'Need' is a Significant Component to the Gospel Message
In this post I would like to take a look at the gospel given to the woman at the well in the Gospel of John, Chapter 4. In the next post I plan to ask some critical questions.
The key to understanding the gospel content that saves the lost person coming to Christ, comes through the understanding that apart from God's presence with us our world is broken, and humanity, depraved. The gospel given to the woman at the well in John 4 was tailored to her personal restoration and went beyond, fulfilling her in the promise given to Abraham and his offspring. Take a new look at the gospel the Samaritan woman at the well heard, received, and for which she abandoned her jar to tell her countrymen.
The Woman at the Well: My Homework
A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
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.”
The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”Who are her five husbands? Being Samaritan, I can guess who they are. 2 Kings 17:24
The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”
Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities.All five "possessed" Samaria, they all "dwelt," or entered, her. We don't know for sure which people-group and their false god represents the current man she currently is residing with as an unmarried woman. But I rejoice that at least she had not been married to the last one like she had the first five, exalting and officiating in high places for various sorts of false worship as it says in 2 Kings 17:32,
So they feared the LORD, and from every class they appointed for themselves priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. They feared the LORD, yet served their own gods—according to the rituals of the nations from among whom they were carried away.The woman at the well doesn't seem (at this point) to be the sinful woman she is usually characterized as being. Instead, theologically astute. It might be possible that the man she "now has" is the LORD Himself. She has Him in the sense that the Samaritans somehow went on fearing God in spite of their adulterous service to false gods. But the Samaritans no longer know Him since He no longer knows her. John 4:19-20
The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”She perceives how He is aware of the sin of Samaria. Seizing the very heart of the issue, as any woman would who has waited a long time for salvation, she admits: I still fear you. But I don't know you like I did once upon a time. He shows her how to know Him. John 4:21-22
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.As the Apostle John uses the word in his epistle, "know" means fellowship. She divorced all her former false gods and was a 'single woman' so to speak, an unconvinced God-seeker. This is repentance over what Samaria did at first, and Jesus knew it. Her repentance must have already taken place before Jesus met her at the edge of the well. They agreed about the past of Samaria. The study-note in my bible says,
The Jews insisted that the exclusive place of worship was Jerusalem. But the Samaritans had set up a rival worship site on Mount Gerizim.... When the blessings and curses were read to the wilderness generation of Israel, the blessings were read from Mount Gerizim. Deuteronomy 27:4 instructed that an altar be erected on Mount Ebal, opposite Mount Gerizim. But the Samaritan scripture changed the verse to read "Mount Gerizim." The Samaritans altered history and tampered with the text of Scripture to glorify Mount Gerizim. Samaria of old sounds like the false woman in Proverbs 9, who claims "stolen water is sweet" and causes men to worship false gods, because she "knows nothing" (Prov. 9:13). The woman at the well, however, knows a very few things about the God she and her territory abandoned and the Savior, more importantly, who is coming.
Worshiping now in Spirit, Later in "Truth"
How is Samaria to go on with Christ? Jesus explains the where and how worship will take place, and she is all ears. John 4:23,
But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”Old Testament prophecies about end-time events tell us what Jesus means. They will worship God, "In Truth" - the name given to a location on earth known as New Jerusalem. Zechariah 8:3,
“Thus says the LORD:Salvation has come through the Jews; Jesus Christ and the remnant of Israel. The Kingdom of God is at hand in Jesus Christ, and during His first coming it was present on earth. As Jesus sits there on the edge of the well in the heat of the day, His Kingdom is before any people of any nation. What does His kingdom look like today? Today, there is no Temple in Jerusalem and so wherever the church is, there is the only dwelling. But when Christ comes again, His Spirit will annex geographical location, possessing not only the souls of His people but also territory on earth. During the millennial reign of Christ, the nations will seek Him by traveling to this geographical residence of His church. Zech. 8:20-23,
‘I will return to Zion,
And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth,
The Mountain of the LORD of hosts,
The Holy Mountain.’
“Thus says the LORD of hosts:Revelation 21 contextually puts into proximity both the fountain of Living Waters from which everyone is invited to drink, and the coming of the New Jerusalem, Christ's holy people. The resurrected church is the dwelling of God in Jerusalem. Rev 21:2-7
‘Peoples shall yet come,
Inhabitants of many cities;
The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying,
“Let us continue to go and pray before the LORD,
And seek the LORD of hosts.
