Samaritan Woman

Personal Witnessing

Sunday, February 06, 2005

By Nick Bibile

 

John 4:3-43

 

Here is a classic example of our Lordís conversation with a vile wicked sinner and how he was able to expose her sins. Even the greatest sinners cannot refuse to hear the Masterís voice. Let us see this true story and how it can help us in our personal witnessing.

 

One of the greatest obstacles was that she was from Samaria. Let us take the map below as our Lord was going with his disciples from Judea to Galilee, the shortest cut was to go through Samaria.

 

 

But no good Jew would go to Samaria. There was a saying among the Jews, ďHe who ate bread of the Samaritan, as if he ate a swineís flesh.ĒThe Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. They hated each other.Why? Let us see briefly why the Jews hated the Samaritans.

 

Remember the divided kingdom? Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom. In reality Samaritans would be inhabitants of Samaria but thatís not the case. See 2 Kings 17:24

 

2Ki 17:24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.

 

2Ki 17:33 They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.

 

When Judah returned from captivity, the Jews refused to partake in rebuilding of the temple. They became bitter enemies.

 

Ezr 4:2 Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither.

3 But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.

 

Sanballat was a leader of the Samaritanís.

 

Ne 4:1 But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.

2 And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they make an end in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?

 

Later on Manasseh, the son of Joiada the high priest married the daughter of Sanaballat. He was expelled by Nehemiah he took refuge among the Samaritans then later with the permission of Alexander the Great he built a temple to Jehovah in Mt Gerizim and Manasseh and his posterity officiated as high priests in rivalry to the temple in Jerusalem. Then this temple was destroyed in B.C. 130 by a Jewish king, and then they build another temple in Shechem. The Samaritans believed only in the first five books of the Old Testament. Samaritans were expecting the Messiah to make Samaria his seat of government and not Jerusalem.

 

Now we see the picture clearly. The Lord said, ďHe must go through Samaria.Ē (John 4:4) Look at the difficulties and the odds. From Jerusalem to Samaria is about 30 miles and mountainous road apart from that the people of Samaria are at enmity with the Jews. Personal witnessing is commanded by our Lord to all Christians and it is not going to be easy, there are lot of obstacles facing us and the odds may look against we cannot go according to our calculations and feelings but need to be obedient to the Spirit of God.

 

Joh 4:5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

 

Sychar could be Shechem this town is still in existence with the name Nablus

 

Ge 33:18 And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city.

19 And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money.

 

6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

 

Jesus extremely tired of his journey from Judea traveled on foot came to the well where Jacob had dug up. Itís hot and around 12 noon he just sat by the well, while his disciples went to the city to get some food as they were too really tired. Now this is the background.

 

There is a striking contrast between the two, Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Jesus a Jew, a Rabbi, the doctor of the law, a man of unblemished reputation. The other a Samaritan, a woman of lower class, a wicked sinful sinner. They had no dealings with Jews.

 

Joh 4:7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

 

Here we see the boldness of our Lord. Many times we are scared to death to talk to people, we are shy to talk to strangers but here against all the odds piled up against Jesus, he speaks gently and kindly as he is very tired and thirsty and asking for water from a Samaritan woman. This was very unusual for a Jew to do but the Lord did not go according to his feelings and traditions.

 

We know the woman came by the providence of God by the counsel of his will. She was an elect of God as Jesus said previously I must go through Samaria. So many wise learned religious men in Judea were passed by but this woman was a chosen vessel for Salvation.

 

Remember Corinth was a worldly wicked city but still the Lord told Apostle Paul:

Ac 18:10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.

 

We are to preach the gospel to all and we cannot save anyone as salvation is of God only. Here we see Jesus asking for water and what was the reply from the Samaritan woman.

 

Joh 4:9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

 

She was totally astonished, didnít Jesus know the enmity between the Jews and Samaritans, then asking for water from a woman, itís a joke. It was impossible to say what kind of temper and sarcasm of the tone of voice when she said these words to Jesus. We can read in between the lines of her expression of hostility and sarcasm as she was direct to the point. Was Jesus surprised of her answer? Absolutely not.

 

But he was kind and gently towards her. Did not get angry.In personal witnessing you will be ridiculed, mocked but donít take it personally.They will speak of the flesh but you are in the spirit, realize they are lost on their way to hell, so have compassion on them.When they get into the flesh as we should not witness in the flesh.

 

Joh 4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

 

What is the gift of God? The gift of God is the blessings of salvation. Here the author of salvation is speaking to her. She is coming to get physical water and Jesus is the fountain of living water. The Lord is a Master in converting the conversation from physical to spiritual. He did it to Nicodemus a respectful religious leader now he is doing to a Samaritan woman who is not a religious.

 

This is the art of witnessing to convert the things of this world to spiritual.Gradually the woman is calming down and she is engaged in the conversation as she calls him now Sir, this is exactly the Lord wanted. Personal witnessing is to be engaged in a conversation.

 

Joh 4:11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?

12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

 

She listened well but she cannot understand the spiritual things. Jesus is talking spiritual and she is answering back with the physical.

 

1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Still itís a mocking answer that does not make any sense. She is amused of his language.

