4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. ) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” 19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”
The Disciples Rejoin Jesus
27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” 28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ ?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him. . . .
Many Samaritans Believe
39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. 42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
Jesus will go wherever you are in order to intersect your life with His. The text says He
“had” to go through Samaria. It’s not that there was no other way to get from Judea to Galilee. In fact, it was one of three ways. But Jesus “had” to go through Samaria because there was a Divine appointment waiting for Him there.
No other Jew wanted to go through Samaria. There was a longstanding, deep-seated hatred between the Jews and Samaritans. While it was much quicker to go through Samaria to get from Judea to Galilee, the Jews would go out of their way, taking a much longer route, just to avoid walking into what they considered to be enemy territory.
The prejudice stemmed from the fact that the Samaritans were a mixed race, being part Jew and part Gentile. Rejected by the Jews because they could not prove their genealogy, the Samaritans established their own temple and religious services on Mt. Gerizim. That only fanned the fires of prejudice. So intense was their dislike of the Samaritans that some of the Pharisees prayed that no Samaritan would be raised in the resurrection! When His enemies wanted to call Jesus an insulting name, they called Him a Samaritan (John 8:48).
Jesus went to Samaria because the truth is, He’ll go where no one else will go in order to reach you. That was His mission. Luke 19:10 “The Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost.” Jesus went into the homes of people that no one else would have given the time of day, showing that God’s love crossed every human and earthly barrier. He was and is no respecter of persons. Not only did Jesus engage a Samaritan, but he also engaged a woman which was a very taboo thing to do in that day and time. Even Jesus’ disciples were surprised to find Jesus talking to a woman, vs. 27.
You see, when Jesus comes to intersect His life with yours, He isn’t concerned about what is politically correct. He’s only concerned that you hear His message and experience the Father’s grace which is the evidence of His love. Not only was the woman a Samaritan woman, but she was also an outcast. She was at the well at the sixth hour, noon, out in the heat of the day by herself. The respectable women had all come to the well when it was cooler. They came together. Going together became a social time for all of them. But the nameless Samaritan woman wasn’t like the rest of them. Her reputation was pretty tainted. She didn’t mix with the other women. They didn’t want to socialize with the likes of her. She was an outcast, forced to come to the well when she didn’t have to hear anyone talk about her to her face the way she knew they did behind her back. And now, a very unexpected man at a completely unexpected place and time intersected her life. And what did He want to do? He wanted to offer her life.
Jesus wants to offer you life. Jesus asked the woman for a drink because he was tired and thirsty. But he wasted no time in getting to the reason He “had” to go through Samaria. His second statement in vs. 10 to the woman was, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” Jesus had to go through Samaria because He had a gift to offer.
Though we joke with children, telling them they need to make sure they are nice and not naughty if they want Santa to bring them presents, the reality is, a gift, by definition isn’t about the recipient, but the giver. The giver makes a decision because of his or her love for and desire to bless the recipient.
I can just imagine what was going through the Samaritan woman’s mind. She had no doubt been offered gifts before by men. Perhaps she had been lured into her multiple relationships after receiving gifts. However, the gifts came with strings attached.
Not so with the gift Christ offers. We’re told in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith-and this not from yourselves. It is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” He then went on to describe what the gift was like. It was like “Living Water.”
He wanted the woman to know there was a difference between the “religion” of the day and what He had come to offer; a relationship with the Father. The religion of the Jews and of the Samaritans was dead. About that dead religion, Jesus said, “”Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again.” He said the life He had come to offer was completely different. Look at Vs. 14: He said, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Jesus was talking about something He could offer that would completely and permanently deal with the thirsting in someone’s soul. It’s not that we would never hunger or thirst spiritually again, because a life that pursues the life of Christ will always be thirsting and hungering for more. But what Jesus wanted the woman and us to understand is that through the Living Water of the Holy Spirit, there is implanted such a supply of Living Water in our souls that we never have to go thirsty. What we need when we are spiritually hungry and thirsty will flow from within us through the Holy Spirit.
