The Messiah's Revelation Part 1 | John 4:1-26 | Dr. David Harrell
The Messiah's Revelation Part 1
Dr. David Harrell | Bio
January, 19 2014
The Messiah's Revelation Part 1
Each transcript is a rough approximation of the message preached and may occasionally misstate certain portions of the sermon and even misspell certain words. It should in no way be considered an edited document ready for print. Moreover, as in any transcription of the spoken word, the full intention and passion of the speaker cannot be fully captured and will in no way reflect the same style of a written document.
I would invite you to take your Bibles and turn to John 4. We will be examining a few of the verses contained in the first 26 verses that we have read earlier. What an exhilarating thing it is to contemplate the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the one who died for you, died for me. I never tire of proclaiming him. I pray you never tire of hearing of him. I’ll never understand why God set me apart to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ but with a feeble tongue, I will try to do it again this morning trusting the Holy Spirit to enlighten you through his word.
We come this morning to a very familiar passage of Scripture, yet one that I fear is seldom understood in its context. Many will describe these first 26 verses of John 4 as the story of the woman at the well and this is true but that is not the primary purpose of the text. Others will describe it as God just giving us an illustration of effective evangelism and certainly there is some merit to that. Others might say, “Well, it’s to demonstrate God’s saving love that transcends all ethnic and social and gender religious boundaries,” and certainly that is true. But, my friends, God’s primary intention in this historical account of the Lord’s encounter with this woman at the well is Jesus’ revelation of himself as the promised Messiah. Therefore, I have entitled my discourse to you this morning “The Messiah’s Revelation.”
This is not so much about a woman at the well as it is the Messiah who is the well of living water and here he is going to reveal himself as the Messiah of Israel. Once again, bear in mind that the whole theme of John’s gospel as he tells us in chapter 20:31 is that “these things 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.” And unless you understand this to be the central truth of John 4, I fear you will miss not only John’s flow in the gospel thus far, but you will also miss the magnificent reality of what actually happened.
Now, I am compelled to spend much time providing theological as well as historical context for this remarkable incident we have before us in this text and I believe that this will help us better understand our blessed Savior because that is my ultimate goal and that is the ultimate goal of the text. In fact, Jesus will say to this woman in verse 10, “If you knew the gift of God.” That was her problem, she didn’t know the gift of God. Most people in the world today are like her, they do not understand salvation because they do not know the gift of God who is the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan has blinded their minds so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, Paul tells us, who is the image of God. Sadly, most Christians have a shallow understanding of salvation because they do not know the gift of God as they should and, frankly, a superficial understanding of Jesus Christ will produce a superficial Christian. It’s very simple. This is why Paul said in 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
In fact, he also said in Philippians 3:8, “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered loss of all things and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ.” I pray this is your heart’s greatest desire here this morning. If not, I fear that you are occupied with lesser things of no eternal value and, therefore, you will be forfeiting blessings in your life because, my friends, the more you know of Christ, the more you will love him and obey him and serve him and experience his presence and power in your life, the more you will present your body as a living and holy sacrifice which is acceptable to God, is your reasonable spiritual service.
Let’s examine carefully the word of God for one primary reason and that is to know the gift of God and worship him as he deserves. As we come to John’s gospel here, especially in chapter 4, we begin to see how he is painting a very vivid picture of Israel’s wretched spiritual condition. I want you to see this. May I remind you briefly, as we looked at John 1 we began to see him painting a very blind priesthood that could not recognize their Messiah and then he comes to chapter 2 and we see the Messianic bridegroom offering Israel the kingdom by using the metaphor of wine to describe the joy and the blessings of the New Covenant that would come to a very joyless, a very forlorn and spiritually bankrupt nation, one that was so spiritually bankrupt that Jesus came to a desecrated temple. In John 3, we see a spiritually dead Sanhedrin where the teacher of Israel, the top guy, Nicodemus, was so blinded, so deceived by an arrogant system of works righteousness that he could not understand God’s saving grace. He had to be born again. Later in John 3, John the Baptist tells us that the person of Christ is rejected. He says, “And no man receives his witness,” which, by the way, is a prophetic forshadowing of the final rejection of Christ by the nation as a whole.
