John is a book that presents evidences that Jesus is the Son of God. It is an evangelistic book in that it calls for you to believe that and by believing that have eternal life in His name. The deity of the Lord Jesus Christ is revealed in the story of the woman at the well when He tells her entire immoral history. This is a woman He has never met and yet He knows her whole history.
Jesus is the eternal Word made flesh, so you see here also a revelation of His humanity, as He sits down by the well because He’s tired. As man, He was exhausted. As God, He was omniscient and that majesty of the combination of deity and humanity in Christ is the theme that we’re going to see. Now at the heart of this discussion in verses 21 - 24, is about worship.
There are only two kinds of people in the world. Those who worship God acceptably and people who don’t. Worship is the essence of what it means to be saved, to confess Jesus as Lord, to submit to God and His revelation of Christ, to obey God who said, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him.” One cannot worship unless one is truly saved, because you cannot worship until you obey the gospel of His Son.
What are the components and what is the sequence as Jesus evangelizes this indifferent, immoral woman who doesn’t know anything about Him, has never heard Him teach, and has never heard about a miracle? She is completely indifferent. This woman has no spiritual interest at the beginning. Most of the time you have to take the initiative. And that’s exactly what Jesus does here.
Jesus is leaving Judea. The leaders of Israel are planning already to kill Him. He knows when His hour is supposed to come. So He goes to Samaria. Jews wouldn’t go that way because they viewed the Samaritans as being cursed. Samaritans were considered half breeds who abandoned their Judaism and intermarried with idolaters. But those kinds of things didn’t bother Jesus.
Jesus had an appointment with a woman by a well at noon. God had her right where she was supposed to be to meet with Jesus. And he says to her, “Give Me a drink.” And He explains in verse 8, “His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.” It didn’t bother them to eat Samaritan food. This is not a something that God had ordained. In fact, this was the mission field, not the enemy.
And while they were gone, with just the two of them together, Jesus is making a connection. He puts Himself in a position to have her do something for Him. And she responds to it by acknowledging that. Verse 9, “How is it that You being a Jew asks me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” Our Lord saw this as a mission opportunity, regardless of who she was.
And then it moves to unsolicited mercy. She’s not asking for anything. “Jesus answered and said to her,” in verse 10, “‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you give me a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.’” And then He takes her to this offer from God. “If you knew the gift of God,” and He acknowledges that she can’t know.
I want to remind you of the word “asked.” Connect that with the word “gift.” This is what sets the gospel of Christianity apart from every other religion in the world. Every other religion in the world says do this and God will accept you. Christianity says just ask. That’s all the sinner can do, like in Luke 18:13, the publican who says, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” All he can do is ask.
So Jesus says to her, you have no idea of what I’m offering you, but it is a gift from God that constitutes living water. That means water that gives life. In that part of the world in ancient days, the need for water was profound and constant. And He’s saying, “I’m able to give it to you, all you have to do is ask.” That woman still has no idea that Jesus is talking about salvation.
And so she reacts with sarcasm in verses 11 and 12. “She said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep.’” And in verse 12 she says, “Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself as well as his sons and his livestock?” And Jesus responds to her scorn with mercy and patience while offering unparalleled blessing.
Verse 13. “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst, but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.’” Water that gives eternal life? He moves from the point of contact to the gift of God which is eternal life.
The whole thing doesn’t make sense. But she goes along with it in verse 15, “The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.’” She is playing the game with Him. And then we come to the next element in this encounter. Verse 16, “Jesus said to her, ‘Go call your husband and come here.’” That is a strong command.
Verse 17, “The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’” That brings us to the fourth component in His personal evangelism, a conviction. This will change her entire perception of Jesus and confront her sin in a direct way. It is essential to bring the sinner to face the guilt of sin and feel the weight of divine judgment because faith must be accompanied repentance.
Samaritans accepted the Pentateuch. And the penalty for adultery was death. It’s wonderful to present to the sinner all the blessings, the gift of God, the living water, the eternal life. But it’s not enough to present just the positive truth of soul-satisfying blessing from God. If that is all you do, you’re going to get somebody who is deceived about their true condition.
Verse 18, “For you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.” No more talk of blessing, no more talk of mercies, no more talk of satisfaction, everything changes now. This initially ignorant sinner must be brought to conviction and repentance. Since she’s unwilling to tell the whole truth, so Jesus tells it for her.
We know divorce was common among the Jews in Israel. It was also common among the Samaritans. And this woman lived this kind of life where she was an adulteress on repeated occasions and consequently led to repeated divorces and now she’s following the same pattern, living with a man who is not her husband. She’s an adulteress living in an immoral relationship.
