25 January 2015
A study in the series on the Gospel of John by John Dugas
Grace Bible Church, Tulsa
Full Audio Message
This woman was always looking, looking, looking. She wants to be happy. She wants to be loved. She lives in a dry and thirsty land. What a picture of her soul.
Giddy with expectations of married bliss she marries. Turns out to be the wrong man. Fail! Try a second man. Fail! Try a third man. Fail! OK. Maybe the man isn’t the problem. Try a fourth combination. Fail! Try a fifth combination. Fail! OK. Maybe marriage is the problem. Try just living immorally with a guy. No, that’s not it either. She is still looking. A good way to illustrate her desire is the word ‘thirst.’ She just doesn’t know yet that she’s thirsty.
We need to see this dear soul the way Jesus saw her. Not some ‘untouchable’ or social outcast. Not some filthy, loose woman. Not someone who might defile you. She was so precious to Jesus that He made time for her and drew near to her and gave her hope and made her a part of His bride. He finally brought to her the joy that marriage ought to bring but really can’t. She needed to realize that she was thirsty because she had no life-giving water. She was a sinner without life. Add to that the mess she had made of her life. She was too far gone to fix it. She was lost without hope. That is, until the God of hope arrived! Until the Giver of life came for her! Until holy God drew near and saved her from her sins!
Thirst is hard to ignore. Your tongue starts sticking to your lips. You become weak. Your mouth fells like a desert. Are you thirsty? Do you even know what you’re thirsty for? If you have not yet followed Christ, you need the waters of salvation. If you have followed Christ, you need to drink daily from those same waters. You need spiritual refreshment, empowerment, conviction. Jesus alone provides this wonderful water. That’s what we’ll focus on today.
Jesus provides life that comes with rich, lifelong resources. Notice how Jesus gives hope as He presents the Gospel to this woman. He lets her know what she can expect. But first, her need.
I. Her situation in life demonstrates that she’s thirsty (John 4:1-9).
Jesus passed through Samaria on His way to Galilee because He had an appointment. He had to pass through Samaria as part of His mission. He is seeking those who are lost so that He might save them (Lk 19:10). When He was scolded for being around sinners He replied to the religious leaders, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mt 9:9-13).
Samaritans were despised by Jews. Samaritans were racially mixed and their religion was mixed. In 722 B.C. the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom (Israel, not Judah). Assyrian policy was to blend the captives of various nations so that each would lose its identity as a people group and hopefully prevent rebellion. So they deported many Jews to other lands under their control and moved other peoples into the northern part of Israel. This didn’t sit well with Judah, the southern kingdom. They clashed with their neighbors in Samaria.
The Samaritans offered to help the Jews rebuild their temple but were refused (Ezra 4:2f). Samaritans opposed the Judeans rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem (Neh 4:1-2). Move forward a few hundred years. The Samaritans had built a rival temple. Zealous Jews under the Maccabees destroyed that temple about 100 years before Jesus. All of this formed a fierce rivalry by Jesus’ time. Rivalry, racial prejudice, and false worship hardened Jews to the spiritual needs of their neighbors.
So Jesus positions himself right dab in the middle of Samaria, waiting for a stray, thirsty lamb. While He is waiting, there came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Typically, a Jewish rabbi would go thirsty to avoid contact with an unclean Samaritan woman. She is unclean. Untouchable.
Women normally went out in groups to draw water. But not her. To make matters worse, the other Samaritan women won’t be seen with her. She was an outcast even among outcasts! She needed a Savior. Why? Let’s look at that side of her life now.
II. Her sinful pattern of life also demonstrates that she’s thirsty (John 4:15-18).
Jesus now targets her primary problem: her sin. She desires His gift but she is not ready to receive it. She needs to understand why she needs it. He needs to bring her spiritual thirst to the surface. Years earlier, God described sin in terms of refusing God’s water of life. He said in Jeremiah 2:13, “For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Sin promises good things but the promise seeps through cracks and leaves us dying of thirst (see also Jer 17:13; Ps 36:9). She needed to see that she was thirsty.
Her life was messy. Sin is always messy. Each of us must come to realize that we are in the same predicament as this woman. We must see our need of grace before we will receive grace.
III. Jesus offers her an entirely new kind of life (John 4:10-14).
And so Jesus asked her for a drink and used it as an opportunity to secure her interest in spiritual things. He made her wonder who was is man, what is this gift of God and what is this living water? As I mentioned last week, the gift of God refers to salvation. But what is living water?
