We’re going through the Bible looking for clues to understanding the doctrine of the Trinity. We’re in the gospel of John and last time, we looked at how we are called to lower ourselves for the cause of Christ. He must increase and we must decrease. Tonight, we’re going to be in John 4. The passage is the woman at the well. It’s quite lengthy, so I’m going to recommend you either open up a window so you can read the text or get out your own Bibles and consider what is being stated tonight.
In this story, Jesus is passing through Samaria. That’s the first unusual event. If you were an orthodox Jew at the time, you avoided Samaria. Even if it meant extra traveling time, Samaria was just not the place that good Jews went through. In fact, you were to spit on the ground if you heard the word “Samaritan.” I suspect that in the story of the good Samaritan, when Jesus asked the question at the end, this is why the answer was “The one who showed mercy.” The Lawyer did not even want to say “Samaritan.”
Second strike this woman has is, well, she’s a woman. In those days, men did not associate with women in public and men did not teach women. Christ was quite revolutionary in the way that he treated women.
Third strike we see against her is she’s an outcast. How do we know? She comes to draw water at the well at high noon, which is when the heat would have been the worst. No one else was there at the time, which meant this lady wanted to avoid people. She was the town pariah.
She met Jesus at a well. That’s interesting. Why? Let’s go back to our old testament and look at some of the patriarchs. When Abraham sends his servant to fetch a wife for Isaac, the servant finds the wife at the well. When Jacob is on the run, he stops at Laban’s place and helps Rachel get water from a well. In Exodus 2, Moses is at a well and drives off a gang of shepherds who are keeping some women from the well. Moses gets his wife there. It seems wells are pretty romantic places. (Excuse me while I do a websearch to find our nearest well.)
And since this lady converts, it would seem that Christ is meeting his bride at a well. How is she his bride? The same way you and I are. If she becomes a believer, then she is a part of the church. Christ came to meet this one at the well. It was a divine appointment.
This is a very unusual dialogue. It starts out innocent enough, but even that stuns the woman. How does a Jewish man talk to a Samaritan woman. Christ then tells her about the living water. The lady wants to know if Christ is greater than the Jewish patriarchs, including Jacob, whose name if you recall, was changed to Israel. How does Christ stand in relation to Israel?
The lady is interested in this water, but she is thinking of it as physical water. Double-entendres are quite common in John. He frequently uses a term that can mean two different things. Most often, people get the wrong idea. Just as Nicodemus misunderstood being born again, this lady misunderstands water.
Christ tells her to go get her husband. She tells him she has no husband. Christ then reveals more of his nature saying that she is quite correct. She has had five husbands and the man that she is living with now is not her husband.
Again, this lady is an outcast. Divorce was a shameful procedure and was public. This lady has been publicly shamed by five men. At the time, she is living with someone else probably just to have support and to avoid some of the shame, though we can be sure it is with her always.
But since she’s got a prophet here, this lady is again a pragmatist and asks where the right place is to worship. The Samaritans had their own penteteuch and their own temple where they worshipped. Now that there is someone here who has divine authority, why not ask him and see what he says?
Jesus’s answer is that God cannot be confined to anyone place, but that the Jews were the ones to whom the original message came. Nevertheless, there will be a time when the revelation that came to the Jews will be open to all and all will be able to worship God wherever they are, Jew or Samaritan, or Gentile for that matter.
The lady says that she knows the Christ is coming and when he comes, he will explain everything. One wishes they could see the look on her face when Christ said “I am he.”
The lady is changed. She had been ashamed of what she had done, but now she wanted everyone to come out and meet someone who told her all she had done. This was the first witness to the Samaritans. Christ again uses the most unlikely candidates to do great things and what is the conclusion? Christ is the savior of the world.
Is he yours?