Monday, August 29, 2016

Treasure, Savior and Lord - Reflections on the Woman at the Well in John 4:7-42

Image result for woman at the well
John 4:7-10 "There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus *said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 9 Therefore the Samaritan woman *said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “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.”

Today we want to briefly consider the account of the woman at the well in John 4, and how it is she came to grasp Jesus Christ as Treasure, Lord and Savior. We will discover certain applications to our own lives as we consider her testimony of salvation recounted by John in his Gospel.  

As the account begins, we find Jesus and the disciples travelling and Jesus purposefully leading them through Samaria. Normally Jews avoided that part of Israel, since Samaritans and Jews had deep hostilities that were of a historical and religious nature. Samaritans derived from the union of Assyrians and left over Jews following the Assyrian exile of 722 b.c. The centuries of Jewish hostility toward the Samaritans, with the Samaritans developing their own religious traditions centered around the first five books of the Bible - resulted in the tensions.

As Jesus neared the city of Samaria, he told his disciples to go into the city to get some food. While they left, He came to a well that the Samaritans taught had been hand dug by Jacob (see Genesis 33:19; 48:22; Joshua 24:32). According to R.C Sproul's St. Andrews Commentary on John, this particular well is still present in that area (see picture below):
 Image result for well of Jacob
According to Sproul, this woman's timing for drawing water from the well (12 noon or the "sixth hour" - John 4:6) was abnormal, since the women of that era and location would had came together in groups during early morning and late in the day. Her isolation and timing indicates that she was an outcast among outcasts. Undoubtedly, Jesus' timing was nothing less than a divine appointment with this woman. 

More could be noted about the background, but lets dive into the overall narrative of John 4:7-42. What was there about Jesus encounter with her that led her to see Him as Treasure, Lord and Savior? Below we see the following progression and outline of the text:

She was brought to see Jesus as her Treasure. 4:1-26 
We can see in Jesus' interaction with her a series of progressive insights which led her to treasure Him:

John 4:9 "How is it that You, being a Jew"

John 4:12 "You are not greater than our Father Jacob, are you?"

John 4:19 "Sir, I perceive that You are a Prophet"

John 4:25 "I know that Messiah is coming"

John 4:28-29 So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?”

The underlined words tell us all we need to know. The woman's conversion occurred officially in John 4:28-29, with the prior statements indicating what looked to be the Spirit's working. We are reminded of John the Baptist's statement in John in John 3:27 "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven."

She urged others to follow Jesus as Lord. 4:27-38
In John 4:29 this woman raises a question that, in the Greek text, would lead us to expect her audience to respond in the negative. The woman saw the dots all connect. As far as she was concerned, this had to be the Messiah. Whether they ascended to embrace and trust in this Messiah as Lord would not affect her identification of Him. Sovereign grace had achieved its work in her heart. The Spirit's work had circumcised her heart, pealed off the layers of unbelief, shame and guilt. This, mind you, was an Old Testament salvation, with all the constituent elements of N.T salvation. In other words, this woman was saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The "circumcision of the heart" was the O.T version of the fuller N.T reality of the New Birth (see Deuteronomy 30:6; Romans 2:29). What would the response of the Samaritans be to this thunderbolt out of the blue sky?

Her testimony led to a confession of Jesus as Savior. 4:39-42
The underlying Greek text, as we already noted, would have us to expect the Samaritans to view her claims as preposterous. No way could this Jesus be the Messiah, the Treasure, the Lord. Yet, just as the Spirit of God had worked in her life, so He did in theirs. We read in John 4:39-42:

"From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of His word; 42 and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”

This startling confession of Jesus as "Savior of the World" could only be attributed to the Spirit's working. Paul later on writes in 1 Corinthians 12:3 "Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit." Undoubtedly we have the necessity to utter such a confession of Jesus' Saviorship and Lordship (Romans 10:9-10). Nevertheless, lest the Spirit is at work in our hearts, such a confession will never issue forth from an otherwise spiritual dead heart (see Ephesians 2:1-9; Romans 10:8-10). 

Closing thoughts
As we saw today, the woman at the well was met by Jesus. He acknowledged her as Treasure, Lord and ultimately Savior. The response of the Samaritans to her message tells the same story. I leave you dear reader with this thought: have you done the same? Would it be that we would, by grace, through faith, ever see Jesus as the Treasure we desire to follow as Lord and Savior.