And Jesus says, “The one whom you now have is not your husband.” She had a man in her life living with her but he was not her husband. Living together doesn’t make a marriage, which is common today. Living together is idolatry and adultery without marriage. Marriage is always restricted to a covenant, a binding, formal, social, official and public covenant.
Well, this changes everything because Jesus just told her her history and they’ve never met. Verse 19, “The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.’” Now she feels the conviction. But she wants to know more. “You speak for God.” So she poses a question. Verse 20, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
“Where do I go to worship?” She knows that being right with God is a matter of worship. But she doesn’t know where to worship. Verse 21-23, “Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.” 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.”
23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” Verse 24, “God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” This is the most definitive text in the gospels on the matter of worship and it starts with a denunciation of the external forms of worship.
Not long after this, in 70 A.D. the Romans come at the end of the Jewish rebellion that started in 66 A.D. and destroy Jerusalem and the temple and don’t leave one stone upon another. And there’s no more temple worship. Then the Romans go into Samaria. They slaughtered thousands of Samaritans on Mount Gerizim and brought an end to that worship as well.
Jesus is giving the prophecy of what’s coming fast, and it already now is in the sense that the New Covenant is almost in place. It’s not long until it is ratified in His death on the cross. Listen carefully to what He says, true worship doesn’t demand a place. It’s not about a ritual of any kind. True worship is always about loving God, honoring God, obeying God, serving God from the heart.
So He says, “You worship what you do not know; we Jews worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” That is, the Scripture was given to the Jews, the Messiah comes through Israel, and it’s from the Jews. But that’s not a commendation of Jewish religion, because it was apostate and Jesus denounced it repeatedly. But despite that God ordained that through them would come Messiah.
Do you understand what happened at the death of Jesus Christ when the veil, separating the holy place from the Holy of Holies, was torn from top to bottom by God? Do you know that that was the symbol of the end of the entire Old Testament system of external, ceremonial, symbolic worship? Do you understand at that moment all of it was over, there are no more temples?
There’s no more priesthood. There’s no more sacrifices, no more feasts, no more Sabbaths, all that has disappeared. God always wanted heart worship. Now every place is a sanctuary and every believer is a priest, right? Christ ushered in a new era of worship, that doesn’t focus on externals or on symbols, but on what is internal and what is real, genuine and true.
God is a spirit, verse 24, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. They worship Him according to who He really is as revealed in Scripture. All you need to worship is the truth in the Scripture and a heart that loves God anywhere and everywhere. The truth about Him is everything. All of Scripture is God’s self-disclosure. Such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
Our worship is informed by your understanding of the revelation. Superficial knowledge of God leads to superficial worship. And then people are manipulated. Worship is not music. Worship is loving God. Worship is honoring God. Worship is knowing God for who He is, adoring Him, obeying Him, proclaiming Him as a way of life. Music is one way we express that adoration.
The woman in verse 25 says, “I know that Messiah is coming” who is called Christ. When He comes, He will tell us all things.” She wants the full truth. And she says, “I’m not going to have the full truth until He arrives,” And then in verse 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” There’s no “He” in the original; it’s an I AM statement, the name of God. “I who speak to you AM.”
Seven times Jesus says “I AM” something: the Bread of Life, the Door, the Way, the Truth, the Life, etc. all references to Him being God. Now she wants the truth about the life of God that is eternal, that her heart craves so desperately. She wants forgiveness for her wretched life. And in that moment when she believes and when she repents, the Messiah reveals Himself to her.
This is a divine work, isn’t it? She knew nothing about Jesus at all when it started. Now she wants to know everything about Him that’s available so she can be a true worshiper. But how do I know she was converted? Verse 39, “From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified.” He has to be from God. And as she believed, they believed.
Verse 40-42, “When the Samaritans came to Jesus they asked Him to stay with them and He stayed there two days.” Two days of theology, two days of unveiling divine revelation so they could fully understand the gospel. 41, “And many more believed because of His word. 41 Then they said, it’s no longer because of you that we believe, but we have heard for ourselves and know that this is the Savior of the world.”
When you meet an unbeliever and have taken the initiative to make the conversation begin, and when you’ve unfolded, and unpacked the beauties of the promise of the gifts that God gives to those who come to Him, and when you have confronted his sin and he repents, when you have done all of that, then you can leave it to God to unveil the truth concerning Himself. That’s what heaven has to do.
Remember Acts 16:14, “Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.” You may walk away with no knowledge of the result. But it’s our job to take them to that point so that the Lord can do that revelation in His sovereign purpose. Do you have the courage to tell others about Jesus? Let us pray.