I myself will go also.”
Yes, many peoples and strong nations
Shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem,
And to pray before the LORD.’
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’”
Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”Isaiah has exactly the same thing; the New Jerusalem (characterized as being clad with precious materials) is contextually in proximity to the offer of drinking from the fountain of Living Water (see Isaiah 54:10-55:9). Indeed, the pure "water of life" has its ultimate source in New Jerusalem as depicted in Revelation 21 and into 22. Rev. 22:1,
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
The OT prophesies being fulfilled in both Jesus' first advent and in Revelation seem to be endless. Earlier in Isaiah 54 God speaks to His covenant people as to a wife. Isaiah 54:5
For your Maker is your husband,It seems very likely that the woman understood the significance of their location as they sat and conversed. Living water would flow from the location of the New Jerusalem, a woman intended for the Holy One.
The LORD of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”What is she referring to when she confesses, "He will teach us all things?" John 4:25-29
The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”A Prophet after Moses was to be known by noting the thing they say will come to pass (deut 18:15-22). If they speak correctly... then they ought to be feared. Jesus had told her what would come to pass saying, "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him (John 4:23)." All of a sudden location did not impede worship. The presence of Jesus was affective! In the gospel accounts many people were prepared to worship Jesus while being in His presence even before the Spirit had covenantally been poured out on the church. She "knew" Him now. Imagine her surprise to be experiencing the presence of God by being in the presence of Jesus. She need not travel to Jerusalem because she was able to worship God right here at the well! His words about the future were coming true during their conversation. It was this very experience, this very foretold truth, that caused her to leave her jar behind and run off to tell them, 'This is the Prophet!"
Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”
The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
Jesus' Messiah-status would mean He would teach all things on behalf of God "I will put My Words in His mouth" (Deut. 18:18). According to the revealed mystery we know now in the gospel, this would be fulfilled through the promise of the ministry of the Holy Spirit God.
Formerly I focused my theology on the Holy Spirit's Living Water deposited as a one-moment event. John 7:37-39
On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)His Spirit leads men into all Truth. John 16:13,
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.He will tell the church the "things to come"? This leading of the Spirit into all truth is not only for now, not only an experience for this age. It is also for the Millennial reign, a thousand years of God's ministry to the world from His throne in the New Jerusalem! Unlike this age, in the next age knowledge of the LORD will be simple to access, but understanding Him will take an eternity. Quickly she gained intimacy with Christ by a first drink of living water. But: He was not a one-moment husband, was He? That had been their original error. Indeed; He was and is a husband into eternity. Projecting forward, God's truth and righteousness will not be manifest in the millennium in every corner of the planet. This will be the work to be accomplished by Jesus under His thousand year rule. Isaiah 2:2-3
Now it shall come to pass in the latter daysThe Samaritan woman and her people were looking forward to this Spiritual quality of the Christ's coming, not only for this age with Jesus before her, but also the age to come. The men in the city also knew after hearing Him that they were invited to be incorporated into the Holy City in true worship of God, the treasured Wife of the Lamb (and also see the end of enmity between Israel and Judah).
That the mountain of the LORD’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”"Come, hear Him for yourself," is the message for the Samaritan and for the faithful Old Testament believer. It is the message for all the nations.
The earthly Temple was destroyed in Jerusalem in A.D. 70. This is why Jesus teaches the woman, "the time is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father." We are sojourners and pilgrims on earth (1 Pet. 2:11), yet "our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself" (phil. 3:20-21).
Until His second coming, we only have the opportunity to worship the Father in the Temple that dwells inside us. It does not matter yet what location we worship from, because wherever we are, we are with Christ and in His Kingdom. Jesus used the truth about the program of the church age to show Himself to be a prophet to the woman. But the Father still "desires" all "true" worshipers to worship Him in spirit and in truth; the City of Truth (Zech. 8:3). In the resurrection, we all must do so. By acknowledging her very important question about the future location of worship, He satisfies Samaria's desperate thirst for God's presence. His kingdom is "now, but not yet." John 4:21-24,
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”The fountain of Living Waters is given to serve Christ and manifest righteousness into eternity, and we already know we need every drop, every day.
[Continue to the next post:]
How Much We Need Need (part 2)
 Thomas Nelson Inc., 1997. NKJV Study Bible, pg. 1766.