.” And I wonder if there’s any of you here this morning who need to hear that, because your life is like this woman's life. It's like a two-minute ride. I mean all you think about is your sin. You go to work, you think about sin. You go home, you think about sin. You play with your kids, you think about sin. You come here to church, you've got sin on your mind - it’s sin, sin, sin, sin, lust, lust, lust.
You’re constantly planning it out, constantly dreaming about it. It's been said you don't fall into sin, you plan it. Some of you are planning it right now. And it could be because you've never come to this living water. That could be because you've never drank from this fountain. And this fountain satisfies. Or it could be that you've come to it, but you're not willing to give up your sin. You can't drink from sin and the Spirit. You can't have two fountains.
I say all this because if you're wondering how do you reach the worst of sinners, how do you reach the worst people? This is the answer, you bring them to Christ, amen? I mean it’s as simple as that. You take them to the living water. They don't have to clean up their life first, they don't have to be a better person, they just need to come and drink. You know, Jesus doesn't say, “Look, you can have this living water, but I've got a long list of stuff you've got to do first.” Right? He says, “Just come and drink.”
I remember talking with a man several years ago outside of the courthouse in Indiana. We were both on jury duty. And it was the coolest opportunity to talk about the Gospel, because here we are outside a court of law, right? And he asked me, and this was an interesting question after he heard that I was a pastor, he said, “How do you fight sexual sin?” I thought, “Whoa! It’s 8:15 in the morning, that's on your mind?” Yeah, it was. He said, “How do you pastors defeat pornography?” I said, “Well, we do it the same way as everyone else, we turn to Jesus.” Right?
I said, “He gives us the victory.” Then he said this, he said, “I can't do that because I'm not good enough.” And I didn't know what to say for a minute. Again, it kind of caught me off guard. You guys know those little prayers you shoot up to heaven, you know? I said, “Lord, what would I say to this guy, you know?” And I said, “Well, let me ask you this,” I said, “Are you good enough to drink water?” I said, “Then you're good enough for this.” I said, “Are you good enough to come to a fountain? Then you're good enough for Him.”
Friends, that’s what we tell people. If you can drink water, you can be saved. If you can come to the fountain, you can have forgiveness. If you look in verse 10, Jesus calls this a gift. And the thing about a gift is you don't earn it. You don't have to be good enough for this. He says in here also in verse 10, “If you ask Him, He will give you living water.” You have to ask. Ask and you receive, receive and your drink, that's the way it works. That's how you’re saved, that's how you go to heaven. And that's what we have to tell people.
You don't want to ever give people the idea that they have to be good enough to come to Christ. Jesus doesn't do that here. You don't want to ever give them the idea that they have to earn it. I mean Jesus doesn't tell this woman, “Look, if you would just step across the border into Israel and start doing all that stuff over there for a couple of years, then you can make up for all this.” He doesn't say that. He says, “Come to Christ, you'll be saved.”
That leads to another thing Jesus tells this woman, which is just as important as this. He tells her that, “I can give you living water,” and the next thing He says is, “You need this living water.” He said, “This is not a theoretical kind of thing for you lady, you need this. Just look at your life, you're starving, you're dying of thirst. So, you need this; living water.” In verse 11, it goes on and it says,
11 She said to Him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do you get this living water? 12 You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drink of it himself and his sons and cattle?” 13 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again [this well water]; 14 but whoever drinks of the water I will give him will never thirst.”
See the satisfaction there. “'…but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.’ 15 The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw again.’”
If you noticed, some of your Bibles have red letters in the words of Jesus like mine do, but you can see the black and the red there. And if you noticed in the black words for the lady, it's just all confusion, isn’t it? She just doesn't get it. Jesus refers to “living water,” she doesn't get that. She says, “Where do I get it so I don't have to come back to the well?” Jesus goes on and explains, that, “this water will become in you a well of water springing up to eternal life,” and she says, “Sir, give it to me so I won't have to come back to the well again.” She doesn't get it.
Which again, I kind of want to politely point out that most of us, again, would have ended the conversation right here, right? “Okay, I gave her the gospel, I gave her some good news, she doesn't get it. Okay, I'll come back next month.” Right? Look what Jesus does in verse 16. Now, this is the Son of God speaking, He knows everyone inside and out. And He said to her with the supernatural knowledge that He has, “Go, call your husband and come here.”
Some scholars have speculated that she might have been leaving the conversation, so He said this to kind of draw her back, get her attention. That could be the case. She was going to take her bucket and go on. Others say that Jesus might have actually been wanting her to bring her husband back, so they could talk; the three of them.
