Bible lessons Evangelism

Seeking after the lost: A study of Jesus’ reaching out to the woman at the well (Part 2)

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Jesus, tired and thirsty after a morning’s hike, stopped near the town of Sychar in Samaria and sat next to a well. There He sat and waited.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The 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.) (John 4:7-9)

This woman came by herself to this well. Yet, this was midday and it was uncommon for women to venture to the well in the middle of the day. That was usually done in mornings and evenings. It was also atypical for a woman to walk alone to the well. Women usually came to the well in social groups.

Why was woman by herself? In studying the passage, there is cause to surmise she wanted to avoid having to associate with other women from the town. She was likely shunned by those woman because of her history of multiple marriages and her present-day promiscuous lifestyle.

What the reader might miss but Jesus saw in her, is that she was hurting. No, not physically. But life felt harsh for her. She had been beaten down by the circumstances and choices of her past.

She’d had five husbands in the past (v. 18). Some of those men could’ve passed away, but it is likely that most of her marriages ended in divorce. Her pain and shame would’ve been deep-rooted and bitter. To her, endearing and enduring love probably seemed like a lie. And any sense of security was far removed.

Her days were filled with isolation, loneliness, shame, and distrust. She viewed life as more of a chore in surviving, rather than thriving in days filled with joyous pleasure.

Where was her hope? The men in her life who pledged themselves to her side, turned out to be untrustworthy and unfaithful. The women around her looked down on her and had little to do with her.

This woman felt defeated by life’s hardships. Emotionally, she was hurting and withdrawn. She was cautious against trusting in anyone—men or women. Perhaps, she chose midday to go to the well so she could avoid people.

Do we recognize those around us who are hurting? Are we empathic enough to hurt when we are around other people who are hurting? The truth is, these people are all around us. But oftentimes we are so self-involved that we don’t notice the pain in others.

The world needs hope. People need something to hold onto, something that is stable and enduring. People need a foundation that doesn’t give away. They need a companion who won’t leave when times get tough.

People need Jesus!

When Jesus asked the Samaritan to give Him a drink, he was genuinely tired (v. 6), thirsty and hungry (v.7). Yet, His personal needs and fatigue didn’t prevent Him from seeing the deeper needs of the woman at the well. She was thirsty for hope. She was hungry for something stable, meaningful, and truly satisfying from life.

So, Jesus started a conversation that would lead her to ponder what (who) she is truly seeking.  He noticed the woman carrying a bucket to draw water from the well, so He asked if she would give Him a drink of water.

This sounds like a simple, unintrusive request. But, for the culture in that day, it was a shocking. It crossed barriers of ethnicity, gender, and social class.

This Samaritan woman was shocked and perhaps intimidated when He spoke to Him. But, she couldn’t walk away for Him.

Even though this was someone who she thought shouldn’t be talking to her, it was someone who would talk to her. That, in itself, was so important to her for she was accustomed to being shunned. She probably longed for anyone to speak to her in a compassionate, caring way, who didn’t look down on her.

Still, while she sensed genuineness in Jesus, she didn’t understand why this man would even speak to herShe may have been wondering something like, “Why would you take a second look at me, much less ask me to help you? I’m not the type of person that most people want to be seen with, much less talk to. Who are you and what are you thinking?”

But Jesus knew her heart, and her needs. So,

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.

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:10-13)

Jesus began the conversation by humbly asking her if she would give him some water. That was purposed to engage the woman and focus her attention onto Him.

Answering Him, she talked about the well, the water there, and the history behind it.

While those things were all temporal and passing, Jesus used that to lead her into thinking about more important things, things that are eternal. He used the element of well water as a springboard to redirect the conversation to His willingness and ability to give living water.

This is a great example of engaging a person for sharing the gospel. We can begin a conversation with something that is familiar to the person and easy to talk about, and then use that as an opportunity to redirect the conversation to where they are at spiritually with God. As they begin to think more about spiritual matters, they become more receptive to the Word of God.

Jesus didn’t see her as an adulterous sinner who was deserving of where she was at in life. He saw her as a person in need of undeserving forgiveness and merciful salvation. For Jesus, she was like that lost sheep who the shepherd went after and searched out.

For this woman, joy, satisfaction, trust, and self-worth had been “stolen” from her. She felt that her future was hopelessly destroyed because of her past. All this was the work of the devil, who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).

But Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost.

He told the woman He could give her living water. What did He mean by that?

Jesus was saying that He is the true source of eternal life and everlasting joy. In essence, Jesus was telling her, “I’m not here for what you can do for me, the reason I came here is because of what I can, and want, to do for you.” He is the One who would not forsake her.

Jesus came into the world to give abundant life and unfathomable hope. He offers to bestow on the downcast and dismayed, “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isa. 61:3). He says to all who follow Him, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

His salvation is freely available to all who come to Him. He later stood in the temple courts “and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them’” (John 7:37). Jesus says to all, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

Life is found Jesus. Love is found in Jesus. Security is found in Jesus. Belonging is found in Jesus. Unimaginable peace is found in Jesus. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost” (Isa. 55:1).

In Christ alone can we fully trust. He alone is our sure provision. He alone is always faithful. And He alone always satisfies.

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” (John 4:15).

Jesus had her attention. She wanted what Jesus was offering. She was almost ready but she wasn’t quite at a point of surrendering to His Lordship. She still had a great deal of mistrust for others because of what she had endured in her past.

However, surrendering to Jesus’ Lordship requires that a person place their faith and trust in Him. And, for that, Jesus had to deal with the Samaritan woman’s heart. Although it would be emotionally painful for her, Jesus needed to address those hurts and obstacles in her life so that He could break through those walls that were keeping her from trusting her life to Him.

 

Continue this study in the below links:

A study of Jesus’ reaching out to the woman at the well (Part 1)

A study of Jesus’ reaching out to the woman at the well (Part 3)

A study of Jesus’ reaching out to the woman at the well (Final)

 

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