October 6, 2019
Dave Zuleger (South Campus) | John 4:1-42
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, but 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.
A woman from Samaria came 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 have no dealings 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 that I will give him will never be thirsty again. 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 worshiped 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 worshipers 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 in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that 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 his 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.
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”—John 4:1–42
Introduction: The Spirit Works to Reveal Our Wounds of Shame (John 3:20, 34–36; 6:63)
How many of you have done things that you are ashamed of? It’s even a little bit hard to raise our hands. How many of you like it when people know about those things? Not as many hands. What does that say to us? It says that our shame makes us people that hide. In fact, we will spend time and energy hiding.
This happens in the church. We look around and assume everyone else is “doing better” than us, and so the areas we fail in we try to hide. Nobody would like it if right now the most painful, shameful things we’ve done were played up on the screen behind me.
No one likes to feel shame. Even the world, with all of its flaunting of sinful behavior in our day an age—what’s going on there? The world is hiding from shame right out in the open. The world it is trying to destroy the category of shame because then there’s no guilt to deal with—and that is tragic.
Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.—Philippians 3:19
So, what’s going on in our hiding in shame?
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.—John 3:20
When we feel our brokenness, we want to hide, lest other people see it, especially Jesus. But, hiding the wounds of our shame doesn’t make them any less real. You’re going to have to forgive me for all of the analogies with Stone’s heart surgery this morning—but it’s what’s going on in our lives.
When we found out through a test that could see inside of our son that he had a need for heart surgery, the first thought was a kind of hiding. You just want to run from it. You don’t want to deal with it. It would almost be easier to pretend it’s not there, because exposing the wound that needs such an extreme fix is a frightening prospect. But, hiding from it wouldn’t have been any good. It wouldn’t have been any good for the doctors not to reveal the results to us. In fact, it could have been life-threatening.
And what we’ll see is the Holy Spirit working through the person of Jesus in this story to reveal wounds of shame. Listen to John 3:34–36:
For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Jesus utters the words of God, why? Because he gives the Spirit without measure. The words of Jesus are words full of the Spirit to save from the wrath of God and bring eternal life.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.—John 6:63
Jesus is full of the Spirit and when he speaks, he speaks words of the Spirit that can reveal our shame and bring life. That’s what we’ll see today and that’s what Jesus wants to do over and over again in our lives.
First, look at verses 4–9:
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. A woman from Samaria came 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 have no dealings with Samaritans.)
In verse 4 it says, Jesus “had to pass through Samaria.” Now, as we get to the end of verse 9 we find out that’s kind of a funny phrase because “Jews had no dealings with Samaritans.” In fact, there was another route that basically went all the way around the territory of the Samaritans that most Jews would take to avoid any contact with Samaritans.
You see, when Israel was conquered by Assyria, Assyria established the land of Samaria with foreigners, and these foreigners intermarried with the Jews who were left behind. They didn’t stay faithful to the Jewish system and they even established a new mountain of worship. So the Samaritans were seen as religious harlots and ethnic “half-breeds.” They were considered an unclean people.
So, we begin to see the sovereignty of the Surgeon here. He “had to pass through”? Why? Because there was a woman at a well. Jesus is at work for the joy of all peoples, not just the socially acceptable peoples.
And it doesn’t stop there. Not only would this woman have been unclean to a Jew because she was Samaritan, but men didn’t stop and have personal conversations with women. And notice that it is the sixth hour, which means it’s about Noon. This is not the normal time to come and get water. Most often, women would go together to the well to draw water in the morning for the rest of their days—this woman is alone in the middle of the day when no one else is there. She’s hiding. She’s avoiding others.
But, Jesus isn’t stopped by any of these cultural merits of shame. Instead, he draws near to a Samaritan, speaks to a woman, and asks to share a water bucket with someone the Jews would have considered unclean. But, Jesus knows there’s no danger for her to make him unclean, rather he is going to make her soul clean.
