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The Bad Samaritan John 4a

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John 4:1-30

Stephen Caswell © 2001


This morning we saw the first of God's five purposes for the Church, evangelism. We saw the reason why we should evangelize the Church. God commands us to preach the Gospel to every creature. Tonight we will look at how Jesus shared the Gospel with a sinful Samaritan woman. Salvation is a free gift, but it is only given to those who believe in God's Son. Tonight we will look at three things about Christ's ministry. Christ's Search, Christ's Offer, Her Salvation.

Firstly     Christ's Search

a. By Going


John 4:1-4 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria.


Jesus had been making disciples and baptizing them in Judea. God sent Him for this very purpose. God wanted people to believe in His Son. God wants to save people. When Christ's work finished in Judea because of the Pharisees scheming, He went back to Galilee. Verse 4 tells us that Jesus had to go through Samaria. Why? Most Jews avoided Samaria even though it was the shortest route. Because Christ came into the world to save all sinners, not just Jewish sinners. Jesus loves all people. Today we saw how Christ commanded the apostles to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. In Acts 1:8 Jesus told them start in Jerusalem, then go to Judea and Samaria and then the uttermost parts. Jesus did what He asks us to do.


Mark 16:15 And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.


Going is an important part of evangelism. We can't expect the lost to come to us. We must take the Gospel to them. They cannot believe the Good News unless we go and tell them. Romans 10:14-15 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:  How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!

b. By Overcoming Barriers


John 4:5-7 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, Give Me a drink.

Often barriers need to be overcome to reach the lost. Missionaries face this problem when they move into a new culture. We must be very careful that our personal prejudices don't keep us from sharing the Gospel with the lost. Jesus didn't conform to the prejudices of His day.  He overcame racial barriers, religious barriers and sexual barriers. 

1. Racial Barrier

The Jews despised the Samaritans because they were a mixed race. They had descended from Jews intermarrying with pagans. Centuries earlier, the Samaritans had offered to help rebuild the temple. But their offer was rejected because they were considered unclean. Over the years the Jews and Samaritans became bitter enemies. In fact the Jews avoided all contact with Samaritans. Verse 9 highlights this barrier between them.

John 4:9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman? For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

2. Religious Barrier

The Samaritans worshipped the true God but not according to God's Law. They believed that Mount Gerezim was the place that one should worship God, whilst Jews claimed that it was in the temple at Jerusalem. The Samaritans even built a temple at Mount Gerezim to worship in. John 4:20-22 describes the debate of where they should worship. Samaritans accepted only the first five books of the Old Testament and rejected the rest. This woman didn't believe the right things about God or His plan of salvation. This Samaritan woman had also lived very immorally. She would have been considered particularly unclean by the Jews.

3. Sexual Barrier

Another significant barrier Jesus overcame was the one of sex. Men didn't talk to women in public; not even their wives. It was considered to be sinful. This was the protocol of the day. And to talk to a Samaritan woman was even worse. John 4:27 highlights this: And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman;


c. By Meeting Needs

John 4:7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, Give Me a drink.

Jesus had come here specifically to reach this woman. He knew that she would be coming here and waited for her. Jesus asked this woman for a drink not just because He was thirsty but also to start a conversation with her. He didn't care about the protocols and prejudices of the day. Jesus had searched for her and now He started to share with her. This Samaritan woman came to draw water out of necessity. But in reality she was thirsting for a meaningful life. Yet her search for meaning was in vain. She is like so many others today. Her life was empty. Verse 15 says she had gone through five failed marriages and was now living in sin.

A life of sin had left her thirsting for something better. Probably she was also lonely because of her sinful lifestyle. She came to the well alone. One would think that if she had girl friends she would have come out with them. This Samaritan woman was a lot like the nation of Israel in Jeremiah's day. Jeremiah 2:13: For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns — broken cisterns that can hold no water. This Samaritan woman obviously had some knowledge of spiritual things from the conversation that she had with Jesus. She knew how Jacob had dug this well. She believed that Jacob was an important person. She probably even thought that drawing water from his well was significant. Yet she was still empty. She was still thirsty in her soul.


God commands us to preach the Gospel to every creature. To do this we must go to the lost and share with them. We must also overcome any cultural barriers. Are you taking the Gospel with you to the lost? Are sharing the Gospel with everyone you can? Do you have prejudices based on race, religion or sex that cause you to ignore some folk? Do you think some people are beyond God's grace? Do you recognize that every lost person is thirsting for living water? Do you share with people that Jesus can meet their deepest needs?

Secondly Christ's Offer


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.


1. Salvation Is A Gift - We Must Ask For It


Jesus offered her God's gift of salvation. He described it as living water to catch her attention. Jesus said that she only had to ask for it and He would freely give it to her. Like most sinners she saw her secondary need as the most important one. So Jesus started with that. He started with her need to come out and draw water everyday. Water is refreshing and necessary for life. But only living water can give spiritual life. The same is true today, God's salvation is a free gift. Sinners only need to ask Jesus Christ for it by faith and it's theirs.


