Lessons From the Samaritan Woman
Join us as we learn how our testimony about what God has done in us is every bit as important as the Samaritan Woman’s testimony about what she saw and heard in Jesus.
October 22, 2023
“Lessons from the Samaritan Woman”
By Ben Caldwell
Our passage of scripture for today gives us some important life lessons. Let’s begin in John 4.
History: Jesus has been getting into some hot water with the religious leaders.
-He has been healing people on the Sabbath day.
Why is that a problem?
-Jesus didn’t accept the definitions that the religious leaders were using.
-Instead, He felt that God worked in people’s lives all the time, but the religious leaders felt that Jesus was somehow out of bounds by healing on the Sabbath… like healing is work and by our definition, you can’t do that on the Sabbath.
So now Jesus and his disciples (who are all Jewish) are traveling, and they pass through this area where the people are not Jewish. They come to this town. And Jesus sits to rest by the town’s well, while his followers go to buy food. In the heat of the day, this woman comes out to draw water. Jesus asks her for drink. And she is shocked because Jews (like Jesus) didn’t associate with Samaritans (like her).
John 4:1 The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. 4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”
JN 4:13 Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." JN 4:15 The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water." JN 4:16 He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back." JN 4:17 "I have no husband," she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."
What do you suppose is going through this woman’s mind? Jesus asks for water. She says, You guys don’t normally talk to Samaritans like me, meaning… there is usually a racial divide between you Jewish people and we Samaritans.
Jesus says, if you knew who I was, you’d be asking me for water. She says, but you don’t have anything to draw water from the well. Jesus offers her “living water” that leads to eternal life. And she says, “Yeah, I could use that.” Maybe she’s thinking, “Magic water, yeah, sure, Pal; I’ll take some of that.” But then JESUS seems to be changing the subject and says, “Go and call your husband.” And the whole picture comes into focus. She is out alone / by herself in the heat of the day to draw water, because she has been jumping from one relationship to the next. She is the person everyone gossips about. Now this is happening before private investigators and people recording video on cell phones. So when Jesus just miraculously knows about her life, the conversation gets a little too personal for her, and SHE changes the subject. Watch this (verse 19 says):
JN 4:19 "Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."
JN 4:21 Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.” 27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” Or “Why are you talking with her?” 28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true.38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.
42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
Consider what this encounter with the Samaritan woman teaches us.
(I just want to point out a few. As I was reading, I came across a really brief outline by a church planter, Stephanie Englehart, that I really liked. So I want you to know that my outline today is based on hers.)
Lessons from the Samaritan Woman:
1. Jesus Is the Source of Life
Verses 13-14 JN 4:13 Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
-Throughout Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John we find a play between light and darkness, between life and death, between abundance and emptiness.
-In verses 13 and 14, we find that Jesus himself gives a kind of living water that springs up to bring eternal life. And there is a kind of emptiness in this lady.
-She seems to be looking to fill her heart through her relationships with men. She has had 5 husbands and now has a “live-in” boyfriend.
-One author writes, “…the Samaritan woman was looking to men to satisfy her soul…, we also look to things outside of Christ to give our hearts meaning and purpose…. However,… Jesus… sought to show her that He was the never-ending water she was so thirsty for ….
There is a classical guitarist named Christopher Parkening. And I want to tell you some of his story. Some people have considered him “the greatest guitarist alive, Christopher Parkening appeared to have it all. Signed to an international recording deal as a teenager, Parkening traveled across the world playing beautiful music. But by the age of 30, having achieved all the musical success he could ever imagine, Parkening felt empty. He was tired of touring and wanted to take a break from the rigors associated . Parkening ultimately decided to move to Montana and took up fly-fishing as a hobby.
Soon Parkening was not only one of the greatest guitarists in the world, but also a world-class fly fisherman, with all the money and time he could ever want. And yet, despite all his success, his life was empty.
He wrote: ‘If you arrive at a point in your life where you have everything that you’ve ever wanted, everything you thought would make you happy, but it doesn’t make you happy, then you start questioning things. It’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.’”
Parkening, like the Samaritan woman,:
-Found that it was only Jesus who could make him whole.
-It is through service to the Lord that you can find a sense of being whole.
Billy Graham used to talk about how we all have this God shaped hole in our hearts. We can try to fill that hole with money, fame, success, pleasure, love or anything else we want… but we will always find, it’s a god-shaped hole, and only God can fill that place. All those other things are like trying to bail water with a colander. They just don’t hold any water. God alone is the one who can satisfy the deepest of need in our lives.
Maybe you can relate to Parkening and the Samaritan woman. Maybe you have been trying to fill that God-shaped hole with all kinds of things. Well, if that describes you, then why not learn from the Samaritan woman and let Jesus make you whole?
Lessons from the Samaritan Woman:
2. Jesus is Not Inhibited by Our Sin
Verses 16-18 JN 4:16 He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back." JN 4:17 "I have no husband," she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."
There is this series of videos on TBN UK in which these three women, Tola “Doll” Fisher, Lauren Windel, and Cassandra Maria, talk about their journeys with Christ.
What got my attention was that they talked about a study that was conducted by Barna, a research group. The study that said when non-Christians, people from other faiths and people who claim no religious affiliation, were asked about Christians… of the people who were surveyed,
34% said Christians are judgmental. 33% said Christians are hypercritical.
