Pulpit Today Sermon
Robert D. Pace
John 4:4 10
One of our most difficult duties as Christians involves leading unsaved people to Christ. Those who have shared their Faith know the objections people offer when they are urged to accept Christ. Sinners will take any conversational tangent to avoid a candid discussion of their soul.
They lament that there are too many disingenuous people in churches. Churches are filled with hypocrites!
Others don’t want to become a Christian because they think churches are only interested in collecting money.
Still other people won’t attend church because they were once offended.
And then some people protest that too many doctrinal issues confuse the whole religion scenario.
The Samaritan woman employed similar tactics in her conversation with Christ, but all to no avail. Jesus masterfully surmounted every objection and convinced her of His Lordship. There’s no more prolific disclosure of personal soul-winning than here.
I. The scene takes place at Jacob’s Well at high noon. The Lord had been traveling that morning and John described Him in verse six as “tired . . . from His journey.” So after miles of walking and under the fierce heat of the Middle Eastern sun Jesus stopped to rest and rejuvenate Himself. I hope you can capture this image of Jesus resting at Jacob’s Well. Here was Jesus, the spiritual “water of life” sitting upon a natural well of water. You see, it takes both types of water to sustain life. Without natural water our body will die; without spiritual water our soul will die.
So here was Jesus. He was physically exhausted, hot, and thirsty yet ready to reveal what was most needful—the plan of salvation. And to show how important this truth is John says Jesus “had to go through Samaria.” Most Rabbis would have avoided this village because of the intense hatred between Jews and Samaritans. But Jesus had an eternal truth to teach.
Jesus always let the Holy Spirit direct Him. And that’s the key to successful soul-winning. We must let the Holy Spirit direct our spiritual labors. When we allow God to lead us, He will always accomplish His mission. That doesn’t mean everyone will get saved when we present the Gospel, but it does mean God’s purpose will be fulfilled through us.
(Illustration) The story is told of the newly converted barber that was zealous about sharing his faith. He left for work wondering how he could steer the conversation toward preparing the man’s soul for death. He rehearsed several approaches but nothing seemed to suit him. When he walked into the shop his first client was waiting. At this point, the barber was so nervous he could hardly muster the courage to testify. The man’s hair was cut without mention of Christ. But the man in the chair decided to get a shave. Finally conjuring the courage to testify the barber lathered the man’s beard, sharpened the razor against the leather strap, placed the blade next to his throat, and asked: “Are you ready to die?”
II. Let’s examine Christ’s more successful methodology. Verse seven says: “When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” Her reaction to the request was natural. She said in verse nine: “You are a Jew [and she insulted Him with that term] and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”
Christ’s request for water startled this woman for a couple of reasons. One, the racial hostilities between Jews and Samaritans had boiled nearly 400 years and they hated each other! And secondly, Rabbi’s were far too sanctimonious to speak with women publicly.
Despite this woman’s racial insult Jesus continued the conversation in verse ten. He said to her: “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” I love those powerful words! Notice again what He said: “If you knew the gift of God . . . If you knew who this is speaking to you.”
The reason people don’t always accept Christ as their Savior is because they don’t understand who He really is! They don’t know what He has to offer. They don’t know that with God “all things are possible.” God has given us an incredible opportunity to tell others of the limitless power of our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why God calls this the “Good News”!
There are people in life that have never understood the glory of Christ—who He is and what He can do. That’s why we should take every opportunity that God gives us to exalt Christ and tell of His greatness. He can live up to the expectations!
III. Let’s return to the conversation and Christ’s offer to give her living water because this offer sparked interest. She said in verse eleven: “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. [Stop for a moment. Remember she had initially stung Him with the term “Jew,” but now she says, “Sir.” Something is happening in this woman. Let’s continue.] “Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? (12) Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”
(Example) Since water-fountains didn’t exist in the First Century, Eastern travelers carried a collapsible leather bucket attached to their waist. When the traveler approached water he would open the bucket and use it. One historian states that Jacob’s Well descended 105 feet and the water perked at only fifteen feet. That meant Jesus stood ninety feet above the flow of that water. So when the woman noticed that Jesus didn’t have a bucket she assumed He was overstating matters. He couldn’t possibly provide water, and much less “living water.” That’s why she said: “Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well?”
Here was the Messiah that the Old Testament Prophets had clearly spoken of sitting right in front of this woman, but all she could see was a man. Yes, Jesus was the Son of Man but He was also the Son of God! He was human but He was also divine. He wasn’t 50% man and 50% God. He was 100% man and 100% God. “He was just as much the Son of Man as though He was not the Son of God, and He was just as much the Son of God as though He was not the Son of Man.” (Thought from Dr. Robert G. Lee.)
As a human He hungered after forty days of fasting. But as divine He took five loaves and two fish and fed the multitudes.
