Luis Palau, a Latin-American evangelist, tells of the conversion of a woman in Peru whose life was radically transformed by the power of Christ. Rosario was her name. She was a terrorist, a brute of a woman who was an expert in the martial arts. As a terrorist she had participated in the death of twelve policemen. When Luis conducted a crusade in Lima, she learned of it. Being incensed at the message of the Gospel, she made her way to the stadium with the intent to kill the preacher. Inside the stadium, as she contemplated how to get to him, she began to listen to the message he was preaching. She fell under conviction for her sins, and embraced Christ as her Savior.
Ten years later, Luis met this convert for the first time. By this time she had assisted in the establishment of five churches. She was a vibrant, active Christian witness and worker in the church, and had founded an orphanage that cared for over a thousand children.
Almost two thousand years before this amazing transformation, another notorious woman was converted through the words of the Savior Himself. We don’t know her name, but in this sermon we will be studying the dramatic change in her life, and how the Lord used her testimony in a mighty way. We will also learn the lesson that the Lord Jesus is teaching His disciples as the effects of this woman’s conversion are in the process of happening.
I. THE DISCIPLES’ REACTION (verse 27)
The Lord Jesus has been talking to the woman at the well, offering her living water, revealing her “secret” sins, and then revealing Himself as the Messiah that she had been longing to see. Here in verse 27 the scene changes. “And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He had been speaking with a woman; yet no one said, ‘What do you seek?’ or, ‘Why do you speak with her?’ “ It was not customary for Jewish men to speak to women in public, and it was forbidden to speak to Samaritan women. That was the teaching of the Rabbi’s during that period of time. If it had been one of their fellow-disciples engaged in that conversation, they might have said something like “You know that is forbidden! What’s the matter with you?” But no one questioned Jesus, or rebuked Him. Their respect for Jesus was great, and they were beginning to realize that He didn’t share their prejudices. He treated all people with respect and love, and they were learning from His example.
II. THE WOMAN’S RESPONSE (verses 28-29)
It’s obvious to me, from verse 27, that the passage of Scripture we are studying does not record every word of the conversation between the Lord Jesus and the Samaritan woman. When the disciples return to the well, the two of them are still conversing with each other. What’s recorded here is what the Spirit of God revealed to the apostle John, and he recorded in his gospel.
Verses 28 and 29 focus on the woman’s reaction and response to the words and claims of Jesus. “So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city, and said to the men, ‘Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?’ ” We can see from her words and her actions that this woman had believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, was converted. and became a devoted follower of Him. Like Rosario in my opening illustration, her life was completely changed, and in her case we get to see the immediate results. She left her waterpot behind at the well when she left. She was so filled up with the “Living Water” that both her spiritual and her physical thirsts were completely satisfied. Besides, she was going to be coming back for it very soon. The city of Sychar was at least half a mile from the well, and I believe she ran the whole distance! This woman immediately became the first woman-evangelist in the New Testament. She even gave an invitation: “Come and see”! She said those words respectfully, wanting them to find out firsthand and come to their own conclusions. Her last words are “This is not the Christ, is it?” She believes it. Jesus Christ has already changed her life; but she is saying those words to arouse their curiosity. They are looking forward to Messiah’s coming also. Enthusiasm can be contagious, and this woman certainly had enthusiasm that day! She was starting her life all over again, and getting off to a running start!
This brings an illustration to mind. A young salesman was disappointed about losing a big sale, and as he talked with his sales manager he lamented, “I guess it just goes to prove you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” The manager replied, “Son, take my advice: your job is not to make him drink. Your job is to make him thirsty.” (Preaching, Dec., 1985). This woman, by her words, her attitude. and actions had created a thirst in the men of Sychar, and they were following her to the well in the hope of satisfying that thirst.
III. INVITATION ACCEPTED (verse 30)
A miracle was about to occur in the city of Sychar. Normally the men of that city would not dare to be seen in the presence of such an immoral woman, and would have refused to talk to her, but something had drastically changed about this woman, and they could see it in her face and hear it in their voice. I imagine that she was breathless from running that distance, and there were tears of joy in her eyes and an expression of excitement on her face. The Spirit of the Lord had also gone before her to prepare their hearts for what she was going to tell them.
Amazingly, the men of the city decided to accept her invitation and began to follow her to Jacob’s well. They wanted to find out for themselves whether or not her words to them were true. We’re not talking about a handful of men, or a company of men, or even a large group of men. If “all” of the men in the city of Sychar followed her, there would have been hundreds of men, stretched across the countryside, coming to Jesus!
A similar situation and response occurred in Mainland China. A Chinese farmer, after having cataracts removed from his eyes, made his way from the Christian compound to the far interior of China. Only a few days later, however, the missionary doctor looked out his bamboo window and noticed this formerly blind man holding the front end of a long rope. In single-file, and holding onto the rope behind him were several dozen blind Chinese whom the farmer had rounded up and led for miles to the doctor who had worked a “miracle” on his eyes. His restored sight was cause enough for this man to share what had happened to him with those in like condition. (1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching).
