Living Water Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Jesus was always on the move, but He never traveled far from the Galilee, where He lived. However, on the occasion that we are going to look at today, He had come to a city called Sychar, in the region of Samaria, which was about sixty miles south of the Sea of Galilee. He was not there by accident but had come to meet with a woman, who had a bad reputation and to have a conversation with her that will be the subject of today’s Bible lesson.
If you were to ask Jesus today the one reason for his coming to earth, He would sum up his entire ministry in one statement: He came to seek and to save that which was lost. Our narrative begins at the city well.
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. (John 4:5)
Joseph, the patriarch, and a great man of God had died in Egypt. Prior to his death, he had been the second most powerful man in the country, even though he was a Hebrew. In Joshua 24:32, we are told that the children of Israel brought the bones of Joseph up out of Egypt. They carried his bones for 40 years in the wilderness, because of a promise made to Joseph to bury his bones in the Promised Land. Why did he want to be buried there? It was because he believed in the resurrection of the dead, and he wanted to be raised from the dead in the land that God had given to Israel. His bones were buried in a tomb, just south of the Samaritan city of Sychar. Jesus has come to that city to keep an appointment that was made in heaven, with a certain woman.
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. (John 4:6)
The sixth hour, by Jewish time, would be twelve noon.
Now, this is an amazing thing. Jesus was worn-out from His journey. How perfectly human He was. John tells us, “The word was made flesh.” (John 1:14) Think of it! The eternal God, who created all things, left heaven and came to earth, and now He is tired so He sets down to rest. “The word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” He went through Samaria and set down at a well so that He might meet this woman of Samaria.
Then cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (John 4:7)
We are going to find that this woman had an attitude problem. She is like the woman who was bitten by a rabid dog, and it looked like she was going to die from rabies. The doctor told her to put her final affairs in order. So the woman took pen and paper and began writing furiously. In fact, she wrote and wrote and wrote. Finally, the doctor said, "That sure is a long will you’re making." She snorted, "Will, nothing! I’m making a list of all the people I’m going to bite!"
The woman that Jesus was talking to wasn’t going to bite but she was rude and immoral. Today, some would call her a “hussy”. However, Jesus is very gentle with her. He asks her for a favor. He is thirsty and asks her for a drink. The one, who is the Water of Life, asks her for water. Now we are given some more details, for we read:
(For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) (John4:8)
Jesus was by himself. His disciples had gone into town to buy food. Now there was a Jewish prejudice, which considered Samaritan food unclean, just like swine’s flesh. Therefore, Jesus must have rejected that belief. He had said, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. (Matthew 15:11)
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, asketh drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. (John 4:9)
This woman has turned down His request. She is rude and insolent. But Jesus knows how to deal with her. He doesn’t give her a lecture or offer some theological doctrine. He just appeals to her native curiosity and this creates an interest and a thirst.
Do you know why there was such a great hatred between the Samaritans and the Jews? It was because the Samaritans had the same ancestors as the Jews, but back in their past something had happened; they had intermarried with people from the north, during the Assyrian captivity of Israel that began in 721 BC. At that time, the Jews that were not taken captive were resettled in Samaria. In time they developed their own society and they even had a different place to worship. They worshiped at their synagogue on Mount Gerizim, instead of at Jerusalem. The Jews treated Samaritans like low-class persons and they believed that any contact with Samaritans would make them unclean. It was this attitude by the Jews, which caused the Samaritans to hate them. The woman had asked Him a question, so…..
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. (John 4:10)
With His answer, He does not respond to her insolent attitude and He avoids the prejudice and hatred that she is pouring out. But He appeals to her curiosity, and her attitude immediately changes.
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, who gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? (John 4:11-12)
She now addresses Him as Sir, and that is a word that she omitted when her attitude was surly and disrespectful. But it appears from her comments, that her thinking is clearly physical and involves the well she can touch and the water she can drink.
Now, if you ever do a study of Jacob, you will find that he dug a lot of wells. This well at Sycar has a long history that goes all the way back to that great patriarch, himself. These people worshiped the God of Israel because they were Jewish by ancestry. However, they were far from God, and they needed a Savior to give them the “living water.”
Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)
Jesus made it clear to the woman that He is not talking about the water that was in the well. He was talking about a type of water that she is not familiar with. One drink of this water will last forever. Jesus is talking about satisfying a spiritual thirst, not a physical thirst. He said that the source for the “living water” will be inside the person and that its overflow will produce eternal life. He has now created a desire in this woman for the spiritual water.
The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. (John 4:15)
She still doesn’t get it. It is still the well water she is thinking about. Therefore…..”
Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. (John 4:16)
Jesus knew all about her, and very soon He would reveal that to her. He tells her to bring her husband to him. The “living water” is available for all, but there is a condition that must be met. She must have a thirst and a need. She must acknowledge that she is a sinner. Her problem is sexual sin, and once again she becomes flippant when Jesus mentions her husband.
The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saith thou truly. (John 4:17-18)
The woman was living with a man, but she was not married to him, so she was guilty of adultery. When anyone comes to Jesus, they must deal with their sin. Jesus knew this woman’s sin, and He knows my sin and He knows your sin. It is because of that sin that He went to the cross. We must deal with our sin or our sin will keep us from coming to Christ.
This woman is shocked because Jesus knew these things, so she tries to change the subject by starting a religious argument.
The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. (John 4:19-20)
Many people try to change the subject when presented with the Gospel, and that is what she is doing. It takes the attention off their sin and their need, so it is important to avoid being sidetracked. The important thing is the Gospel and that is what the Holy Spirit will use to bring “saving faith” to the heart of any man or woman. When Jesus answers her, He will take her right back to her need-she needs a Savior.