“When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:1-14)
We are studying today about a seemingly chance meeting of a woman with the Lord her Savior; but there is less chance involved in this meeting than that of two meteors colliding in space heading in the opposite direction from each other.
Though the Gospel text today covers only the first fourteen verses of chapter 4 of the Gospel of St John, we may not do justice to the text without covering the first 42 verses.
Thirst is a powerful hunger – a hunger for water. A man or woman cannot live more than a few days, or even hours, without the benefit of water. Water is necessary for life. This principle holds true across both the physical and spiritual realms. Men will run, walk, and finally crawl across the desert sands to find water. The desire for physical life is quite strong. Should the desire for that spiritual life that is eternal not be more so?
Water is a compound comprised of two elements – Oxygen and Hydrogen. Oxygen is essential for fire (combustion) and hydrogen is an explosive gas, yet, when combined as H20, water is capable of extinguishing fires. Spiritual Water can extinguish the fires of Hell itself.
You may recall poor Hagar, the concubine of Abraham, being sent out alone with her young son into the desert Wilderness with only a bottle of water upon which to survive. “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.” (Gen 21:14-19)
It is noteworthy that Hagar was oblivious to the well of water until God opened her eyes to see it though it was there all along.
In today’s text, we see that Jesus has made it a particular point to divert the journey from the usual circumvention of Samaria to go directly to a city at the base of Mt Ephraim called Sychar (Sheckham in the Old Testament) . This is the burial place of Joseph and the city of Jacob to whose Well Jesus arrives at the noon hour and sits upon the stone casing of the Well. He came to this place wittingly for He knew that He would meet a particular Woman here today. “And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.”
A Samaritan Woman of ill-repute approaches at the unusual hour of noon with her water bottle to draw from the Well. Jesus asks the Woman for a drink of water. The woman is taken aback by the request of Jesus because He appears to be a Jew and the Jews hate the Samaritans. But this man seems somewhat mysterious. She wonders at His appearance. “There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.”
Have you ever wondered why Christ, the Lord of Heaven cares for you and will request your love? Have you wondered why He would bother to give you the time of day?
We may learn from the approach of Christ to this Woman in personal evangelism which resulted later in broader evangelism to the entire village at Sychar. We may sometimes feel ‘uncomfortable’ in raising the subject of Christ to a stranger. Here, Christ points the way. Put the person at ease with a casual remark as Jesus’ request for water. We all want to share the blessings of Heaven. Here is our best example of personal evangelism.
There seems to be seven principles of personal evangelism represented in this exchange with the Woman:
- We must have face-to-face contact with the sinner. Though the Jews had no contact with Samaritans, Christ harbored no such prejudice or resentment. He traveled across a great distance and over dry and dusty roads for this meeting. If Christ did not go to the place where the Woman was, she would never have received Him or known Him.
- If we are to be fishers of men, we will catch few in a barrel. We must go to the Sea of Life.
- Our problem in planting seed may not be the lack of good ground, but that we have left the seed in the silo. “Is the seed yet in the barn?” (Hag 2:19)
- Do not equate separation with isolation. Christ talked to sinners far more than those who were Godly .Even in war, we must mix with the enemy in battle. However, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness .” (2 Cor 6:14)
- Our contact must be across age considerations as well as social concerns. Jesus said in Mark 16:15 – “Go into all the world.”
- Establish a common interest. See how Christ does so with the Woman. She came desiring water to quench her thirst. Christ also indicates a desire for water. “Give me to drink.” This demonstrated to the Woman a common interest shared by the two of them.
- Christ immediately built a bridge which connected the interest of the Woman with His own. Once a bridge is built, much traffic may cross thereon.
- One common interest may expand into others of greater import. Jesus has a special kind of water – the Water of Life. It is precisely the kind of water this Woman thirsts after even without knowing.
- Emphasize the spiritual over the physical. Every human needs temporary benefits for life but, to a greater extent, we need everlasting provision for eternal life. We may accomplish this through
- Our example – Jesus speaks with courtesy to the woman and she can detect His great sincerity.
- Our actions – Christ treated even abject sinners with compassion and respect. The words of Christ drew at first on the physical, but transitioned smoothly to the spiritual (from physical water, to water of life).
- Measure your pace – do not get ahead of the understanding of your party. See how Jesus teaches from the known to the unknown: Well Water to Heavenly Water; Worship at Mt. Ephraim to Jerusalem; the perfect means of worship (Spirit and in Truth)
- Do not be judgmental.
- Jesus did not dwell unnecessarily on the fact that this woman was an adulteress. He came to save and not to condemn.
- Preach against sin, but do not close the door to salvation to the sinner. The Door belongs to Jesus. The emphasis must be on the seriousness of sin, but also the availability of forgiveness.
- Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing! Be persistent in adhering to the point.
- The Samaritan Woman tried to turn the conversation from her sins and need of forgiveness to worship
- Christ answered her question but went straight back to her need of Him as the Savior.
- Be Direct – people do appreciate honesty. If we try to be politically correct, we will not be good witnesses of Christ. He is exceptional and exclusive (not common and inclusive).
Do not argue over issue beyond the party’s ability to comprehend (ie prophecies of Revelations).
Please consider the result of Jesus’ encounter with the Woman at the Well: it led to many of the Samaritans accepting Christ. One Seed planted begets much fruit.
Remember, sharing the Gospel releases us from personal liability for a soul. We plant the Seed. Leave its germination to God and Hos Holy Spirit. We may witness to one today and seemingly lose that person to the devil, but years later, the seed sprouts and that person comes to Christ because of that word you shared years ago.
Have you shared with one at the Well of Christ lately?