The Lord's Day Evening
July 19, 2009
“A Shady Lady”
Rev. Billy Joseph
If you have your Bible, turn with me to John chapter 4. Now, you all know that the series we're doing this summer was assigned to us by Derek. I've yet to figure out why I got this assignment. He also assigned me the title, and I haven't figured that part out yet either. The amazing thing about this was I said “okay, I'm going to prepare for this sermon by reading some other sermons.” I made the mistake of pulling out a book about Martin Lloyd Jones’ evangelistic sermons, and there was one in there on John 4. And I read it, and I thought, “Okay, that's interesting.” And then about two weeks ago, I walked into the library and I found this other book — fifty-six sermons by Martin Lloyd Jones on John chapter 4. I've got a sneakin’ suspicion that you've heard a sermon on John chapter 4 too, and that's more than 56 in here, so let's look together, then and see how the Lord leads us, particularly as we read. We’re going to read verses 1 through 30 just to cut down a little bit on our time, but let's look together at John chapter 4.
Hear the Word of God:
“Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus Himself did not baptize, only His disciples), He left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And He had to pass through Samaria. So He came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son, Joseph. Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as He was from His journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink” (For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews had no dealing with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water I will give him, will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know the Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When He comes, He will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
Just then, the disciples came back. They marveled that He was talking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you seek?’ or, ‘Why are you talking with her?’ So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to Him.
Father, we have read Your Word, and we now ask that You would speak to us through the preaching of Your Word. We are dependent upon you in every way, Lord God. We need You. We need You more than we need water or food. We need You to work in us that we might also understand Your Word; that we might live for Your glory. Particularly this night, Father, we pray for any person here who does not know the Lord Jesus Christ. The purpose of our sermon series is not really to teach believers, but it is better suited to help those who do not know Christ, to come to Him. And so Father, we pray that tonight, as we look at this conversation between Jesus and this woman, that You would break our hearts, that You would cause us to see our sin, and that You would enable us to worship You as we ought. These things we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.
You read the whole passage you’ll see, all the way through 42, that there’re basically four different conversations between two different groups of people that occur. What we're going to do is just look at the main conversation between Jesus and this “shady lady” if you would, between Jesus and this Samaritan woman. It's very important that as we do this we remember something, and we remember this very clearly — there's a contrast that's been drawn between this and the last chapter that Derek preached on. Jesus had been approached by Nicodemus, who knew God's Word, who understood much of what the Scripture taught, but yet still had blind eyes. Nicodemus came at night because he was nervous about his relationship with the Pharisees, being a Pharisee. The Pharisees began to conspire against Jesus — they began to create problems. So Jesus, knowing that His time to be crucified was near, He leaves and goes to Galilee, but to go to Galilee, He has to go through Samaria, and this is the conversation that occurs. The key thing as we deal with this passage is, a lot of times when we look at this passage we tend to look at Jesus and we think of Jesus and He speaks through. But here He is, a tired traveler, in His every day life. You can imagine the disciples saying “Oh gosh, we've got to go to Galilee — okay, you need this, and we need this, and Jesus don't we need to do this” and they had made all these preparations and they forgot to get food. Yep, y’all have done that — get half way there and go “Gosh, we've forgot the food.” And so they've gone to get food. Jesus is hungry and thirsty and He's tired of walking and He sits by this well, but it's important to remember that Jesus intentionally goes to Galilee and He intentionally goes through Samaria. And then, He condescends to speak to a woman.