The woman is taken off guard by all of this and can’t believe he asked. Jesus, flips the astonishment back to her and says that if she knew who was asking, she would have asked him for living water (v.10) She doesn’t get it and tells him he doesn’t even have a bucket (v.11) Then she questions how good his water really is, because this is Jacob’s well and it’s been working for pretty well for quite some time. Is he greater than Jacob? (v.12)
Jesus patiently responds that he has a kind of water that is so satisfying that those who drink it never thirst again, and in fact, it becomes a spring of water that wells up into eternal life (vv.13–14). Jesus put it on the table. I can give you eternal life. I can satisfy your thirsty soul. I can meet all your longings that aren’t being met anywhere else.
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.”—John 4:15
She wants the water. And this isn’t just a woman avoiding a chore every day. I think this is a woman buried deep in shame who doesn’t want to have to repeat the lonely trek to the well every day to hide all of her shame. She’s working hard to not be seen. She’s worn out by the hiding. She’d love water that would help her avoid this shame.
Jesus should just lead her through the sinners prayer now, right? Maybe turn the water into wine to celebrate her salvation. But, not yet. He has a deeper work to do that doesn’t sound like our Minnesota-Nice kind of interactions.
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.”—John 4:16–18
The sovereign Surgeon who has come to this well to talk to a Samaritan woman cuts deep here. You want the water? Go get your husband and come back. You can imagine the shame flooding in. I don’t have a husband. That’s why I’m here right now. I’m the joke of the town.
Now, we don’t know exactly why this woman had five husbands. But, we do know she’s not married right now and is living with a man. More shame. We do know that later on she’ll say, “Come see a man who told me all I ever did,” implying she at least feels responsible for her actions.
And Jesus already knew. He said, “You’re telling me the truth. You’ve had five husbands. And the one right now is not even your husband.” Why is he doing this? Because this is where we need the gospel. This is where we need a Savior. We need it in the places that hurt most. We need Jesus in the places of deepest shame and brokenness. The healthy don’t need a physician. The righteous don’t need a savior. But, the Spirit, through Jesus right now, is going to reveal her brokenness—not to be cruel, but to heal her. He’s not going to just leave her shame-filled heart open and exposed, he’s going to do surgery that heals her deepest wounds.
She tries one more juke move. “I perceive you are a prophet.” Probably an understatement at this point, right? Strange Jewish guy, at a well, talking about living water to a Samaritan woman, who knows everything about me. She tries to avoid her shame once more with a theological question. “Where should we really worship? Jews think one place, Samaritans think another.”
Does this ever happen in your small group time or with someone you love? The conversation gets uncomfortable, and the Lord is about to deal with our sin—and so we instinctively change the subject. “I thought Pastor Jason did a great job highlighting the substitutionary atonement—I mean we all struggle, but we’ve got a Substitute.” We run to generalities to avoid the specific areas the Holy Spirit is pressing into. We try to hide.
But, Jesus won’t let her hide. Jesus says, “The hour is coming and is now here, where the location doesn’t matter. What matters is that the Spirit comes and ignites your heart to the truth. That’s what is happening right now! The Spirit is working in your heart at this well. He’s revealed your sin so he can restore you.” He says the time is now. No waiting. No stalling for you, lady. The time is now.
And if you’re in this room right now, the time is now for you to repent of the dark areas of sin. Just confess them. Jesus already knows about them. You can’t hide your internet history from him. You can’t hide your harsh words toward your wife from him. You can’t hide your anger toward your kids from him. You can’t hide your gossip from him. You can’t hide your bitterness from him. You can’t hide your angry, lustful, frustrated, and doubting thoughts from him.
Right now is the time to let the Spirit work in you to draw you to the truth of Jesus—let him reveal your sin in all of its ugliness, so that he can restore you.
The woman said to him, “I know that 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.”—John 4:25–26
So, the woman says, “Well I guess we can agree to disagree and wait till the Savior of the world shows up who knows everything”—to the strange prophet guy who has just told her everything about herself.
The Gospel of John is known for the “I AM” statements declaring the deity of Christ. And this woman would not seem to be the most likely candidate to receive the first one. But, she is.
