Sermon Notes and Audio
Scripture Focus- John 4
Water is essential to life. The majority of our bodies are water. A healthy person should drink an adequate amount of water each day to stay properly hydrated. Water performs 5 essential functions. Water is a carrier, distributing essential nutrients to cells, such as minerals, vitamins and glucose. Water removes waste and toxins from the body. Water participates in the biochemical breakdown of what we eat. Water has the capacity to help limit changes in body temperature in a warm or cold environment. Water is a lubricant around joints. It is at the center of life and nobody can live more than 3 to 5 days without any water intake.
Water is fascinating, creeks steadily flow, waterfalls plummet, springs bubble up, oceans waves crash. Animals travel for miles to find water. Birds flock together around water sources. Cities are planned around reliable water sources. Water is essential to physical life and we get thirsty as a continual reminder of our need for it.
Jesus told about living water that is essential to spiritual life. He uses the phrase two times in the Bible, one of which is found here in John 4. Jesus is the Living Water. Every person needs the spiritual water that He offers. People are thirsty for a deeper satisfaction in life. Nothing can satisfy spiritual thirst except God.
The Apostle John’s clear purpose of writing John is to reveal Jesus as God so people will believe and be saved. He tells us about Jesus as eternal God, and Jesus in all of His creative power. He tells us how, by His miracles at Jerusalem and Cana of Galilee, Jesus revealed Himself to be the Messiah. It all focuses on Jesus.
In the first few verses, John tells us why Jesus left Judea and headed toward Galilee. He mainly wanted to avoid conflict with the Pharisees who were closely watching the ministries of both John the Baptist and Jesus. Jesus was not averse to conflict, if it was the Father’s will, but He knew the right time had not yet come. So Jesus left Judea in the south and headed north toward Galilee. John clarifies that Jesus was not actually baptizing people Himself, but His disciples were. The baptism was based on repentance for forgiveness of sins, as practiced also by John the Baptist.
V4 Says he had to pass through Samaria. This was the shortest route from Judea to Galilee but it wasn’t the only route. Some legalistic Jews who did not want to come into contact with the hated Samaritans, would take a longer route, crossing the Jordan River to the east, traveling north, and then going back west into Galilee. Jesus was probably already at the Jordan River, where the disciples were baptizing, and He could have taken that route, but He didn’t. Jesus had a divine appointment in Samaria.
Sychar was located about 30 miles north of Jerusalem, halfway between Jerusalem and Nazareth, at the base of Mount Gerazim, the Samaritan’s “holy mountain.” Jacob’s well was about a half mile outside of the village. Jesus was weary from His journey, so He was sitting by the well. The disciples had gone into the city to buy food. The distance from where Jesus had been baptizing to Sychar was about 40 miles by road. So they had walked a full day and a half to get there.
The Word of God gives us insight into living water in Jesus:
Jesus is the source of living water.
While Jesus was there at the well, a woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” This was a shocking violation of social custom. It was culturally incorrect for a man, especially a rabbi, to speak to any woman, particularly one who turned out to be an immoral social outcast. But her question in response to Him, reveals what she was most surprised about.
The woman replied, “How is it that You, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” Jews did not normally associate with the Samaritans. Hostilities between Jews and Samaritans went back for centuries. The Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and deported most of the Jews and replaced them with foreigners, who intermarried with the remaining Jews. Their religion was a mixture of foreign gods with Judaism.
In about 400 BC the Samaritans built a rival place of worship, a temple on Mount Gerazim. The Samaritans accepted only the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. There was significant hostility between the Jews and Samaritans by the time of Jesus. All of this helps us understand the significance of the meeting Jesus had with the Samaritan woman.
Jesus responded to her concern in v10 “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, Give me a drink, you would ask Him, and He would give you living water.” When the conversation started, He was the one who was thirsty, and she had the water. This was true regarding physical water. Yet Jesus spoke as though she was the thirsty one and He had the water.
The Samaritan woman was confused- “You don’t even have a bucket and the well is deep. Where do You get this living water? You aren’t greater than our father Jacob, are You? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and livestock. Jesus said, ‘Everyone who drinks from the water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again- ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.’”
Jesus is the source of living water. He was talking about the spiritual reality of salvation. The Old Testament uses the illustration of living water to describe the spiritual cleansing and new life that comes at salvation through the power of the Holy Spirit. Israel had rejected God, the fountain of living water, and Jeremiah the Prophet said they hewn out for themselves broken cisterns that could hold no water (Jeremiah 2:13). Jeremiah 17:13 “All who forsake the Lord will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the Lord.” Living water represents eternal life in Jesus.
When the woman asked Jesus the question, you are not greater than our father Jacob are you, she expected a negative answer. Even Jacob the patriarch couldn’t provide water without the energy of digging the well. The water Jesus was offering does not come from an ordinary well. Jesus plainly stated, those who drank from Jacob’s well would thirst again but whoever drinks water from His well would never thirst again! Jesus is the source of living water.
Jesus offers sinners the living water.
The woman still didn’t fully understand what Jesus was saying but she responded to Him, give me this water so I won’t get thirsty and come here to draw water.
J.C. Ryle- Expository Thoughts On the Gospels- Material water was not out of her thoughts, and yet she had probably some desires after everlasting life. Enough for us to know, that she asked and received, she sought and found. Our great aim must be to persuade sinners to apply to Jesus and to say to Him, Give me a drink. If we forbid them to ask anything until they can prove they ask in a perfect spirit, we should do no good at all. It would be as foolish to scrutinize the grammatical construction of an infant’s cries, as to analyze the precise motives of a soul’s breathing after God. If it breathes at all and says, give, we ought to be thankful.
