(4/3) Watch, The Gospel of John-The Samaritan Woman at the Well scene (YouTube)
How many sermons would you say that you have heard in your life? I bet I have preached close to 5000.
How many sermons have you heard about evangelism (a guess)?
How effective have they been on motivating you to tell people about Jesus?
I confess that it is easier for me to preach about evangelism than it is to do evangelism. Twice in the 1990ís I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Russia and Belarus. What I found there was a hunger for the truth of the gospel. People were easy to talk to about Jesus. They were like picking tomatoes in August. Every day there were new ripe
tomatoes waiting to be picked. I came home after the second time and prayed to be able to reach an audience like that here in the USA., that is, people who were hungry to hear the gospel, and I found it. Itís in the American jails and prisons. Someone once said that ministering in jail is like fishing in a stocked pond, and Godís other ministers, the police and courts (Romans
13), re-stock the pond every day. So, I left the pastorate to become a jail chaplain for 4 years.
I have read books about friendship evangelism, seeker service evangelism, visitation evangelism, big name speaker evangelism, and more and yet I am a poor evangelist. I comfort myself and say, well teaching is your gift, not evangelism, but the truth is, evangelism is a command as much as an obligation. Every one of us who have received grace have a
responsibility to share grace. Itís Godís plan to let those He loves know that He loves them by those He loves loving them.
For example, letís look at these scriptures.
1 Peter 2:9-10, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy."
Acts 26:16-18, I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and
from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.í
The take away from these scriptures is that God rescued us, so that He could use us and our story with His story to share His grace with others. What is your purpose for getting out of bed in the morning? To make a living? Take care of your family? Look for happiness? While these are all what we do? Our purpose is to build bridges between God and
people. Some of you may or may not remember an ancient song from the late 60ís or early 70ís from Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, called Bridge Over Trouble Waters. You are on mission from God to be that Bridge. You were rescued to be a bridge to show God to people, and help people come to God. I have told you for the last year or so, that when Debbie and I start our day we ask
God to show us whoís life we can touch today and then we look for them. After we pray that prayer, sometimes someone comes to mind that we know we should call, or send a card, or visit. But, then we put out our radar, and we look for that person or persons. Lesson #1 is Remember Your Purpose.
Before we dive into this portion of John, letís lay a little foundation. Look at Ecclesiastes 3:11, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end." What does this mean? It means that every human heart has a craving to be satisfied
with what is eternal, i.e., God, heaven, peace, forgiveness, etc. The problem is that we are taught from early age to try and fill that hole with temporary stuff, like toys, candy, possessions, cloths, money, drugs, alcohol, sex, prestige, fame, pleasure, someone to love us, power, personal philosophy, and so on. The reason that many people donít want to hear the Gospel is
that they believe that one or many of these things is the key to their fulfillment. That these things will fill the hole in their souls that only God can truly fill. They are like green tomatoes; not ready to be picked.
But out there are red tomatoes, or tomatoes that are ripening. No matter how hard they try, they canít fill that emptiness with stuff. Life has left them empty. Unless, you were saved as a child, there is a good chance that you knew you were a red tomato. You knew you were lost, un-loved, lonely, empty, hurting, confused, depressed, guilty, and more,
and you heard that what your soul needed was not something, but someone bigger than life to fill that empty space in your life; someone to connect you to the God of the universe that your soul longed to know.
Thatís our picture today. John turns the page of his photo album to show us a woman, and the divine appointment that changed not only her life, but a whole town. Letís notice:
I. The Humanity of Jesus (vv.1-6)
We begin this chapter by remembering that Johnís overall purpose is that we know that Jesus is God in the flesh; God with us; He is God the Son, the visible manifestation of the Creator of everything, (Remember ch.1:1-18, and 20:30-31).
Yet, Ch. 4 begins by reminding us of His humanity. 100% God, yet 100% man. I canít explain that, but that is what the Bible teaches.
A. Jesus made both friends and enemies with His ministry. People were coming to Him to repent and be ready to welcome the Kingdom of God (cp. Matt. 4:17). The Pharisees were not happy, but it was not time yet for a public showdown, so Jesus already in northern Judea, (Cp. Emmitsburg with Frederick) decided to go towards His home area of Galilee, where
Nazareth, Capernaum, and Cana are. Here is just a reminder. Following Christ will eventually result in some conflict with people. People that liked you or even loved you, will stop. That includes family members. Friends will become enemies. But, strangers will become friends because of the bond that you have in Jesus.
B. Jesus boldly went where good Jews did not go, i.e., through a Samaritan town. Remember, there were no cars, with locks and windows, just the shoe-sole express. Typically, Jews would take the by-pass, go the extra miles, to avoid any contact with Samaritans. It was the Hatfieldís and McCoyís. A feud that started 500 years earlier in Ezra (4) and
Nehemiahís time. For a Jew, the lowest form of life was a Samaritan, and to call someone a Samaritan, was the worse that you call say. Listen to John 8:48, Then the Jews answered and said to Him, "Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?"
