John Message #11 “Jesus and the Woman at Samaria”, Ed Miller, Feb. 14, 2024

Listen to the audio above while reading the transcript below which is also available for download at

As we come to look in God’s word, once again we remember that indispensable principle which is total reliance upon God’s Holy Spirit.  Only God can reveal God.  You know we’re in John 4, the woman at the well, and I want to share this verse before we go to prayer.  It’s in Jeremiah 2:12&13, “’Be appalled, oh heavens, at this, and shutter; be very desolate,’ declares the Lord, ‘for My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.’”  So serious was that possibility that it shocked the heavens.  According to that verse, “Be appalled, oh heavens, and shutter and be desolate.”  And yet, it happens all the time; people turn from Christ, the fountain of living water, and they run to cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.  So, may the Lord deliver us.  Let’s bow together and commit our time to Him.

Heavenly Father, we thank You that You’ve allowed us to gather in this place, and we just pray, Lord, that we might have eyes and a heart to behold our Lord Jesus in a fresh way.  How we thank You that every time we gather, we come to behold You, to see You, and to know You better.  So, we commit our session unto You, and we trust Your Holy Spirit to point us to Jesus.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

We welcome you to our Bethany Bible study.  We call this place “Bethany” because in the Bible, Bethany was the place, and I don’t know if there’s another, but I think the only place where the Lord Jesus was fully accepted, and He is fully accepted here.  He’s welcome and He’s the guest of honor, and He’s pre-eminent.  So, we’ve come to behold Him.

In our meditation we’re in the Gospel of John, and following John’s own proclamation of why he wrote the book.  Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he said in John 20:31, “These have been written so that you may believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have Life in His name.”  We’ve just broken that down into the three reasons John wrote.  He wrote so that we would know the Lord.  He wrote so that we would trust the Lord, and He wrote so that we would enjoy and find Life in His name.

Last week we finished our meditation on John 3 with the Holy Spirit’s development of the message of His servant, John the Baptist, and we focused on verse 29, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice, so this joy of mine has been made full.”  In John’s relationship to Jesus as a sinner, he was the bride of the groom.  In John’s relationship to Jesus as a servant, he was not the bride of the groom; he was the friend of the groom.  In your relationship to Jesus as a sinner, you’re His bride; you’re married to Him; you’re in union with Christ.  But as a messenger, as a servant, as a minister of the Lord, you are described as the “friend of the groom”. 

We know from John 3:29a that John knew very well that he who has the bride is the bridegroom.  The church, the people of God, the bride belong to Jesus.  The whole context of that little parable was that John was saying, “As a servant of Christ, hands off the bride; I have no right to touch the bride.  The bride does not belong to me; I’m a friend of the groom, and I’m here to facilitate the union of the bride and groom, and my greatest joy is to see the bride and groom come together, but I cannot seek a kingdom of my own; I can not seek a following of my own. In chapter one we see a picture of it in verse 36, “He looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God,’ and He pointed to Jesus and two disciples heard him speak and they followed Jesus.”  That’s just a foretaste of what John’s ministry was.  He’ll point to Christ, and then his disciples will leave him and then they begin to follow Jesus.  That’s ministry.

Just to summarize what we’ve seen of John, he’s a voice, he’s sent by God, he’s a voice that prepares the way for Jesus to follow-up and do that real work.  He baptizes with water but that must be followed up by reality, and that is the coming of Christ.  In our ministry as the friends of the groom, it’s our whole joy to see people—men, women, sinners—united to Jesus.  John 3:30, “He must increase, and I must decrease.”  That’s the direction of every true ministry.  We fade away and we seek no following, none at all, much less a mega following.  John 3:29, “So this joy of mine is made full.”  That’s the joy of the servant of the Lord to see God’s people united to Christ.

