John 4:7–15 (ESV) — 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
In this Diving Deeper outline, we explore the conditions of the human condition that are in need of Jesus’ living water.
• These conditions are what I call “Parched Relations” and a “Parched Understanding”.
• Next week will contend with the “Parched Soul” and “Parched Worship”.
• All of these parched conditions can be quenched with the living water of Jesus Christ.
Before we begin, I think it is worth acknowledging the purposeful juxtaposition, in John’s Gospel, of Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman:
• “It is difficult to imagine a greater contrast between two persons than the contrast between the important and sophisticated Nicodemus, this ruler of the Jews, and the simple Samaritan woman. He was a Jew; she a Samaritan. He was a Pharisee; she belonged to no religious party. He was a politician; she had no status whatever. He was a scholar; she was uneducated. He was highly moral; she was immoral. He had a name; she is nameless. He was a man; she was a woman. He came at night, to protect his reputation; she, who had no reputation, came at noon. Nicodemus came seeking; the woman was sought by Jesus” – James Boice.
• “If Nicodemus is an example of the truth that no one can rise so high as to be above salvation, the woman is an example of the truth that none can sink too low” – James Boice.
o Remember, “For God so love the world…”
John 4:6–8 (ESV) — 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)
• Jesus, “the Word in sandals”, was “wearied” from a long morning’s journey.
• And whether for water, for speaking the Gospel to this Samaritan woman, or both, Jesus was also thirsty.
• Oddly, Jesus was left to sit at the well without the skin bucket used to fetch water.
o Presumably, His disciples must have taken it with them on their food run.
• So begins this divinely appointed meeting.
POI – It seems to me, as He did with Nathaniel, that Jesus made use of his supernatural ability to orchestrate this meeting between Himself and the Samaritan woman at the well – after all verse 4 says He “had to”.
• Kostenberger agrees, “Jesus’ going through Samaria was according to the plan and will of God”.
o John 10:16 (ESV) — 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
• The Samaritans were part of the “not of this fold”.
o Acts 1:8 (ESV) — 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
So why did Jesus ordain this meeting?
• We will see that several “parched conditions” existed that were in need of “quenching”.
• And Jesus had something that could do the quenching.
1) PARCHED RELATIONS
John 4:9 (ESV) — 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
• Why was there such hatred between Jews and Samaritans?
• Some scholars believe clues can be found in the OT.
2 Kings 17:23–24 (ESV) — 23 until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had spoken by all his servants the prophets. So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day. 24 And the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the people of Israel. And they took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities.
• King Esarhaddon, “deported all the Israelites of substance and settled the land with foreigners, who intermarried with the surviving Israelites and adhered to some form of their ancient religion” – D.A. Carson.
• Their offspring were the Samaritans; a mixed race of Jew and Gentile.
• And even though, over time, the Samaritans returned to the worship of Yahweh from idolatry, they, as a mixed race, were hated by Jews.
o It didn’t help that the Samaritans accepted only the Pentateuch as Scripture.
An early example of strained relations can also be found in the OT.
Ezra 4:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the LORD, the God of Israel, 2 they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ houses and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria who brought us here.”
• The Samaritans offered to help rebuild the temple.
• Their offered was rejected by the Jews of Jerusalem.
• And as John MacArthur points out, “Rebuffed in their attempt to worship at Jerusalem, the Samaritans built their own temple on Mount Gerizim (c. 400 b.c.). The Jews later destroyed that temple during the intertestamental period, further worsening relations between the two groups.”
Yet, not only was this divine encounter radical in that it ignored the Jewish/Samarian taboos, it was also radical because it violated the man/woman taboos that existed.
• Jewish men, and especially rabbis, did not usually speak to women in public.
• And Samaritan woman, in particular, were “considered to be in a continual state of ritual uncleanness” – A. Kostenberger.
• In addition to this, Kostenberger argues that Jesus’ actions risked being seen as flirtatious.
• And even worse, this woman was clearly an outcast as well.
