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.” – John 4:9
“You talkin’ to me?” is not a phrase uncommon to the urban world. We’re not “talkin’” about a polite inquiry here. We’re talking about a phrase of indignation. It’s a phrase that can invite violence. It’s a phrase that puts up a barrier; it announces someone has crossed the line; the imaginary boundary that protects personal space. One way or the other, it’s a phrase of clarification. It brings a conversation into focus and identifies the parties speaking. When you read a message like this, hear a sermon or someone tries to engage you in a conversation concerning the things of God maybe you say or think, “You talkin’ to me?” Is that for me? If you aren’t walking with the Lord, Jesus is talkin’ to you. Are you listening?
We see a version of “You talkin’ to me?” in a conversation between Jesus and a Samaritan woman in John 4. Jesus purposely went into a Jewish no travel zone known as Samaria. The account states, “But He needed to go through Samaria” (John 4:1-6a). Jesus had a divine appointment to keep.
“Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well.” (John 4:6b). Jesus was “wearied.” Jesus was hungry (Mat. 4:2; 21:18; Luke 4:2). Jesus needed sleep (Mat. 8:24; Mk. 4:38; Luke 8:23). Jesus, God in the flesh, willingly became a weak human. In Hebrews it states, “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17; cf. also Phil. 2:5-8). Jesus is merciful. He gave His life to satisfy justice and pay off our deserved death penalty. Jesus, the God of the universe, allowed Himself to be put in a situation where He would be wearied. That’s incredible grace. Why did He do it? Because He wanted us to know and see that He knows and sees us right where we live. Jesus is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Jesus knows how weak we are. He empathizes with us and knows us. He became one of us, without sin. He shows us the way of holiness. He made Himself accessable and knowable, at great cost; death. That’s how much He loves us.
“It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. (John 4:6c-7a). Normally women would come to the well to draw water early in the morning. It was better to draw the heavy water in the cool of the morning than in the blisteringly hot day sun. This woman drew water at “the sixth hour” or around noon. Why did she come at noon to draw water? She was probably trying to avoid meeting other woman or really anyone at the well. Later we will learn that this woman was living in sin. She’s an outcast and probably ashamed or at least shunned by other women in her community.
It continues, “Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink. . . .” (John 4:7b). Why didn’t Jesus offer to draw water for this woman? Wouldn’t that be the polite thing for Him to do? Was He too shunning her? No, I don’t think so. There’s an important reason Jesus asked this woman for some water. A viable way to enter into a witnessing conversation is not always to do something for someone else. Another way of reaching people is to humbly ask them for help. Allowing people to invest in you or help you is a good way to reach them. That’s what Jesus did here. Sometimes we need to receive first before we can give the gospel.
“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.” (John 4:9). These words of the woman seem a bit indignant. Or maybe she is simply surprised. Personally, I sense a bit of defiance; defensiveness in the woman’s words. This is her, “You talkin/ to me?” It was very unusual for a Jewish man to even speak with a woman let alone a Samaritan woman.
Jews and Samaritans were at odds with one another historically. Samaritans were the product of Jews who compromised and broke God’s law intermarrying with gentile Assyrians (cf. Ec. 34:10-16; Deut. 7:3-4). Jews looked down on Samaritans as an unwanted presence in what Jews saw as their land. We have a similar situation today with the illegal immigration situation (though Samaritans were not illegally in the land.)
Women were looked down on by men in this culture. A rabbi would not talk to women in public; not even their own wives at times. She was a hated Samaritan, a half-breed product of traitorous Jews who had intermarried with foreign pagan Assyrians. She was unredeemable as far as many religious people were concerned. But she was not unredeemable to Jesus.
“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). Jesus now turns the conversation to the spiritual realm. Jesus says, “If you knew. . .” This implies the woman is missing out on something. Jesus is perking her interest; drawing her more deeply into conversation. We might say when giving out a track, “Did you get one of these?” That perks a person’s interest to receive a track.
Jesus continues, “If you knew the gift of God. . .” Jesus is presenting grace to her. We will soon see as the conversation develops that this is a woman in dire need of God’s grace. Her life is in shambles and she needs the touch of God. Speaking of a “gift,” something offered freely, would perk the woman’s interest further. Something was offered for free that she hadn’t yet received. Everyone wants something that’s “free.” When we give a tract and say, “Did you get one of these?” we are implying something of worth is offered and it is offered “for free.” That’s something the person we are witnessing to should not miss out on.
Jesus perks this woman’s interest even further by saying, “and who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, . . .” Who was this Man speaking with her? Apparently He was no ordinary Man. He was speaking to her. Jesus is Someone special and worth knowing further. It’s always good to speak to people about Jesus and whether or not they know Him.
Jesus says if this woman knew who Jesus was she would have known to ask Him for water, “and He would have given you living water.” “Living water,” is fresh water as opposed to stagnant water from a well. It is water that is the best. It is water from a running river that is clear and cool and most refreshing. It’s good to offer people something they need to draw them into conversation. Then hopefully it will lead to meeting their greatest need; receiving Jesus as personal Savior.