IV. MEANWHILE . . . BACK AT THE WELL (verses 31-34)
A. DISCUSSION ABOUT FOOD (verses 31-33)
Verse 31 may not seem to be saying much of any consequence, but it is actually a pivotal verse that gives us much information about the disciples. “In the meantime the disciples were requesting Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, eat’.” Those two words, “Rabbi, eat”. speak volumes about their trip to Sychar to buy groceries. Let me describe what I mean. A group of twelve Jewish men show up at the market place in Sychar, Samaria that afternoon. Do you think anybody noticed? I think every eye in the market place was on them, wondering what they were doing in their city. I also think that the disciples could sense this, and felt uneasy about it. Did the disciples make use of this opportunity to tell the people about Jesus and invite them to meet Him? No. Did they say anything to anybody at all? If they did, it would only have been what was absolutely necessary in order to purchase the food. How do I know that? Because of those two words, “Rabbi, eat”, which indicate that their only concern was the enjoyment of the food they bought. Add to that the fact that they “marveled” that Jesus was talking to this Samaritan woman. If they had been witnesses of Christ to those people, they would have come back with hearts full of joy and love, and their first concern would have been to tell Jesus how God had used them. In fact, the men of the city might have followed them back to the well to meet Jesus if they had been invited to do so. Sadly, their prejudices and their concern for themselves got in the way, and the disciples were ineffectual for the Lord on that day.
In response to the entreaty of His disciples, Jesus says in verse 32, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” The Lord Jesus has a masterful way of generating curiosity in His listener or listeners. He peaked the curiosity of Nicodemus and the woman at the well through His conversations with each of them, using physical realities as a transition into spiritual realities. He does so once again with His disciples and gets a similar reaction. They are whispering to one another in verse 33, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” They thought He was talking about physical food because they had never experienced the joy and excitement of bringing another person to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as their Messiah, their Lord and King.
B. DOING THE WILL OF THE FATHER (verse 34)
Jesus overhears their quiet conversation with one another so He gives them an explanation in verse 34, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.” Doing His Father’s will was the essence of His life. It brought Him complete satisfaction and renewed His spirit the way that food nourishes and renews the body. In this case, doing the will of the Father meant sharing the good news of forgiveness of sins and eternal life with the woman at the well. It was the good news that her long-awaited Messiah had come and revealed Himself to her.
Have you ever been so happy and excited that you didn’t even feel like eating? Did you just want to think about what happened and share it with everyone who would listen to you. If you’ve had such an experience, then you know what Jesus is talking about. Jesus speaks about doing the Father’s will several times during His life on earth, and He faithfully did so. If we change one word in verse 34, we can apply it to our own lives as well. “My food is to do the will of Him who SAVED me, and to accomplish His work.” The Lord Jesus gave us a perfect example of what it means to do the will of the Father, even to the point of death on the cross for us. In this particular instance, doing the will of the Father refers to the salvation of souls. That was the food that nourished His spirit the way physical food nourishes and strengthens the body and delights the senses.
Is something missing in your life? Are there major questions that are still unanswered and issues that are still unresolved? Does life seem to have no meaning or purpose beyond this present moment? Have you been trying to fill that void with all kinds of earthly things to no avail. You’re not alone. One of the greatest and wealthiest men of all time had the same problem and tried to solve it “his way”. His name is Solomon the king, the son of David, king of Israel. He wrote a book of the Bible entitled “Ecclesiastes” describing his problem of not being able to find lasting joy and purpose in life. He pursued human wisdom, pleasure, riches, fame, building projects, and other pursuits but could find no lasting satisfaction. He said it was all “striving after wind” (Eccl. 1:14,17). The book of Ecclesiastes ends with these words: “The conclusion, when all else has been heard, is fear (worship) God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether good or evil” (Eccl. 12:13-14). Prior to this statement, Solomon said that the truly wise are like goads, irritating our consciences until we allow the Shepherd to nail down those truths forever as convictions in our lives through faith in Him. Will you give your life over to the Shepherd today? Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27-28). There is no better place to be, and no greater One to follow. Whose sheep are you?
If you are a Christian, or just became a Christian, did you know that surveys taken by the Billy Graham Association, Campus Crusade for Christ, and other Christian organizations have found that the number one reason why many Christians don’t share their faith is because of the fear of what others might think of them? But if you are truly enthusiastic about your faith in Jesus, you won’t let anyone or anything get in your way. That concern won’t even enter your mind because you’ll be thinking about the will of God and the person’s need, not about yourself. Pastor and author, Stuart Briscoe gives a very concise definition of a witness: “A witness is someone who, by explanation and demonstration, gives audible and visible evidence of what he has seen and heard, without being deterred by the consequences of his action” (S. Briscoe, “Getting Into God”, p. 76). Let’s ask God to empower our witness as we strive to tell everyone we know about the life-changing message of the Gospel, and let them see how that message, and the Person of Jesus Christ, has changed our lives.
Thank you for visiting. I hope that this study of God’s Word has been of encouragement to you today. The next passage of Scripture that I will be studying is John 4:35-42. There are also over one hundred completed sermons on this site and you are welcome to visit them all. May the grace and peace of the Lord be with you today and always. May you delight in doing the will of God and sharing the Word of God with others.