Now we come to chapter 4 and here we see Israel blinded by pride and prejudice characterized by a selfish, heartless indifference and neglect towards their Samaritan neighbors. They had no concern for the souls of those who walked in darkness because many of them walked in darkness themselves. Now John adds this amazing scene to the canvas, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Israel goes to the Gentiles, the Samaritans that the Jews absolutely abhorred. Here in chapter 4, he offers a stark contrast with chapter 3. In chapter 3, we read of a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus but in chapter 4, we read of a woman of Samaria that is unnamed. In chapter 3 we read of Nicodemus, a devout man of great rank but the woman of Sychar is an immoral woman, an outcast even among her own people. Nicodemus was a favored Jew, the teacher of Israel and the woman of the well was a despised Samaritan with no education, no influence. Nicodemus was wealthy, the Samaritan woman was poor. In chapter 3, we see Nicodemus seeking after Christ but in chapter 4, Christ seeks after an unsuspecting woman. Nicodemus came to Christ by night, but Christ comes to the woman in midday. Nicodemus recognized Jesus as a teacher sent by God but the woman has absolutely no idea who he is. Nicodemus was aware of Jesus’ many miracles but the woman was not.
So, here John records this amazing encounter that is filled with profound spiritual, theological implications that have such practical power even in our own lives here today. I would suggest that we examine this over the next couple of Sundays under three headings: first, we will look at a divine appointment, one ordained by a sovereign God who knows the end from the beginning and has the power to accomplish all that he has decreed. Secondly, we will look at a divine offer, that of Christ Jesus himself, the Messiah, the well of living water, the one who can give eternal life. And finally, we will see a divine revelation, a revelation that reveals, indeed, that he is the long awaited Messiah of Israel, man’s only hope of salvation.
First, let’s look at the divine appointment beginning in verse 1,“Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were), He left Judea and went away again into Galilee. And He had to pass through Samaria.” Jesus knew that the Pharisees were on to him as they had been on to John the Baptist, they were suspicious of all that was going on. And, of course, John the Baptist’s ministry was beginning to wane and give way to the ministry of the Messiah. The crowds were coming to Jesus, many, many people coming to Jesus and, of course, this inflamed the jealousy of the religious elite. They’re thinking, “Okay, come on, now who is this carpenter’s son from Nazareth? Who is this ‘Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ as this John the Baptist speaks of? Who is this Elijah-like prophet? Who is this miracle worker who many of the people think might be the Messiah?” You see, all of this threatened their authority; it threatened their power. So, the Pharisees’ hostility towards Jesus is beginning to heat up very, very early in Jesus’ ministry. And knowing it was too early in his ministry for an explosive confrontation and also not wanting to fan the flames of jealousy among the disciples of John the Baptist and his followers, he leaves Judea which is the surrounding area of Jerusalem and goes north into Galilee.
As a footnote, I want you to notice at the end of verse 1 and into verse 2, it says, “Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John although Jesus himself was not baptizing but his disciples were.” This parenthetical statement alone, dear friends, refutes the heretical view that baptism is somehow necessary for salvation. If that were true, wouldn’t you think that the one who came to seek and to save sinners would be the chief baptizer? The 19th century English theologian, J. C. Ryle, declared this, “This verse intimates that baptism is neither the first nor the chief thing about Christianity. We frequently read of Christ preaching and praying, once of his administering the Lord’s Supper, but baptize? He did not. As though to show us that baptism has nothing to do with salvation.”
Moreover, may I draw your attention to the order of the verbs making and baptizing. We see here that Jesus was first making disciples and then they were baptized. And all through the New Testament record, we see the same order: baptism is always subsequent to repentant faith. They were disciples first and then they were baptized.
Let’s notice what happens next in the narrative. Verse 3, “He left Judea and went away again into Galilee. And He had to pass through Samaria.” Oh, dear friends, here we find the golden nugget of truth that we all want to cherish, one that will make the story come alive all the more as you will see. Allow me to explain: the most direct route north to Galilee which was an area around the Sea of Galilee, was to go through the region of Samaria and most of the Jews would be willing to do that because that was the shortest route. By the way, it would take about three days for you to walk from the area where Jesus is here all the way up to Galilee. But because of Jewish antipathy towards the Samaritans, the most devout Jews would never go that way. Instead, they would bypass Samaria altogether by leaving the area of Jerusalem, downing down the wadi, going across at Jericho across the Jordan, and then going up the east bank along another Gentile area known as Perea, an area that was also considered to be defiling but less defiling than the Samaritans. Then they would cross back across the bank near the Sea of Galilee. But Jesus didn’t take that route, he goes directly into Samaria.
Why did he do this? Because it was just the shortest route? Because it was the most common route? No, dear friends, as we look at this we see that, according to the text, he had to pass through Samaria. Why did he have to do that? There’s no law that said you had to do that? Well, the answer, dear friends, is because he had to do the Father’s will and this was part of the Father’s plan. John often used the Greek verb translated “had to” here in the text, he often used this in his gospel to emphasize Jesus’ determination to do the Father’s will. In fact, it’s often translated “he must” or “I must” do something. For example, in John 10:16, there we read, “I have other sheep which are not of this fold. I must,” there is the verb, “I must bring them also and they shall hear my voice and they shall become one flock with one shepherd.” This, of course, is speaking about the Gentiles including the Samaritan woman. These are non-Jews that he must bring back into the fold of the covenant promise made to Israel. These will also be the ones that will respond to the voice of the Great Shepherd and become a part of the church.
So, Jesus had a divine appointment with a divine purpose and that is to declare his Messiahship to the least among the people, even the Gentiles and thereby demonstrate that there is no partiality with God. Now, this immoral outcast of the Samaritans, that had no idea that she was the object of electing love, was about to encounter the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was doing his Father’s will. She had no idea, think about it, no idea that her name, which is not even recorded here in the text, had been written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world. She had no idea that she was one whom the Father had given the Son from all eternity. She had no idea that the machinery of saving grace had been fully employed, had been set into motion, and she was about to experience the Father’s drawing, the Spirit’s quickening, the Son’s love. Here, dear friends, we see that in eternity past a Triune God ordained that the Son of God must go through, not around, but go through Samaria to seek and to save a chosen sinner and if he had not chosen her, she would have never chosen him and the same is true with us. In fact, she could even be likened to the “chosen lady” in 2 John 1, the recipient of that epistle.
Child of God, think about this, let’s pause for a moment: has he not done the same for each of us as recipient’s of his grace? Are we not Gentiles, the other sheep which are not of the Jewish fold which he said, “I must bring them also?” Indeed, we are and, you know, if you’ve placed your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you like this unnamed, immoral, uneducated, poor, female outcast of Samaria, are an object of electing love. If you’re a Christian today, it’s because as Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, “God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation.” By his grace, he drew you to himself. Do you remember the time when Christ came to you? I do. For some of you, it was a season of time, for others of us, it was a shorter period of time and much more vivid. We can even at some level, attach a date to it. It’s not true for everyone but do you realize that this same beloved Savior sought you out? Do you realize that? He set his love upon you?
Friends, this is just staggering to me. I love to hear believers share their testimony. For some of you it happened when you were a child. Some of you were maybe in your teenage years. Some of you a young adult. Some of you in your middle-aged years. Some of you in your old age. And yes, he may well be pursuing some of you right now. Friends, this is the great doctrine of predestination which explains what God intends to do with his elect whom he fore-loved, the purpose of elective grace, the predetermined plan. In Ephesians 1, Paul tells us in verse 4, “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the kind intention of his will.”
So, indeed, Jesus had to pass through Samaria. It was predestined to occur. It was a part of the Father’s predetermined plan to save this object of his uninfluenced grace. And through her, I’m sure many others came to Christ. Oh, what a magnificent truth this is. It should humble each of us profoundly. A. W. Pink said, “We shall never appreciate the gospel until we go back to the basic truth of predestination which puts God first, which makes the choice his before it is ours and which, in due time, brings his grace to bear upon us with invincible power.” I camp on this point, dear friends, because it is so exceedingly precious to me and I hope to you. It is so profoundly humbling. It consumes me with a sense of just being so undeserving of such infinite love.
Let’s notice what happens next in verse 5, “So He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; and Jacob's well was there.” Now, do you not find it curious that the Spirit of God would inspire John to give us so much detail? What difference does it really make where he came and why the history? Why is this important? Well, the Bible will always interpret itself if we look into its wonderful truths so let’s think about the Old Testament history surrounding what John tells us here. After the reign of Solomon, you will recall that the nation of Israel split into two parts: ten tribes went into the northern kingdom ruled under Jeroboam and two tribes made up the southern kingdom known as Judah, ruled by Rehoboam. Under the rule of Jeroboam, the northern kingdom began to fall prey to the wickedness of their pagan neighbors and they began to join them in idolatrous practices. Later, in 884 BC, King Omri declared the ancient city of Samaria to be the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. In fact, the whole region of Samaria derived its name from this city. Then, later in 722 BC, this region was captured by the Assyrians. The Assyrians took most all of the ten tribes into captivity and replaced them with pagan idolatrous Gentiles from various regions and those people intermarried with the few Jews that remained in the land, forming a mixed race known as the Samaritans. For a period of time, there existed in that region a synchronistic religion, one that mixes paganism with Yahweh worship but eventually as we read history, the Samaritans abandoned their idols and began to worship Yahweh alone, albeit in a distorted way. They only believed in the Pentateuch and some of the prophetic oracles and they worshipped Yahweh on Mount Gerizim rather than in Jerusalem.