I would love to preach this on the college campus. It's amazing how many years I was there, that I never preached on this passage — taught it several times, but never preached on it. For Jesus, in the culture He was in, He was doing something that was a “no, no” — he was actually doing two “no, no's”. He was speaking to a woman that was not His wife, that was not in His family. And, He was speaking to a Samaritan, and yet, how does Jesus draw her in? How does He raise her curiosity? How does Jesus fit in with her in such a way that she wants to talk to Him? He doesn't begin to talk about the Scriptures. He doesn't begin to talk about the things that she doesn't know, about things she doesn't understand. He begins with things that are right there in His everyday living — the well, water. And how does He begin? “Give me a drink.” That's real subtle folks. It comes across as a request, but it's in the imperative. You know what the imperative means? It means, Jesus wasn't saying “Please, give Me a drink.” He was saying, “Give Me a drink!” It's a command. The interesting part is, yes, it comes across as a request, but if you look at the very language, you’re reminded of something — this is the sovereign king of the entire universe, who made water, who made this woman, and He asks her, He commands her to give Him a drink. She doesn't understand. She doesn't know who He is. As a matter of fact, the whole conversation revolves around the fact: Who are you, Jesus? And isn't that the way unbelievers should approach Christians in their everyday lives? As we live our everyday lives, we are representatives of the King, we are living out in the midst of unbelievers. There's not a one of us here who doesn't rub elbows with an unbeliever on a regular basis. And we ask things of them, and they ask things of us, and those are two great ways to begin any conversation. Jesus pays attention to what she asks and moves the conversation in such a way that the whole rest of the conversation revolves around “Who is Jesus?”
Let's look at this conversation together. He arouses her curiosity. He says to her, “Give me a drink.” The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” She may have been thinking, ‘You know, this is a good day. This is a day just like yesterday, but well, yeah, I've got to go to the well. But there was this man there, and you know what? He got into a conversation with me, and He was a Jew and He got into a conversation with me, and immediately, I knew something was different.’ I don't know whether she thought that or not, but it sounds like that is what she thought. She recognized that He was different in the way He talked. You know, the Scriptures tell us that our conversation as believers should be full of grace, full of grace. Full of the reality that we are sinners and Christ has bought us. Full of the reality that we are not our own and we have been bought with a price. Full of the reality that, though we are wretched sinners, Christ died for us. That's supposed to be our conversation. Here is Christ, the One who is supposed to die for this woman's sin, and He engages her in a conversation in such a way that she recognizes it. It's really a question of grace, isn't it? He didn't have to speak to her. He didn't have to open the conversation, but He does because He wants to give her something. He has a desire to give her living water.
Look at verse 10: “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” Now isn't Jesus a genius? He asks her, “If you knew who was talking to you, you would have asked Him.” If you knew I had tickets to the World Series, you would ask me. What am I really saying? Ask me! He wants to engage her in conversation. You see, when we deal with unbelievers, we often forget that they are people who do want to know things. They really do have honest questions. They want to know things about us. Sometimes, the fact that, here we all are on a Sunday night — we really are doing something odd…have you noticed? How many people did y’all pass hurrying to church tonight? Okay, now, I know there was a bunch of us coming in a long line from Rankin county. We looked up and there was an FPC sticker on the back of one car, so we had a long line. Now, I don't know if the rest of you did, but we passed a lot of people going to Wal-Mart, going other places, doing other things. So, when unbelievers ask us why we do what we do, here we are, just like Jesus, with the opportunity to speak about what Jesus wants to give them. He wants to give her a drink. He wants to give her living water.
Look at the woman's response: “The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.’” In other words, she's looking at Him and saying look, now He's talking to me and I thought He was really weird, but now He wants to give me something. He wants me to talk about the gift that He has, but He doesn't have anything to draw water with. Hmmm….this man is different. If you knew, Jesus invites her to interact with Him. His relationship in this short period of time has already drawn her to Himself, the living water.