But whatever the case, I want you to notice, Jesus points out her sin here. He goes straight to the heart of the problem and He says, “Your confusion is not in here, it's in here.” He says, “Your problem is not in your head, it's in your heart. You love your sin more than you love God. You love lust more than you love your Creator.”
And as it goes on (we've already read these verses in verses 17-18), she says, “I have no husband.” Which is interesting, it's a very short sentence in Greek, it's three words. Because she's mad or she's offended anyway. She's been very chatty until now, she's been very friendly, but at the mention of her sins, she just clams up, says three words in English, “I have no husband.”
And Jesus goes on and says in verse 17, “You correctly said, ‘I have no husband; for you’ve had five and the one you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” In other words, “You haven't sinned a little bit, you've sinned a lot. You don't need me a little bit, you need Me a lot.”
Jesus doesn't say this to embarrass her. He's not trying to point her out. He's just trying to say, “You can't be saved until you know you need salvation.” Right? “You can't be saved until you know you're lost.” And Jesus says to this woman here, “You're lost. You've messed up, you've done something really bad and I'm the only one who can fix it.”
You know, it's amazing, I don't know if you guys do this, but so many times when we evangelize, we leave this out, right? And we meet people's needs, we build relationships, we walk in their shoes, those kinds of things. And at the end of the day, we never tell them they're lost.
Several years ago, R.C. Sproul said he ran into a guy out on the street who said, “Are you saved?” Sproul says, “This was the ‘60s, so you never knew what someone was going to come up and say to you.” And this guy came up and he said, “Are you saved?” And R.C Sproul just said the first thing that came into his mind, “Saved from what?” The man didn't know. And he just walked away.
Friends, you have to know what people are saved from. You have to know what's wrong in their life. They need a Saviour, they need to be forgiven of sin, they need living water. Let me say it this way because this is helpful, you can't have the water if you don't have the thirst. Amen? You can’t have a drink if you don't have an appetite for it. I heard Kirk Cameron say from The Way The Master stuff, he said, “They can't know their cure if they don't know what the disease is.” And this is the disease, “You are in sin,” Jesus says. “And you need to repent.”
Walter Chantry says, “Repentance and faith are Siamese twins. And where one is found, the other will not be absent. They’re invariably joined in the true convert’s heart.” True faith always involves repentance. True repentance always has faith mixed with it. Christ demands of us faith in Himself as well as repentance from the dead works of sin.
That leads to another thing Jesus tells this woman. And that is, “You can't worship God without this. Not only do I have this living water and you need this living water, but you can't worship God without this.” The Samaritans were a very religious people. It's interesting they took a lot of the things from Israel and tried to incorporate it in the land of Samaria. They were only 40-50 miles away, but they built their own temple on Mount Gerizim. And they practiced the five books of Moses. They were a very religious people.
If you noticed, the lady says in verse 19, “The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.’”
Now, you read that and let me ask you the question, what does that have to do with her sin? Nothing. She's changing the subject. You guys have been in this situation before, right? You talk about someone's sin, you graciously point out their need for a Saviour, and what do they say? They say, “I perceive you're a prophet, I have a prophetic question for you; why is there evil in the world?” You guys ever had that happen before? “You know, why do bad things happen to good people?” They say, “I can tell you're a Christian, I have a Christian question for you: why doesn't the Bible talk about evolution? Why doesn't it talk about life on other planets?” I was a philosophy major, I can do this all day by the way.
But the question, “What does it have to do with their sin,” it has nothing…they’re just changing the subject. And Jesus knowing that, actually answers her question and goes back to her sin. And I won't read all of this, you can read it at another time. But I want to point out, He says, “The correct location of the temple is in Jerusalem.”
He says in verse 21, He says, “Woman believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know.” In other words, you worship on a mountain that you shouldn't worship on. “We worship what we know for salvation is from the Jews.” In other words, the mountain is in Jerusalem. “But an hour is coming, and now is, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers.” I'll go ahead and read it all. “God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” That’s the answer to the question, “An hour is coming when true worshippers will worship in spirit and in truth.”
In other words, just to unpack all that, Jesus says, “You don't need to worry about mountains if you are in sin.” You see that? You don't need to worry about the correct location of the temple if you're living in adultery. You need to worship in spirit, which means you worship sincerely, genuinely before the Lord. And you need to worship in truth, which means you need to worship correctly. Incorrect worship means you repent like we talked about.
