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May 23, 2013

God Speaking to Us Today Through the Woman at the Well

By Anthony Wade

Five lessons for us today from the Samaritan woman talking to Jesus at Jacob's well.


He had to go through Samaria on the way.   Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Please give me a drink." - John 4: 4-7 (NLT)

So begins the encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. The Bible is alive and filled with lessons for us to consider in our lives. The story unfolds as Jesus is on His way to Galilee and had to pass through Samaria. Tired from the long walk, Jesus sits at Jacob's well and waits for this Samaritan woman to show up. He had a divine appointment with her this day, like He once had with each of us. I remember the divine appointment He made with me. I remember the certainty of it being assured by the newly indwelt Holy Spirit. But as we watch this story play on, we see God teaching us His ways.

The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, "You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?" -- John 4: 9 (NLT)

Man divides where God seeks to unite. This is lesson number one in this tale. There was fierce animosity between the Jews and Samaritans. The Jews considered them half-breeds and traitors. After the Assyrian Empire scattered the ten Northern Tribes, those remaining intermarried with other peoples and adopted their idolatrous practices. When Nehemiah returned from Babylonian exile to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, it was Samaritans who opposed his work. This wasn't just being disagreeable -- there was real disdain for each other. So, when Jesus asks her to draw water for Him, she is stunned.

God doesn't care about the little boxes we try to fit ourselves into. God did not create denominations -- man did. God crosses these petulant and petty lines and seeks to bring us together. There are plenty of practices in Pentecostal churches that are not found in the Bible. Same can be said for Catholics or any other "branch" of Christianity. We should always draw the line with rank heresy and not allow anyone to compromise the Gospel, but many of the doctrinal differences are of the minor type. So often we try to exclude people when we are actually tasked with drawing people in. We see the woman at the well every day and we can tend to pass judgment upon her instead of reaching out to start a simple conversation. We sit next to the woman at the well on the bus going to work or in the cubicle next to us. Christianity was not supposed to be a country club requiring membership but rather a vehicle God can use to share the Gospel of His Son Jesus Christ. The story continues...  

Jesus replied, "If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water." -- John 4: 10 (NLT)

The world does not understand the gift we have received; lesson number two. Quite frankly, sometimes we do not fully grasp the gift we have received, so let us start there. Even as Christians we can tend to value the wrong life. We can tend to value the wrong world. That is how so many fall for such obvious heretical teachings such as prosperity doctrine.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. -- Matthew 16: 24-25 (NLT)

Which life are we hanging onto today? To be a follower of Jesus Christ, that is a Christian, we are supposed to turn from our selfish ways -- which means it is no longer all about us but only about Him. We are supposed to take up our cross. That is a message you will not hear preached too often these days. We tend to not want to hear about carrying a cross. We would much rather hear about what God can do for us. About how much He wants to bless us. About how much money He wants us to have. Money and material blessings value the wrong life. The Bible says to store up treasures in heaven, not on this earth, which we see with each passing natural disaster is dying. Do we really grasp the gift God has given us? That our names are now written in the Lambs Book of Life? That our sins which were many have now been forgiven? That we have overcome death itself through our Lord Jesus Christ? We must grasp this gift tighter because the world we are supposed to be witnessing too certainly does not understand it. This woman at the well certainly did not understand it when the Gift Himself was standing right in front of her!

  "But sir, you don't have a rope or a bucket," she said, "and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water?   And besides, do you think you're greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?" -- John 4: 11-12 (NLT)

As people we are so full of excuses. Lesson number three. Reasons and rationales filled with the wisdom of the world and carnality. The unsaved use these excuses to dismiss the existence of God. Man has sworn to them that science is cold hard facts and that religion is dogmatic fairy tales written by men. They cannot see that all they are doing is elevating man to the level of their god. They do not see the enormous amount of faith required to believe in most scientific theory. That from rock life grew for no apparent reason. That our great grandfather was a monkey. That all the beauty and splendor of God's creation, screaming at them every day, are merely random events. Any wild-eyed theory they can come up with to simply deny the existence of God. How can this be? Because they are being lied to by the father of lies, Satan:

If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. -- 2Corinthians 4: 3-4 (NLT)

Yet when we look at the excuses offered up by the woman at the well we need to remember that she was a believer. Samaritans worshipped differently but they believed in the same God as the Jews. The cold hard reality we need to learn today is that we continue to make excuses even once we are saved. Excuses why we cannot go deeper in Christ. Excuses for why our prayer life is stagnant or we cannot find time to read the Bible. Excuses why we cannot be healed. Excuses why we cannot follow the call God has put on our life. To serve in ministry, to teach, to bring the Word of God. Excuses why we won't witness to people. Quite often we are that woman at the well. God says to go out on faith and we ask Him where His bucket and rope is. He says to go out into all the world and we try to tell Him how deep the well is. He says to trust Him and we question whether what He is offering is better than what we might already have. Meanwhile, back at Jacob's well...

