The Apostle John, the one who Jesus loves, a man who walks with our Savior, writes a book. John’s gospel is written from a different perspective from Matthew’s, Mark’s, and Luke’s gospels. All the other books written in the New Testament are written before John puts ink onto the page. John’s writings are the last additions to the New Testament.
John has the benefit of reading what the other New Testament writers have written. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he writes his to reveal the ministry of Jesus from a theological view. He gives the reason for his gospel in chapter 20. He writes:
Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31)
As we look at what John writes about Jesus encountering a Samaritan woman at a well, we need to read it knowing John intends the inclusion of this narrative so that we may have life believing in Jesus.
Please turn your Bibles to John, chapter four. It is springtime in the Promised Land. It is the first year of Jesus’ ministry. At this point in His first year, His baptism by John the Baptist is complete, we know He has five of the twelve disciples, Jesus cleanses the Temple, turns water into wine, and He tells Nicodemus how to obtain eternal life.
1 Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were), 3 He left Judea and went away again into Galilee. (John 4:1-3)
The Pharisees are making Jesus ministry difficult, so Jesus decides to go north to Galilee. For Jesus, the journey is as important as the destination. He has a divine appointment along the way.
Before getting to the divine appointment with the woman at the well, let’s look at the calling of Jesus’ disciples.
Jesus’ mission is to reveal that He is the Messiah and Savior of the world.
John the Baptist testifies of Jesus. He tells people, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29). John the Baptist says, “I have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1: 34).
Andrew is a disciple of John the Baptist, but upon hearing John the Baptist testify about Jesus, Andrew leaves him to follow Jesus. Subsequently, Andrew tells his brother, Simon Peter, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:40-42).
Next, Jesus finds Philip, and then Philip finds Nathanael and says to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:45)
First, Jesus is revealed as Christ, the Messiah.
The second thing we may observe in John’s gospel is that Jesus is revealing His divine nature by showing that He knows about someone without having met them. Jesus sees Nathanael coming to Him and says, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!" Nathanael replies, "How do You know me?" Jesus answers, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
Nathanael is amazed and answers, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel." (John 1:47-49)
The third observation is Jesus teaches the disciples that He is the source of eternal life. We see this when Jesus speaks with Nicodemus. The disciples hear Jesus explain to Nicodemus that to be born again and receive eternal life, they must believe in Jesus (John 3:1-21). It is from John’s gospel we learn the world’s most famous verse, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
John continues his narrative in chapter four by telling us that Jesus does not take the traditional route to Galilee. Instead takes the direct route which passes through Samaria. The traditional route bypasses Samaria. Jesus passes through the center of Samaria.
4 And He had to pass through Samaria. 5 So He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; 6 and Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 There came a woman of Samaria 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 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.) (John 4:4-9)
We learn from verse 9 why going through Samaria is important to the story. Ever since the civil war, the Jews loathe the people of Samaria. They do not forgive the Samaritans for what they did during the time of Isaiah. Samaritans are the people who plot against the Southern Kingdom and become allies with Assyria. In Jesus’s day, Samaritans are a mixed race and practice a mixed religion. They are partially Jews and partially Assyrian.
The disciples go to town to buy food. As they do, a woman approaches Jacob’s well to fetch water. John tells us that it is the sixth hour, which is noon. It is the heat of the day. Most people collect water when it is cooler. We can guess why she comes at the heat of the day. It is most likely that she is avoiding other people because of her sordid past.
There are many things we may learn about this encounter. There are hundreds of sermons about Jesus and the Samaritan woman. This morning, we are going to look at this encounter from a different perspective.
First, let’s observe how Jesus reveals salvation to this woman in the same way He does for His disciples.
Jesus begins by telling the woman that He is the source of eternal life.
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.” 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? 12 You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:10-14)
Jesus tells the woman that He is the source of eternal life. He tells her that she needs to ask Him for the living water that springs up to eternal life.