Why did Jesus go thru Samaria? He needed to. Like Nineveh of Jonahís day, this town was full of ripe tomatoes. But how will they hear without a preacher? Look at verse 35, Do you not say, ĎThere are still four months and then comes the harvestí? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!
Thatís why we do mission trips. Thatís why I went to the jail.
C. Jesus was weary, and thirsty. The author of Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:13-16, reminds us that Jesus purposefully came as one of us, so He, God, could know by experience, what you feel and experience, so you would know that He knows and knows how to take care of you. He was worn out, tired. So, while the disciples went to Sheets, or the local mini-market,
Jesus sat by a well, which just happened to be Jacobís well, (Gen. 29:2; 33:19; 48:22; Josh 24:32). The time was 12 noon (v.6).
II. The Hurting Woman (vv. 7-29)
Here is lesson #2, Look for Divine Appointments. After we pray to touch people for God, we look for people to touch for God. Sometimes, they are people we know and sometimes, they are strangers. They are the checkout clerk at the store or a customer in the store. They are at the desk of a hotel. Last week, we were at a meeting for CIM and the hotel
lady asked if we had gotten our promotional gifts for Myrtle Beach? Then she started to fill up with tears and said she was sorry but that she had gotten word that a friend had died unexpectedly. So, Debbie took her hand and asked if we could pray for her and we did. That kind of thing happens all is happening all the time now. Why, because we are the pastor and wife? No!
Itís because we understand that this is our purpose and God prepares divine appointments.
Now, let me give you life Lesson #3 Sometimes you have to be good news before you speak the Good News. You need to be love to the unlovely, merciful to the unmerciful, kind to the selfish, and talk to the ones that others avoid. But be careful, this can become an excuse to not speak the good news, because we want to be liked and not shunned or
A. Enter the Samaritan Woman.
Jesus was aware of His purpose. And as He sat by that well, a woman came to get water. Vv. 7-8. Remember, there was no indoor plumbing and in fact no plumbing. To cook, clean, drink, and bath, water had to be carried from the well. Instead of going to a Walmart Super Store, the women went to the well to get their water. Women usually came at daylight
or twilight when the air was cooler to draw water, but this woman came at noon, during the heat of the day? Why might she have chosen this time? Probably, she was less likely to meet other women and get that look and feel humiliation from her past and present circumstances.
B. The Request. (v. 7) Notice, the first thing Jesus did was to speak to her and
ask a favor of one who considered him an enemy? (Cp. Matt. 5:44-48) That is an attention getter. This raised her curiosity. Sometimes a polite question, compliment or favor is the best way to start a conversation (cp. Acts 8:30).
C. The Woman was shocked (v. 9). Notice Jesus must have looked, dressed, or
talked distinguishably like a Jew. She knew He wasnít a Samaritan. Second, He was a man. She knew that Jewish men did not talk to Samaritan women. Samaritan women were considered the lowest form of humanity to Jewish men and she knew it, (cp. Luke 9 and John 8:48). Yet, He talked to her. What was He up to? What did He want?
D. She didnít know the Gift or the Giver, (Vv. 10-12). Our Lord told her that
He knew something that she didnít know. In fact, most people can quote some or all of John 3:16 but still donít know that Grace is a gift, nor do they have a personal knowledge of the giver. People form their own conception about God but they donít know God. She had eternity in her heart like Solomon spoke of. She was looking for something or someone
to fill it. She knew about God but she did not know God. Thatís pretty much most of the people in our world. Just as most people outside of Church donít know Eph. 2:8-9. Now, it is probable that most of the Samaritans only followed the first five books of the Bible (Gen-Deut.), therefore, most of these folks didnít know scriptures like:
Isaiah 55:1-2, "Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?í
Isa. 12:3, "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation."
Isa. 44:3- "For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants."
We live in a Biblically illiterate world. Church people donít know their Bible. So, un-churched people donít know what is in this book. They donít know the gift or the giver. Eternal life involves knowing the gift and the giver. This is Johnís point (John 20:31, "but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in his name."). Jeremiah 9:24, "Know me, I want you to know me." Says the Lord. Jesus will say, in John 17:3 "And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." Our Father in Heaven wants you and I to be the Bridge to introducing people to the gift and the giver.
E. Her curiosity is peaking, "Who is this guy who will talk to a woman that he
should hate? What is really offering me?" He has no bucket. This is Jacobís well. It has religious historical significance.
Life Lesson number 4 is,
F. Learn to transition- from the temporal to the eternal. Notice Jesus uses the urgent to stress the important (Vv. 13-14).
Water, food, money, fame, trophies, love, and more are urgent. We have to have them but they only satisfy for a short time and then we want or need more because they only fill our need temporarily. They canít fill that eternal hole in our souls. Only one thing gives lasting satisfaction. Letís think for a moment. How can the following being turned into
conversations for eternity?
- A simple question? Hey, whatís up? Or How you doíin? Really?
- Worry, anxiety?
- Hot weather?
- A Death?
- A Holiday?
- A Natural disaster?
- An Accident?
- War, Terror, Fear?
- A Need (drink, food, money, etc.)?
- An Illness?
- An Addiction?