Now, by the first century in Jesus’ day, Samaria had become a part of the Roman province of Judea and the city Jesus came to called Sychar, was located on the slope of Mount Ebal opposite Mount Gerizim. This geography is going to become very important as we continue through this story. Mount Gerizim was where the Samaritans had built their own temple. I’ve been there; I’ve seen the ruins of it. In fact, there are a few Samaritans that still exist and they have extremely bloody sacrifices up on top of that mountain. It’s interesting that the reason they built their temple up there is because when the Jews came back, the remnant of Israel came back from Babylon, you will recall they wanted to rebuild the temple. Remember the story of Nehemiah and Ezra? And you will remember that the Samaritans, under the chieftain Cambaluc, wanted to help them but they said, “No, we don’t want anything to do with you people.”
So the hostility began to grow and they built their temple on Mount Gerizim. The Jews wanted nothing to do with these half-breed, semi-Jewish pagans. So, rancorous hatred developed between the Jews and the Samaritans and by the time Jesus comes along, it is white hot. The Samaritans hated the Jews, the Jews hated the Samaritans.
Now, what is this city of Sychar? In order to understand it, we have to go back to Genesis. About 1900 BC, a fascinating history: after 20 years in Haran, Jacob you will recall, returned to the land of Canaan and according to Genesis 33:19-20, he purchased a field from the sons of Hamor for 100 pieces of silver and according to that text, it says that he “erected there an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel,” which means “a mighty God is the God of Israel.” There he dug a well which, by the way, still exists, a well approximately 100 feet in depth that is fed by a spring. My friends, it is in this place that the Messiah of Israel, the mighty God of Israel, now comes to the Gentiles.
It’s even more fascinating when you think of what this little verse says. We know that Jacob bequeathed this plot of land, this plot of ground to his son, Joseph. In fact, in Genesis 48:22, we read about the portions that he gave Joseph, the shekem which literally means “shoulder” or “mountain slope” or “a ridge.” From the Hebrew shekem the city of Shechem derived its name. By the way, today it is Nablus. It is in the Palestinian quarter. You will see lots of fighting that goes on there. I’ve been through the town. It, unfortunately, literally looks like a landfill.
Many years later in Egypt when Joseph was about to die, he requested that his body be brought back to the land of the fathers. You read about it in Genesis 50. And in the Exodus, we read that the Israelites carried his bones with them and after they conquered the land of Canaan, according to Joshua 24:32, we read, “They buried the bones of Joseph which the sons of Israel brought up from Egypt at Shechem in the piece of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, for 100 pieces of money and they became the inheritance of Joseph’s sons.”
My friends, how fitting it is that Jesus now arrives in this ancient site, the burial place of Joseph. Joseph being a type or an example of Christ. Christ being the antetype which is far greater than and superior to the type. Scripture reveals some amazing parallels between Joseph and Jesus, all referenced in Scripture. I’ll not give you the references but let me give you the parallels: both were shepherds of their father’s sheep; both were dearly loved by their father; both were first hated by their brothers; both were sent by their father to their brothers; others plotted to harm them; robes were taken from both of them; both were taken to Egypt; both were sold for the price of a slave; both were tempted; falsely accused; bound in chains; both were placed with two other prisoners, one who was saved and the other lost; both were exalted after suffering; both were 30 years old at the beginning of their public recognition; both wept; both forgave those who wronged them; both saved their nation; and in both cases, what men did to hurt them God turned to good.
Beloved, it is by divine appointment that the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, arrives in this place called Sychar, a place rich in history and symbolism. Now, let’s look at verse 6 and see what else happens. “So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.” According to the Jewish way of keeping time, this would have been six hours after sunrise which would have been about six o’clock and so this means that he arrives at about 12 noon. Notice this phrase, “Jesus therefore being wearied from his journey.” Again, bear in mind that Jesus has walked now with his disciples about three days and he is weary and here we have one of many references to Jesus’ humanity. The Incarnation of Christ is such a mystery, it’s one that we will never be able to fully understand, that he could be fully God yet fully man.
When I reflect upon this statement, I find myself just shaking my head in solemn disbelief. To think that the Son of God, the self-existent, uncreated Creator of all things did not exempt himself from human frailty and fatigue. That is just overwhelming to me and here he is weary, he’s thirsty. You will recall, in the wilderness he was hungry, he was thirsty, he was weak. You will recall, in the garden he sweat drops of blood as a result of unimaginable stress and the temptation of Satan. We know that he was even too weak because of the terrible beating and scourging to carry his own cross. He was hungry, thirsty, fatigued. In fact, on the cross he said, “I thirst.” Beloved, truly as Paul says in Philippians 2:7, “he emptied himself and he took on the form of a bondservant and made himself in the likeness of men.” Truly, we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, right? Don’t you find that comforting? This should be of enormous comfort to each of us when we struggle under the weight of those things in life that just cause our knees to buckle. Pain and stress and physical fatigue and sorrow. Our precious Savior can sympathize with all of that because he chose to endure it as well. While John’s gospel focuses primarily on the deity of Christ, here we see his humanity.
Now we come to actual encounter of the divine appointment, beginning in verse 7. “There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?’” Then, I believe, John adds this footnote, “(For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)” I always marvel at the providence of God whereby he is constantly involved with his creation, directing their distinctive properties to act according to his purposes and here we see this happen. We must understand what’s going on at an ancient well. This would be a place similar to our grocery stores when the weather people have said we’re going to get a snow. Everybody is going there to get what they think they’re going to need to survive the unimaginable blizzards we have here in Tennessee.
Wells were the source of water for the people and they were often very crowded but not at midday. People typically went and they were women that went, the women went in the cool of the evening. That’s when you would want to carry a big pot of water back to your family. That this woman came at this time indicates that she wants to avoid humiliation and ridicule that, no doubt, she would have had to endure from the public especially other women. Because, as we are going to see, she was an immoral woman, a woman that other women would consider to be what we would call, a home-wrecker. She was an outcast among her people. Furthermore, we know that she could have drawn water closer to the area where that actual town existed but she chose instead to walk a greater distance.
So, the disciples had gone into town to purchase food which, by the way, also indicates that they rejected the typical Jewish prohibition against eating anything touched by a Samaritan. So, the unsuspecting woman now encounters the Son of God who says to her, “Give me a drink.” Now, that’s an innocent request in our culture but, beloved, that was a stunning violation of their culture. You see, not only was Jesus a Jew speaking to a Samaritan and she probably would have picked that up very quickly because of the accent and probably even the clothing that he wore, but more than that, men never spoke to women in public, not even their wives. But what is perhaps the most shocking of all is that a rabbi would never speak to a woman, especially an immoral woman.
So, shocked by what just happened, in verse 9 we read, “Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)” Which, by the way, is probably a poor translation because the word “dealings” is really better translated “vessels” and, I think, this is more at the heart of what she’s saying. “For Jews do not use vessels, they do not use the same utensils together with Samaritans.” In other words, you’re not going to drink after each other, that’s the idea. We know that the Pharisees would never allow such a thing. They’re all about purity, external purity, forget the heart but external purity. “We cannot be defiled.” So, drinking from the water pot of a Samaritan would have been absolutely forbidden.
But we see here that the Lord partially ignores her inquiry. He’s not concerned about cultural taboos, he was concerned about her eternal soul and his Messianic revelation. In verse 10, “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’” I want you to notice how Jesus exposes her erroneous assumption that somehow she has something that he needs. You see, just the opposite is true. She is the one who is thirsty and he is the fountain that can satisfy her thirst. Now, of course, she doesn’t understand any of this, at least not yet.
Notice her reply that betrays her confusion. Verse 11, “She said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?’” Now, not until later when by his omniscience he exposes her sin, will she begin to grasp the spiritual analogy. Not until she understands who this man is, that this is the Messiah, then she will repent and believe in him and be saved. You see, like everyone enslaved by sin and condemned by God, she was ignorant of who Christ really was and only as she’s able to see him in all of his glory, will she see her sin. This is true of all of us. This is why it’s so important in evangelism to describe very clearly who Jesus is, why he came.
Notice again in verse 10, “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God.” The definite article there in the original language, “the” one of a kind, “the” special, “the” unique. This is Paul’s indescribable gift for which he was so exceedingly thankful. The gift of the Son of God and John has already described this. Remember in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he,” what? “He gave his only begotten Son.” There is the gift. “If you only knew who I really am.” John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” She didn’t see who he was, at least not yet.
The apostle who Jesus loved would later write in 1 John 4:10, “And this is love: not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sin.” Propitiation means “the satisfaction; the appeasement” for our sins. What unfathomable love. What profound, inconceivable condescension, that Christ would come, take upon himself all of the physical qualities of a human being and then be obedient unto death, even death on a cross for sinners like you and me. The mystery here is one that even the angels gaze upon. It’s something that amazes them. It’s staggering when you think of what the word of God says, “We are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is ours in Jesus Christ.”
Paul said in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” He will tell us as well in Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son but delivered him up for us all, how will he not also with him freely give us all things?” My friends, here is the gift that she did not understand. She did not know who he was. No man could ever receive the gift of Christ by works of the law or the righteous deeds of the flesh. It is solely a gift of sovereign grace. But as we see here with this woman at Sychar, ignorance of the person and work of Christ, the gift of God, is her greatest obstacle to saving faith.
As we look at the text, it’s interesting: she knew a little Scripture like a lot of people; knew a little, shall we say, biblical history; she was familiar with the Messianic expectations of both the Jews as well as the Samaritans but she had no knowledge of Christ. I would submit to you, dear friends, that most people today really do not know who Jesus is and once you start telling them, they are profoundly offended. But you know what? That’s okay because some will not be and God will save them because the word will always do one of two things: it will either harden a heart or soften it. One or the other.
“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’” Living water is an Old Testament metaphor that describes the spiritual cleansing and eternal life that comes at salvation when a person is born again by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.
Let me speak to you very practically in closing: if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ, the gift of God, then you have never been given the living water. Let me explain to you what I mean by knowing the Lord Jesus Christ: I don’t mean merely knowing his name or merely having a general understanding of who he was, who he is, who he said he was. My friend, I’m talking about a knowledge of him that evokes within you not only a reverent sense of fear and awe, but an inner sense of love that is so real. It is so precious. It is so satisfying that nothing else in life can rival your relationship with him, that he is the priority of your life, that you would gladly lay down your life for him because of who he is and what he has done. That’s what I mean about knowing the gift, knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. And when you think of him, you will experience deep within your soul a heart warming, exhilarating love that will cause you to greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible, full of glory as Peter tells us.
When the subject of our Savior comes up, you feel an inward sensation of deepest joy and satisfaction and light. Now, I understand the intensity of these things will vary among believers and it will increase as you walk with him over the years. It’s amazing, isn’t it? The more we walk with him, the more we love him, the more we see how he proves himself faithful over and over and over again. But my point is simply this: if you don’t feel any of this, you don’t know him. You know of him but you do not know him. I want you to ask yourself in closing this morning: is Christ real to me? Do I truly trust him to save my soul eternally? Do I love to hear his voice in his word? Do I cherish sweet communion with him? Do I love to tell others about him? Do I long to see others worship him and serve him as I do? Do I joyfully serve him as my Master? Can I honestly say that I can see his faithfulness in my life? Do I see him answering prayer? Not always maybe the way I wish he would, but he does and I see his wisdom and his grace. Do I long to see him face-to-face? My friends, this is the stuff of genuine saving faith. Oh, how I pray that these things are true for you and if they’re not, won’t you ask him to reveal himself to you? Won’t you ask him to give you the living water of his saving grace?
The next time we’re together, we will behold the miracle of pursuing grace in the life of this dear woman, an object of his electing love, who became one of our sisters in Christ who, I believe, we’ll meet some day in glory.
Let’s pray together.
Father, thank you for these amazing truths. Thank you for the power of your love. I pray that what we have heard this day will motivate us to love you even more and especially for those that do not know you as Savior, Lord, I pray that you will consume them with the guilt that is legitimately theirs, overwhelm them with the condemnation that abides upon them and cause them to flee from the wrath to come by crying out to you for undeserved mercy and saving grace. I ask in the precious name of Jesus our Lord. Amen.