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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC 8am service, 2000-07-02

Text: John 4:1-30

Today we are starting on a new series of messages with the theme of God's Wonderful Dealings in Our Lives. And the topic that we will consider this morning is God's awaking us from false hopes. Is this a relevant to us? Yes, it is? Because before we came to know Christ, many of us were actually living with false hopes. Some were led to believe that our dead ancestors would help them through this life. Some were depending on the constant observance of some special ritual to ensure that they would live better in the 'next life.' And some others were perhaps trusting in some teaching or philosophy they had read and been impressed with. And some were encouraged to trust in themselves and their own abilities and powers. And perhaps many of us would have continued to put all our hopes in these things, if the Lord had not awakened us one day to see them all for what they really are: nothing but false hopes. 

Dearly beloved, the world we live in is filled with things that look so genuine, that look so impressive and convincing, that people will readily take them to meet their needs. Sometimes, we are taken in because of the nice packaging they come in, accompanied with much aggressive advertising. But when we commit ourselves and invest much time, effort and money in it, we find that there is nothing really great about it. They do not deliver the expected goods or benefits. We feel cheated and robbed, and that we have been taken for a ride! And so we must be careful, to put our trust and hopes only in things that are proven to be genuine, and in the things that will really meet our needs. 

The passage that we read awhile ago is all about a woman who had many needs. Firstly, she needed water (v.7) - that is why she came to the well carrying her waterpot. That was obviously a physical need. Secondly, she had a moral need - she was apparently living in immorality (v.18). Thirdly, she needed knowledge (v.25) since she longed for the day when the Messiah would come and tell her all the knowledge of God that she needed to know. But the most important need she had was her spiritual need - Her need of salvation from sin and eternal death. 

These are all the needs she had. But what did she depend on to meet those needs? What things did she put her hopes in? The passage provide us with some interesting clues. In v.12 she talked about Jacob, her ancestor, and how he gave them a well. 

He had been the well's owner and left it to meet the physical needs of his descendants. But apparently the woman was not too happy about that well. It was too far from where she lived. In v.15 she reveals how she wished to be rid of the inconvenience of having to come to it everyday, and exerting so much physical effort to draw water from its depths (v.11). 

Verse 18 provides another clue about what this woman put her hopes in. Here we learn that she had lived with five husbands (probably not all at the same time, but one after another.) Perhaps her first marriage had brought her so much unhappiness and disappointment that she went after someone else, hoping for something better. But the same thing happened again and again, and in the end, none of her five marriages had satisfied her. So she had decided not to even bother to seek for marriage with the latest man in her life! 

In v.20 the woman mentions another thing she depended upon, and that is all the traditions that had been handed down from generation to generation ('Our fathers worshipped God on this mountain'). That was probably her only source of knowledge. And she had accepted these traditions without question all along. Since her Samaritan forefathers had worshipped God on that mountain, then that mountain must be the place to worship God. But why then did the Jews claim that Jerusalem was the place where men ought to worship God? Had her forefathers been wrong? And if they were wrong about such an important thing as where God should be worshipped, could she rely any more on all the other traditions she received from them? Well, she must have longed earnestly enough for the answer to this question, to ask Jesus all about it when she knew that he was a prophet of God. 

And Jesus, the omniscient Lord, knew all about this woman: her needs, her disappointments, and all the things that she had put her hopes in - her false hopes. And He offered her what she really needed and what He alone could give: the Living Water. Anyone who drinks this water and experiences its wonderful grace and power in his life, will surely testify that all the benefits and blessings claimed for it are absolutely true. And he will want others to find life and refreshment in the abundant streams of living water.

We notice this effect in the life of this Samaritan woman that Christ met. When she first saw Christ at the well, she did not know who Jesus was at all. He was a total stranger to her. And at the beginning she was even a little bit hostile toward Him ('How is it that thou being a Jew askest a drink of me'?). But after she heard the wonderful words He spoke to her, her life was completely changed.

Jesus Christ became the most important person in her life. She even went back to her city and with great excitement and conviction, she advertised Christ widely to all the people, bringing them to Him, so that they may also come and drink the living water He gives.

I would like you to notice how this woman's knowledge of Christ grew step by step as He talked with her. In v.9 she regards Him only as a Jew. By the time we reach v.19, she is already convinced that He is a prophet. And finally, another 10 verses later, she is actively and joyfully proclaiming to everyone that He is none other than the Messiah, the Christ (v.29)!