Next, notice Jesus does for the woman what He does for Nathanael.
15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” 16 He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” 17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” 19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. (John 4:15-19)
Jesus has never met this woman. But, He reveals to the woman that He knows that she has five previous husbands and is currently living with man number six. Her reaction is much like Nathanael. The woman realizes that Jesus is no ordinary man. She calls Jesus a prophet; a profound title considering that Biblical prophets are few and far between.
We may be sure that Jesus’ intention with her is the same as Nathanael. Jesus intends to let her know that He is in touch with the Divine. He is proving to her that He can deliver the living water which He promises. Jesus’s intention does not fail.
Realizing that Jesus is no ordinary man, she asks about worshipping God. There is a lot we can say about this passage, but we will look at one aspect in particular, and that is that Jesus reveals Himself to be Christ, the Messiah.
20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” (John 4:20-26)
Observe, Jesus’ revelation about salvation to the Samaritan woman follows the pattern of His revelation to His disciples. Jesus tells her that He is the source of eternal life, He reveals he knows her without ever meeting her, and He reveals to her that He is Christ, the Messiah.
At this point, the disciples return from town. We don’t know how long they’ve been gone. They see Jesus talking to the woman, but they say nothing. John writes:
27 At this point His disciples came, and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why do You speak with her?”
They are likely amazed, not because she is a woman, but because she is a Samaritan. It is the same reason the woman is surprised. Jesus is a Jew, and the Jews have no dealing with the Samaritans.
John tells what the woman does next.
28 So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” 30 They went out of the city, and were coming to Him. (John 4:27-30)
We are going to get back to the woman bringing the town to Jesus. But, let’s first look at what Jesus says to His disciples. We are now reaching the main point of this message. Jesus is going to reveal God’s will to His disciples.
The disciples return, and they try to get Jesus to eat.
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. (John 4:31-34)
Jesus is hungry, but instead of eating, He uses this opportunity to teach His disciples. He tells them that there is something more important than eating and that is to do the will of the Father.
Jesus teaches the disciples that there are priorities in life. Accomplishing God’s will is a priority. He can’t eat, He is busy eating. His food is God’s will. There are few things which we value more than filling our bellies. For Jesus, doing God’s will is one of those things.
After revealing the priority of God’s will, Jesus tells His disciples what is the will of God. Jesus says He is sent by God to accomplish His work, now we learn of that work.
35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. 36 Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.” (John 4:35-38)
The work of Jesus is a work of harvesting. He is gathering fruit for eternal life. The fruit is people. God sends Jesus into the world to be the Savior of people. “For God so loves the world that He sent His Son.” Jesus is saving people for eternal life.
Jesus tells His disciples to lift their eyes. They need to literally lift their eyes and see the people walking across the field. The field is filled with Samaritans coming to Jesus from the city of Sychar. They are the ones who the woman went to speak to about the Christ.
Jesus says, in this case, the saying is true, ‘One sows, and another reaps.’ What He is telling the disciples is that the woman sows. She planted the seed of the gospel fruit, and the disciples will help by reaping what the woman has sown. The disciples will enter into the harvest labor, but it is the woman who did all the sowing.
God’s will is sowing and reaping kingdom fruit.
Before continuing in this passage, it is important that we have confidence that the will of the Father is to reap souls for eternal life. If we look forward a few pages in John, we see that Jesus repeats the will of the Father, but in a little different way.
In this passage, Jesus emphasizes that He is sent from heaven to do the will of the Father.
"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:38-40)
God’s will in sending Jesus is that everyone who believes in Jesus will have eternal life. The salvation of the woman and the people of Sychar is more important to Him than feeding His hungry stomach. Jesus’s priority in life is to accomplish God’s will.
We know Jesus puts God’s will first because He is willing to leave glory and suffer a humiliating and excruciating death for the sake of doing God’s will. Jesus puts aside His hunger, comfort, and safety, and He is willing to suffer shame, torture, and bloodshed to accomplish God’s will. Jesus makes it abundantly clear that doing the will of God is the most important thing in life.