 

The living water literally signifies water issuing from the fountain instead of stagnant water, it is spring water, continually bubbling and ever running. The woman understood the word and if spring water is some where here, you cannot get it as the well is deep. Not only that this is Jacobís well, he drank himself from this well. Do you mean to say that you are greater than Jacob? Samaritans draw their genealogy from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

 

Jesus engaged in the conversation answers back again in a mild, gentle manner patiently bearing all her mocking type language. Here is the longsuffering of our Lord. We can see his compassion, gentleness, longsuffering and his love. These are vital ingredients for personal witnessing.

 

Joh 4:13 Jesus answered and said unto her, whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

 

Here is the contrast, he clearly states of this water to the water that he will give. He makes it clear that this water is physical and you will come again and again for the physical water but the water that he gives is salvation.How beautifully and artfully the Lord is changing the conversation from physical to spiritual.

 

Joh 4:15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

 

Not knowing the reality, ignorantly but seriously she is requesting him to give this water that she will not thirst again and to come to this well.

 

Now what was the response of Jesus did him say, ďsay this prayer after me and you will have eternal life.Ē Jesus did not use such magical superstitious formulas, like how most modern church goes do.Jesus goes to the core, to the heart of sin. Conviction of sin.

 

Joh 4:16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

 

We may have to engage in many things in witnessing before we come to the most important issue, sin.

 

Joh 4:17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband.

 

She told the truth to Jesus probably Jesus being a stranger passing by she told the truth. The conversation is taking a different course, the issue of sin as Jesus said:

 

4:17 Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:

18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

 

Now the Lord exposed of her sin in a very personal way. Men would admit they are sinners but will not see their personal sins.

 

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

 

Here her true heart is exposed; she is an adulteress, living in sexual immorality. She is guilty in violating the seventh commandment.

 

Here is the change of her tone, the attitude as she said:

 

Joh 4:19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

 

Here is the omniscient of Christ, who knows all peoples hearts, thoughts and actions. Then later on Jesus leads her to him self, the living water who can give eternal life.

 

Joh 4:25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

 

Personal witnessing is to lead sinners to Christ. Our business is to lead people to Christ. The woman went to the village and told all what happened.

 

Joh 4:39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

40 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.

41 And many more believed because of his own word;

42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.

 

Now let us see another picture of the same story.

 

Joh 4:31 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.

32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?

34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

37 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.

38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor: other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors.

 

Here come the disciples with food. Everybody is very tired and really hungry. They told Jesus, Master, eat. They were surprised when Jesus said, ďI have meat to eat that you do not know of. They thought that someone brought food while they were gone and he is not hungry anymore. Then Jesus said, my meat is to do the will of the Father that sent him and to finish the work.

 

We cannot blame the disciples for their concern for their Lord. We commend the disciples again as for sure they did not eat and bring food to the Lord but now they too are hungry waiting for the Lord so they can all eat together.

 

But the mind of the Lord is absorbed not on earthly food but of the spiritual food. Here we see the other side of the story, teaching something to the disciples. His intention is to lead them to a higher elevation. Just like the Samaritan woman did not understand the spiritual things the disciples did not understand higher spiritual things when it comes to witnessing.The Master turns the refreshments to a deeper channel of the refreshments he enjoyed in witnessing.

 

Mt 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

 

Jesus is talking of a food that is superior than ordinary food but the delicacies of heaven, where unbelievers do not understand but the disciples are chosen by the Lord they have been with the Lord yet they lack the secrets of the Lord and he wants to show them.

 

He is doing the will of God. The carnal mindís center is meat, drink and self will. But Christ shows the disciples the opposite the will of the Lord. We are not our own bought with a price not to do our will but the will of God. Godís will is opposite to our flesh and it may cost but at the end there is satisfaction.

 

The Lord was feasting as he was a blessing to a poor woman who was living in sexual sin. She came to know him, and itís time to enjoy.

 

Here we see the Lord did not preach a sermon to the Samaritan woman, he preached and she listened no it was a conversation, just talked to her and she replied, itís a dialogue of conversation.Lot of times we go and give a sermon and all the doctrine to an unbeliever and there is no conversation no dialogue, they listen at the end they say thank you, they want to get out.

 

The old fashioned, quiet personal talk is effectual. The ministers and pastors speak publicly but there is a reward for the hidden worker. The Lord was in the hunting field hunting for souls, that was his work and that should be our business. Sometimes we use our time more on criticizing others than preaching and witnessing.

 

Jesus took all of the opportunity in witnessing to her. He broke the ice as he asked for water. There are many opportunities that come our way to witness. We need to break the ice. We say we are tired and busy living in this hi tech world. Was not the Lord tired, he walked on foot all the way to Samaria? The work of the Lord brings joy.

 

I wonder how pleased and joyful the Lord was when she said, Sir give me this water. It was a great pleasure for him to liberate the soul of this woman who was locked in prison.

 

We need to get to work now. Do not tell there are four months and then comes the harvest. This is a common saying among the lazy. These people always find a reason to postpone delaying. There are too many Christians today who have no joyful satisfaction in Christís work as they are involved in their work.The Lord said, lift up your eyes and look on the fields for they are white already to harvest.

 

In this case the disciples are not sowers but reapers. One sow and another reap but can rejoice in the harvest. Today we are living in a busy world and it is not easy to do personal witnessing if everyone is rushing to work or rushing to their car.Pray and ask the Lord to bring someone in your path or go to a place where people are not in a rush.If you do house to house witnessing engage in a dialogue, be friendly, smile and let the other person talk to you, become interested in them and gradually turn the conversation to spiritual things. This is friendship evangelism. Let your lights shine before men that they may see your good behavior and glorify God.

 

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