Water was used in the OT to refer to the Spirit, to God Himself or to the effects of the Spirit’s ministry (Isa 12:3 “springs of salvation”; Is 58:11 “And the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones, and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail”). Living water was Jesus’ way of referring to God’s Holy Spirit (Is 7:38-39).
There are two things going on here in every person who believes. First, God’s Spirit provides life. The living waters of salvation provide new life. This is another way of describing (ch. 3). It is the Spirit of God who causes new birth—who gives new life. But second, Jesus describes this as a spring of water within the believer. It describes the Spirit’s lifelong ministry within us.
Jesus’ point in mentioning water here is how it quenches thirst and thus how it gives life, sustains life, and supports life. For the person who is still lost in sin, believing in Jesus is the first sip of this water. God’s Spirit provides lasting spiritual refreshment, satisfaction, strength, vitality.
When Jacob found this spring of water, he dug a well there. To this day, that spring has filled Jacob’s well. Jesus uses that illustration. He says that the water He gives shall become within that person a self-perpetuating spring. God’s Spirit is the source of constant spiritual refreshment in us. Now the way this reads in Greek is better said this way, It shall become in the believer a spring of water gushing up. The movement of the water is vigorous, like the lame man leaping up. It is a spring in the person’s soul that gushes upward like a mighty fountain.
In Sulphur, OK, at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area there are a number of springs. Buffalo Springs gently bubbles up. Antelope Springs gushes forth from rock. But Sulphur Spring gushes an enormous volume of water up into the air. God’s Spirit is a gushing source of spiritual vitality. Why does this gushing force exist within the believer’s soul?
He is a source of strength in ministry. He empowers your spiritual gifts and makes them effective in other people’s lives to build of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:11). How do you know? Are people helped by your service? Are people being led to Christ?
Think about this dear Samaritan woman. Once the Gospel of God took effect in her soul, this fountain of spiritual truth and energy burst forth inside. As soon as the fountain exploded, she bolted for the city so others could have it too. Paul mentioned this in 1 Cor 12:13, “we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”. With the Spirit of God bursting forth inside your soul like a mighty fountain, you too should run to let others taste of it.
He is the source of spiritual vitality—living a godly Christian life. Paul proclaimed that if the Spirit of God is within a person, then that same Spirit who lives inside you “will give life to your mortal bodies” (Rom 8:11). Is there spiritual vitality in your life right now?
He is the source of conviction about sin (John 16:7-11). Jesus says there that the Spirit will convict people about sin. Is there ongoing conviction of sin inside of you?
He is the source of power to kill sin. Paul explains that daily living—daily spiritual vitality—comes in part from killing sin. But we can’t do that on our own. He says that “if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body you WILL LIVE!” (Rom 8:13). Are you killing sin?
He is the source of convincing that the Bible is true and applies to your life. Think about 1 John 4 and 1 John 5:7. Paul prayed in Eph 3:14-19 that we would all be filled with the knowledge of these rich truths about God’s character, including the love of Christ. And so he prays that we might be “filled up to all the fullness of God.” Is there regular convincing inside you that the Bible applies to you? This comes from within YOU!
He is the source of growth and change. If you lack love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control in your life and toward your brothers in Christ, you need to drink of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). Is there constant growth and change?
Let’s think about this another way. Do you know that you can grieve God’s Spirit? That’s precisely what happens when you choose to sin instead of obey. When you don’t carry out the will of God, particularly when you don’t guard your words with care, this grieves Him (Eph 4:30). Do you know that you can quench the Spirit’s effectiveness in your life (1 Thess 5:19)? If you don’t carry out God’s commands, sin quenches the fire of God’s Spirit in your soul. What is that fire? It is God’s Spirit leading you and motivating to do God’s will. What’s the solution then? Paul exhorts us in Eph 5:18 to instead be filled with the Spirit. Drink of that gushing fountain in your soul. Submit yourself to Him leading you in godliness and service, growth and change. Let the word of Christ control you so that you carry out His will (Col 3:16, the parallel to “be filled with the Spirit” in Eph 5:18).
Jesus told the woman that anyone who drinks from the well next to them will get thirsty again. But the water that Jesus gives will cause you to never thirst. You will have a continual supply of strength to fight sin, continually convinced of God’s truth, continually empowered to serve, to grow, to live.
I’ve filled the trough with food this morning. Will you eat? God’s Spirit continually fills your soul. Will you drink?