Lauren Windel said, “I don’t want this to be the way it is, but I have felt that from Christians.” Talking a little about her own journey away from God and then toward Him again, Lauren said, “I stopped going to church when I was 13. At 19 I am drinking a lot, doing drugs a little, and I am in a series of dysfunctional relationships. And I walk into a Christian bookstore. I would never have gone into a church at that point in my life. That would have felt like too much. But I went to a Christian bookshop… as a kind of light touch. And I asked for a book about sin. Because I knew that I was sinning [doing things that God didn’t approve of]. I felt guilty. I felt unwelcome around Christians. And I thought, ‘If I can work out why I am doing what I am doing, then maybe that is the path out of this dark place that I am in.’ So I went in and asked for a book on sin. And the woman behind the counter said, ‘You are a bit young for a book on sin.’ At that point she is 19 years old, college age. So here is this 19 year old whose life is entrenched in sin asking to know more about sin. And the lady took her to the children’s section and gave her a child’s book about who is Jesus with pictures on one page and words on the other.” And the young lady decided to look for her own book. She found one and bought it, and as she was leaving the store… She feels broken, she is an alcoholic, she is looking for something, some bit of kindness, some bit of light, some path out of her sin… And the woman who worked there said, “You know Christians don’t dress like that.” And this 19 year old’s conclusion was I may be in darkness, I may call out to God, I may need help… but I know I can’t look to Christians to help me, because I’m not good enough for them.
Now, compare that to Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman.
-Did he comment on her clothes?
-Did he call her a sinner? No she knew she was a sinner.
-What Jesus did was to offer her living water. He threw her a lifeline.
-Jesus didn’t make things harder for people who were far from God.
-He made it easy for them to come home to him.
-When Jesus was toughest, it was when people claimed to be close to him but acted badly.
-Jesus would have been hard on the woman who worked at the book store, not on the 19 year old alcoholic.
Sometimes our behavior takes us far from God. I’ve met people who were embarrassed by their sin, but they came to church even though they felt they wouldn’t be welcomed because of what they had done.
-BUT Jesus came to seek and to save those who were lost. Not to condemn them.
Are you in need of rescue? Do you feel far from God?
-Jesus died to pay the penalty for your offenses.
-He isn’t condemning you.
-HE loves you.
If Christians are going to learn a lesson from the Samaritan woman, it needs to be that
-We are here to throw people a life line.
-We shouldn’t be put off by their sin or embarrassed or judgmental.
-We should welcome them and bring them to Jesus, so they can find the same forgiveness that we have found.
I heard a guy one time welcomed someone to church. And this person said, “If you knew what I have done, you wouldn’t be so welcoming.” The guy responded, “If you knew what I have done, you wouldn’t be worried.” Don’t you love it!
Lessons from the Samaritan Woman:
3. We Are Made to Exalt God
Verses 31-34 31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
Jesus was going to do what the Father wanted done. In the Samaritan woman’s life, she needed Jesus, and when she pointed out what Jesus did for her, it made a difference in her life.
Tony Evans asks, “When your health is falling apart, you go to the Doctor. When your car is falling apart you go to the Mechanic. When your house is falling apart, you go to the Contractor. WHO DO YOU GO TO WHEN YOUR WORLD IS FALLING APART? Who do you turn to when a loved one dies or when the threat of a major world war is on the horizon or when your children rebel or your marriage ends? SHOULDN’T WE TURN TO GOD?
In 2 Chronicles 20, we find the story of a king named Jehoshaphat. His kingdom is being attacked on all fronts by his enemies. And he has a crisis on his hands. By the way, a crisis is when you have a problem with no solution. King Jehoshaphat is facing a problem that was too big for him to handle. So in the middle of it, we are told he turns his eyes to seek the LORD. He calls the whole nation to fast and to pray. Side note… in 2 Chronicles 19, he lead the people to get things right with God. So they all tried to resolved their issues. If they were far from God, they got close to him. If they had been doing wrong. They apologized and tried to do right by God. Then the King prayed… He started with God’s Person and then graduated to God’s power. They didn’t use a magnifying glass. They used a spotlight. They didn’t try to take something small and make it bigger than it was. Instead, He just called attention to how amazing God is. And then talked about how powerful God is. And he ends with a request. “20:12 O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”
And do you know how God responded?
-They were being invaded by three different armies and it says God set ambushes for them.
-While King Jehoshaphat and his people sang “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” The three armies started attacking each other and killing each other off.
-God protected his people.
-They didn’t even have to fight.
All the mountains that you are facing are mole-hills to God.
-Don’t make a mountain out of a mole-hill.
-Just turn to God and exalt Him.
-Just start there and see if He doesn’t take care of some of the problems.
Lessons from the Samaritan Woman:
4. Your Testimony Matters
Verses 39-4239 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. 42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
The people began to believe in Jesus because of this woman’s testimony. Over time God gave them more reasons to trust him… but initially, they trust in Jesus because of what she said.
Are you having spiritual conversations with people about God?
-I have heard several of you talk about those kinds of conversations. And they matter.
-They are making a difference in people’s lives.
-God is using you.
-If you haven’t started. Why not start now?
This government of ours… this world… this city… and your problems aren’t going to get better if all we do is hide the fact that we are Christians. If God has worked in your life somehow…
-Then tell someone. Ask God to give you boldness.
-Absolutely show those people love and compassion.
-BUT ALSO tell them about the hope you have in Christ!
-Your testimony about what God has done in you is every bit as important as the Samaritan Woman’s testimony about what she saw and heard in Jesus.