Jesus replied, "Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life."   "Please, sir," the woman said, "give me this water! Then I'll never be thirsty again, and I won't have to come here to get water." -- John 4: 13-15 (NLT)

There is a difference between the spirit realm and the natural. Lesson number four. Jesus shares that He is offering eternal life! Yet what does the woman focus on? Carnal needs. She doesn't want to be thirsty again and doesn't want to have to draw from the well ever again. Likewise we too can become so enamored with our physical needs over the spiritual. We too can consider our comfort (not having to draw water again) over the eternal promises we are supposed to be walking in. The Bible says that we are supposed to be more than conquerors and over-comers through Christ. That no weapon formed against us should prosper. That we have victory in whom we have believed. Yet how many Christians do we see without the victory? The Bible says to put on the whole armor of God for a reason:

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. -- Ephesians 6: 12-13 (NLT)

Are we standing firm today in Jesus? Or are there areas of our life where we still are like this woman at the well? Unable to differentiate between what is Spiritual and what is carnal? There are entire churches like that today. Turning a blind eye or a blind pulpit to the mighty powers in this dark world and evil spirits in heavenly places does not stop them from wreaking havoc in the lives of believers. We have all seen and know Christians who lead absolutely bound lives. Free in Christ but shackled to one stronghold or another. The Bible says that we have the mind of Christ but too often we still reflect back to the worldly logic we grew up with. The world wants to teach you how to cope with problems while Jesus wants you to be delivered from them! We have to stop skipping over the eternal life Jesus is talking to us about just to focus on creature comforts in this world like not having to draw water again. At this well in Samaria however, Jesus is about to cut to the chase...

  "Go and get your husband," Jesus told her. "I don't have a husband," the woman replied. Jesus said, "You're right! You don't have a husband-- for you have had five husbands, and you aren't even married to the man you're living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!" -- John 4: 16-18 (NLT)

Sin is at the heart of what is wrong in our lives and no matter how we try to gloss over it, God sees it anyway. Lesson number five. It has become commonplace to downplay any preaching about sin. We see grace alone doctrines which present half the Gospel and the result is a body of weak believers struggling to digest spiritual milk, let alone move on to meat. Jesus here tells her to go get her husband, knowing full well she has had five and currently is living in sin. The woman tries to simply deflect the question and avoid having to deal with her sin but Jesus would have none of it. Beloved, God will always cut right to the heart of the matter with us. Sin will always take us further than we wish to go and cost us more than we were willing to pay. Yes the grace of God will cover that sin when we stand before Christ for judgment but there is still the principle of sowing and reaping in the temporal:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. -- Galatians 6: 7-8 (NIV)

We often mock God without realizing it. This is what grace alone misses. There is still a price to be paid for our sin nature. In the past six months we saw three mega church pastors fall due to sexual sin in the Orlando area alone! This is the end result of not working out our salvation with fear and trembling. This is the end result not taking sin seriously. Of thinking we can have one foot in this world and the other playing church. We are supposed to be living the abundant, victorious, eternal life now; not hunkering down in our misery waiting for Jesus to return. The saddest part of this lesson is that we often refuse to go to God with what He already knows anyway! He knew this woman's living situation and marriage history and He was still willing to die for it. He was still willing to go to the cross to redeem her. The same is true for the secret sins we carry today. Afraid of being buried by religion for being human, we forget that God already knows about it! He is sitting at the well today waiting to have the same conversation with us that He had with this Samaritan woman. The Bible tells us that if we would confess, He will be faithful to forgive us and cleanse us of our unrighteousness.

Back at the well, the story draws to a close. Jesus having performed spiritual surgery on the woman's sin issues reveals to her that He is the Messiah that has been promised. She runs and tells everyone she knows -- which is what should happen when we encounter the one true God! She leaves us with the lessons God wants us to take to heart today. That we need to seek to bring people together instead of finding reasons to divide them. That we truly grasp the gift God has given us and realize that those we should be seeking on His behalf do not grasp that gift yet. That we actively try to stop making excuses for why we cannot do what God has called us to do. That we truly understand the spiritual nature of the war we are in as believers. That we realize that our sin is what holds us back and there is no hiding it from God anyway. That true grace understands that God is willing to forgive today -- not just on the last day. This is just one glimpse of the teachings God has provided for us. The insight into His way of thinking that is critical for us to navigate this world. There is power in being a believer in Jesus Christ. Christ died to give us eternal life and the power to live it now. Let us all learn from the Samaritan woman at the well and tap into the living water that is Christ in us today.

Reverend Anthony Wade -- May 23, 2013

Authors Bio:
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.