Dearly beloved, may we also be so refreshed by drinking the living water, that we would want to advertise it to everyone, and get as many people as we can to come and drink that living water Christ gives. I believe that the Lord wants us to be excited about sharing the living water with others. As we study it together I would like to highlight three attractive features of this living water. The first attractive feature is:

I. It is given free to all who will just ask for it (v.10)

This is the first thing Christ taught the woman, when He said in v.10 - 'If thou knowest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.'

'Ask from Me, and I will give you living water to drink.' That's what Jesus was telling her. The interesting thing about this statement, is that just before this, it was Jesus who was asking her to give Him water to drink. By reversing the request, Jesus was really making a transition from His own physical need, which could be quenched quite easily by a simple drink, to her spiritual need, which He in turn, could meet.

While Jesus was enjoying the cool refreshing water from her pot, the woman asked our Lord, in v.9 - 'How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.' From the way that Jesus was dressed and perhaps from His Hebrew accent, the woman could tell that Jesus was not a Samaritan but a Jew.

Perhaps the clothes that Jesus wore were also the kind that was worn by all Jewish rabbis or the highly respected teachers of those days. History tells us that many Jewish rabbis in those days would not have cared to carry on a public conversation with a woman. And they would never ever drink from a Samaritan pot, because it was considered to be defiling to them. But Jesus, though he was a rabbi, had broken both these customs by asking her for a drink and then drinking from her waterpot.

The woman was so surprised at this, that she had to ask Jesus about this. The principle we see here is that Christ does not discriminate against anyone of whatever race or background. The salvation and abundant life Christ offers is available to all, free of charge, regardless of who they are or where they come from. This principle is stated in v.10 by Jesus when he answered the woman's question, saying 'If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.' This statement contains an attractive promise, as well as an invitation. The invitation is 'Ask me for God's gift of living water.' The promise is: 'I will give it to you.'

You don't have to work for it. You don't have to pay for it or suffer to get it. It is a free gift from God. All you have to do is ask for it. In Isaiah 55:1 the same offer is made in the Old Testament: 'To every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.'

The living water Christ gives is given free of charge to anyone who will just ask for it. It does not matter whether you are a Jew or a Samaritan, man or woman, rich or poor, great or small. No one is left out from being offered the gift. There are perhaps some who feel that Christ can never save them nor would He accept them, because the sins they have committed are just too great to be forgiven. If there is anyone here today who feels this way, please be assured by the Word of God this morning, that Christ came to save even the worst of all sinners. The words of a familiar hymn says: 'The vilest offender who truly believes that moment from Jesus a pardon receives!' How wonderful this gift of God is, since it is freely offered to all who will just ask for it. This is an important feature of the living water that must attract one and all to come and receive it. But there is another feature that should attract people to the living water:

II. It really satisfies the deepest needs of our lives (v.14)

How does it satisfy our deepest needs? The living water that Christ offers is able to do this because it is spiritual. It does not come in bottles or barrels. The Samaritan woman missed this meaning at first, thinking that this living water Christ offered was some new or special kind of fresh spring water that tasted better or quenched thirst better than the water from Jacob's well. And this is why she said to him 'Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?' (v11).

The Lord's answer in verses 13 and 14 made it very clear that the living water is spiritual. It satisfies us far deeper than just our physical needs. It meets the innermost needs of our lives: our spiritual needs, needs that cannot be met by anything else in this world. Ordinary water would only quench thirst temporarily; the living water would quench the inner thirst of our souls forever. Ordinary water in the well had to be drawn up with hard work; the spiritual water would bubble up from within our hearts as 'a well of water' inside us springing up into everlasting life!

This flowing spring of water within us actually describes the new principle of spiritual life that is found in every person who has received Christ into his heart. When we put our trust in Jesus, we receive the Holy Spirit, who indwells us forever and becomes our inner source of constant guidance, assurance, joy, comfort, peace and strength. (John 7:37-39) Our lives will experience not only the forgiveness of sins, but also the desire and power to live lives that are holy and pleasing to God. Sin will no longer have control over our wills, and we will be able to serve the Lord well, and be able to bring great blessings into the lives of other people as well.

In v.15, the woman still thought that Christ was talking about ordinary water to meet her physical needs, as she said 'Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.' Perhaps she had in mind some kind of special magical liquid that one can drink once, and after that not have to drink anymore. If such a thing did exist, it would certainly solve plenty of problems in this world. We won't need so many reservoirs or be so anxious when there is a water shortage.