He doesn't let her off the hook. He doesn't let her get away with it. He's not rude to her, He's being, patient, He's answering her question, but He takes it back to her sin.
Listen, friends, God doesn't care what temple you're in if you're a hypocrite. Right? He doesn't care what church you're in if you're a hypocrite. I think it was Thomas Watson the Puritan who said, “What does it matter if other people think you're saved when you go to hell?” That's not true worship. True worship is what is pleasing to God on the inside.
You know, it's interesting to me that a woman like this would know so much about religion, but you see this with people, don't you? They live in adultery, they live in sin, and they go to church every Sunday and they know the Bible. Or they live with someone they're not married to, but they know theology and they read some good books, Jesus says, “That's not enough to worship God. You need to repent. The living water needs to change you on the inside.”
Verse 24 says, “God is spirit and since God is spirit, you must worship Him in spirit.” Since God is invisible, you must focus on the invisible things; humility and holiness and things like that.
I just want to say a word on this before we go to the last point. The church today has an amazing appetite for physical things. Have you noticed that? I mean just go to your local Christian bookstore and what do you see? You see books on weight loss, books on finance, books on relationships and business and how to be successful. Many of the bookstores have Christian video games and Christian movies and Christian t-shirts, which are all fine to some degree. If the content is good, that's fine, but it is physical. I mean it focuses on the outside and not the inside of us.
Let me say it this way, how a pastor looks and his personality are becoming more important than what he says in the pulpit. When I first came to Grace Fellowship Church, I asked (I hope Brent Nelson doesn't mind me mentioning this), but I asked brother Brent, I said, “Brent, can you make me look cool like all those other guys on the websites, you know?” And Brent looked at me for a minute in all serious, and he said, “No.” I'll grow a beard and everything man, just tell me what I got to…that's important to some people. It's not important to God.
Now, you could look cool if you wanted to, the point is that it doesn't matter. What a praise band sounds like is given precedence over whether it leads us to love and adore and reverence God. Church’s programs take precedence over the doctrinal statement. I mean there's a place for all those things but Jesus says, “None of that is the primary importance. What is of primary importance is true worship. And true worship happens in spirit and in truth. It focuses on the inside of us; getting rid of our sin, coming to Christ. The fountain has to clean you off on the inside.”
That leads us to a fourth thing Jesus talks about here. So as Jesus is talking to the worst of sinners here, He evangelizes her. He listens to her, He answers her questions patiently, graciously. He tells her, “I can give you living water and you need this living water, and you can't worship God without this living water.” He says, “Don't go away from this conversation and just go back to church.” He says, “Don't go away from this and just go on with your life. Your relationship with God is broken, your relationship with God is wrong, and that's what has to be made right through Me,” He says.
It leads to a fourth thing He tells this lady. And this isn’t said as much as it's implied, but He says, “Your life needs to change.” That’s how the passage ends. It ends on this woman's life changing. Nobody who ran into Jesus walked away unchanged. And some people were hardened by the encounter. Some people were awed at Him, but nobody went away unchanged. And this lady runs off midsentence and, in her excitement, she tells her friends about Jesus. And the interesting thing is that they believe her because something changed in her. They see a difference. If you read in verse 25, it says,
The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); and when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” 26 And Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” 27 At this point His disciples came, and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why do you speak with her?” 28 So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” 30 They went out of the city, and they were coming to Him.
We’re skipping over a little bit here, but in verse 39 it continues the story. Jesus' disciples actually come to Him and Jesus teaches them a lesson about priorities essentially. He says in verse 34, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.” And the idea there is that, “This is the work God has sent me to do - to tell these Samaritans the truth.”
He says in verse 39, it goes on with the story. It says,
39 From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I've ever done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of His word; 42 and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Saviour of the world.”
You know, it's interesting that as far as I know, this is the only time Jesus ever told someone He was the Messiah. Most of the time in the Gospels, He avoided that title because of all the wrong ideas tied up in it. But I think this is the only time where He tells someone, “I am the Christ.” He says, “I who speak to you am He.”
And at that point in the conversation, everything clicked for this lady. Everything made sense. So far, if you noticed, she's been confused. He says, “I can give you living water,” she doesn't get it. He says, “He who drinks of this water will never thirst,” she doesn't get it. He says, “Go, call your husband and come here,” she doesn't get it. He says, “You must worship in spirit and truth,” she still doesn't quite get it. But when He says, “I who speak to you am He,” it all makes sense.
