Bible Reading: John 4:1-38
“Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” [John 4:10]
We see in the story of Jesus and the woman of Samaria the remarkable way in which He connected with her and opened her to the truth. Not only did Jesus ask her for a favour, but He also began with what was of interest to the woman. They both wanted water! It was a perfectly natural setting to talk, and it is always easier to share the gospel in a natural setting rather than a false or artificially created situation.
I am reminded of the late Rev. Alf Lawson, who was a very godly Methodist minister. He lived in Hull but on one occasion needed to travel to a meeting in London. It was in the days when trains had compartments in each carriage. Alf was wearing his clerical collar and shared a compartment with another passenger. After a while the man asked Alf if he would like a cigarette. Alf politely declined, saying that he didn’t smoke. Nothing much was said after that until the train was close to London. Unexpectedly the man said to Alf, “You must think that I am a terrible sinner because I smoke.” Alf responded, “Of course not! We have never met before, and you offer me a cigarette. I think that you are a very generous man.” Before they arrived in London Alf led this man Christ! It was such a natural and not a falsely created situation.
The woman’s questions not only reveal her lack of real spiritual understanding but also her curiosity. When she asked, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman” [v.9], the door opened for Jesus to speak with her and He offered her living water. Jesus is speaking not only of the fresh water in the well, but also of the Holy Spirit who would dwell in believers. Later in John’s Gospel Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as “rivers of living water” that flow into and from the believer [John 7:37-39].
The woman takes what Jesus says literally and misunderstands Him, just as Nicodemus did [see John 3:4]. In John’s Gospel, Jesus frequently spoke in terms of the visible, physical world [birth, water, bread, light] to teach about spiritual life. Although the woman does not understand what Jesus is offering, a desire has been created within her, and so she asks, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw” [John 4:15].
Why is it much better that if an opportunity to share the gospel with someone opens up naturally? Why not make it a specific prayer that God would open doors for you to share the gospel in a totally natural way?
Why do you think that Jesus used the picture of living water to explain the Holy Spirit?
Why does Jesus not immediately grant the request of the woman of Samaria for the living water?