Published December 16, 2004
Related Sunday School Lesson Family Bible Series, December 26
Jesus Christ is our example in all areas of life. Very often we overlook the example he left for us as an evangelist. In the well-loved story of the woman at the well we see a Master Soul-Winner at work. As we observe the Savior by Jacob's well, we see several key factors to His evangelistic success as He announces Himself as the source for new life.
The Way He Went (vs. 3-6a)
Even though Samaria was on the way from Judea to Galilee, Jews avoided passing through the unclean city. Jesus had different plans. He had an appointment waiting by Jacob's well. Though His ultimate destination was Galilee, Christ did not overlook the opportunity that lay en route.
I wonder how often we travel from one stop to another and pass by the Divine interruptions that lie in between the stops. Maybe it is a clerk at the convenience store, a waitress in the restaurant, a coworker in the office, or a nurse at the hospital. When we open our eyes to the needs of those around us we will see thirsty prospects in the routine, mundane, every day affairs of life. They are simply waiting for someone to give them a drink of water.
The Woman He Met (vs. 6b-10a)
She was very obviously an unwelcome woman as indicated by her trip to the well in the heat of the day (the 6th hour is noon). She was also an ungodly woman. We know from verses 16-18 that she had lived a life of immorality. No doubt the subject of gossip and disdain, she had purposed to come to the well when no one else was there.
This Samaritan woman was unclean. Half Jew and half Gentile, the Samaritans were considered half-breeds. When the self-righteous Pharisees sought to criticize Jesus in John 8:48, they could think of no greater insult than to call Him a Samaritan. The woman by the well was also an unsuspecting woman. Jesus' response to her in verse 10 reveals she had no idea who He was or what was about to happen in her life. This is yet another reminder that lost people are not looking for Christ. He is searching for them.
But above all the racial, social, and religious barriers, Jesus saw the woman as simply unsaved. That is really the only distinction we should make in announcing Jesus. People are not primarily black and white or rich and poor. They are first and foremost either saved or lost, doomed or delivered, bound for heaven or hell.
The Water He Offered (vs. 13-20)
There was first a response. The woman did not understand the Savior's request for a drink. The Master Teacher had simply been using Jacob's well as an illustration of the eternal life He wanted to give. He responds and begins turning the conversation from the subject of literal water to spiritual water.
Then there was a request. The encounter began when Jesus asked her for a drink. Now the tables have turned and she is requesting a drink of this mysterious water. But before Jesus can give her the living water of eternal life He must first deal with the cause of her unquenchable thirst. The root cause of her thirst has parched the throat and dried the lips of every mother's child. The cause was sin.
That leads to a requirement. This living water could not be given until the matter of sin had been addressed. With a gracious nudge, Jesus moves to the heart of the matter and causes her to openly acknowledge her sin.
Then the woman gave her reaction. She may as well have responded by asking where Cain got his wife. Christ was prompting repentance but she turned religious. That pattern still repeats itself on a daily basis. Rather than dealing with sin, many will avoid the issue by asking irrelevant questions about religion.
The Witness He Gave (vs. 21-30)
The witness Christ gave included respect. The word "woman" used in verse 21 is the same term Jesus used from the cross to describe His own mother (John 19:26). In essence, Jesus called her a lady. That was a declaration of faith. Christ always sees us for who we can be, not for who we are. The Master subtly reminds us to be respectful to the people we seek to evangelize.
His witness included a reply in verses 21-24. Rather than berating her for avoiding the issue of eternal life, Jesus begins to graciously draw the net. His reply to her question caused her to speak of her belief in the coming Messiah.
Jesus' witness then moved on to a revelation in verses 25-26. "I who speak to you am He." Literally, the text says, "I that speak to you, I AM." The "I AM" of the burning bush was standing before her robed in human flesh. Every true gospel witness will eventually get down to the question of "what do you believe about Jesus?"
The witness of Jesus culminated with a result. Because of the testimony of the woman, verses 27-42 reveal that many of the Samaritans received Christ. This great evangelistic crusade also sowed the seeds for the harvest of Acts 8.
It is the joy and duty of every believer to share the good news of Christ. Before we put up the wrapping paper, let's remember that Christmas provides an open door to share the gospel. Our lost friends and family need the Happy New Year that only Jesus can bring. Let's ring in the New Year by announcing Jesus as the source for new life.
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