Jesus told her to go call her husband and come back. He exposed the heart of the issue, her sin. There is no such thing as salvation without repentance. The woman told Jesus, I don’t have a husband. Jesus said that’s right, that’s true, because you have had five husbands and the man you are now with is not your husband. The woman recognized him as a prophet. She was likely shocked that Jesus knew about her morally corrupt life, but she did not attempt to hide her sin. This was Jesus, shining into the darkness and exposing the evil deeds of her heart. He supernaturally knew all about her past and present.
Jesus did this to show that her real need was spiritual and not material. He was bringing her to the gift that God was offering. This woman certainly was not worthy from a human perspective of Jesus’ time. Just being a Samaritan excluded her. Being a woman didn’t help her any in that culture. Being an immoral Samaritan woman put her in a predicament. But Jesus did not exclude her, He pursued her with the gift of salvation, the gift of living water.
Significant-Jesus called the living water “the gift of God” in v10.
The living water is a gift not wages for work. One of the most prevalent spiritual errors is that people can somehow get into Heaven on their own merit. People are proud of their accomplishments, and want to be rewarded or somehow earn favor with God.
Romans 4:4-5 Now to the one who works, pay is not considered as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness.
The Gospel is not good news if it requires you to do penance, clean up your life, keep a set of rules, do good deeds, and then hope for the best, that God will let you into heaven on that basis. But it is the best news if it comes as a free gift!
Salvation comes only as a gift from God. The gift is offered to notorious sinners and to self righteous religious sinners- both equally need the gift of God. The Samaritan woman was interested in what Jesus was offering, but she had to come to understand the reality of her sin, and the identity of Jesus as the Savior. Jesus offers sinners the living water. Only those who recognize their need by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit can be saved.
Jesus saves all who receive the living water.
Jesus has already told her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked and He would have given you living water.” We’ve already seen that the gift of living water is salvation in Jesus. It is the Lord Himself, dwelling in believers. Jesus had spoken to Nicodemus about the necessity of being born again by the Spirit of God.
To receive the gift you have to know who Jesus is. Faith is only as good as the one you are placing your faith in. He has the supply of living water, the gift to be given.
To receive the gift you have to ask for it. You have to recognize your spiritual thirst and come to Jesus and ask for it. If you ask for it, He will give it. If you ask He will give you an endless supply of living water.
The woman believed Messiah was coming and expressed her hope in that. Jesus told her, “I am He.” It is interesting to note, the word “He” is not in the original Greek text. So His literal statement to her was- “I am.” This is another one of the I am statements in this gospel. Twenty-three times Jesus says, I am, and seven times he adds descriptions.
The man who just before this asked her for water, revealed Himself to be the long awaited Messiah. Meanwhile the disciples came back and were amazed Jesus was talking to the woman but they dared not say it. The woman left her water jar, went into town and told the men- v29 “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Messiah? They left the town and made their way to Him.”
Jesus compels us to share the living water.
The woman had dropped her waterpot and went to tell the men in town about Jesus. Come and see!
While she was in town, the disciples kept urging Jesus to eat, they were focused on the physical as well. Jesus told them, I have food to eat that you don’t know about. They were confused, did someone already bring him something to eat?
Jesus told them His food is to do the will of Him who sent Him and to finish His work. Proclaiming the truth to a lost sinner brought Him far more satisfaction than physical food could provide. His goal was to do the will of the Father who sent Him. It should be our goal as well to do the will of God.
In v35 Jesus uses the analogy of the harvest. He used the grain growing in the surrounding fields as an object lesson. Jesus impressed on the disciples the urgency of reaching the lost. They had to wait four months for the agricultural harvest, but the spiritual harvest was ready! All they had to do was lift up their eyes and look! Jesus was sending them to reap for what they had not worked. God was preparing hearts, all they had to do was go!
Many Samaritans believed in Him because of what the woman said, because of her testimony. They asked Him to stay there and He stayed for two days and many more believed. “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world.” The Savior of the world!!! Jesus came to seek and save the lost, and do the Father’s will.
There is practical instruction we can apply to our lives in regard to bringing people to Jesus:
We are ambassadors of Christ and should be passionate about what He is passionate about.
We must set aside any potential prejudices we have.
We need to order our priorities in a way that helps us.
We need to go where the lost are.
We need to meet people where they are, and speak to them in terms they understand to point them to Jesus.
When you have received the living water, you will worship God in spirit and in truth.
Jesus made the point that religious rituals and ceremonies are not what salvation is about. Eternal life is about knowing and worshiping the living God. While the woman pointed back to a physical location, the place of worship for the Samaritans, Jesus cut to the heart and made the point that eternal life is about knowing and worshipping the living God in spirit and in truth.
We worship God in spirit when the Holy Spirit has caused us to be born again. True worship comes from the depths of our being.
We worship God in truth as He has revealed Himself to us in His Word. The only reason we can know God is because He has revealed Himself.
William Temple- To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, and to devote the will to the purpose of God.
Worship in spirit and truth is living according to the Word of God, obeying the will of God, for the glory of God. Come to Jesus, drink of the living water, and you will never thirst again!