When the news at the doctor isn’t good for Christians, they can just tap into the Living Water. When the stress of conflict becomes overwhelming, the Christian just turns to the Living Water. When the grief is consuming and is pulling you down, if you are a Christian, you can call upon the Holy Spirit and Living Water will flow into your life to sustain you and get you through. He will bring healing, cleansing, hope, refreshment . . . whatever you need, He can and will supply it. From within you, God’s power will flow.
Verse 14 is not only a picture of what can happen in this life, but it also speaks about what eternity will look like. In Rev. 7:17 we read: “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Jesus’ words would have resonated with the woman who came day after day after day to draw water. How wearisome something can become when it’s constant work, constant effort. That’s the way the religion of the Samaritans and the Jews was. It was constant work and constant effort.
Isn’t it brilliant that Jesus first presented what He could offer to her before He ever got into her life? He told her about the life He could offer before getting into talking about the life she was living. Do you think Christ could be showing us something? Instead of telling people what is wrong with them. Let’s tell them what’s right about God. When they see what He can offer, then they can evaluate how what they are doing in their life is working for them.
The Samaritan woman was hooked. She said in verse 15, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
After offering her life, we see that Jesus wants to enter her life. You see, to get to the Living Water, she was going to have to deal with her real life and let Jesus deal with her life, so Jesus engaged her in a conversation about her life. Vs. 16 Jesus told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
Do you see that Jesus already knows the details of her life? She didn’t have to let Him in on all she had been up to. He already knew—just like He already knows the details of each one of our lives. He already knows your business, but He wants to get into your business in order to do business with you and for you.
By talking about her life, Jesus ingeniously helped her understand it’s not just that Living Water sounded fascinating, but she actually had a need for it. He was laying the groundwork for an “aha” light bulb moment. She’d been going repeatedly to the well, by herself because she was an outcast. She’d gone from relationship to relationship. There wasn’t any satisfaction in her life. It was drudgery, monotony, loneliness and superficial and the “one night stands” left her feeling worthless and hopeless. This is an example of a woman in need of some Living Water.
Her life was a miserable chain of unfulfilling relationships. The fact that she had married five times indicated that she longed for fulfillment in her life and that she had sought it intensely. Yet time and time again she was left alone. Maybe Jesus “had” to go through Samaria because she was contemplating ending it all by taking her life. Maybe she was at the end of her rope, and He had to go through Samaria to let her know there was another way.
A book was written on the life of George Sanders that contained his famous suicide note. George Sanders was at one time a leading man in Hollywood who had been married to Zsa Zsa Gabor and Benita Hume. He was a graduate of Cambridge University and was a brilliant mathematician. In sum, he was a man of exceptional mental and social abilities, but his note contained an element of Samaritan dissatisfaction and despair.
“I am committing suicide because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I leave you all in your sweet little cesspool and I wish you luck.” He “had it all” by the world’s standards, and still came up short. He died unsatisfied with what life had offered.
Did you know you can be alive and not live? The Samaritan woman was dead and she didn’t even know it. She was dead to her life’s purpose and dead in her sin, yet she continued to do the same things over and over that had robbed her of her integrity and caused her to live a life of loneliness. Do you know if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got? She needed a change and the fact that God led me to prepare this message leads me to believe several someones here this morning need a change.
The only reason Jesus wants to intersect His life with ours, the only reason He presents what He has to offer and allows us to see that our life without Him isn’t a fulfilling one is because He wants to change our lives for the better. Your life will never be what it could be without Jesus.
I can see in this story that the woman was under conviction. She knew Jesus was leading her down a particular path, and she still wasn’t sure what to make of Him. So, she did what I see people do all of the time. She changed the subject. She started talking about worship and where the right place was to worship God. She, being a Samaritan, worshiped on Mt. Gerazim. The Jews worshiped in Jerusalem. She tried to pull Jesus into the drama that had gone on between the Jews and Samaritans for years. Who was right and who was wrong? Anything to get Jesus off topic. Anything to take the focus off of her and her life. Do you know anyone like that? As soon as you start talking about the Lord, they want to talk sports, the weather or anything that has nothing to do with Jesus.
