If someone asked you to describe who you are and what you are about what pertinent things would you include? Would you talk about who your parents were, where you grew up, what schools you attended or what you do for a living? Would you talk about who your siblings or spouse or kids are? Would you describe what you like to do for fun or who you know that also lives in the area?
If someone asked you about Jesus Christ, what would you say about Him? How would you describe Him? Would you talk about His birthplace in Bethlehem now well over 2000 years ago? Would you talk about how He is the central figure not only in Christianity, but in all of History? Would you talk about how He only had a short ministry of three and a half years that didn’t even start until He turned 30? Would you quote what He said of Himself, that He alone was the “Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no person would get to God except through Him?” (John 14:6) Would you recount His claim to be God in the flesh and talk about how He provided for the salvation of all people through His death, burial and resurrection? Church, if we are going to be people who share the Gospel, we are going to need to be people who are comfortable talking about Jesus Christ as He IS THE MAIN CHARACTER in this Gospel story.
I want to show you a short video clip of someone who is currently in the spotlight due to the fact that he is running for President of the United States. I am not endorsing a candidate this morning. I am showing this video because it was impressive to me that when asked about his relationship with God, Senator Marco Rubio seized the moment in an instant to talk about Jesus.
VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkP9RqPA2PQ (shown from 2:11 to the end)
What I loved was that Mr. Rubio talked about who Jesus was, what He accomplished and how a relationship with Christ makes an impact on his daily life.
In today’s message I want to with you about the Woman at the Well in John chapter four. Let’s look at a few verses near the end of her encounter with Jesus, and then we’ll back it up to dissect what this unnamed Woman at the Well may have shared with others about Jesus as a template for what we might share as well.
John 4:27-29 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?”
John 4:39-42 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.”
So the Woman at the Well was obviously a compelling communicator when it came to talking about Jesus as many people became Christ-followers because of her testimony, but if she was to take a “How to Share the Gospel 101” class, what might she say about Jesus?
- He accepted me as I was.
Jesus was the only completely holy, sinless person who ever lived. He was a Jewish Rabbi, a Master Teacher of the Scriptures. He took the initiative to engage a Samaritan woman which in that day was crossing racial and gender lines that were considered taboo. Not only that, but He risked coming to and being alone with a woman of great scandal. If the National Enquirer had been printed back in that day, this woman’s picture would have been on the cover. There was a reason she was at the well at the hottest part of the day. She went alone in order to avoid the whispers and stares of the other women who knew who she was, what she had done, and how she was currently living.
I think a lot of people are hindered by their sin when it comes to exploring a life with Jesus. I think people think they have to be perfect or “have their act together” before they can connect with God. There is a sense that we aren’t “good enough” for God. Our sin puts distance between us and God, it’s true. We aren’t “good enough” for God, but hallelujah, He is “God enough” for us! And He wants to have a conversation with us, an honest one, about the sin problem we have so that He we can deal with it, confess it, and by God’s power be forgiven and have those issues removed from our lives.
The Woman at the Well was used to having people talk about her life. She was the “talk of the town” and not in a good way. However, Jesus wanted to talk about her life not to shun and shame her, but to bring her to a place of healing and redemption. He wanted her to know that her sinful condition wasn’t a barrier for Him and that in spite of who she was, He still wanted a relationship with her.
And so He got right into the thick of her story in verses 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.”
The fact that this woman went from man to man and was intimate with them was indicative of a bigger problem, but helping her “own” her behavior was the first step to getting her to look at the condition of her heart. Jesus wanted her to see her brokenness. For until we admit we are broken, we can’t truly be fixed. Part of repenting of sin and choosing a different way of life in Christ starts with getting real about where we are.
This woman was obviously in search of something. You don’t go from relationship to relationship without a desire or need for something, and superficial relationships and one-night stands won’t ever be the solution.
Jesus is the God full of grace AND truth. His grace allows Him to meet us where we are, and His truth enables us to move from where we are to where He is. Jesus accepts us where we are in order to help us face that which is destroying our lives because He wants us to live. While the people of her town sought to destroy her with their words because of her sin, Jesus sought to help her overcome her sin by first accepting her where she was. Listen, there is nothing you have done or could ever do that would cause God to stop His pursuit of a relationship with you. Nothing is hidden from Him, and nothing you could change His desire to be in a relationship with you. The Gospel-Tell people Jesus will take them right where they are so that they can go where He is.
- He taught me things I didn’t know.
People today often reject Jesus because they don’t understand who He is or why He came. We live in a time when biblical illiteracy is at an all-time high. Sharing the Gospel is so critical because people don’t even know how to pursue God. They have lots of wrong ideas about religion. The purity of a relationship with God has gotten twisted and perverted and contorted to the point where people think being a Christian means you are gullible, uninformed, “old fashioned” or stupid for believing God exists or that He could love you or that knowing God is so complicated you could never understand it so why try? We must share the Gospel because we have a whole generation that now needs to “un-learn” what it means to be a Christ follower. They think they know, but they don’t because they have heard and believed and followed wrong things.
The Woman at the Well thought she knew some spiritual stuff, but she didn’t have things quite straight. Look at John 4:19-26 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.”
She recognized Jesus as a prophet in verse 19. Many people today give Jesus prophet status. They can’t deny that history records He did live and had a profound impact on the spiritual climate of His day. And because they know He lived a good life, they believe they “know” who He is and what He is about. There is so much more to learn about Christ and living God’s way than any of us has yet experienced. We don’t yet know it all, and we don’t yet know it all right. A relationship with Jesus is a learning relationship. Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28 to come to Him and learn about Him. The Gospel must be shared because people are believing false stuff about Jesus, and it is being perpetuated and must be cleared up by those of us who follow Him, and each of us must continue to seek to learn about God and His desires for our lives.