When we closed last time, I was in the process of introducing John 4, the woman at the well.  That’s how it’s generally known.  I think if you get the spiritual significance, it’s more like the well in the woman, than the woman at the well.  The two stories, John the Baptizer and then this one, both are connected to ministry.  They both have to do with ministry.  John the Baptist, as the friend of the groom, describes what ministry is, but this story, the woman at the well, or the well in the woman, describes who the minister is, and the minister, the servant, is the Lord Jesus Christ.

I reminded you last time that the One who ministered to this woman two thousand years ago, now lives in your heart and my heart to do it all over again.  Some years ago, there was a great movement, WWJD.  They had little bracelets and so on, and the idea was, “What would Jesus do?”  I’m not knocking that idea, but the idea was that if you come to a situation, stop and think, “How would Jesus handle it?” and then you copy Him and you do that.  But I’m suggesting that it’s not what would Jesus do but what will Jesus do, because He lives in your heart; He’s going to do it again.  He has not called us to follow His example.  He has not called us to be His apprentice.  He’s not mentoring us, and then later on we’ll become the servant.  He’s the only missionary and He’s the only soul-winner and He’s the only evangelist, and He’s the only servant, and He’s the only minister and He lives in you to manifest His life through.  He lives in me to do the same.  He’s not your example; He’s your substitute; He’s your very life.  In nature thirst seeks for water, but in this story we learn that in grace water seeks for thirst; Christ was the Seeker in this story and went after her.  I think she didn’t even know she was spiritually thirsty.  Since He lives in you, He knows where the thirsty are, and He’ll guide you to them. 

I want to pick up the backdrop of this story.  Last time I called attention to John 4:4, the expression “He had to pass through Samaria”, and King James says, “He must needs go through Samaria.”  Wuest translates it, “It was necessary in the nature of the case that He go through Samaria.”  Last week I handed out a little map to show you that “he must needs go” but it wasn’t a geographical necessity.  There was a way around Samaria, and the orthodox Jew took that way around.  They would cross the Jordan two times, once in the north and once in the south, if they were going south, and the other way around if they were going north.  I want to develop that just a little bit more, and I think it will help us appreciate the Christ that lives in me and you, if we get this background.

I want to comment on the terrible prejudice, the rivalry the Samaritans had with the Jews and the Jews with the Samaritans.  We read at the end of verse 9 that the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans.  Don’t read that la, la, la; that was quite literal in those days.  We can’t imagine prejudice as strong as that was.  Our racial prejudice in our country today and in our history can only be contrasted; it can’t be compared to the terrible prejudice of the Samaritans and the Jews. 

The commentator Trappe in the 1800’s said, “If a Samaritan accidentally bumped into a Jew, the Jew would look for the closest body of water, clothes and all, and jump in because he was contaminated.”  I don’t know if that’s true.  The prejudice we’re talking about is not just someone turning a cold shoulder or ignoring you.  In the record of the Jews, they had the Bible and then they had their traditions, and in the traditions, and I’m quoting the Rabbi teaching, “To eat with a Samaritan is the same thing as eating swine flesh.”  Imagine that.  And then, “Avoid a Samaritan as you would avoid a leper.”  Both the woman and the disciples expressed, I was going to say “shock”, but at least surprise when Jesus was talking to this woman.

The woman was shocked in verse 9, “Therefore, the Samaritan woman said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I’m a Samaritan woman, for Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.’”  So, she was very surprised.  Then when the disciples came back, they had been sent on an errand to buy food, and in verse 27, “At this point His disciples came and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, ‘What do You seek or why do You speak with her?’”  The most terrible insult you could give in New Testament days, they gave to Jesus.  It’s recorded in John 8:48, “The Jews answered and said to Him, ‘Do we not say rightly, “You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”’”  You couldn’t insult Him more than to call Him a Samaritan and a demon possessed Samaritan, no less.

