SOME LESSONS FROM THE UNNAMED WOMAN OF SAMARIA

Posted by Tori on Jan 30, 2013 in a good word., theology

Y’all. I am so blessed to be able to serve in a rock star women’s ministry. I’ve attended for several years, and the past couple have been privileged to co-lead a small discussion group. These ladies are the real deal. They don’t mess around when it comes to studying God’s Word. This semester, we’re doing a study called, Nameless. It’s a look at several unnamed women in the Bible — women whose stories are recorded in Scripture, but for whatever reason, their names are not mentioned. These accounts are incredible and they teach us so much about the Lord, and about ourselves. I studied and taught on the Woman of Samaria that Jesus meets by Jacob’s well in John 4. (If you’d like to listen to the full lesson, click HERE.) I learned SO MUCH through this, and it really did change meThere is SO MUCH truth packed into these 42 verses, it will literally blow your mind. Here’s some of what rocked my world:

I. Jesus is multi-purposeful.

From the text in John 4 and surrounding passages, we could assume several possible reasons for Christ’s leaving Judea and choosing to travel to Galilee by way of Samaria. He knew this woman intimately. Do we suppose that He only knew her when He saw her? That would be ridiculous. No, He was coming for her. He knew exactly who He’d find drawing water from that well in the middle of the day.

You see, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of reasons and purposes behind every one action of Jesus. He is never doing just one thing when He deals with us. He is always doing a whole host of things we can’t see. Take the disciples in this situation. What did they see when they walked up? Jesus talking with this woman of ill-repute. John records that no one asked him what He was doing talking to her. But, they were confused. They tried to get Jesus to eat. Lunch was the only thing on their minds. They didn’t see what Jesus was really up to here. We have to remember that He is infinitely wise. He may be accomplishing 10 million purposes through something, and we may only know 3. So, we should be very slow to try to take control of a situation or distrust Him as if the three we see aren’t enough to work the way we think things ought.

When my world looks shaken, there are a million reasons why and I may see 1 – or none at all – except what is revealed to me in Scripture. But, I can trust Him. He is infinitely sovereign, infinitely wise, and infinitely good. And, oh how exciting when He is gracious to show us a glimpse of what He is doing. We are left jaws dropped to the floor, worshiping Him in wonder.

II. The thing I love most about Jesus in this passage is His ability to come in and completely level the playing field.

He loved this woman and desired for her to have right relationship with God. Regardless of her sin, regardless of her race, regardless of cultural precedents, regardless of the opinion of others. None of that mattered. What mattered was that from the beginning of time, God knew His creation would fall, and Jesus was the remedy. The Gospel of Christ always levels the playing field. When the Holy Spirit is doing kingdom work in and through us, His purposes are always higher than whatever barriers man has built.

John 4:17-18, “The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have correctly said, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.'”

This is where Jesus reveals His greatness to her. He proceeds to tell her everything about her life and her past. He knows exactly who she is and what she’s up to.

We may not have had five husbands, and we may not be living with a man that is not our husband, but we too are adulterous over and over in one form or another. Up until this question, she had NO idea of her need for Him. When we see ourselves like she does now, and stare straight into our true condition, it allows us to see His greatness and His provision more profoundly.

In verse 16, it may strike us as random that Jesus asks her to go get her husband, but He is intentionally exposing her sin…to her. He already knew full well that she didn’t have a husband when he made His remark. He is intending to expose the areas of her heart and life where she is in the deepest need of living water. Another thing that makes this portion of their dialogue appear so random, is that Jesus never returns to it. It is left completely open-ended. He brought it up to expose her thirst. She had no idea just how thirsty she really was. He is forcing her to deal with the secret places. In order for the living water to really saturate and do its work, it has to go deep. The living water is for your soul, not for your mouth. He touches every single raw, hidden, shameful nerve in your life. You see, just like this woman, we cannot open ourselves up to receive the living water. Look back at John 3:20, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” Jesus knows this is how we are. The reason He presses in so is not to condemn or aggravate an open wound. It is to heal us. To bring life to our lifeless bones. He is the only one who can do it.

His love is compassionate, relentless, and complete. This is how He meets us. Nothing hidden. All laid bare before Him. Ministering to the deepest part of our being.

He offers us living water that we might be deeply satisfied, rooted and secure in our identity in Him. Our hearts have endless desires, appetites, and cravings. The living water of Jesus offers a well that continually satisfies day after day. We no longer have to run from man to man or hobby to hobby, or whatever it is in search of fulfillment. When we come to him with all our hungers and longings, He provides a stable, secure, rock-solid, deep contentment that is only found in Him.