She went on to talk about temple worship versus mountain worship, and Jesus started to teach her that it wasn’t about a physical place for worship. It was about spirit and truth, a condition of a person’s heart. You see this world needs to understand that a relationship with Jesus impacts our hearts. He does so first by lovingly addressing our sin right where we are (acceptance). He then teaches us truth to enable us to engage with Him on an entirely different level. Following Christ is a spiritual experience. Part of who we are is spirit, and from that place we engage with God on a daily basis regardless of where we might be. Many people wrongly think a relationship with God is about a church building when it is about your own being, your own body, your own person. That is where God seeks to engage with His people, one-on-one.
While the Woman at the Well had some spiritual knowledge, it wasn’t complete. It had been some truth mixed in with error. He said in verse 22, “You are worshipping what you don’t even know.” He taught her that she did need to look to the Jews, for they had been chosen to be a light to the world. The Messiah was coming from the Jewish race.
The Woman at the Well went on to reveal she knew something else that was very important: 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
I wonder if Jesus waved at her when He spoke the next sentence in verse 26: 26 Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.” I am sure her jaw dropped to the ground!
There she was, a person with some spiritual knowledge, having a conversation with Jesus Himself, but not recognizing Him for who He was. Isn’t that a commentary on today’s culture? There is a lot of spiritual knowledge, but there is an inability to see Jesus for who He is. We have to get after it. We have to teach people the truth about who Jesus is so that they can be led and taught by Jesus Himself. The Gospel-Tell it so others can learn about Jesus.
The third thing the Woman at the Well may have shared is this:
- He offered me more than I could have imagined.
Back up in John 4 to verse 7:
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.”
So Jesus moved the topic of conversation from physical water to spiritual water, a concept difficult for the woman to understand. It is difficult for the world to understand spiritual principles because they are so foreign to their logical, earthly way of life. Maybe the woman was thinking, “Living water?” This is “well water.” It is just sitting there. Maybe He means running water like water from a stream or a fountain which was closer to the spiritual principle He was introducing.
Though she didn’t understand it totally, her mind went to a spiritual place immediately as she asked him in verse 12, “Are you greater than our father Jacob?” She was speaking of the Jacob that descended from Abraham and Isaac. The Samaritans used the first five books of the OT and looked to Jacob as their founder. You see, introducing Jesus and the Gospel message to people has the potential to get them thinking on a spiritual level that you can begin to build on.
Jesus went on to explain that He wasn’t speaking of well water or a running stream, but a different kind of water. For everyone, verse 13, who would drink of “this” water, the water He was referring to, would NEVER thirst again (verse 14) and that it had a spiritual property and power that would lead to contentment AND eternal life.
That is the Good News part of the Gospel that people need to hear. It isn’t “too good to be true!” What Jesus offers is the real deal. You can live with peace and contentment in this life, and with great joy, I might add, and you can also live forever in the paradise called Heaven.
Did you notice how many questions the Woman at the Well asked Jesus during the course of their conversation? We don’t need to be defensive when people ask questions about Jesus. They are asking because they don’t understand. They are asking questions because they are seeking.
And I want you to notice something that would be great for your non-Christian friends to read as well. It is found in John 4:29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ (Messiah)?” Even though the Woman at the Well had met Jesus personally, even though her encounter piqued her spiritual interest, even though she shared with others that she was amazed that Jesus knew everything about her, even though He told her He was the Messiah, she still had questions. You know what? It is ok to have questions. It is ok to start a relationship with Jesus and still have questions. It is a process. But I guarantee you as He answers your questions your desire will be for more and more of Him.
This Woman at the Well was a changed person. Though she still had questions, she was changed. How do I know? I know she was changed because she went to the very people she had tried to avoid. She went to her “enemies” to tell them the Good News she had heard. You would think she would want to keep this offer for Living Water and eternal life to herself. You wouldn’t think she would want to share it with people who had mistreated her, but that is exactly what she did. That is the power of the Gospel and encountering Jesus. It will cause you to love even those who have hated you. It will cause you to leave behind things you thought were important (like the Woman at the Well who left her water pot sitting at the well) and it will cause you to ask more and more questions about Jesus in an effort to grow closer to Him. Because as you do, that thirst, that desire in your soul, that for which you have been searching whether in relationships or in money or some kind of affirmation or success, becomes satisfied in Christ. For Christ does offer more than we could ever imagine.
At the heart of this woman’s testimony, the testimony that turned an entire town upside down was simply her encounter with Jesus and what it meant to her. As I close this morning I want you to watch this awesome clip of a young man who was radically changed after his encounter with Jesus to the point where he too went back to a place where he had been an outcast. He went to a subway he used to sleep in because he had been homeless, to preach to others about the hope Christ offers.
VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLEIjZBmmCw (from 40 secs to 2:20)
Oh the power of the Gospel Message when we just tell people what Jesus has done for us! But we have to open up our mouths to declare it. What could we include in our stories? Here it is: Jesus is the sinless Son of God who made a way for you to be forgiven of your sin. He offers you eternity in heaven. He will accept you where you are, teach you what you need to know and give you a satisfying life in Him that will be beyond anything you can imagine. Do you know Him? Will you share Him? The Gospel-Tell it.