The Samaritans were the ones that James and John got their name, their title “The Sons of Thunder”.  They wanted to call down lightning out of heaven and wipe out the whole town.  That was Samaria; that’s the one they wanted to wipe out. We talk about bigotry, and we talk about racial prejudice or some other prejudgment based on nationality or lifestyle or religion or sex, or something like that.  It’s nothing like this rivalry between the Jews and the Samaritans.  This woman already had four strikes against her.  Quite apart from being a Samaritan, she was a gentile, and that’s strike one.  Then she was a Samaritan, and that’s strike two.  Then she was a woman, and that’s strike three.  Then she was a fallen woman, an immoral woman, and that’s strike four.  I don’t know how many strikes you get in that game.  Maybe Esau’s hatred to Isaac can compare to that same hatred, even as we see that in the Middle East today, that rivalry against the Jews.

When you read the record, it almost looks like and sounds like she’s Jewish.  John 4:12 she talks about Jacob, our father.  In verse 19 she says that Jesus must be a prophet.  In John 4:20 she talks about worship, “Our fathers worship in this mountain, and your fathers in another mountain.”  And then in verse 25, she’s waiting for Messiah; she’s waiting for the Christ.  She sounds awfully Jewish.  She knows she’s not, or she wouldn’t have said in verse 9, “How is it You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink, since I’m a Samaritan?”  She made a difference; she knew she wasn’t Jewish.  How did she know that Jesus was Jewish?  Well, the Bible doesn’t tell us.  It could have been His dress, or it could have been His appearance, or maybe His voice; I don’t know how she knew.

I want to spend a couple of minutes only to give you the background, the beginning of this rivalry.  I think you know the history of the Old Testament; I’ll give you enough information just to remind you.  The twelve tribes, the people of God, split into two kingdoms, the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom.  2 Kings 17 tells the sad story about what happened to the northern kingdom.  Assyria came in and destroyed them, and actually chased whoever was left away.  Some of the remnants after the terrible destruction, some scattered but there were some that were taken prisoners of war.  Assyria didn’t know how to maintain, keep control over those that were POW’s, so they put them in Samaria.  So, you have Jews, now, who are under judgment, because God judged them for their idolatry and so on.  There wasn’t one king that was righteous in that northern kingdom.  But Assyria conquered other nations, and they had other POW’s.  So, they decided they would colonize everybody together.  They took the POW’s from all of their victories and they put them all in Samaria.  So, all of these nations that were represented brought their false gods with them.  Israel, also, that’s why they were judged, they had their false god.  So, in Samaria they began to intermarry back and forth, those who named themselves as Jews, but were sort of a mixture, and you end up with this mixture of Jews and gentiles.  The Jews were not faithful to the Lord, and now they are intermingling with the heathen.  2 Kings 17:33 describes it, “They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, according to the custom of the nation.”  You can’t have both, but they did.  In verse 41, “So, while the nations feared the Lord, they also served their idols.”  That’s the mixture.

It came to a head in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, and if you want the whole story, read Ezra 4, that’s where it’s recorded.  Later, the southern nation/kingdom also got destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the temple was destroyed.  But we’re at the time now with Ezra and Nehemiah when they’re going rebuild the temple.  It’s called Zerubbabel’s temple, and he was the leader in the rebuilding of this temple.  The Samaritans came to Nehemiah, Ezra and Zerubbabel and they said, “We have a history; we believe in the Lord.  We want to help you build the temple.”  So, they said, “We’ll let you know,” and they had a committee meeting.  It’s in Ezra 4:3, “Zerubbabel and Joshua and the rest of the heads of the fathers’ households of Israel said to them, ‘You have nothing in common with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves will together build to the Lord God of Israel.’”  The Samaritans said, “Let us help; we want to build a temple; we believe in the Lord.”  They said, “No, we had a meeting and you’re half-breeds.  You’re a mixture and you’re not pure, and so you can’t help us.  We’ll build the temple.  We’re sorry about that.”