If you’re an unbeliever here, and you’re here with a friend who happens to be a member of this church and is a believer, we're glad that you’re here, but we can tell you right off the bat, we're glad that you’re here, but what we talk about tonight might not make sense. You know, this poor woman, Jesus is talking about giving her living water, and she's not looking at the spiritual realities. She's not even thinking in spiritual terms yet. She's only thinking about water. See, because, unbeliever, you have a different mindset than those of us who have been changed by God. Those of us who follow Jesus Christ, have a mindset that there is a God, and that God has spoken, and in His Word He has revealed that apart from Him, there is no salvation. And the only reason Christians are different is because God has changed their way of seeing things, unbeliever. They’re not better than you; they’re a bunch of “shady ladies” if you really want to know. Listen, every member here, unbeliever, every member here has said this the very first time they joined First Pres.: Do you acknowledge yourself to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure and without hope save in His sovereign mercy? Unbeliever, welcome to a group of people who the very first thing they said when they joined this church was that they justly deserved the wrath of God. In other words, they may look high minded, they may act high minded, but unbeliever, guess what? They are wretched sinners, but saved by Jesus Christ. Matter of fact, sin is such a part of them that even the last question deals with it too: Do you submit yourself to the government and discipline of the church and promise to strive for its purity and peace? You don't need government and discipline for everyone who does everything right.
Jesus is drawing her in; He is offering her something. For you who are here who are unbelievers, I don't know why you are here tonight. You might be here because you are supposed to be — your mama and daddy have made you. You may be here because it will help your business — I don't know. We’re glad that you’re here, and as you sit and hear God speak from His Word, may you come to know and understand He has something for you; He wants to give you something, and it is something that is good.
Notice the next thing — verse 13: “Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water I will give him, will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become a spring of water welling up into eternal life.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water that I may never be thirsty again.’” Jesus has just offered her the impossible, humanly speaking, hasn't He? He has just offered her water. She's thinking entirely physical - water that will quench every thirst that she will ever have. Y’all, He's reeling in hard, isn't He? You see, He has gone to an issue that is important to her. She's out in the middle of the day getting water. Okay, you take water for granted. You turn it on and it's either hot over here or cold. These folks had to go get their water. So, when He offers this, He is offering something of incredible value, even physically, it is of incredible value to her! And yet, that value, that value of what He offers her, causes her to want it immediately. Oh, she wants that kind of water. He offers it to her, she's ready to never be thirsty again, never to die again. Believe in Me and you will never die. The value of this gift is so good, so incredible, that the Scripture says that, “no eye has seen nor ear heard nor heart of man imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” This woman is ready. Oh, she wants that water. She wants Jesus to meet her need — the need that she sees, though it's not the need Jesus sees.
Well, then look what happens next. Jesus said to her in verse 16: “Go.” Notice He drops the figurative language — we're talking about water and then all of a sudden He becomes personal, He becomes direct, He becomes very plain. “Go, call your husband and come here.” Now, unbeliever, I can tell you a reason why you ought not to be here tonight. And that is because, if you hang around Christians or if you hang around Jesus, your sin is going to be revealed — either by you or by Jesus. Jesus does not deal with people who are not honest about their sin. So what is He doing? He is bringing her to deal with her sin. I can imagine that the woman is going…you know she answered Him, “I have no husband.” I can just hear her thinking, “Why did I tell Him that? Why did I tell Hi m that?” This living water, as it begins to flow in her, through her so to speak, it's going to clean her. Okay, now unbeliever let me remind you: Christians have been cleansed in God's sight. It doesn't mean they are perfect, well, hang around them a while and you’ll know that's not true. It doesn't mean that they’re good, that they do everything right. It doesn't mean they do everything correctly. It means that when they stand before the Judge of heaven and earth, their sin will have already been punished. It will have already been punished. It will have already been destroyed, but on Jesus Christ. Someone else will have taken their punishment. Though the woman sees her sin, notice how then Jesus moves her in the right direction.
Look at verse, I'm not sure what verse it is — I think it's 18: “Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying I have no husband’ for you have had five husbands and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worship on this mountain, but you say Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.’” Notice, He points her sin out to her and what does she do? Can you imagine what she's saying, “How did He know that about me?” Okay, He knew her. “I thought I had fooled everyone and they had simply lost count of all the husbands I had got and they assumed that my present husband, the person I am living with, was by present husband. How did this man know this secret about me? Why, if anyone knew that, He must be a prophet!” See, her knowledge of Jesus is growing by leaps and bounds. He is breaking every idea she had about who this person is that's asked her for water. “Well, if He's a prophet, maybe He can answer that question we've had about worship, that our people have been arguing with those Jews for a long time about.”