Jesus brought her right back to the main point. It isn’t about earthly topics like sanctuaries and wells, but it is about an inner reality, a soul relationship, an honest heart that is open to receive the gift God desires to give us. Remember, Jesus wants to talk about life. Real life is a spiritual existence, not a physical experience. That’s why I said you can be alive, but not be living.
Life is one of John’s key concepts. He used the word at least thirty-six times in the book of John. Campbell Morgan has pointed out that people need air, water, and food in order to have life. All of these are provided in Jesus Christ. He provides the “breath” (Spirit) of God (John 3:8; 20:22). He is the Bread of Life (John 6:48) and He gives us the water of life. (—Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament)
We’re told in John 10:10 that Jesus came to offer us abundant life. What does that mean? Our English word “abundance” comes from two Latin words “ab and “undare.” “Undare” means “to rise in waves” or “to overflow.” The first definition gives the picture of waves washing upon the seashore. As soon as one wave is exhausted, another wave immediately surges upon the sand. There is never a time when this repetitive abundance of waves ceases. The other definition, “to overflow,” gives the picture of a flood. Both of these definitions together in context speak of a continual overflow of blessings. Continual! That’s Living Water!
Jesus changed her life.
We see the Samaritan woman left Jesus’ presence and went back to her hometown. However, rather than trying to sneak back into her house and maintain her low profile, it’s like she almost became the town crier demanding an audience with everyone. Look at the middle of verse 28 “The woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” The woman who had lived with shame and guilt who tried to take a low profile became a mouthpiece for the Messiah.
She had opened herself up to believe that Jesus may actually have the Living Water He spoke of. She gave her heart and mind to the possibility that things could be different. “Could He be the Messiah?” She started to believe. You know, Jesus doesn’t need a huge open door. Just crack the door. Just give Him a chance. Just open your heart to the possibility that what He offers is more than you can experience on your own. You’ll be amazed at the way your heart and life will change. Her encounter with Jesus was enough to transform her from a person in the shadows to a person who wanted to talk to as many people as would listen.
I love how she put it all in the past tense. She said, “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did.” “Did.” It’s over. It’s past tense. Change is on the horizon.
Someone who KNEW her, really KNEW her, knew all about her in detail, still wanted to be in a relationship with her. She wouldn’t be used and discarded. She wouldn’t be alone and empty. He wouldn’t shun her. He went out of His way to have a conversation with her. He knew her fully and still offered to give her the gift of Living Water.
Another indication that the woman was changed is seen in the first part of verse 28. She left her water jar at the well. She came thirsty, in more than one way. Now that she had met Jesus, she was no longer going to try to quench her thirst with her old ways. She left that water-jar behind, and her thirst was now directed towards seeking the One who is a fountain of life.
She left without what she came for because she had been given so much more. She left with a fresh start. She was no longer the woman with the past. She had become the woman with a future.
The greatest evidence of the change in her life, I believe, is connected to verses 39-41. “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.” Here is someone whose life choices had caused her to become an outcast and caused her to become someone others didn’t want to be around. Her poor choices would have convinced people she wasn’t reliable, couldn’t be trusted and made rash decisions.
Yet, the Scripture says that her testimony was so convincing, that many believe in Jesus. Not only did they believe in Him, but they also went to find Him and asked Him to stay with them for two more days. After that, even more people put their trust in Him. Isn’t that awesome? Jesus used her life. She probably had long concluded her life was worthless and the Messiah used her life.
One woman. One encounter with Jesus. He went out of His way to intersect His life with hers. He offered her life. He discussed her life with her. He gave her grace. He spoke with great interest. She didn’t know how thirsty she was. She didn’t know what she was thirsting for, but as soon as Jesus revealed Himself to her as the Messiah, it all clicked. Her story changed.
Does anyone here need a change? Has Jesus gone out of His way to get your attention and talk with you about life? Have you been trying to change the subject? Is there something you need to leave behind? What is your water jar? What have you been relying on for your source for contentment, purpose, peace and strength? You can leave your water jar. You can be transformed. You can become someone God will use to bring Living Water to thirsty people everywhere. You’re alive, but are you living?