The next part of the story is not in the Bible, but it’s pretty good history.  I can’t always trust Josephus, the historian, but here’s what he said.  When they learned that they couldn’t help build a temple, they decided to go build their own temple, and they chose Mt. Gerizim because that was the mountain of blessing, and decided to build a temple there.  I’m not going to go into all the history, and how during the Maccabeans it was knocked down, but their idea was, “The Jews won’t let us help and they throw us out, well we’ll have our own religion.”  They took the first five books of the Bible.  That’s all the Samaritans believed in, just the Pentateuch.  They didn’t take the rest of it  They took those five books and went on Mt. Gerizim and they built a temple and they built an altar and they had their own priesthood, and when they decided to have a rivalry, this isn’t just a gentile with his own religion, this is somebody fighting against the Lord. 

When they saw that they were going to build a temple and have their own priesthood, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and that’s where this rivalry started.  By the time you get to the New Testament, this prejudice was so strong, as I said, for an orthodox Jew, he wouldn’t even step in Samaria.  He would go all the way around from the north to the south and the south to the north and cross over in the south to Perea and to Decapolis and go up the Jordan River and then come back into Galilee and all that kind of thing.  It was about twenty miles out of the way that they would take just to avoid stepping on Samaritan ground, and it probably took a couple of days.  That’s a little of the background; I don’t want to spend time there, but to explain this prejudice and pride, they were considered half-breeds, untouchable, heathen, gentiles worst than the ordinary gentile because they are rivals against the truth. 

To the Lord Jesus then and now, there was always ever only one race; it’s called the human race.  And there was always ever only one kind of person, and that was a sinner, and the Lord Jesus came to the human race to redeem sinners.  There wasn’t a prejudice bone in the body of our Lord Jesus.  He was always for the individual; He didn’t care.  He could go to a politician as He did.  He testified before Pilate and before Herod.  It didn’t matter if it was a priest or a rabbi, He could stand before Caiphas and He could talk to Nicodemus.  It didn’t matter if they were a military commander.  It didn’t matter if they were fisherman.  It didn’t matter if they were a fallen woman.  He touched the leper.  He had no prejudice.  He died talking to a thief.  His heart was always for the human race and the sinners of the human race.  The reason I’m stressing that is because He lives in you, and He lives in me, and He lives as One who is unprejudiced, that only sees a human race and sees every person as a sinner, and He lives in us.  I’ll tell you, I know my heart, and my natural heart will skirt around Samaria, and I have an idea that your natural heart will skirt around America, I mean Samaria. 

If we see people that aren’t like us and they’re odd or peculiar, we sort of try to avoid them a little bit.  Sometimes people don’t understand when you say to someone, “How are you?” that’s a greeting and not a question, and sometimes you get a long answer.  So, we try to avoid people.  If there’s somebody with an unpleasant body odor and hasn’t been instructed in correct hygiene, we just sort of try to avoid them.  If they have a terrible social disease, we try to avoid them.  If someone is loud and boisterous and a little bit weird, and they have marks on their body and they have tattoos and they have a birth mark, it’s amazing.  If they’re blind or deaf, if they’re in a wheelchair, if they’re crippled, if they’re different, we try to sort of skirt around them.  If they’re somehow addicted, if they’re drunkards or on some kind of drug or addicted to gambling, or if they’re wicked and they’re known to be immoral, we try to stay away from them.  I was one time in the grocery store and there was somebody I saw that I thought didn’t see me, and so I ducked into another isle, I didn’t want to talk to them.  I ducked into the dog food isle and I don’t even have a dog.  But we do that. 

The Jesus that lives in me does not duck into some isle to avoid anybody; He’ll put His arm around anybody, and He lives in you and me.  He doesn’t go around Samaria.  He doesn’t care a rat’s fur about some kind of a prejudice.  He was never embarrassed to embrace any sinner.  Yeah, He must needs go through Samaria.  I’ll wrap that up by quoting again what I read from C. I Schofield last week, “Jesus must needs go through Samaria.  Why?  God the Father in eternity past had made an appointment with God the Son, and in obedience to His Holy Father God, He must needs pass through Samaria to keep that appointment.”  I think that’s enough review.

That’s enough to show this terrible rift between the Samaritans and the Jews.  Now we come to the conversation between our Lord Jesus and this woman.  One reason John wrote this epistle, he wrote it for three reasons, but the first was so that we might know who He is, the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  Since he wrote so that Christ would be revealed, my first question as we come to this chapter is, “In what way did Christ reveal Himself to this woman?”  I’m going to suggest several ways.  Listen to John 4:26 and then hold it for a moment.  “Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.’”  This is very interesting.  Over and over again our Lord Jesus implied that He was the Messiah promised by God.  It was assumed, but did He ever come out clearly and say, “I am the Messiah.”?  Is there any place in the Bible where He clearly in no uncertain terms, explicitly said, “I am Messiah.”? 

I know He never denied it.  For example, John 10:24, “The Jews gathered around Him and were saying to Him, ‘How long will You keep us in suspense?  If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’  Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe; the works I do in My Father’s name testify of Me.’”  That was sort of cryptic.  He just said, “Look at the works, and you’ll find your answer.”  When Peter confessed, Matthew 16:16, “Simon Peter answered, ‘You’re the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’  Jesus responded, ‘Blessed are you Simon Barjona; flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven.’”  So, He implied that was correct, but did He ever come out and say, “I am Messiah.”?  The answer is yes, twice.

I’m going to give you the last one first, and then we’ll come back to our story.  The last time was at the mistrial of our Lord Jesus that would condemn Him to death.  Mark 14:61, “The high priest, Caiphas, was questioning Him, and saying to Him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One.’” He gave a clear answer in verse 62, “Jesus said, ‘I am.’”  He came right out and said it, “And you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”  He didn’t clear His throat and back pedal.  That’s why we get the next verse, verse 64, “’You’ve heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?’  And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.” 

Yesterday my wife and I were discussing, and she showed some confusion, “Why didn’t they just accept Christ as Messiah.”  They were expecting, they would have, I think, a human Messiah, but He linked it to the Son of God, “I am from God; God sent Me.”  That’s what they couldn’t take, the fact that Messiah was also God.  That was blasphemy to them.  If He had just come as a human, I don’t think they would have had a problem, but connecting it to deity, that was a problem.

What was the first time and to whom did He clearly say, “I am Messiah,” and here it is in John 4:25, “The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming, He who is called Christ, and when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.’”  Verse 26, “Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.’”  That’s as clear as clear can be.  I’m not going to do it now, but if you read what happened from here on in, her life was changed, everything changed at that point.

How did Jesus reveal Himself to this woman?  Clearly as Messiah, but before that He revealed Himself.  In John 4:10, “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you Living water.’”  Verse 14, “Whoever drinks of the water I will give him shall never thirst, but the water I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to everlasting Life.”  In those verses, how does Jesus reveal Himself?  He said, “I am the gift of God, and I am the Giver of Living water.”  This woman was introduced to Christ as the Messiah, the Gift of God and the Giver of Living water.

As we develop this, I think it would be helpful to see the contrast that He makes now between the water that came from Jacob’s well which satisfied natural thirst for a time, and the water that He was promising, which would satisfy spiritual thirst.  Scholars tell us, and I have to believe it, that there are two different Greek words used here for the word “well”.  In verse 11, she said, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.”  I’m not pretending that I know Greek, I don’t know Greek, so no pretense, and I sure don’t know how to pronounce, but I think it’s “frier” and the word is translated as a “cistern that often runs dry”.  We use the word “well” but it’s a cistern.  A cistern is not a female Christian, you’ve got brother and cistern.  That’s not what we’re talking about.  We’re talking about an artificial reservoir, some receptacle that would hold liquid.  It could be a jar, a jug or a hole in the ground.  In fact, in the rest of the New Testament, when that word is used, it’s just translated a pit; that’s all it is.  A cistern doesn’t have its own water supply.  It depends on being filled from the outside.  Jacob’s well was hand dug; it was a cistern.  It depended on the weather, in depended on the rain, it depended on the melting snow.  It was only a cistern, and it could be swallowed by the earth, the water in it, or it could evaporate, but it couldn’t hold the water.

The woman knew what a cistern was.  In fact, Jesus is going to make a play on this.  She probably knew if more than most people, because not only was Jacob’s well a cistern, to which she had to return over and over, but her life was a cistern and her husbands were water, a supply that constantly went dry.  Her own heart was a cistern, and she was trying any outside source to have satisfaction. 

It’s terribly frustrating, brothers and sisters if Christ, to have an unquenchable thirst, and to think it can be satisfied by running to a cistern that often runs dry.  Listen to John 4:14, “The water I will give him will become in him a well.”  Now, that’s a different Greek word.  In the English it’s the same word.  It’s the Greek word “page” and Jesus changed her word “cistern, Jacob’s well”, to His word, “I’m going to give you a well,” but this is a spring, a fountain, and this is the source of water.  He didn’t speak about some cistern that depended upon some externals.  He said, “I’m offering you a fountain always flowing, always full, always running that will never run dry and you can carry it with you in your heart wherever you go.”  Wuest in his translation describes it as, “I will give you a gushing fountain.”   That’s what He’s promising.

I love the first part of verse 14 by Kenneth Wuest, “Whoever takes a drink of the water I shall give him, shall positively not thirst, no, never.”  Those are three negatives put together.  In English if you put two negatives together, you get a positive.  In Greek when you pile up the negatives, it becomes stronger and stronger.  The most negatives ever piled up as far as our Bible is concerned is in Hebrews, “And I will never, never, never, never leave you or forsake you.”  This is a strong figure of speech in any society, but in Palestine where water was scarce, this is a tremendous figure of speech.  Jesus was promising a gushing fountain that would bring contentment and satisfaction that would never pass away.  This is an amazing revelation.

Why is it true that He could say, “I can give you a fountain gushing that will never pass away.”?  The answer is because the fountain is a Person.  It’s referred to again in John 7:38, “He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, from his innermost being will flow rivers of Living water.  This He spoke of the Spirit whom those who would believe in Him were to receive.”  I’m going to dwell more on that, Lord willing, next week, but for now He’s saying, “I will come into your heart in the Person of the Holy Spirit, and you’ll never thirst again. 

For the remainder of this lesson, I want to give an overview.   There is so much in John 4, and I don’t want to skip a lot of it; I’m going to have to skip some.  What I want to do today is give the overview, the whole message, and then we’ll go back and dive a little bit deeper, Lord willing.

There are great principles connected with historical events.  There are pictures, there are illustrations here that were true in her life, but contained great spiritual truths which are true in our lives.  I want to look at those.  Even though you know her story, that she had five husbands and the man she was living with was in an adulterous relationship, I want to tell the story in the light of those two Greek words, the cistern and the well, the fountain, the spring.  As I said earlier, I believe that Jacob’s well was sort of a parable of her life.

Let me begin with John 4:6, “Jacob’s well was there.  So, Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well.  It was about the sixth hour.”  Commentators tell us that the sixth hour was an unusual hour for someone to come and draw water.  It was unusual because it was twelve noon, and it was the hottest time of the day, the midday sun.  Other women came when it was cooler; they would come later in the afternoon to draw water.  The well became, according to the commentaries, a place of fellowship, and the women would gather together with local gossip and women talk, but she was a moral outcast; she couldn’t come at that time.  So, she comes to avoid the scornful looks and talks and innuendos that the “pure” people would be giving her, so she came at noon.  She was an untouchable. 

I picture her as an older woman.  After five husbands I think some time had gone by and she’s past adolescence and I think a great part of womanhood.  For sure, the springtime of her life had past.  He affections were certainly worn out.  Her character at this time is pictured as destroyed.  We just sort of read her as the Samaritan woman, the adulterous woman, but she was a little girl once, and I have idea, like all little girls, she dreamt about the day she would get married, have a family, maybe children and maybe have grandchildren, and so on.  I think she was just a normal woman.  Five different men, according to the record, had at one time or another played with her affections.  I’m sure the first marriage she would say, “This is wonderful, and it’s all going to be heaven on earth,” and it didn’t work out because it was a cistern that ran dry.  I think she thought, there’s no record, “It’s going to work this time; it’s going to be different this time.”  So, another man came into her life and played with her affections, and once again it failed.  And perhaps even the third time she said, “This time I will make it work; it’s going to work this time,” and once again it failed.  Many times her heart was broken, and what she thought would be different never became different.  And now a sixth man was doing the same thing, living in an adulterous relationship with her.

Her life story is a story; she was alone and broken and hard and disillusioned and discontent and shunned and avoided, a sinner of the streets; she is me, and she is you, she is us.  This sad woman, when she came to the well that day, as I’m sure she had done many times before, she had no clue that she was going to be talking to Messiah, the gift of God, the Giver of Living water.  This is an amazing day for this woman.

I want to take some of the almost meaningless details and show you the great principles that are contained in those details.  The first is the cistern.  Her life was a cistern that had dried.  She had depended on external things to bring her joy and happiness, and it seemed like everything she touched dried up.  Jesus delivered her from the cistern that runs dry.  Now, let me apply.  So many Christians are restless because they are running from cistern to cistern, trying to find joy, trying to find satisfaction; they try this and they try that, and they’re church hoppers, and they’re conference hoppers and they’re seminar hoppers, always looking for the next thing, “Now, I’ll find it.  Have you read this book; this book is the answer,” and it becomes a cistern that runs dry.  “Have you heard that preacher so and so?” and that cistern runs dry.  “Have you gone to this conference?  Have you listened to this tape series?  Have your found a certain website?  Have you gone to that retreat?  Have you tried this church?  Have you ever had this experience?  Do you know your spiritual gift?  Have you developed it?  It’s all running from one thing to another.  The Lord Jesus delivers us from cisterns that always and often run dry.

He not only gave her deliverance from a cistern that often runs dry, but she was also delivered from her bucket.  That’s just a little fact.  John 4:11, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with; the well is deep, and you don’t have a bucket.”  We hear that Jacob’s well was hand dug, but it was about one hundred feet deep, and Jesus didn’t have a bucket.  When the story was over, notice in verse 28, “The woman left her water pot and went into the city.”  She had come with a water pot, and all of a sudden, she meets Jesus and she just drops her water pot.  Jesus delivers us from cisterns that run dry, and He delivers us from buckets.  When you see her bucket/pail, don’t think something metal or tin, like a pail that we have.  Their buckets were usually made of animal skin, and usually goat skin, and they had three cross sticks that they sewed together to keep the mouth of the bucket open.  When she met the Lord Jesus, everything changed, and she forgot all about her bucket.  It’s an illustration of a great spiritual reality.  When you meet the Lord Jesus, you’re going to find that you’ve dropped your bucket and you run to tell everybody.  That’s what she did.  We’ll look at that next time.

Let me ask you this, who needs a bucket, if you have a fountain gushing inside of you?  Don’t get me wrong when I say this.  I love the hymn or chorus, “Fill My Cup”, “Like the woman at the well, I was thirsty; fill my cup, Lord.”  I understand the hymn writer’s heart and I sing the song and I enjoy the song, but that song can also tell a story of defeat and failure.  I’ll tell you why.  I often hear Christians say, “I hope this weekend the Lord fills my cup.”  I’ve heard people say, “I need a booster shot.”  I’ve heard Christians say, “I hope God recharges my battery.”  I have news for you.  You don’t have a battery, and you don’t have a cup to be filled.  We hear people say, “Pray for revival; we need revival.”  May God deliver us from buckets, empty cups and empty baskets and batteries that need to be recharged, and booster shots and revival meetings and rededication, and reconsecration and all that kind of thing!  It’s a glorious day when God discovers to the Christian how to sink a well rather than fill a cup.  The Christian is constantly dropping buckets into cisterns that are always going to run dry.  This woman gladly, when she met Jesus, she just threw her bucket to the ground and ran into town.  I don’t need the bucket and you don’t need the bucket to dip into an experience that’s going to dry up.

I grew up, and we didn’t have a water supply.  I had to go with a bucket and bring water into the house.  By the time I got into the house, the bucket was half empty; I’d spilled it all over the place.  Jesus wants to deliver us from cisterns that run drive, and He wants to deliver us from buckets that dip into the cisterns that are always running dry, and He also wants to deliver us from the ropes that are tied to the buckets that drop in the cisterns that often run dry.  This woman was delivered, not only from the bucket, but from the rope, tugging and pulling and hauling and straining and trying to get the water up, and then have to come back again, and pull and strain and lug, and agonize, just to get a little water that’s going to run out pretty quick.  The rope in my little allegory presents the flesh, and the work of the flesh, what I do in order to find rest and joy and fulfillment and victory over indwelling sin. 

It’s pitiful in the light of all that has been revealed to us about Christ living in us, to see Christians so often tugging and pulling, “I need victory in my life, and I’m going to try this,” and they tug and they pull, “We’ve got to win this spiritual warfare,” and they tug and they pull, “We’ve got to grow in the Lord; we’ve got to get into this program and that program, and we need to die to self, and we need to be useful, and we’ve got to get involved in programs and we’ve got to give more money, and we’ve got to find the will of God in our life.”  My heart goes out to dear Christians who have spent so much energy and spill so much water attempting to enter into what He gives as a gift, and lives in us and flows through us.  “I think I’ve got to pray harder.  It’s not working,” so we pray harder.  “Uh-oh, this one is going to require fasting; I’m going to have to fast.  I don’t think I get up early enough in the morning; I’m going to have to get up earlier.  I can’t neglect my morning devotions.  I need to attend every meeting; I don’t attend enough meetings.  I haven’t read enough books; I haven’t heard enough tapes.  I think I should be a better giver.  I have got to mortify the flesh.  We’ve got to get involved in new programs, and deny ourselves,” and all that tugging on the rope, just so we can have what He promises to give in His indwelling Life, a fountain gushing, filling, flowing over.

Christians are burning out all over the place, and I am giving you a testimony from a Christian that burned out in 1965 when I lost it and I crashed; my whole life. I failed.  I’m not going to get into that now, but I’ll tell you my new testimony; I don’t have to haul up water from a broken cistern anymore, when I have in me water that gushes up.  Why do I have to haul up, if it gushes up?  That’s the Life of the Lord Jesus.  Our Lord Jesus, pictured by this woman, has come to set every Christian free from cisterns that dry up, from buckets dipped into cisterns that dry up, from rope that holds buckets dipped into cisterns that dry up.  May God deliver us!

I’m going to close by quoting two verses.  One is from Psalm 87:7, “All my springs of joy are in You.”  Last week, as we closed, brother Brandon came to me and suggested that, as I study John 4, I might also want to study Isaiah 12, because he said that he thinks it’s the same story told in different words.  I did that, and boy I was wonderfully blessed.  I want to share two verses from that chapter.  Isaiah 12:2&3, “Behold, God is my salvation.  I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.  Therefore, you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.” He’s Messiah; He’s the Gift of God; He’s the Giver of Living water.  He IS the Living water.

Father, thank You for this chapter and the little light we have on it.  Lord, work in our hearts everything You’ve inspired this chapter to mean.  Thank You for identifying Yourself as Messiah, the Gift of God, the Giver of Living water.  Thank You for the Person of the Holy Spirit coming into our lives to live in place of us.  Lord, make these things real, we pray, in the matchless name of Jesus.  Amen.