III. Healing the Heart of the Hurting (vv.15-26).
A. Confront with Grace, not Condemnation
Knowing God, personally, involves a union with the Holy. God is Holy. Drinking living water must be preceded by looking into our own hearts first. Most people want eternal life, but many do not want to deal with their past. She wanted the living water (note here that Jesus may be referring to the presence of the Holy Spirit as He did with Nick and John
will clarify this in 7:37-39, On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ĎOut of his heart will flow rivers of living water.í" 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not
been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
He is not asking her to clean up and then come to God, but He is forcing her to take a look at the emptiness of trying to satisfy that eternal longing, in her heart, on her own.
Notice, that Jesus confronts her but He doesnít condemn her (cp. 3:17-21). This woman had been married 5 times. Divorced 5 times. Moved in with a sixth man. In that culture, men were the divorcers, not the women. Perhaps using Deut. 24:1, When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency
in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house. We really donít know if she was promiscuous, or was used, abused, and discarded by men when all she wanted was someone to love her and think she was special.
Notice, He speaks the truth in love (He does this a lot). Our job as bridges for God is not to condemn. People are already condemned (3:17-21; 36). Our purpose is to tell them how to be pardoned; to introduce them the gift and the giver.
B. Note, lesson #5, donít argue over non-essentials. In fact, donít argue at all. Itís our job to tell people, its Godís job to convince people. Thatís what the Holy Spirit does. We dispense the information in a non-threatening manner, we speak the truth in love, and God does the rest. Problems occur when we donít do our part, or try to do the Holy
C. Often when a personís past is being exposed the desire is to use a defense mechanism called a smokescreen; that is, use a question or comment that diverts the attention away from self. Questions like:
- Why are there so many denominations?
- What about the person on a desert island who never hears about Jesus?
- Why are Christians so judgmental?
- What about the sincere Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu?
- Would a good God really send people to hell? How can Jesus be the only way?
- What about evolution?
- Here, it is, "Where is the right place to worship?" Sometimes, it is, "Canít I worship just as well at home or in the woods?" Sometimes these questions lead to rabbit trails. They go everywhere but to home. When this happens, and it will, I strongly suggest 1 of 3 solutions.
1. Connect the answer to your trail. That is what Jesus did here. He answered the question by bringing it into His story.
2. Postpone the answer until a later time and continue on your trail. "Thatís a good question, and I would love to talk to you about it later, but now the most important thing is you and your relationship with God; itís you knowing the gift and the giver."
3. Be honest. Donít pretend to have all the answers. Say, "I donít know how to answer that, but I will find out and get back to you, but the bigger question is, "Do you know the gift and the giver?"
Notice that our Lord, connects her question with His story, Vv. 21-24. Answer- Itís not where, but how? Must be in Spirit and Truth? Now these verses could be a sermon in itself. Itís not where but how one worships. True worship is not religious. Itís not where, or even what, itís how. To know how, one has to know, personally the one being worshiped.
Worship is not in a form of service. It is not in the religious gestures, sacraments, or style; on the contrary, it must be a spiritual connection from the heart from one who has received the gift and is honoring the giver. We will pick up here next week.
Just notice verse 24, "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." What does the word, must, mean? There is no other option. This is the only way. Attending church, singing songs, listening to sermons, repeating prayers, giving money, is not worship if it is not connected to the heart and flows from your spirit to God.
It is not worship if it isnít based on truth. It can be sincere religion! But it cannot be real worship! Our spirit bows before the Giver of the Eternal Gift because of grace. Our hearts know that that the Eternal God and Giver of Grace has done for us what we could not do ourselves and we express our gratitude, our admiration and we sing and speak His praises.
This woman was a red tomato. Life had left her empty and she knew that only Godís messiah could fill her. 25 The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things." 26 Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am he." Point of interest here. The first person that Jesus told His true
identity to is a Samaritan woman. And, the first person Jesus appeared to after His resurrection was a woman who had been possessed by demons before she knew Jesus. Point is, Jesus came for those who are lost, for sinners, for everyone who will accept the gift and the giver.
They are out there, and they are everywhere. But you will miss them if you donít get up each day and ask God to point them out to you, and you are willing to ask them if they know the gift or the giver of life. Look for the people who know that life has not satisfied. After the news, a few nights ago, Entertainment Tonight came on, and I usually turn
the TV to someplace else, but Serena Gomez, the young superstar said that she had to go to a Psych-Re-hab, because she had everything one could want but was unsatisfied, lonely, and depressed. She did not say that she became a Christian, but what an illustration of emptiness. Your purpose is to be that bridge.
Will some people reject you and the gift? Absolutely. But, some will consider it, and some will want it on the spot. Here are two easy to ask bridge questions.
1. Easter is two weeks away, what do you believe about Easter?
2. I know you go to church or have been to church, what do you believe about Jesus?
Do you know the gift and the giver?
Do you know your purpose?
Letís pray about it!
If this article has spoken to your heart, would you write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know or if you have any questions about following Jesus, I would be glad to try to answer them for you. May God bless you as you seek to do His will.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman