"Drawn to The Savior"
(Delivered Sunday, February 16, 2003 at Bethany Bible Church. All scripture quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James version.)
This morning, I ask that we look together at a much-loved story from the Gospel of John. For many of us who have trusted Jesus as our Savior, all you need to say is, "The Woman at The Well" - and one of our favorite stories from the Bible immediately comes to mind. And as for those who have never placed their trust in Jesus for salvation from their sins, I can't think of a better way to introduce them to our Savior's love than by sharing this story with them.
The story occurs just a little while after another famous portion of Scripture - that of Jesus' night-time conversation with the Pharisee Necodemus. It was in that story that we first heard those majestic and familiar words: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:16-17). That is a precious word of truth from John's Gospel; and now, in the chapter that immediately follows it, we are told this particular story - a story which so beautifully illustrates that precious word of truth.
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The apostle John sets the scene of this story when he writes;
Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water (John 4:1-7a).
First, let's consider the occasion of this story. Jesus had been in and around Judea. The big talk of that region had been the ministry of John the Baptist. He had been out in the Judean wilderness, baptizing people in an area just west of the Jordan River, and urging them to repent of their sins and prepare themselves for the coming of the Messiah.
Not long before this time, John the Baptist had publically pointed everyone to Jesus and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). It was John's ministry to prepare people for Jesus' coming and to point Him out to them when He came. Some of John's disciples had complained that everyone was beginning to go to Jesus and His disciples to be baptized. But John reminded them, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).
Now the reason for Jesus' departure from Judea might have been to avoid unnecessary controversy, or it might have been to prevent the appearance of competition. The exact reason isn't told us. But when the Pharisees began to hear that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself didn't baptize, but turned that job over to His disciples), Jesus chose to leave that region and return to Galilee - the region from which He had come.
Next, let's consider the location of this story. John said, "But He needed to go through Samaria" (v. 4). Samaria was the region north of Judea. Many centuries before Jesus' time, the nation became divided in half; with the southern kingdom taking the name Judea, and the northern kingdom taking the name Israel. By Jesus' time, the northern kingdom came to be called Samaria - named after a chief city in that region.
While the southern kingdom remained relatively faithful to God, the northern kingdom did not. And eventually, because of its persistence in forsaking God, God permitted the northern kingdom to be conquered by the Assyrian army a little over seven-hundred years before Jesus met the woman at the well. Almost all of the Jews in the northern kingdom were deported; and those few poor people that remained became mixed and mingled with people from heathen nations. From then on, the Jews in the southern kingdom considered the Samaritans to be a half-breed people; and a smoldering resentment toward them continued to exist until Jesus' day. A Jew in Jesus' day would refuse to socialize with a despised Samaritan. In fact, if a Jew had to travel north to Galilee, the most direct route would be through Samaria; but typically, a Jewish traveler would cross the Jordan River, head north up Perea, and then cross back over the Jordan at Galilee in order to avoid going through Samaria completely!
Jesus, however, "needed to go through Samaria". On His journey north, He stopped at a town called Sychar. Sychar was near the very parcel of land that Jacob - the grandson of Abraham - bought during his travels. There, Jacob dug a well - the very well at which Jesus came to rest. And Jacob erected an alter in that place and called it El Elohe Israel (which means, "God, the God of Israel"; see Genesis 33:18-20). How appropriate that name was; because the Samaritan woman was about to come to there and meet the God of Israel in human flesh!
Next, let's consider the condition of Jesus in this story. The Bible tells us that He came to rest at the well during "the sixth hour" - that is, at about noon-time. Jesus had been traveling a considerable distance that day - perhaps over twenty miles by foot. He was understandably tired. But what's more, He was made even more exhausted by the noontime heat bearing down upon Him. John says that He "sat thus by the well" (v. 5) - that is, in this exhausted condition. I'm sure that the well was a very refreshing sight to Him.
And I can't help but highlight once again at this point that John says, "But He needed to go through Samaria" (v. 4). He certainly didn't need to in order to get to Galilee; because there was another way to go to get there. In fact, the way around Samaria was the way a Jewish traveller would ordinarily travel. But John very specifically says He "needed" to go through Samaria. Why "needed"? Personally, I can think of no other reason for Him to "need" to go that way than that there was someone with whom He "needed" to keep a divine appointment. He came to meet this woman of Samaria - ultimately so that He could show His love to her and lead her to salvation.
That brings us, finally, to consider the woman herself. John tells us that she was a woman of Samaria; and for that reason alone, she would have ordinarily been despised by a Jew. But what's even worse for her was that she was also recognized as a sinful woman - a woman who had made a terrible mess of her life, and was now in a hopeless condition of sin. There's a little hint of how bad her reputation was; because ordinarily, women came out together in the early part of the day to draw water and chat together. But this woman came out at noon - at a time when the other women were not likely to be there.
Jesus was alone when this woman came. He had sent the disciples into town to buy food. I know this almost sounds like a joke; but how many disciples does it take to buy groceries? The answer would, of course, be that only two or three disciples would have been plenty to buy food for thirteen people. But Jesus had sent them all away. Perhaps that was an act of mercy; because surely such a sinful Samaritan woman would have been too embarrassed to come out to draw water from a well that was surrounded by twelve Jewish men and their noted spiritual Leader. In love and mercy, Jesus sent the others away - making sure that nothing stood in the way of this very important meeting at the well.
* * * * * * * * * *I think this was a pretty intelligent lady; and she obviously was a great conversationalist. In fact, of all the dialogues in Scripture that Jesus had with any single person, Jesus' conversation with her is among the longest. Plainly, Jesus loved this sinful, rejected woman and was pleased to take the time to talk with her.
And perhaps that that's why I love this story so much. As I read it, I think there are a multitude of different ways I could preach from it; and I'm sure that it has inspired a greater variety of different sermons that we could possibly imagine. But the thing that stands out in it to me is how much it shows us of Jesus' love for sinners. He goes out of His way to reach them. He is patient with them, and is willing to take time to talk compassionately with them. He is deeply interested in their struggles. He is gentlemanly and kind toward those who have made a mess of their lives. And He tenderly leads them to the place where they can finally be made whole - that is, to Himself. The very worst of sinners loved to be around Jesus, and felt welcomed and comfortable with Him. This story certainly shows us why.
There are two great ways this story can bless us; and I might as well share them with you at the very outset. One way is as an instructive model; because by this story, we're taught how we - who have come to know the Savior - can lead others to Him so that they might place their faith in Him too. Jesus demonstrates the steps we need to take in sharing His love with someone else, and to tenderly draw them to place their faith in Him.
And another great way this story blesses us is as an invitation; because by this story, we're shown how anyone who has made a mess of their lives - perhaps even after having started out toward God at one point in their lives but wandered away because of sin - is loved by Jesus and welcomed by Him for salvation if they will but come to Him. This story teaches us how Jesus, in mercy and love, opens our eyes to our need and invites us to come and receive from Him what we've needed all along.
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Notice with me how Jesus deals with people who have been broken by sin and are alienated from the God who made them. First, we see that He does so by ...
1. SHOWING THAT THEY'RE LOVED BY HIM.
As John writes;
Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For the Jews have no dealings with Samaritans (vv. 7-9).
Jesus had made this great detour in His travels under the hot sun for this very moment - so that He could turn to this poor woman and ask her for a drink. I'm sure that Jesus could have gotten water any way that He wished. He certainly could have drawn the water out Himself. What's more, He is the Son of God and didn't even have to experience thirst if He didn't want to. But in taking full humanity unto Himself, He condescended to experience the thirst we experience; and in His thirst, He lovingly waited until this woman sheepishly walked out to the well so He could ask her for a drink. What a gracious Savior He is!