But the real problems in the world cannot be solved simply by providing for all the physical and material needs of mankind. That is because the root of all these problems is spiritual. The origin is found in the heart of every person. That root or origin is Sin. You will notice that in v.16 Christ asks the Samaritan woman to go and call her husband. Why did He do this? It seems strange that He should suddenly at this point of the conversation tell her to fetch her husband. But He was actually helping the woman to overcome her failure to understand His words.

Jesus was touching a raw nerve, a sensitive issue when he mentioned her husband, because she was living in sin. By doing this, he was making her see her need for spiritual and moral renewal, a need which the spiritual water He offered would meet. Jesus could see every shameful detail of her life. In v.18 He told the whole story of that woman's life to her.

How would you react if you met someone who knew every secret detail of your life, including all the awful personal things you wished no one would know? I think you would feel most uncomfortable. This may explain why the woman very quickly tried to change the subject (v.19). She wanted to move the conversation away from her personal life. But the point had been made. She knew that she was standing before the One who knew her deepest guilt and shame. But she also knew that He had offered to give her the living water she needed to wash away her sins and help her start life anew. And thus, she wanted to know more about Him. And we see that in vv.25 and 26 as she discovers another wonderful feature about the living water:

III. It enlightens us in all essential truth (vv.25,26)

As the subject of the conversation now drifted into theological issues, the Samaritan woman begins to realize that Jesus was more than just another Jewish rabbi.

When she asked Him about the right place of worship, He replied on His own authority that 'true worshippers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.' (23) Matthew 7:29 tells that whenever people heard Jesus teaching they were astonished, because 'He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.' Like all the disciples who heard Christ's wonderful teaching her heart must have burned within her as she heard the Lord. Such enlightening words about God and the way He should be worshipped also met another important need in the woman's life. It met her need for the knowledge of truth.

All of us have this same need. We all need to be enlightened in the knowledge of all essential truth. John Calvin defined True knowledge as having two components: The knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves. When we come to Jesus Christ, he reveals both of these things to us. As we study His word, we learn truths about God. And as we learn about God, the Holy Spirit within us takes that knowledge and makes us aware of how short we have fallen of the glory of God.

The more we learn about our true sinful selves, the more we want to learn about God, and how He can save us and help us to live for Him. This ever-growing knowledge begins only when we drink the living water from Christ and begin having a close relationship with Him.

Coming back to our study, we see that this woman had some knowledge about God's word. She knew for example, that Christ would come one day. In v.25 she says: 'I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things.' What she had just learned from Jesus about worship caused her to express her desire to know all the things about God. How she wished to clear up all her ignorance, the confusion and questions she had in her mind about life, about God and even about herself. How she looked forward to the time when the Messiah will come and teach her all essential truth.

And when Jesus revealed to her that He was that Messiah, suddenly everything about that conversation she had with Him fell into place. Who else but the Messiah could offer the living water that quenches the deepest needs of the soul? Who else but the Messiah could see every detail of her sinful life? Who else but the Messiah could teach with such great authority the wonderful truths about God that no man knew about? Here was the long-awaited Messiah!

Can you imagine how she must have felt at this moment? What a privilege she had had to talk with Him! What great love He had to reach out to her, of all persons, and to accept her despite all her past sins. No wonder in v.28 she immediately went into the city and called everyone to see Jesus, forgetting even to take her waterpot! How excited she must have been, going from street to street and from door to door, calling to one and all to come and meet the Messiah!

As we end this message there are some important issues that stand before us and demand a response from us. We see Jesus, offering us Living Water. We have seen three wonderful features about this living water. First, it is given free to all who will just ask for it. Secondly, it really satisfies the deepest needs of our lives. and Thirdly, it enlightens us in the knowledge of all essential truths. Having seen all that there are two questions I would like you to consider:

The first is: 'Have we come to the well of living water and received the life-giving streams from our Lord Jesus? Is there within our hearts right now a well of living water springing up into everlasting life?'

The second question to consider we should ask ourselves is: 'If I have been so wonderfully satisfied with this living water, can I keep it to myself? What am I going to do for the people in my life whose lives are drying up because they have been looking for satisfaction only in the dry wells of this world?'

Vision & Mission


To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

February 18 & 25 - Fruit of Obedience

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. John 15:10