A closer look at an old story about a woman, a well, and a man named Jesus.

The Apostle John writes in the last two verses of his gospel account, chapter 21:24-25 “This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that His testimony is true.  Now there are also many other things that Jesus did.  Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” 

Imagine a statement like that.  Here is a man who only lived for 33 years with a public ministry that only lasted somewhere around 3 ½ years.  Everything Jesus did was intentional and purposeful.  There was not one wasted second.  He had much to accomplish in a very short period.  Every situation, every scenario, every encounter, every person, every place was changed forevermore because He was there. There was a lesson in every conversation and if His audience was positive to His words, His love would be deposited in them, lavishly poured into them and all around them from the moment of their belief until all eternity.  But if they were negative to Him, the price of that rejection would be heavy on the heart from the moment of their disbelief until all eternity.  You see, the love of God is always there for the taking, it never ends and has no boundaries.  And His love changes every heart.  Rejecting it produces an unsettled agitation filled with frustrating question marks.  Accepting it produces an unspeakable, unexplainable peace filled with answers.  So, I’d like to share one of the encounters that took place in the little town of Sychar, Samaria way back in the year around A.D. 30/31. We find the account in the Gospel of John chapter 4.  But before I get into the passage let me give you a little background.

I think it’s always important to string through the chapters the single purpose that its author had in mind and in this case, John, penned the words from the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ as God in a human body.  Jesus is the Christ, Jesus is God, Jesus is Deity.  John’s been telling us the genealogy of Jesus as the eternal God, the person of Christ in all His creative glory.  Just in the first three chapters, there’ve been testimonies and witnesses to verify who Jesus is. And of course, in John 3:16 the very words of Jesus, where He makes a discourse with a Pharisee named Nicodemus on the new birth and salvation. And now we come to a beautiful story in chapter 4 which has a happy ending and again, the focus is not necessarily concentrated on the people who He encountered (although there are profound stories for each soul), the focus is on Jesus Christ, God in a body.

In this story, which most of us know as “The woman at the well”, we see a beautiful illustration of the amazing love of God.  It’s interesting to note here that Jesus isn’t too particular about the type of person that He deals with.  It’s irrelevant.  He loved all men, women, and children from everywhere, equally.  His love wasn’t determined by the object, it was (and still is) determined by the character of His love.  You see that’s the difference between human love and divine love.  Human love says, “I love you because I like what you are.”  Divine love says, “I love you; I don’t care what you are I just love you because that’s the character of My love.”  And divine love splatters on anything that gets in its way.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  The character of divine love is indiscriminate.  And what a lesson for us, as we reflect now on just the behaviors and thoughts that we have had towards others today.  Doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are, where you live, what you do or don’t do; everything starts in the way we think.  And that is always based on your response to Jesus Christ.  Are you negative to Him?  Or are you positive about Him?

Before I read the account, I want you to pay attention to these words from Jesus.  This is it – listen for it.  “I must needs go through Samaria.”  It wasn’t the geographical necessity that compelled Jesus to go there, it was a divine necessity.  It was predestined, it was foreordained that our Savior should go through Samaria because there were some chosen sinners there.  The whole machinery of grace began to move when Jesus Christ started toward Samaria. (He was wandering out of Jewish territory).  And notice Jesus was right on time!  God’s divine clock said, “NOW! Samaria! Go!” And Jesus obeyed and went.  He always did everything in the fullness of time.  And that’s what God wants out of every believer.

For you to be God’s woman, God’s man in place at God’s time with a mind to do God’s will.

Positive.  Not negative.  Most of us want to be where we want to be when we want to be there with a mind to do what we want to do.  However, we need to be sensitized to the Holy Spirit of God, to sense the prodding of the Spirit of God; to slow down and think about the intentions of the day and what they’re really all about.  He wants us available to do His will; to be ready, to be listening for that call for that, “NOW! Samaria! Go!”

Your knee-jerk reaction might be “Well, can’t you see I’m stuck here in this chair, staring at these same walls day in and day out?  I can’t go anywhere!” Oh, but my dear friend.  Don’t overlook what comes to you day by day.  Many lives broken and curious, seeking and longing.  Perhaps the “woman at the well” is coming to you.  What then will your message be?  Will you be ready to respond to God?

Well, when this event happened, it was very early in the earthly ministry of Jesus.  Too early for Him to get locked up in a conflict with the Jews, so He left Jerusalem and headed back north to the area of Galilee.  The shortest route was up the Western Bank of the Jordan.  However, that would take Him through Samaria, and “good Jews” never went through Samaria.  Never!  But Jesus did.  He was about His Father’s business.  He was sensitive to hear and positive to that, “NOW! Samaria, Go!”  What a lesson for you and me.

One other thing to point out before we read this passage.  When the kingdom of Israel split, the Northern Kingdom set up two worship centers.  The Southern Kingdom had Jerusalem but the Northern Kingdom had one in Bethel and one in Dan.  And these centers eventually housed two gold calves for their heathen worship.  At that time a city called Samaria became the capital.  When the Northern kingdom, Israel fell to the Assyrians, most of the Jews were carried off and scattered.  Eventually, some came back, but only after they’d intermarried with Gentiles.  So in reality the Samaritans were half Jew and half Gentile which was totally unacceptable to the Jews and their strict, ritualistic religion.  They were polluted.  So, when the average Jew went from South to North or North to South, they never went through heathen, ungodly, half-breed Samaria.  They made their own trail and it went up to the top part of their land, over the Jordan, up the other side, back across the Jordan at the top, and into Galilee so they didn’t have to touch a foot in Samaria.  There was no love lost between the Jews and the Samaritans.  Hatred and bitterness were stemming clear back to 450 B.C. and this bitterness had gone on and on and on and so when Jews traveled North or South, the absurdly longer route made more sense to them.  So, when Jesus said, “I must needs go” He was really saying something.  Right there, He was shattering a lot of barriers because that was an abnormal movement for a Jew.  It wasn’t natural.  It didn’t make sense.