In John 4:11-12 the woman responded by asking how Jesus would provide this living water. How could Jesus provide living water without a water pot to draw with. He wasn't greater than Jacob their forefather was he. The Greek implies that the answer to this question is no. She was questioning Jesus claim to be able to meet her needs even physical ones. After all she had herself drawn water from Jacob's well many times. Jacob was one of the patriarchs. She claimed to be his descendant. She had grabbed the idea of a free gift but didn't understand the meaning of the living water. Jesus needed to explain this further. Salvation is a gift and cannot be earned in any way.

Col. Roosevelt’s Simple Request

During the Spanish War the late President Roosevelt, then a colonel, commanded a regiment of rough-riders in Cuba. He became much attached to his men and was greatly concerned when a number of them fell sick. Hearing that Miss Clara Barton (the lady who devoted herself to the work of nursing wounded soldiers) had received a supply of delicacies for the invalids under her care, Colonel Roosevelt requested her to sell a portion of them for the sick men of his regiment. His request was refused. The Colonel was very troubled; he cared for his men and was willing to pay for supplies out of his own pocket. How can I get these things? he asked. I must have proper food for my sick men. Just ask for them, Colonel. Oh! said Roosevelt, his face breaking into a smile, that’s the way, is it? Then I do ask for them. And he got them at once.

John 4:10 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.

2. Salvation Is A Gift - We Receive It Through Christ

In verse 10 Jesus spelled out very clearly that He was the one who gave the gift. Jesus emphasized to this woman that she didn't know Who she was talking to. He was the Son of God. This is an important fact because Jesus is the only one who can save us. No other name has been given under heaven by which we must be saved. John 14:6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. Later on she recognized Jesus as the Christ or Messiah. The Samaritans who later believed in him because of her testimony said that Jesus was the Christ the Savior of the world. Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. Salvation comes through Him alone.

In Love With God’s Son

There was an extremely wealthy man who possessed vast treasures of art. The man had one son who was an ordinary boy, and who passed away in late adolescence. Having loved the lad deeply, the sorrowing father died of a broken heart only a few weeks later. The father’s will provided that everything would be sold by auction and, strangely, the father stipulated that an oil painting of his son was to be the first item offered by the auctioneer. Large crowds came to bid on the widely-reputed collection of art. In keeping with the proviso of the will, the boy’s portrait was first held up for bids. No one cared about the deceased boy. Not until several moments had passed did an old Negro servant, who had always loved the boy, place a seventy-five-cent bid. The picture was at once sold to the Negro, there being no further bids registered. Then the dramatic moment came; the sale was stopped, as the will had further provided that anyone who loved the son enough to buy his portrait should receive everything in the father’s house. This is what God will do for anyone who loves and receives His Son!!

3. Salvation Is A Gift - It Meets Our Deepest Need

John 4:13-14 Jesus answered and said to her, Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.

In verses 13 and 14 Jesus spelled out that living water spoke of eternal life. Jesus gives the living water to whoever He wishes to. The living water is the Holy Spirit who gives eternal life to all who receive Christ. John 7:37-39 says: On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

The water from Jacob's well only satisfied for a short time. Anyone drinking from this well would thirst again. But the life that Jesus gives lasts for ever. It starts with an abundant life now and continues in ever increasing measure unto life eternal. The word never ouj mh is a double negative and may be translated by no means, or in no way. God's free gift of eternal life will never fail. However sinners must come to Jesus Christ to receive eternal life. How did the woman respond to His offer? John 4:15 The woman said to Him, Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.

The woman of Samaria did ask for this living water, but still misunderstood the spiritual nature of the gift. She saw Jesus' offer as a way of avoiding work. She wouldn't have to fetch water again. She asked for the living water but needed further instruction from Jesus to receive it. She didn't comprehend the nature of God's free gift; forgiveness of sin, a new life that went on forever. She was still thinking of her secondary need, not her deepest need.

4. Salvation Is A Gift - But We Must Let Go Of Our Sin First

John 4:16-18 Jesus said to her, Go, call your husband, and come here. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said to her, You have well said, I have no husband, for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.


Following on from her request for living waters, Jesus told her to fetch her husband. Why? To challenge the Samaritan woman about her sin. This was her greatest need. Sin had left her life dry and empty. Sin separated her from God. If Jesus was to save her then she would have to give up her sinful lifestyle. So he confronted her in such a way that forced her to confess her past. At first she avoided the issue by denying to have a husband. This was a half truth. But Jesus knew all and was able to reveal to her the depth of her sin. Christ didn't do this to condemn her but to convict her. He wanted her to acknowledge her sin so that He could forgive her. We cannot receive eternal life and hold on to our sin at the same time. You cannot hold a huge burden when you receive a great gift. We have to let go of our sin first.

Enough To Quit

A Sunday school teacher once asked a class what was meant by the word repentance. A little boy put up his hand and said, It is being sorry for your sins. A little girl also raised her hand and said, Please, it is being sorry enough to quit.


Jesus shared a number of things about salvation with this Samaritan woman. Firstly, that salvation is a gift of God. Sinners only need to ask Him for it. Secondly, that this gift is only available through Himself. Thirdly, sinners must acknowledge or give up their sin first in order to receive salvation. Do you share this with people when witnessing? Do you tell people that salvation is a gift that can't be earned? Do you tell them that Jesus Christ is the only way to the father? Do you share that they must give up their sin to receive God's gift?