His request completely took the woman by surprise. Ordinarily a Jew would never ask a Samaritan for a drink; and that a Jewish man would ask a Samaritan woman for a drink was even more rare. His request was such an unusual thing that, as she drew the water from the well, dipped a cup into the bucket, and handed it over to Him, she had to ask Him about it. "How is it that you ask me for a drink?" This act of condescending love captured her attention. In simply asking for a drink of water, Jesus was showing kindness to her and demonstrating that He respected and valued her as a person. It was His kindness to her that opened the door of her heart.
I have noticed something that happens in elevators. For some reason, you can get into an elevator with one other human being, and ride twenty floors up with them - standing only a couple of feet away from them - and yet not say a word to them the whole time. They'll look at the floor; and you'll look at the ceiling. I guess that's because it's kind of embarrassing to be stuck in a box with a total stranger. But I've found that, if I just take the initiative and say, "Nice day, eh?" - or something deep and intelligent like that - it starts the ball rolling; and we'll both be talking to each other the whole way up. We'll even both smile at each other and say, "Have a good one," when we step out of the elevator.
Jesus could have sat on the well while the woman drew water; and they could have done it all without saying a single word to each other. In that case, they would have been doing nothing else than what almost everyone else does today. But Jesus took the initiative in relating to her; and it started the ball rolling. And what's interesting is that He started it all off by presenting His own need to her. He opened the door by asking her to do something for Him and serve Him - which showed such unexpected respect for her that she had to ask about it. What an effective way that is to open the door with someone - by becoming vulnerable enough to allow them to serve us!
With all respect and reverence, I wonder what would have happened if Jesus had just suddenly turned to her while she was drawing water and said, "O Samaritan woman, I know what you are. You are a shameful sinner. But behold: I am the Savior! Leave your sins behind, trust in Me, and be saved." That would have been true; but I don't suspect it would have been gentle. And although I'm sure Jesus could have done such a thing effectively, such a procedure would never work for you or me. If we had come running up to her and abruptly confronted her with the gospel the way some really zealous people tend to do, she might have jumped into the well to get away from us! And yet, how many of us go to either extreme - that is, either blurting out the gospel in an insensitive way, or just sitting there and remaining silent! How few of us take the time to show love and respect to someone first - before we share the gospel with them! Jesus here sets the example of how patient, sensitive, courteous love and respect for people earns us the opportunity to share the good news of eternal life with them.
May God, by our manner and actions, show people who desperately need to know Him that He truly loves them and that they are welcomed by Him.
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Next, notice another way Jesus deals with people; that is by ...
2. AWAKENING IN THEM A SPIRITUAL HUNGER.
Jesus had so caught her by surprise that she had to ask, "How is it that you ask something of me?" But I notice that Jesus didn't answer that question. Instead, He convinced her that she ought to be asking something from Him. "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" (v. 10). He just said enough to leave some questions hanging in her mind; and then He stopped and waited. In the little 'movie' I make of this in my imagination, I can see Jesus taking a sip just as He says these words. I believe He sat quietly - sipping and waiting patiently for those words to sink in.
Now; like I said, she's a smart girl. She took the bait; and perhaps even did so with a little bit of twinkle of humor in her eye.
The woman said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?" (vv. 11-12).
Jesus had mentioned three important things in His words to her; two of those things being first a reference to "the gift of God" (that is, a reference to God's merciful grace), and then to Himself ("who it is who says to you 'Give Me a drink'"). And when Jesus mentioned these things, He awakened a spiritual curiosity in her that perhaps had been laying dormant for years. She immediately began to talk about the story that surrounds this particular well - and this place that Jacob had named "God, the God of Israel". She remembered the stories she had learned as a little girl from the Scriptures - though perhaps having learned them as if an outsider to the covenant promises of Israel. Her people, like the Jews, honored the patriarch Jacob and his twelve sons. Was this Man now making the remarkable suggestion that He was somehow even greater than Jacob and his sons?
It's interesting to notice, however, that she didn't ask, "What in the world do You mean by 'living water'?" But no doubt, it was also on her mind; and Jesus further piques her spiritual curiosity by not answering the question she asked, but by answering the question she didn't ask.
Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (vv. 13-14).
Later in John's gospel, we find that Jesus says more about this 'living water'. In chapter 7, we're told of how Jesus attended the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles in Galilee. John says,
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:37-39).
Jesus may have been paraphrasing Isaiah 44:1-4;
Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant, and Israel whom I have chosen. Thus says the LORD who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you; 'Fear not, O Jacob My servant; and you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring; they will spring up among the grass like willows by the watercourses' (Isa. 44:1-4).
When He was speaking about "living water", then, Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit - the third Person of the Trinity. When He returned to the Father, after having died on the cross for our sins and having been raised from the dead, He sent the Holy Spirit to take up residence in those who believe on Him. The very Spirit of God Himself abides in those of us who trust in Jesus. He lives the life of Jesus through us, empowering us for our trials and troubles, giving us an endless supply of joy and peace and strength, teaching us and instructing us how to live as we should - and even completely enabling us to do so. His presence in those of us who believe on Jesus is what gives us ultimate fulfillment and satisfaction; because He constantly mediates the very presence of Jesus to us.
God made us for that sort of spiritual fullness. Many people believe that a lot of other things will satisfy them instead - such things as earthly riches, fame, success, relationships, or power. But those things are like the water Jesus was given by the woman - satisfying for a short while, but leaving those who taste of it thirsting again, and again, and again. That's because those things were never really meant to fulfill us within and satisfy the empty spot in our soul.
The only thing that will ultimately satisfy - the thing that we were really made for - is a deep, abiding relationship with the One who designed us for Himself. Jesus is saying that the water He gives is "living", because it's a Person - the Holy Spirit. We "drink" of Him by believing on Jesus; and whoever "drinks" of that water will never thirst again. Jesus uses the strongest possible negative in the Greek to say that such a person will "by no means ever thirst unto eternity". Complete, eternal satisfaction! What's more, He promises that this "living water" will become in the one who believes a perpetual fountain overflowing unto everlasting life! The very life of Jesus, lived out through us by the Holy Spirit, will overflow and give life and eternal satisfaction to others!
Never thirsty! Ever satisfied! Overflowing with eternal life! This woman was very interested in such an offer. Jesus had awakened in her a spiritual thirst for something that God had designed her to experience. She wanted what He was talking about. Perhaps God has brought someone into your life that needs to have that thirst awakened in them; and perhaps He wants to use you to awaken it. And perhaps these words of Jesus have just awakened it in you too!
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But this leads us to a very important part of the story. We see that a crucial aspect of how Jesus leads someone to salvation is by ...
3. CONVICTING THEM OF THEIR REAL NEED.
Notice what the woman says in response to all this John tells us, "The woman said to Him, 'Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw'" (v. 15). She was thinking about how convenient it would be to be so satisfied with "living water" - and to not have to draw water and carry it any longer. And perhaps she also may have been thinking how nice it would be not to have to undergo the embarrassment of making sure to come to this well when no one else was around. After all, each time she snuck out to the well, it was a painful reminder of how messed up things were in her life. How handy that would be to not have to do that! How convenient! How much easier that would make to her already difficult life!
I'd like to suggest to you that she was doing something that a lot of people do who have a "spiritual thirst" awakened in them - they think about how coming to Jesus might solve some problems for them and make their lives easier. That's certainly not a bad reason to come to Jesus. He is indeed more than able to solve the practical problems in our life. But just making life "easier" doesn't address our real need. People aren't simply messed up a little, and just need to be made better. Rather, people are separated from God because of sin, and need to be saved from the helpless condition of lostness and spiritual death that their sins have placed them in.
Jesus says something to her that may seem cruel and insensitive; but He says it because, by doing so, He brings her real need clearly to her attention. "Jesus said to her, 'Go, call your husband, and come here'" (v. 16). Then, she gives her shortest answer in all her dialogue with Jesus; "The woman answered, 'I have no husband.' Jesus said to her, 'You have well said, "I have no husband," for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you have spoken truly'" (vv. 17-18).
