You could almost call this part two of "The Woman at the Well." Remember that last week, as we looked at the first half of the gospel of John, chapter 4, we saw Jesus' meeting and discussion with a woman at Jacob's well in Samaria. The disciples had gone into town to buy food, but as we pick up the narrative at verse 27, we see them coming back.
The disciples were amazed that Jesus had been speaking with a woman. Remember last week we talked about the place women had in society back then, and about how Rabbis would never speak with a woman in public. It was against Jewish law. But Jesus, having created women just as human as men, and seeing that they needed salvation just as desperately as men, reached out to them, ministered to them, and yes, even talked with them!
Jesus often broke religious rules of men. He had no respect for religion, because He knew that these things served to separate people from God, instead of drawing people towards God. In Mark chapter 7, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, saying,
Mark 7:8-9 "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." He was also saying to them, "You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition."
It is so important that we constantly analyze and examine our faith, to make sure that everything we believe, everything we practice, is in accordance with God's Word, not man's tradition.
Jesus, as we saw last week in verse 26, had just told the woman that He was Messiah. So she leaves her waterpot and hurries back to town to tell others. There is a natural progression of these three things that speaks volumes to us of how true Christian conversion works. First she believes the Son of God, then she leaves the waterpot, then she retrieves the men of the city.
She had believed in Jesus Christ. That He was the one who could give the gift of God, who could fill her with living water, who could give her eternal life, who could see into her mind, who was a prophet, who was Messiah. Jesus told Nicodemus,
John 3:15 ...Whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.
No one who does not believe can be accepted by God. Hebrews tells us,
Hebr. 11:6 ...Without faith it is impossible to please Him...
This woman believed in Christ - she had faith.
But believing is only the first step on the path of true conversion. Next, we see her leave her waterpot as she runs back to town. Waterpots were large, heavy, earthenware vessels, typically carried on the head. She could have made it back to town with the waterpot, but it would've taken longer - made the journey more difficult. The writer of the book of Hebrews told us,
Hebr. 12:1-2 ...Let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith...
It is so much easier to run this race without the entanglements of sin. It is so much easier to leave the weight of the waterpot behind. What is weighing you down today? What keeps you from pursuing God with all of you heart, with your all of your finances, with all of your time? Are you weighed down with things that take up your time - television, hobbies, social clubs, sports? These things aren't any worse that a waterpot - there isn't anything inherently sinful about them - but they weigh you down. They keep you out of church, out of the Word, out of prayer, out of fellowship. Let us lay aside every encumbrance. Leave the waterpot at the well and hurry on about the business of God.
Then we see that she goes into town and proclaims Christ to all who can hear. The person who has truly been converted from darkness into light tells others about Jesus Christ.
In the book of Acts, Peter and John were arrested for telling people about Jesus. They were thrown in jail, questioned, and threatened.
Acts 4:18-20 And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard."
If you have truly seen God, if you have truly heard the good news, you won't be able to stop talking about it.
Meanwhile, John turns the camera back to the scene at the well. The disciples, having come back from town with food, are trying to get Jesus to eat.
John 4:32 But He said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about."
As with most spiritual things Jesus said, the disciples were confused. They thought that He was talking about physical food for His stomach. He clarifies, telling them,
John 4:34 ..."My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work."
He had compared physical water with living water to the woman. Now, with the disciples, He is comparing physical food to the food of doing the will of God. When we experience hunger, food satisfies. When we are weak, food strengthens. When we are dying, food sustains us. Jesus is comparing food to doing the will of God. Doing the will of God also satisfies, strengthens, and sustains us.
Matt. 4:4 ..."It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'"
At the well, Jesus had just brought the gospel to a woman who was headed for hell. It was satisfying and strengthening to Him - even more so than the food that the disciples brought from town. If you've ever witnessed to someone, led someone to Christ, or ministered the Word of God to someone, you know that it is the most satisfying thing in the world. Doing the will of God is more satisfying than any meal you've ever eaten.
Back in verse 30, we saw that the people of the city were coming out to the well where Jesus was. Decked out in their white robes and turbans, the multitude coming out must have made the countryside look like a white field ready to harvest. And that's exactly what they were.
Often, a person is led to Christ by more than one person over more than one conversation. Remember what Paul told the Corinthians:
1Cor. 3:6-8 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
The people of Sychar in Samaria were prepared to be saved, just as a field in its maturity is prepared for reaping. The disciples hadn't done it all - but now they're in the right place at the right time to lead these people to Christ.
I'm sure Jesus was quite blessed to have the disciples there. He said in Mark 9 that...
Matt. 9:37 ..."The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few."
Unfortunately, the same is true today. All around us are souls just waiting to be harvested. People who will respond to the invitation of Jesus Christ if only someone would tell them. Romans 10:14 says,
Rom. 10:14 How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
If no one will preach and proclaim the gospel, people won't hear. And if they don't hear, they won't believe. And if they don't believe, then they won't call upon the Lord and be saved. The buck stops with you. Will you be a worker in the harvest?
The woman had testified of Christ's amazing ability to see what was in her heart and mind. That's what brought the people out, but then their faith went from vicarious to first-hand.
This is an important point: your testimony can open people up to listen, but it is the Word and the work of God that brings faith. Romans 10:17 says,
Rom. 10:17 ...Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
You see, if people believe because of your testimony, of your changed life in Christ, then they will also disbelieve if you fall short (which you will). But the Word of God is unchanging, the work of God unmatchable. Use your testimony for what it is - it is not the gospel, it is just a tool that God can use to open up someone's heart to hear the gospel.
You may recall that after Jesus was born, an angel warned Joseph that Herod was going to try and kill the child. So he took Mary and Jesus to Egypt until Herod died. He then took them into Israel.
Matt. 2:22-23 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he departed for the regions of Galilee, and came and resided in a city called Nazareth
So Jesus grew up in Nazareth of the region of Galilee. He had been on His way into Galilee when He had to pass through Samaria, resulting in quite a revival. Now, after spending two days with the Samaritans in Sychar, He continues on, headed out to the region He'd spent most of His earthly life.
The old saying is true: "Familiarity breeds contempt." Jesus' effectiveness was often hindered by those who had watched Him grow up.
We see this happening in Matthew 13, when Jesus comes into Nazareth. He was teaching in their synagogue, and they were blown away. "Where did this man get this wisdom, and these miraculous powers? Isn't this the carpenter's son?" Because they were familiar with Him, they took offense at Him.
Notice that they haven't rejected Him completely, but they've only got that shallow belief from seeing Him perform signs and wonders. They had been in Jerusalem at Passover and saw the signs He was doing. But remember that when we read that in chapter 2, Jesus put no confidence in that type of faith.
John 2:23-25 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, beholding His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man for He Himself knew what was in man.
He even says to this royal official, "You won't believe unless you see signs and wonders." Fortunately, the official's faith went deeper than that.
The royal official is asking Jesus to go to Capernaum with him. That was 12 or 15 miles away - easily a full day's journey.
But Jesus doesn't need to physically be in Capernaum to mightily heal in Capernaum. He heals the official's son with a statement. John tells us...
John 4:50 ...The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he started off.
What faith that must have taken! Here his son was dying, and the man simply believes.
Here again we see the believing, leaving, and retrieving pattern. The man believed that Jesus could heal his son. He left his doubt in Cana of Galilee, and when he got home, he retrieved every lost sheep in his household - and every one of them believed as well.
How important it is for us to have that kind of faith that doesn't require something visual or physical. Remember that Jesus told Thomas,
John 20:29 ..."Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."
Is your walk this morning a walk of sight? Or of faith? Are you ready to take Jesus at His Word alone?