Aside from Jesus’ later remarks, how do we know the outcast status of this Samaritan woman?
• “Women were more likely to come in groups to fetch water (Gen. 24:11; Exod. 2:16; 1 Sam. 9:11) and to do so either early in the morning or later in the day when the heat of the sun was not so fierce (Gen. 24:11: “toward evening”; cf. Gen. 29:7–8). By contrast, this Samaritan woman came alone, and she came in the heat of the midday sun. Both observations suggest that this woman was looked down upon in her community on account of her low reputation” – A. Kostenberger.
So from our text thus far, we can plainly see that the 1st condition in need of “quenching” was both Samaritan/Jew and man/woman relations.
• Jesus’ radical encounter with the Samaritan woman demonstrates the love for a fallen world that we encountered in John 3.
• He abandoned any notion of adhering to taboo in order that she, as both a Samaritan and a woman, might hear the truth of the Gospel.
• But as we will see, there are more parched conditions in need of quenching.
2) A PARCHED UNDERSTANDING
John 4:10–12 (ESV) — 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”
Here we go again, like with Nicodemus, the temple, and the wedding at Cana, Jesus jumps into the deep end.
• And once again he does so with an answer seemingly completely unrelated to her question.
• Jesus introduces the concept of something called “living water”.
o And implies that He can provide it.
o In fact when He says, “If you knew the gift of God”, many believe it’s as if He is saying to her, “if you really knew your Torah you would have asked me for it” (John 3:10 – response to Nico) – D.A. Carson.
• BTW – Jesus apparently doesn’t see the need to “develop” a relationship before he speaks the profound truth of the Gospel (or even make worldly sense for that matter).
POI – Which end of the pool do we hang out in as Christians?
• If we are justified and thus being sanctified, our life better be characterized by a progression toward the deep end, else, why do we even think we are justified?
So, as with the exchange between Nicodemus and Jesus, it seems understandable that the Samaritan woman had no idea what he was talking about.
• Therefore her question, like Nicodemus’, seems fair enough.
• Nicodemus asked how one enters again into his mother’s womb, and the Samaritan woman asked how Jesus could draw water without his skin basket.
o Obviously, both were literally impossible at each instance.
o And the thought never crossed her mind that Jesus wasn’t talking about real water.
o After all, He was at a well and He had asked her for a drink.
• And more than that, her questioning his credentials by comparing him to Jacob “reveals incredulity” – Carson.
o It’s as if she is challenging Jesus’ ability to do what He says He can do.
• But, Jesus endeavors to bring her to the deep end.
John 4:13–15 (ESV) — 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
As with Nicodemus and the new birth, Jesus explains that he is in the deep end and speaking figuratively; living water is not actual water.
• Unlike the water at Jacob’s well, the “living water” Jesus offers permanently quenches our deepest thirst.
o Which, incidentally, answers her question concerning Jesus vs. Jacob (vs. 12) – Jesus is clearly greater.
• And because its source is divine, those who have it “welling up” within them (those that are born again) have eternal life.
• Notice, Jesus words here fit squarely with our “Living Inside Out” lesson from John 3.
o The flow of living is from heart, to mind, then to action for those who have eternal life.
The Samaritan woman’s response, “so that I will not be thirsty, or have to come here to have to draw water”, reveals her lack of understanding.
• She remains in the shallow end and assumes that Jesus must be speaking of literal water.
• I guess she thinks that Jesus is preaching some kind of Joel Osteen prosperity Gospel.
• “This Jesus guy can help me actualize all my worldly dreams and desires”, plus, “I won’t have to come out here in the middle of the day anymore”.
• No wonder she says, “Sir, give me this water”.
How often are we tempted to ignore the hard truths of our faith and look for worldly gratification?
• If we are His, God will stretch us in directions we don’t want to go – including the deep end.
So, from our text, we see the 2nd “thirst” in need of “quenching” – a lack of understanding and discernment of spiritual truths.
• Jesus freely offers it to her – His “prescriptive will” in action and another act of love.
• But will she drink it?