Why did Jesus ask this rather personal question - seeing that, as the omniscient Son of God, He already knew the answer in advance? He did it to help her face her real need. She had gotten married and divorced several times over - all perhaps in a desperate attempt to fill that horrible void inside her soul by finding Mr. Right. And after five failures, she concluded that marriage was not for her; and she took up to living with a man who was not her husband at all - something that is a violation of God's ordained design of marriage, and that is a breaking of His commandment against adultery. Her real problem was that she was a sinner; and her real need was to be forgiven of her sins.
This illustrates another thing that Jesus does in drawing us to Himself. He makes us come to terms with our sin. Coming to terms with sin is the only way we can realize how serious our situation really is, and thus come to Him for help as the Savior from sins. The Bible tells us that Jesus forced people to come to terms with their real condition. He told the rich young ruler, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me" (Matthew 19:21) - which the young man found himself unprepared to do; and Jesus did this to show the man how guilty he was of covetousness. He also told the lawyer - who thought he had obeyed all the commandments - the story about the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37); and He did this to show the lawyer that he was a lawbreaker who didn't love his neighbor as himself. When Job met the Lord, he came to terms with himself and cried out, "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:6). When Isaiah saw the Lord, he came to terms with himself and cried out, "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts" (Isa. 6:5). When Peter met the Lord, he came to terms with himself, fell before Jesus, and said, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" (Luke 5:8).
When we meet Jesus, He makes us come face to face with our sin - and our real need. Do you remember the story of the paralyzed man Jesus healed? Jesus healed him of his paralysis; but that wasn't his primary need. Before He healed the man, Jesus said to him, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you" (Matthew 9:2). To be forgiven of her sins was the primary need of this woman; and it's also the primary need of everyone else who ever has an encounter with Jesus.
Jesus pointed out this woman's sinful condition because He loved her and wanted to set her free from her sin. He wishes to set you and me free from our sin too. The apostle John says,
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us (1 John 1:5-10).
Jesus is the Savior from sins. No one will ever be interested in coming to the Savior from sins if they aren't first convicted that they're sinners who need to be saved. One of the things that Jesus does for the people He meets, then, is to make them come to terms with their real need. He does this, as we see, in a tender and compassionate way. But make no mistake - He does indeed bring us to the crossroads with respect to our sin, so that we'll come to Him for what we really need.
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What do you say to someone who just revealed the truth about your sin? This leads us to another step in the way that Jesus draws people to Himself; that is, by ...
4. TEACHING THEM WHAT HIS FATHER IS LIKE.
With her sin exposed by Jesus, this woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet" (v. 19). She perceived Him rightly; because He surely was a prophet - and much more! But she then goes on to say, "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship" (v. 20). Why does she bring up this strange, seemingly unrelated matter?
What she's making reference to is a controversy that had been brewing between the Jews and the Samaritans for centuries. About three-hundred and fifty years prior to this point, Alexander the Great had permitted a general in his army to build a temple at the foot of Mount Garizim - a temple that resembled the temple in Jerusalem. Mount Garizim could be seen from where Jesus and the woman were talking; even though the temple that was built near it had been long since destroyed1. And so, the rivalry between the people of Judea and the people of Samaria had led to a controversy between them concerning the proper place of acceptable worship to God.
I used to read this woman's seemingly out-of-place words and think, "Well; she's just being evasive! Jesus' convicting words are getting a little too close for her comfort; and so, she's just bringing up some controversial hot-topic in order to change the subject." But though I used to think that, I no longer do. I have come to believe, instead, that a spiritual hunger and a sense of spiritual need had truly been raised in her by Jesus' gentle words; and now, she sincerely wanted to know what to do about it.