As a human He slept on a stormy sea but as divine He arose from His sleep, spoke three words, and the tempest fell flat before Him.
He was so human that He attended a wedding. He was so divine that when He arrived at the celebration He transformed the water into wine.
He was so human that He wept when His friend Lazarus died. But He was so completely divine that He walked to his tomb, spoke to the grave, and reunited Lazarus with his sisters.
Do you see how foolish it is to question Christ’s power? Hear her words once again, “You have nothing to draw with . . . Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well”? It’s always uncalled for to question Christ’s power!
When did Jesus need Supermarkets to feed the multitudes?
He didn’t need water skis to walk on the seas!
He didn’t consult with the Cana water and chemical company to transform the water into wine.
And He needed no Space Shuttle to ascend to Heaven. He just reached up, grabbed a cloud, snatched a few angels out of the blue, waved good bye to His disciples and somehow wound up at the Father’s right hand.
That may be humorous but God is able to accomplish His Word! This Book is true: If Scripture says God spoke to a prophet through a donkey, He did it! If Scripture says He caused an ax head to swim, it happened! If Scripture says a fish swallowed a wayward prophet and he survived after three days in the stomach of a fish, believe it! Isaiah 59:1 says, “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.” And Jeremiah 32:27 says, “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”
IV. Let’s return to Christ’s conversation with the woman. He said in verse thirteen, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, (14) but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Notice this woman’s response: “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirst and have to keep coming here to draw water” (4:15).
It was typical for women to draw water at dawn or dusk and not during the heat of the day. But this woman was trying to escape public scrutiny. She was the talk of the town and didn’t want to be seen. This verse reveals something about sin. Some people think because they are free to sin they can continue to live as they please. But that is not true. Sin does not allow you to live as you please. Sin always leads to bondage!
Sin has a way of controlling your behavior and trapping you in a place that is terribly unpleasant. But sin not only traps you, it shames you. And like this woman, you don’t want the light to expose it. Sin not only traps and shames you, it brings a curse! The apostle Paul said, “sin when it is finished brings forth death.” Sin leads to bondage. But the Good News is, Jesus Christ can reach down into the recesses of your soul and unshackle all that imprisons you. “He who the Son sets free is free indeed.”
V. Let’s continue the conversation. Although she misunderstood the type of water Jesus was talking about He said: [“Alright, you want this water,] go call your husband and come back.”
That’s when she dropped her head and confessed, “I have no husband.” (17) Jesus said: “You are right when you say you have no husband. (18) The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
Now notice this woman’s next response. She said in verse nineteen: “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.” Remember how the conversation began. The woman referred to Jesus as a “Jew” with its racial overtones. Then, as the conversation progressed she employed the term “Sir.” But now she calls Him a prophet. Oddly enough, this Samaritan woman became the first person in the New Testament to recognize Christ as a prophet. And when she recognized His prophetic stature she tested His savvy at unraveling a religious squabble that had been a source of controversy for years.
VI. Look at verse twenty. “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
I want you to notice how Jesus answered this question, because it’s important to us today. There are liberal denominations that teach that Christ Jesus is not the only way to heaven and that this Book is not the only source of divine truth. People want to believe that many roads lead to heaven despite the light that Scripture sheds on this issue. Think about this.
The Bible shows us that God commissioned the Jews to receive and preserve the Word of God. And they had done it. The writings of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms comprised the infallible Scripture. God had also ordained that Jerusalem serve has His earthly Capitol. But the Samaritans rejected God’s standard and practice of worship. Here is how they did it. When Israel was liberated from Babylonian Captivity a group of Israelites wouldn’t return to Jerusalem. Instead, they gathered at Mount Gerazim and constructed a Temple for their place of worship. They became a “law unto themselves” and rejected everything in the Old Testament except the Law of Moses. They intermarried with foreigners and separated from their Hebrew brothers.
Think about something. The Samaritan religion was as close as it could be to the truth without being the truth. But Jesus wouldn’t compromise the worship experience. He looked back at the woman and in one sentence categorically denounced Samaritan religion. Notice how Jesus did this in verse 21. “Jesus declared: “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain [and you could see Mount Gerazim from Jacob’s Well] nor in Jerusalem. (22) You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. (23) Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. (24) God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
VII. Here was the zenith of the conversation. She had first called Him a “Jew,” second she called Him “Sir,” third a “Prophet,” but when Jesus announced this revelation of worship she declared, “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us” (25). And Christ’s answer was equally as powerful: “I who speak to you am he.”
Yes, it is difficult to win some people to Christ. But the Holy Spirit knows how! He can soften a hardened sinner’s soul. And it’s that very sinner who accepts Christ that can become the most powerful instrument of grace in God’s hands.