Let’s conclude the passage.
39 From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of His word; 42 and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39-42)
The woman spoke of Jesus and said He is the Christ. They listened, and then they came to hear. When they hear Jesus, they know He is the Savior of the world.
MAIN IDEA: Share the word of testimony that Jesus is the Messiah so that others may know and be saved.
As we think about this great evangelistic woman and her encounter with Jesus, five questions come to mind. These questions are just as much for me as they are for all of you.
I hear myself and others say, “I want to be like Jesus.” If I truly want to be like Jesus, I will live with the desire to do God’s will. God’s will is Jesus’ food. He receives His nourishment in doing God’s will. God’s will needs to be the most important part of my day.
God’s will is that people believe Jesus is Savior of the world. The woman wants the people of Sychar to believe Jesus is the Messiah. In her excitement, she leaves her waterpot and goes to the city. John includes this detail for a reason. Most likely she is afraid if she doesn’t hurry, Jesus may be gone before she gets back. She knows these men are passing through.
What about me? As I go about my day, am I excited about helping people believe Jesus is the Savior of the world? Or, am I mostly concerned with my personal agenda? Do I have a sense of urgency about the salvation of people? How often in a day, or in a week, do I think about God’s will to save people?
What about when I go to church? Am I excited about missions because I get to hear about people who tell others about Jesus? Do I see events such as the Open House an interruption on the church agenda because it’s no longer about me and my needs?
The mission of Ford is to manufacture automobiles. Imagine if I was a manufacturing supervisor and I went to tell the president of Ford, I am tired that all we do here is manufacture automobiles. When is Ford going to be about me and my needs? Ford does help their employees. Ford helps them be better workers so they will make more automobiles.
The church exists for so people will hear about Jesus and be saved. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. The goal is to bear fruit. God helps us by pruning us so we will bear more fruit. The mission of the church is the gospel. I need to ask myself, are my contributions to the church and my thoughts about the church about my will or are they about God’s will?
The Samaritan woman is willing to admit her shame to the whole city. “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” In other words, come see the man who knows that I live a life of immorality! (Imagine what the conversation sounded like.) God’s will is more important to her than her reputation and comfort. She is willing to put herself in a place of shame and embarrassment so others may believe Jesus is the Savior. God uses her to save many in her city.
Am I wanting to be like Jesus? Jesus gives up nourishment for the sake of God’s will. He gives up His throne in Heaven, and He lays down His life for the sake of God’s will. Am I willing to give up even one hour a week to be intentional about the gospel?
Am I willing to be embarrassed? I am not embarrassed to tell strangers about the weather. Why am I unwilling to talk about Jesus who can control the weather? At what cost am I willing to participate in God’s will?
The disciples went to town but brought nobody back. They are the most qualified people to evangelize. They have past evangelism success. Andrew evangelizes Simon. Philip evangelizes Nathanael. But, it seems the Samaritans weren’t good enough. When Jesus gives the Great Commission, He specifically tells His disciples to go to Samaria with the Gospel.
What about me? Do I have Samaritans in my life? Do I pick and choose people that I will share the gospel with?
Sometimes we think we have to learn more before we witness to others. How qualified is the woman at the well? Is she more qualified than the disciples? The disciples are the most qualified people for evangelism. But, they fail. They go to the city, purchase food, and they come back without telling anyone about the Messiah. They know Jesus is the Messiah. They have spent months with Jesus as their Teacher. The woman has a short conversation, and that is all she needs! She goes to town and says, “Come, see a man.”
I know plenty about the Messiah. Sometimes I make it more difficult than I need. All we need to say is, “I’ve met the Messiah, and His name is Jesus. Come, l want you to meet Him.” I’ve made something simple, too complex.
I am willing to examine my heart. I pray that all of us are willing to share the word of testimony that Jesus is the Messiah so that others may know and be saved.