Devotional insights on John 4:1-26
Who can fathom God’s deepest desire to have a vast family of children conformed to His own image? Was it fellowship that He sought? No doubt that was involved, but there is something else we should consider. It would seem the unique design of our spirit, soul, and body is to allow Him to fill us with Himself. Once we have really caught the significance of His indwelling we shall no longer live in barrenness and emptiness. Instead we shall enjoy the overflowing fullness of God Himself.
This account of the woman at the well is a most instructive passage of Scripture. It has always been amazing to me the way the Lord deals with souls. You read of His dealings with this woman, with the rich young ruler, and with other individuals that He encountered here on this earth, and it’s the most difficult thing in the world to try to deduce a pattern as to how to talk to people.
In the past, I have felt I saw something of a pattern here. I have, like most people, endeavored to follow some kind of a pattern. But I have drilled a dry hole. I have come to the realization that the way that I felt was the proper approach was not the anointed way, and it has troubled me for a long time.
On other occasions, I found that the natural process of things seem to make occasions. But with our young people in Argentina we have hit upon a principle that has become more or less a guiding principle. I’ve instructed the young people this way: When you go knocking on doors, touching lives here and there, don’t have anything pat to say. You know that’s just exactly the opposite of what we’re normally taught. And I’ve only come to this realization by running into so many difficulties along the other line.
We tell these young people, when you deal with a person, you just engage them in conversation that will allow them to express what’s in their minds or hearts. Don’t push anything. Don’t try to direct the conversation. Don’t look for opportunities to really preach to them. Just let things move along naturally until you sense that they are bringing out some areas of conscious need. You can’t get in a hurry if you’re going to deal with people this way. Then, when they get around to unveiling their area of conscious need, apply the living Word of God to this area of conscious need. You don’t go to preach a sermon, or to give them the ABC’s of salvation. You have gone to present reality to them in their area of conscious need.
It’s quite interesting to notice how Jesus opens conversation with this woman. He asks her a favor. Most of us are unwilling to get really involved with people. We ‘d rather just preach to them, just give them a witness, than to get ourselves under any obligation to them. I think right here is one of the keys to why our witness in our neighborhood, for instance, is not effective. We don’t want to get involved! You know very well when you start showing love and grace to the neighbor next to you, the first thing you know she’s going to come knocking on your door and want to borrow a cup of flour. Then she’ll be coming over and unloading all her burdens on you, and you don’t want them! Because you don’t want them, you just invite her to Sunday School. You invite her to come to hear the pastor preach. You invite her to a special meeting. You’re not really wanting to get involved. You’re wanting to be sort of a disinterested party so that you can direct her around, instead of letting God reveal His grace through you. This is so true, and it touches home so much that it really hurts when we come to be honest with ourselves.
The Lord Jesus puts Himself under obligation to this woman at the well when He asked her a favor. He was willing to be obligated, but we aren’t. I didn’t want to be as a young missionary. We would have our meetings, and I would preach to those present, but I would always endeavor to keep myself out of the way. I thought I was following a principle to direct them straight to God. I tell you frankly, the Lord has blown that principle all to pieces. Now I see that the only way that God can come to them is through me, or through some individual.
In Catholic countries we’re so conscious that there is no mediator between God and man, except Christ Jesus [1 Tim. 2:5], that we don’t want to be a mediator. Yet, looking at it from another side, the Lord is constantly mediating Himself to other people. He’s working through living channels; this is His choice. So the Lord asked this woman a favor. He said, “Give me to drink.” Jesus knows, of course, the problem between the races. Now He is the despised one. He’s a foreigner away from His own country, yet He asks her to give Him to drink. You see, He knows that if this woman can find out where the real thirst is that needs to be quenched, He can get to the area of her need easily. Where is she thirsty? Where is there a conscious need?
Right away the woman raises the question of race. “You’re a Jew. I’m a Samaritan. Why are You asking of me a drink? The Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.”
I can imagine as she speaks this out she begins to think, Now what has drinking got to do with the races? As she speaks out, she’s speaking out the traditional approach. Yet she knows there’s more to it than this.
Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God, and Who it is that is saying to you, give me to drink, you would have asked of Him, and He would have given you living water.”
You see, Jesus is saying, “You’re the one that needs the water. Do you know it?” He’s just moving right in, getting right close to home, see?
She responds by saying, “You don’t have a bucket. You don’t have a water pot. How are You going to get water? I’ve got the water pot.” And she begins to get into a little bit of confusion. “What’s going on here? Why, the well is deep, and how are You going to draw from this well?” She gets a little sarcastic. “Have You got some water that doesn’t come from this well? Are You greater than our father Jacob?”
I can imagine the contention between two races is rising up in her face and in her speech. She’s a little provoked with this Jew that is speaking to her. Then He tells her a principle that He knows all too well. He said, “You’ve been drinking this water all your life, and you have to keep coming back every day. You know what a wearisome thing it is to walk back and forth with this water pot on your head. If you drink of the water that I give you, you’ll never thirst. When you drink, it will become in you as a well.”
Now you know. Jesus was expressing more truth to her than the majority of Christians have ever grasped. Most of us still come to the well.
“Lord! Lord! Lord!” We’re still trying to pray something down out of heaven. We’re still trying to get God to do something, still trying to get God to answer this situation over here, and take care of this problem, this difficulty. And we’re still thirsty. We’re still conscious of our need, so we keep coming back to the well. Now Jesus stated to her that if you once drink this water, you can throw your buckets away; you can throw your water pot away, because the well is within you.
Part 1 of 4. This is from the book, Designed to Express His Life. Italics added. For ordering information, please contact Grace Fellowship International: firstname.lastname@example.org. Orville is the older brother of popular author and radio teacher, Chuck Swindoll. Most of Orville’s missionary work and writing is in Spanish. His web site is http://www.orvilleswindoll.com.
For more on “Man as Spirit, Soul and Body,” see the editor’s book with this title at https://gracenotebook.com/books-in-print/.