III. He will not have you on just on the surface.

And, praise Him for it! Sisters, He is for you. He is the fulfillment. We are all made to be filled by Christ. Apart from Him, we will never be satisfied. We have to see the reality of our need for Him. What substitutes have you settled for instead of the living water? Thrust them all aside. For He is far greater than them all.

John 4:20, The woman continues, “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”

She shifts the focus again and brings up the age-old controversy over places of worship. We see it over and over in the course of their conversation. She is always reverting back to the external. The temporary. You don’t have a bucket, give me water so I don’t have to come here to draw, which is the right place of worship? Even though she may have been genuinely interested to know where He stood on this matter since she now sees Him as a prophet, her whole life is one of externals. Jesus will not deal at that level. He is prying open her heart. He is after her. He wants all of her. She is ironically oblivious to the thirst that she is trying so hard to quench with failed marriage after failed marriage. Jesus knows. He is well acquainted with pain, loneliness, desire, passion, craving. He made her! He alone can explain why she lives the way she lives.

IV. We go through Jesus, or we don’t go to God at all.

John 4:22, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.”

Verse 22 shows the supremacy of Jesus above all other religions. Any worship that does not hold Christ, as He is revealed in Scripture, as the focal point is completely meaningless and false. Jesus states it plainly in Luke 10:16, “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” And in John 5:23, “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.” Also, in 5:46, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me…”

This is HUGE even today. Not just for modern-day Jewish people who are sincere and devout in their religion, yet still await a Messiah. There are many who call themselves Christians in our own culture, yet to not know or live according to His Word. Even though they claim to worship the same God, they do not. They have got it wrong and have missed what Jesus came to do. Any other “brand” of Christianity or the Gospel other than what we find in Scripture is a false religion.

John Piper says it this way: “The more people you know personally who are very religious but who do not embrace Jesus as their Lord and Savior, the harder it will be to believe that their worship is not true worship. But if the courage of your faith gives way [He’s meaning when you are given the opportunity to share truth with them], you will forsake the Jesus of the New Testament and join the world in creating your own.”

Woosh. Sounds harsh. But it is true. Be bold when you talk about your faith with your friends and neighbors. Don’t shrink back for fear of offending them. Tell them the truth.

V. Jesus treats women differently.

I find it interesting that John specifically says that, upon their return, the disciples were surprised to find Him talking to a woman. Then in verse 31, the first way they addressed Christ was as “Rabbi.” Rabbis back then did not talk to women. In fact, the Jewish women were not even taught the Torah. Historically, we know that women were not largely treated with the respect and dignity they are today. But, Jesus treated women differently. With the Fall, came a distortion of God’s design. One that could swing to either spectrum of extremes. With women being either overly timid and helpless or either overly dominating and controlling. And with men being either sheepishly passive and spineless or overly harsh and demanding. But Jesus came to reverse the distortions and to redeem mankind from the effects of the Fall and He treated women as God designed them. As being made in God’s image, possessing equal worth and dignity, while embracing their specific, differing, and complementary roles. That’s how Jesus means for it to be. I think that is likely another reason that of all the people of Samaria He could have revealed Himself to, and out of all the different ways in which He could have done that, He chose this woman, and this way.

VI. Everything about this scene is remarkable.

Jesus asked this woman for a drink, and then proceeded to offer to quench her thirst, a thirst she didn’t even know she had, and not quench it with water, but with Himself, the living water.

Jesus knows. He meets you where you are. He destroys barriers and levels the playing field. He is the living water you were made to drink. He knows everything about you and still wants you. He is the Savior who came into the world to redeem sinners and make true worship possible for you.

It is no small thing that Christ mentioned Samaria with regard to the spread of the Gospel in Acts 1:8. You can read about the coming of the Holy Spirit to the people of Samaria in Acts 8:4-25. His plan for this people stretches far beyond just that woman at Jacob’s well. It reached to the entire race of Samaritans and it reaches straight to all of us sitting here today.

We are this woman. We need Jesus. A lot of people teach about Jesus engaging the woman in this passage. That we should imitate Jesus and be intentional about bringing people to Him. Which is true. But, if we really met ourselves in this woman. If we really see that we have desperate need for Him that we can’t even recognize until He shows up and reveals it to us. If we really got that to the core, we wouldn’t need to be taught to share Him with others. We would just do it. Exactly how this woman left her bucket at the well and ran back to town.

Revelation 22:17, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”

You can listen to the full audio of this lesson here. Enjoy! His Word is so rich. We can dig and study and never reach the depths of its wisdom.

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