Thirdly  Her Salvation

John 4:19 The woman said to Him, Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.


Because the Samaritan woman felt convicted about her sin she changed the subject. She addressed an old argument of where people should worship God, Mount Zion or Mount Gerizim. This had been debated between Jews and Samaritans for centuries. Jerusalem was special to the Jews because God had commanded them to build the temple there.

But Mount Gerizim was significant to Samaritans because many special events took place there in Israel's past.  

a. Spiritual Life Is Necessary For Worship


John 4:21-24 Jesus said to her, Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.


Only Two Religions


While presenting the Gospel on the street of a California city, we were often interrupted about as follows: Look here, sir! There are hundreds of religions in this country, and the followers of each sect think theirs the only right one. How can poor, plain men like us find out what really is the truth? We generally replied something like this: Hundreds of religions, you say? That’s strange; I’ve heard of only two. Oh, but you surely know there are more than that? Not at all, sir, I find, I admit, many shades of difference in the opinions of those comprising the two great schools; but after all there are but two. The one covers all who expect salvation by doing; the other, all who have been saved by something done. So you see the whole question is very simple. Can you save yourself, or must you be saved by another? If you can be your own savior, you do not need my message. If you cannot, you may well listen to it.” —H. A. Ironside


Jesus kindly pointed out some faults in her beliefs. She needed to hear the truth. Firstly, salvation comes through the Jews. The Messiah would be born from the Tribe of Judah. She didn't know this because the Samaritans had rejected most of the Old Testament. Jesus told her to believe Him concerning worship that is acceptable to God. She worshipped God but not according to the truth. The Old Testament pointed to the coming Messiah. She needed to believe in Christ. She must worship God in truth and faith in Jesus Christ is the key here.


Secondly, she needed the Spirit. A new age was about to begin. Jesus Christ was soon to die for the sins of mankind. After Christ's death God would require His people to worship Him in spirit. The place was no longer important. The important thing was the mode of worship; in Spirit. This means that men must be made spiritually alive. Because people are spiritually dead they must first be born again through the Holy Spirit if they would worship God. God is Spirit and seeks worshippers who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Works or religious ritual cannot bring us into a right relationship with God. This can only come about through the work of God's Son and the Holy Spirit.

Today, people still emphasize the physical more than the spiritual. This can be seen by people's ignorance regarding baptism or communion. Many people believe that works or religious rituals provide salvation. Yet God says that we can only come to Him through His Son. Salvation is not obtained through works but a relationship with Jesus Christ. He has completed the work of salvation. We cannot worship God in spirit and in truth without believing in His Son first. Jesus said believe Me concerning acceptable worship.

b. Spiritual Life Is Found In Jesus Christ 

John 4:25-26 The woman said to Him, I know that Messiah is coming (who is called Christ). When He comes, He will tell us all things.  Jesus said to her, I who speak to you am He.

The Samaritan now shared the one hope that had kept her going. One day the Messiah would come and tell God's people all things. He would share with them how they should live. He would bring them eternal life. She probably learned this from Deuteronomy where Moses talks about the Messiah. So Jesus revealed to her that He is the Messiah. Jesus is the One that she has been looking for. At this point she believed in Jesus Christ and received eternal life. How do we know this? By her testimony to the men of Sychar. She knew that Jesus was the Messiah and she told them so. She invited them to come and meet the Christ. She left her water pot there because more important business was at hand. We should follow her example. Immediately after being saved she couldn't wait to tell others. It didn't matter that she didn't know all the details of the Gospel, she shared what she knew, and she did it effectively. We must never underestimate the impact on sinners of a changed life!!


In these verses the Lord told this woman the truth about worship. Firstly, worship doesn't require a special place to meet. Neither is it dependent on works. To worship in truth we must believe what God has said about His son. He is the truth. Secondly, we must worship in the power of the Holy Spirit. He is the only one Who gives sinners spiritual life. Sinners receive the Holy Spirit from Jesus Christ when they come to Him in faith. People can only worship God by having a right relationship with Jesus Christ first.


Firstly     Christ's Search

Jesus went to where this woman was. He overcame barriers of race, religion and sex to save her. Are you doing the same? Or do you think that some people are to sinful to be saved? Do you avoid some people because of their sin? Jesus said preach the Gospel to every creature!

Secondly Christ's Offer

Jesus offered her salvation as a free gift. He told her that He would give it to her if she asked for it. Jesus told her that it would meet her deepest need. He also said that she would have to give up her sin to receive the gift. Do you offer God's free gift to people? Do you tell them that Christ can meet their deepest needs?

Thirdly  Her Salvation

Jesus final comments to her regarding worship are so wonderful. True worship doesn't require we meet at a special place. It requires that we believe in a special Person, Jesus Christ the Truth. It means that we worship in the power of the Holy Spirit whom Christ gives. Do you share your faith as a ritual or a relationship? Do you emphasize rules or the Holy Spirit and the Truth, Jesus Christ?

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