Notice, that Jesus, when she gives her answer, that He doesn't jump on her sin. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” Now, I don't know if she is saved at this point — that's not the question that I've got to answer, but I do know this, if she's hearing the Word of God and it's going to her heart more and more, then she's beginning to see things in a way she has never seen them before. Her sin has been revealed to her and now she's interested in worship. Isn't that amazing - interested in worship? And then we get the long discussion of worship which I'm not going to go into, but look at how this question of worship ends.
She says, “I know the Messiah is coming (the one who is called Christ). When He comes, He will tell us all things.” And then Jesus does something that He does to no one else: He confesses to her, what? Verse 26, Jesus says, “I who speak to you am He.” Now do you know the other time that Jesus said, “I am He” was when they came to arrest Him? The soldiers fell down in shock. Jesus has just revealed to her what He didn't reveal to the Bible student, Nicodemus. He's revealed it to her because this woman has no background, no understanding of Scriptures. All she has is the invasion of Jesus into her life at the well where she got water.
Unbeliever, you've come tonight and you’re hanging around these Christians, these people you know who are different. Or, you've been sitting in these pews for years and you have heard who Jesus is. This woman believed. This woman believed because Jesus revealed Himself to her, not because she had done something right, because she had jumped through certain hoops, but because Jesus revealed Himself to her. Unbeliever, as you deal with these people who call themselves Christians, they aren't Christians because they have done something, because they are worthy. They are Christians because Christ has revealed Himself to them. The God of all creation has revealed Himself to them and He wants to reveal Himself to you. He wants to reveal Himself to you. And so come, come and trust Him. Come, and let Him give you living water. Come, and yes, let Him expose your sin. He won't just expose it; He will remove the penalty and the guilt from all eternity for your sin, and you too, just like this woman, you will immediately go out and tell other people.
Notice what she tells them. She doesn't tell about worship. She doesn't even tell about living water. What does she tell? The things that brought her in - that He knew everything about her. “Come and see the man who told me everything about myself.” See, that's why it's so hard, unbeliever, to come to Christ for you - because it's a battle between you and the King of all creation. He's the one that gives you a drink. He's the one that commands you to come to Him. He's the one who is calling to you, and He doesn't say “please.” He commands you to believe. That's the scary thing. You think you can just choose Him or ignore Him? Uh-uh. This is the King of all the earth who calls all men to believe and repent. The only problem is, that some sitting here who think they are Nicodemus’, are really shady ladies. But the shady lady came to Christ, and out of her, sprang living water. Did you notice? Have you ever read what happened? She goes and tells the village of Sychar. There are people there who later say, “We don't believe because you told us. We believe because we have seen Him ourselves.”
Father, there are folks here who do not love You, who could care less of whether You have living water or not. Because when it comes to dealing with living water, they must deal with the God who gives living water and they don't want to give up their godhood. They want to claim that throne and hold onto it. Yet Father, in your winsomeness, in the work of Your Spirit, will you cause them to see that they are no god and they can do nothing to save themselves, to make themselves righteous, to give themselves worth…that only comes as Your Son gives to them Himself, as He gives to them and reveals to them that He indeed is the Messiah. So Father, we ask that you would cause them, even this night, to leave the false god of themselves and to come to the One who condescends and who wants to give them living water. These things we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.
Let's stand. And now may grace, mercy and peace, from God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, be and abide with each of you both now and forever. Amen.
© First Presbyterian Church.
This transcribed message has been lightly edited and formatted for the Web site. No attempt has been made, however, to alter the basic extemporaneous delivery style, or to produce a grammatically accurate, publication-ready manuscript conforming to an established style template.
Should there be questions regarding grammar or theological content, the reader should presume any website error to be with the webmaster/transcriber/editor rather than with the original speaker. For full copyright, reproduction and permission information, please visit the First Presbyterian Church Copyright, Reproduction & Permission statement.