“This guy knows everything about me. This guy has treated me with the kindness that no one has treated me with. He can answer my questions. He's patient, He's the Messiah.” And she was so excited about it that verse 28 says she leaves her waterpot behind. She forgets the whole reason she came to the well. Maybe Jesus picked the waterpot up at that time and got a drink, I don't know.
And she goes back to tell everyone about Jesus. The most amazing thing is that they don't laugh at her. I mean this would kind of be like someone going straight from the bar, to their bar friends to tell them about the Messiah. You would think they would laugh. They would say, “Who are you to talk about something like that?” Right? “Why would you care about that?”
But something changed, something is different, and they come in droves to see what it was. And verse 39 says many of the Samaritans believed because of their time with Jesus. They were saved. You could even say it this way; many of them were saved. Maybe more Samaritans were saved than the Jews at the time. In verse 42, it says, “We've heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Saviour of the world.”
“Saviour of the world” there means “Saviour of Jews and Samaritans”. It means “Saviour of Jews and Saviour of mongrels,” as they were called at the time.
We could look at it this way, this lady became the first evangelist in John's Gospel, and maybe the first evangelist of all time. At least, she was the first evangelist of the Gentiles. John the Baptist was evangelizing, John the Baptist was telling people about the Christ. So, I guess in a sense, he was the first. But this is the first time someone tells, that we know of, that I know of anyway, tells a non-Jew about the Lord.
This is the way it works friends, we tell people about Jesus who tell people about Jesus, right? Amen? That's how it works in Japan, that's how it works in Canada, it’s how it works everywhere. We tell our friends and they tell their friends. That's how the church grows. That's how you build the kingdom.
In his commentary on Acts, W.A Criswell, tells about a woman who led Richard Baxter to the Lord. And he went on to write a book called The Call of the Unconverted, which led a man named Philip Doddridge to the Lord. Who wrote a book called The Rise and Progress of Religion, which led William Wilberforce to the Lord. Who wrote a book called A Practical View of Christianity, which led Legh Richmond to the Lord. Who wrote a little track called The Dairyman's Daughter, which led thousands to the Lord. But it started with an anonymous woman. It started with somebody that nobody ever heard of.
That's what this woman was, she is completely anonymous. We don't know anything about her. We don't know her name, we don't know her history, other than her sin. That's really the only thing we know about her. We don't know how old she was. And she had an enormous impact on her town. She had an enormous impact for Jesus Christ. Which reminds us friends, to never give up on the worst of sinners. Never give up on the lost. You have no idea how God's going to use that. You have no idea the kind of evangelist that person can be.
Let me say it like this, you were lost at one time, weren't you? And somebody didn't give up on you. You were the worst of sinners; in your heart, in your soul, and someone told you about the Lord. You go and tell someone else. Corrie ten Boom said, “There is no pit so deep that Jesus is not deeper still.” And we could say this, there is no sin so deep that He is not deeper still. He can save you from anything, He can rescue you from anything, and it's your job to tell others that truth.
A young illiterate preacher was once asked to preach before a very famous one, a very polished one. And as he was about to preach, he was told he was going to go up right before the Big Gun. That's what the famous preacher was called; the Big Gun. The young man was praying and kind of worried about that. And then he finally consoled himself by saying, “I think a little shot can do as much as a big gun for the Lord.”
He's right friends. I just want to ask you this morning, will you be a little shot for Jesus today? Will you go tell someone about the Lord? Would you pray for the team that's going out this afternoon to do that? Would you go do that in your homes and in your places of work? Let's pray and thank the Lord for those who told us about Christ, and for the privilege of telling others.
Father, we thank you so much for the story of this Woman at the Well. Maybe Father, I could say it this way, we thank You that we don't know anything about her because we have to give all the glory to You, because we can’t give it to her. Thank you for the way You used someone from such a tough background. We look forward to meeting her in eternity. We look forward to hearing her full story of what Christ has done for her.
Lord, I pray if there's any here this morning who can relate to this woman, (I don't know where everyone's at) but if there’s any who can, I pray they would take hope that they have a Saviour of the world, and that means all the world - the Samaritans, the Jews, whoever. Thank You for the kindness of Christ in reaching out to this lady.
Father, those of us who are believers this morning, may we be challenged to go and do what our Saviour did; to take time with people in talking to them about Christ, and also to never give up on the worst of sinners. Father, we were sinners before You, the worst of them. We broke Your law over and over and over again. Yet, in Your grace and Your mercy, You marched into our wicked hearts and gave us living water. May we go and do likewise with others.
Thank you for Christ, and may we glorify Him as we go out from this place today, in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.