Jesus says, “I’m right here. I’m God. I see your soul. I have living water to give you. I see your sin, your dark places, your brokenness—and I am not just a Jew who thinks you are an unclean Samaritan woman, I am GOD who sees your unclean soul! And I’m still here. I’ve drawn near. I had to come through Samaria to meet you. And I mean to heal your heart in me. I mean to be the perfect Husband you’ve been looking for. I mean to satisfy all the things your soul has been seeking. I mean to heal your shame and bring you to eternal life.”
Just then his 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?—John 4:27–29
The disciples come and can’t believe he’s talking with a Samaritan woman. But, it’s so awkward that no one says anything. They probably don’t approve, but they’re not going to question him. And, while they sit there in awkward silence, the woman has left her water jar and run back to town.
Notice this, the people she was avoiding by going out to the well at this hour because of her shame, she is now seeking out to tell them of the One who knew all her shame.
Can you imagine her relief? How set free she was? I just met the Savior of the world and I didn’t leave condemned! He knew my darkest areas of sin and shame and he offered me living water! Can you imagine the relief that she had to be fully known and still fully loved by the God of the Universe. Isn’t this what we long for? To be fully known and fully loved?
That’s what the Spirit wants to do. Reveal our deepest areas of sin and shame so that he can restore us to the deepest love in the world—the love of the God of the universe through the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. This is the only place of healing for us who try to hide our shame in the shadows or for those who try to hide their shame in the world by erasing the category altogether. Our hiding will never produce joy or hope. But, turning to Jesus will.
We get to model this love to one another by confessing our sins to one another and then rejoicing together that we have a Savior who loves us in our deepest, darkest places of shame, and he means to set us free to tell others of this kind of love. We bring each other to the sovereign Surgeon and remind each other that he’s also the satisfying Savior.
I won’t read all the verses, but notice in verses 31–38, the disciples break the awkward silence by telling Jesus to eat something. He responds by telling them he has food already. They respond kind of like the woman. “Who gave him food?” Jesus then tells them that it is his food to do the Father’s will. In other words, “My spiritual food is to obey the Father—to do what he calls me to do in bringing salvation to the poor, broken, outcast, and ashamed peoples of all nations.
And then, he invites them into this work. He says, the fields are white for harvest. Go, proclaim this healing to others. Go, proclaim this salvation to others. Join me in this work. I’ll do the hardest part, but you join me in it.
And the ironic thing is that as he’s speaking to them about this work: A brand new healed heart—a heart that has just been totally revealed and then restored—has run off to town, set free from shame to do this very work. And because of that, a group of “unclean Samaritans” was on their way to Jesus.
Application: The Spirit Uses Our Scars for the Sake of the Name (John 4:39–42)
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word.—John 4:39–41
So, this woman who had been hiding her wounds of shame is now giving testimony to the man who already knew it all. This is the beauty of the gospel. All of our most shameful places become pointers to the grace of God. We can say, “This is how great of a God we have. He knows all my sin, and he still draws near to me because of the work of Jesus. In fact, he works to reveal my sin to me so that I can see it, repent of it, and draw near to him again.”
And this isn’t just a one-time, conversion-type of thing. This is the ongoing life of the Christian. The Spirit works to reveal areas of sin, brings us to Jesus, and goes to work in healing those wounds of shame. And then, the open wounds that are so painful to the touch become scars that we can see that remind us of the work of the sovereign Surgeon of our souls.
Stone will always have some scars, but they point to the good work of healing the surgeon did.
And notice that each person eventually has his or her own encounter with Jesus.
It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard ourselves, and we know this is the Savior of the world.—John 4:42
You better believe we are going to be advocates for people to bring their children in for well-care child visits to catch these things and recommend our doctor. But, all people still will need to have their own heart surgery to fix the wounds that are there.
We are instruments in the Redeemer’s hands. But, those who have been saved by the sovereign Surgeon are filled with the Spirit who will continually reveal our wounds, continually bring us back to Jesus, and continually heal our wounds. The Christian life is a life of repentance—and therefore a life with all sorts of new scars that point to the deep, deep saving work of our Savior. People living by the Spirit in that way will always have the waters of eternal life welling up inside of them and overflowing to others. Evangelism is just an extension of praise. So, now is the moment to let him reveal the next thing, be restored, and then tell others of his redemption.