But her question revealed how confused she was concerning what to do. Her question was, "Where do I go to get right with God? Do I go to Jerusalem? Do I go to Mount Garizim? Where is the right place?" I believe she was thinking like so many think when they sense a spiritual hunger within. They look at the multitude of different religious traditions, or the multitude of sacred places, or the multitude of spiritual disciplines; and they wonder where they should turn. Is the freedom from sin found in making a pilgrimage to a particular place? Is it found in performing a particular practice at a particular temple?
Look carefully at Jesus' response to her. He introduces her to the truth about what God - and the worship of God - is really like.
Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (vv. 21-24).
Notice the details of Jesus' response. He asserts that God is Spirit. He is not flesh and blood - not bound to a place. The apostle Paul made a similar point when he preached to the Athenians and said,
God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His offspring.' Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising (Acts 17:24-29).
Jesus taught her that God is "Spirit", and is therefore not bound to a place or worshiped with the works of men's hands. But if this is true, then how is He to be worshiped? First, Jesus told the woman that God is to be worshiped in spirit - that is, not with the works of our hands but with the reverent attitude and submission of our inner self made new by God's grace. But second, Jesus told the woman that He is to be worship in truth - that is, in conformity and obedience to God's revelation concerning Himself - that is, the revelation He gave of Himself through the Jewish people and recorded for us in the Scriptures. "Spirit" is the subjective aspect of our worship, and "truth" is the objective aspect of it; and both must go together to constitute worship that is acceptable to God.
You'll notice that Jesus didn't treat the matter as if all things are equal. He wasn't a relativist. He said very clearly, "You [Samaritans] worship what you do not know; we [Jews] know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews." We get objective "truth" from the revelation God made to the world through the Jews. The Bible speaks high dignity that belonged to the Jewish people; "to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen" (Rom. 9:3-5). Among the chiefest of advantages that belonged to the Jews was this: "because to them were committed the oracles of God" (Rom. 3:2). Truth, you see, came through the Jews; and God cannot be worshiped in any way other than is consistent with the truth that He revealed to and through them.
But He also made clear that He wasn't to be worshiped only in the specific place of Jerusalem; because He is also worshiped in spirit. To worship God only in spirit, without truth, would be to try to worship God in subjective emotionalism and sentimentality. But to worship God only in truth, without spirit, would be to try to worship God in cold formalism and a legalistic attitude. We must worship God in both spirit and truth; for God seeks such to worship Him.
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But that leaves a final question: How can a sinner such as this woman - and indeed, such as you and me - worship such a God in spirit and truth? That brings us to the final step Jesus takes in drawing people to Himself; and that is by ...
5. REVEALING TO THEM THAT HE IS THE SAVIOR.
John tells us that, "The woman said to Him, 'I know that Messiah is coming' (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He" (vv. 25-26).
Consider what she knew. She knew that the Messiah - the Anointed One promised in the Jewish Scriptures - was coming; and she anticipated Him. And she also had faith that, when He came, He would straighten out all the matters of salvation, and clearly reveal the way to God. She was right in what she knew. But what she didn't know was that Jesus was the very one she was looking for.
When the time was finally right - after Jesus had made a relational connection with the woman, awakened a spiritual hunger in her, confronted her with the truth about her spiritual need, and revealed to her what God was really like - then, Jesus revealed to her that He was the Savior she was looking for. John goes on to tell us that she believed on Him, and went out to tell others about Him too.
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You and I cannot see into the hearts of the people around us. We don't know what God may be have been doing in the heart of someone that He brings across our path. We may stumble upon someone that He had been preparing long beforehand to encounter us; and He may be intending that through us, they be drawn to the Savior. May God help us to learn from the pattern of Jesus in this passage, so that we can be used by Him to lead others to Jesus for salvation from sins. That's one great lesson we learn from this passage.
And another is this: Jesus loves sinners. He welcomes those who have made a mess of their lives, and who desperately need to be freed from their sins. I hope that, if you have never trusted Him as your Savior, you will have been drawn to Him by the story of this woman; and I pray that, like her, you will believe on Him and trust in His sacrifice on the cross.
1Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, 13, 9.1.
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