This is the sermon that I will be preaching Wednesday, October 24 2007.

Jesus, the woman, and living water
John 4:1-14.

INTRO: Last week we looked at John the Baptist’s great testimony he gives concerning Jesus when a Jew (or a group of Jews) tried to bring division between John and His disciples and Jesus and His disciples.

This week we are going to begin looking at the Samaritan woman. Just a little background information before we get started. I will try to condense this as much as possible. This story takes place in Samaria. In 721 B.C. the Northern Kingdom of Israel finally collapsed under the onslaught of the armies of Assyria. A large portion of the Hebrew population was deported into captivity. Refugees from other Assyrian conquests were resettled in this area and they began to eventually intermarry with the surviving population. In 586 B.C. the Southern Kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonian army and the Jews suffered deportation as well. About 70 years later, under Cyrus the great of the Persian Empire, the Jews were allowed to return to their land and begin to rebuild, including rebuilding their temple. The Samaritan population, which was the descendants of the intermarriage between the remnant of the Northern Tribes of Israel and the other nations of the Assyrian conquests, tried to join in the rebuilding program, there were refused. This sparked a feud that was to last for the next 500 years. In the years that followed, the Samaritans built their own temple on Mount Gerizim and instituted their own priesthood. They only followed Torah (the first 5 books of Moses) but rejected the rest of the Old Testament. There was a lot of hatred and mistrust between the two peoples during the time of Jesus. And this is where this story takes place.

1. Jesus leaves Judea.

John 4:1-4 ESV – Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (2) (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), (3) he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. (4) And he had to pass through Samaria.

In the land of Judea, where Jesus and John both had their ministries and Baptism was occurring, Jesus learned that the Pharisees new about the popularity that He was drawing.

This is the main reason that Jesus left Judea and went to Galilee. He did not want to create controversy between His disciples and the disciples of John He knew that the Pharisees would use this against both Him and John, since they disliked both of them. Jesus later faces controversy. I personally feel that He avoided the controversy right here because He knows it is not His time yet, it is early on in His ministry. We will see that the closer it gets to His death, the more He faces the controversies the Pharisees would be trying to start.

Again, notice that Jesus was not baptizing people, but His disciples were (v.2).

Jesus leaves Judea for Galilee, and He has to go through Samaria (v. 4). If you make a straight line on a map during the time of Jesus, Samaria was exactly in between Judea and Galilee, Judea being in the south, Galilee being in the north. Anyone traveling between Judea and Galilee would naturally pass through Samaria. But the fact of the matter, because of the hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans, the Jews would usually take a long detour around Samaria by taking either the coast road along the Mediterranean Sea or by crossing the Jordan Riving and traveling along the east bank and then recrossing once they had passed by Samaria. Jesus doesn’t do that though, He goes right through Samaria. Why? Well there are possible a few reasons: (1) Jesus did not hold to prejudices like the Jews and the Samaritans, He loved both people groups; (2) He knew that it was God’s purpose for Him to share the Gospel in Samaria with this woman.

2. Jesus stops at Sychar.

John 4:5-6 ESV – So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. (6) Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

Now while Jesus is fully God, He is also fully man. And here, in His humanity, Jesus is tired, worn out and weary from the travel. So they stop at Sychar at Jacob’s well.

Sychar was a very ancient city – even in the days of Jesus. It was in all probability the ancient town of Shechem, an ancient Canaanite town. It had been around since the days of Abraham.

3. The Samaritan Woman.

John 4:7-10 ESV – A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (8) (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) (9) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) (10) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

In my studies of this Samaritan woman, I ran into some interesting things that Scholars say about her. There were wells within Sychar that were much closer than Jacob’s well for her to go to. Woman also all went to the well together, either in the early morning hours, or late in the day – this woman comes by herself. The likely reason for both of these facts is that her reputation in the town was known. After all, she had 5 different husbands in her life, and the person she lives with now is not her husband. And let’s add human nature in the mix, especially is smaller towns where everyone is known often times their reputation precedes them – they become the talk of the town. So it likely was with this lady.

The disciples leave Jesus alone at the well to buy food and then Jesus addresses the woman, “Give me a drink,” (v. 7). This is another thing that is unusual here. Men don’t address woman in Jesus time unless some other are present.

Notice the woman’s surprise (v.9). This woman is shocked and surprised that Jesus would even talk to her. She is first of all a Samaritan. She is the product of 500 years of racial prejudice. All of her life, I’m sure the Jews looked down on her. Plus, like I said earlier, she is a woman. In the ancient world, women were considered to be just a little bit better than livestock. It was also considered to be improper for a rabbi to speak to a woman, particularly out in a public place, even if she is his wife. Notice what Jesus is doing here. He is not concerned with the social taboos of His day, or His culture. He reaches out to this woman. Jesus wasn’t trapped by social customs.

Jesus answers her shocked question (v. 10). Jesus answers her by pointing out her need. She lacks knowledge about God. What Jesus says here about living water, will begin to stir this woman’s interest.

4. Living water.

John 4:11-14 ESV – The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? (12) Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” (13) Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, (14) but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

This woman makes the same mistake the Nicodemus did in Chapter three. She is thinking in natural concepts, while Jesus is speaking in spiritual concepts. Just as Nicodemus looked for a natural birth rather than a spiritual birth, she is looking at the water in the well instead of the Living Water of God. How can this man who is sitting at the well before her get this water. The well is deep, and He has no bucket and rope to get the water for her.

Jesus compares natural with spiritual (vv. 13-14). First off, while Jesus may be in need of physical water, this woman is in a much greater need. There is a living water that she cannot obtain herself. Only Jesus can provide for her this living water. She must trust Him, He is the only one who can provide it. However, she does not yet realize this. Jesus begins to explain the difference between the water of the well and the living water that only He can provide. The water at the well is only able to quench physical thirst. But you will again become thirsty. You have to constantly go back and drink from that water. It cannot provide permanent, lasting relief from thirst. This water that Jesus is referring to is the Holy Spirit.

John 7:38-39 ESV – 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” 39Now 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.

Jesus states something further here. Not only does He gives this living water, but those who partake of this living water will themselves have a spring of water springing up to eternal life. I don’t think it is an accident that He uses the word, “Spring.” That means that it goes out of its banks, it flows out and pours out for others as well.

CONCL: The Samaritan woman does not know it yet, but she is going to be the key to a revival that will take place within this Samaritan village of Sychar. It will be through her testimony that eternal life will come to the people of that town. She is going to become a well of water springing up to eternal life.

We will continue with the interaction between Jesus and the Samaritan Woman next time.