 But the love of God doesn’t make human sense.  The only way it makes sense is if the love of God is IN you.  Then to go any other route just doesn’t make sense.

Jesus was about His Father’s business. There’s no better route to take than the one God has laid out before you.  No matter where you are.

With this background now, let’s open our Bibles to John chapter 4 and read the account of Jesus and the woman of Samaria.

JOHN 4:1-42

Let’s take a quick look at the disciples here now for just a moment.  We’ve just peeked into that quiet, touching scene at the well, and here come the disciples.  They’ve been off to the store.  They’ve been paying close attention to their physical needs.  That was their “must needs”.  Food.  Look at verse 27.  “Just then his disciples came back.  They marveled that he was talking with a woman.”  Now this is not easy to see, but it’s important that we see this.

She came looking for physical water.  Necessary for physical life.  Her “must needs” was water.  Nothing wrong with drawing water from a well.  She came with a water pot to fill it up with H20 and take it home.  Jesus spoke of not physical water, but the water of life.  While these two were deep in conversation the disciples had left for the store.  There’s nothing wrong with going to the store and eating physical food. (Maybe twelve men to buy thirteen burgers is suspect,) but look what happened, and it’s easy to miss.  Verse 28.  The woman left her water pot and went her way into the city.  Now listen, here is a Samaritan woman who leaves perfectly and totally satisfied.  And here comes the twelve church members (disciples) whose main thought throughout the day is, “we’re starved to death!  Aren’t you starved, Lord?”  They are not satisfied.  But she is!

Skip down for a moment to verse 31. “Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying “Rabbi, eat.”Like dropping Big Mac’s into his lap, forcing it into His hands, “Eat this!”  They totally ignore the woman and never gently ask her “What do you want, or need, or,  how can we help you?” They never said, “We’re so glad you got to meet Jesus!”  No.  They snub this new believer in Christ and practically run her off and the first words from their mouths after she’s running back to town is, “Ain’t you hungry Jesus?” They tell Him what to do.  And maybe we’re like that who only have an appetite for the physical and none for the spiritual.  Now, I know that we Christians love to get together and be Christians together.  It always feels so good to encourage one another and pray over and love one another…..it’s like that group hug and scoots together in a cluster.  But here Jesus is teaching us a huge lesson.

I wonder what Jesus was thinking out there by Jacob’s well as He watched that new believer head off toward Sychar. I do think He looked at that water pot sitting there and I do think he looked at those twelve saints, those twelve disciples standing there waiting to eat without the foggiest idea as to what had just taken place.

The second part of verse 28 is interesting.  After the woman left her waterpot sitting by the well, she went back into the city and said, “Come see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done. This couldn’t be The Christ, could it?”  Remember, they were half Gentile but half-Jew!  The Bible says,“They went out of the town and were coming to him.” Friends? The whole little town stopped what they were doing and ran to Jesus who was sitting at the well. They begged Him to stay.  They soaked Him up and they ALL believed!  The whole town!  Love splattered all over Sychar because Jesus said, “I must needs go through Samaria”.

But, you think about those disciples, those “spiritual giants”.  Verse 34, “Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”.  This doesn’t mean Jesus didn’t need physical food, He did.  What He was saying was first, before anything else, comes obedience to the Father’s will.

You know, as I wrap this up it occurs to me, this contrast between those disciples and the woman.  This whole story is packed with lessons in every verse.  But I think it’s very clear, verse 35 says, “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”  Look, Diane, look reader,  I’m saying to you, lift up your eyes, look at the fields of people in your life, look down the road out of Sychar! There are people ready to harvest.  You don’t know where someone, somewhere may have already planted the seed in the heart of those that I love and long to be loved by them.  Jesus is saying you could be the one that introduces them to me!  Don’t be so consumed with your hamburgers, with your details, don’t limit your relationship with me to your groups of Christian friends.  You have a mission here.  You need to be about your Father’s business.  Don’t be concerned about the roads that you should or shouldn’t travel.  Don’t be concerned about the kind of people you may come into contact with.  Be open to me, walk with me, spend your days in fellowship with me, and be ready to run and tell or sit and share.  Hang out with me all day and when you hear “Now! Samaria. Go!”  Move it.

You may wonder what to say but I direct us once again to His Word to us.  Three verses here:

Acts 1:8 Go ahead, personalize it.  This is His Word to YOU.  This is love splattering all over you.  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witness in Jerusalem and in all Judea (watch now) and Samaria, and (look here now, here’s where you come in) and to the end of the earth.”  Today!  You!  Where you are!

2 Corinthians 3:3-6 “And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit.  For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  More lavished love.

And I close with a couple more from 2 Corinthians 5:14 “For the love of Christ controls us because we have concluded this; that one has died for all; therefore all have died; and he died for all that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”  5:20 “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake, He (God) made Him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God.”

Do you see now, why that woman ran back to town and left her filled H20 pot sitting on the ledge of that well?  Her whole everything changed. It all started in her heart.  His love changes every heart.  She came looking for water for her flesh. She came with an unsettled agitation filled with frustrating question marks.  But she was positive to the words of Jesus and His love was deposited, lavishly poured into her.  And she left with an unspeakable, unexplainable peace filled with answers.

And this is why we are Women at the Well.  We “must needs go.”