“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?” (John 4:11). Notice the respectful way this woman speaks to “Sir” Jesus. Jesus has earned her respect. Jesus has perked her interest in speaking of “the gift of God” and “living water.” She was an observant woman noticing Jesus had no bucket with which to draw water out of the well. She may have been implying that Jesus, who was thirsty, was unprepared to meet His own needs. She is parrying with Jesus. But Jesus’ has successfully drawn this woman to inquire further into what He was talking about. Jesus was a Master of conversation. We should be too.
This woman was interested in the “living water.” “Where then do You get that living water?” He doesn’t have the equipment to draw water from Jacob’s well. She wants living water if she can get it. Something didn’t add up. Maybe she is beginning to think, Maybe this Man is speaking of something more than regular 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?” (John 4:12). The woman pushes back again. She asserts the heritage of Jacob for herself. Jews would normally deny this. The woman is taking a stand. She isn’t going to back down from Jesus. Her response is a little bit of “who are you to speak to me about ‘living water’?” It’s more, “You talkin’ to me?” But Jesus is leading her from the material realm to the spiritual. It’s not uncommon when witnessing to someone to have them react with a bit of push back. Notice, Jesus isn’t put off by her statement. We shouldn’t be either.
“Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,” (John 4:13). Jesus points out the limitations of what this woman has been initially seeking. Jesus is offering something more important than what the woman has come to the well to get. Natural water quenches a temporary physical thirst. Drink water from Jacob’s well and you “will thirst again.” You’ll never find true and lasting fulfillment in the natural world. There are more important things to do than live to fulfill your temporal physical needs. Life is more than living to fulfill material needs. That will not fulfill you. It will not last. You’ll just thirst for more. That is the message of Jesus. Why is this true? Jesus goes on to tell us.
Jesus continues, “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.” (John 4:14). Notice Jesus says what He is offering is available for, “whoever.” Just as in His conversation with Nicodemus (John 3) Jesus again asserts the accessibility and availability to all of what He is offering. The living water Jesus offers is for whoever will take and drink it. Are you an outcast, a social pariah? Are you shamed and shunned? Are you living in sin? Are you thirsty for more in life? Your thirst isn’t quenchable with anything form this world. You need Jesus’ living water. And aren’t you glad God offers all of us this living water? Thank You Lord for Your gracious generosity!
Jesus is the One who gives this water. He says, “the water that I shall give him.” Jesus is the Source of living water. Jesus is the One who gives. You have to ask Jesus for this water. When we see the word “give” here, we should see grace. This woman didn’t go seeking Jesus. Jesus purposely went into Samaria for this divine appointment. When this woman awoke that day she had no idea she would meet this Stranger and enter into a conversation with Him. Jesus was seeking her out. God seeks us out. That is grace.
It’s always good to point out to people you witness to that the conversation you are having with them is not an accident. You conversation with them is a God incident; a divine appointment. The Lord is seeking them out by various circumstances in life. They should be asking, “Why me? Why are you having this conversation with me?” The answer is that Jesus is seeking them out because He cares for and loves them. The answer is because Jesus has something of eternal worth He wants to share with them. This is the grace that goes before; prevenient grace; God in Christ reaching out to a lost world. Right now, your reading this teaching is an example of God’s prevenient grace and His love for you.
Jesus emphasizes the value of what He is offering. The water Jesus is offering quenches an eternal thirst. God creates humanity with “eternity in their hearts” (Eccl. 3:8). We are created with a yearning thirst for God. It’s true; every human really does have a God shaped hole in their heart that only He can fill. A personal saving relationship with God in Christ is the only way to satisfy our thirst for eternal fulfillment.
“The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” (John 4:15). The woman wants the living water Jesus is offering. Jesus has gotten this woman’s interest. Jesus has entered into a patient and measured conversation. She is seeking more. She understands what Jesus is saying. She understands what He is offering has permanent value, eternal value. Jesus will reel in this human fish. But she still sees in terms of alleviating some of her work (“nor come here to draw.”) She is not adequately positioned to receive Jesus’ living water yet. There is one more step this woman has to take before she can experience the living water Jesus is talking about.
“Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.” (John 4:16-18). There is no genuine conversion without conviction of sin. This is so important. There is no true conversion without repentance. There is an aberrant teaching that presents the gospel as mere belief in Jesus. That sounds good but it is not the gospel. Demons “believe” and shudder with condemnation and fear of their eternal destiny awaiting them (James 2:19). When we look at the gospels we see numerous occasions where demons addressed Jesus and knew who He was (e.g. Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34), but demons are not saved! Demons may know Jesus, but they certainly haven’t repented of their sin. Is your faith demonic? Demonic faith is a mere assent or statement of fact without heart repentance.
Five terminated marriages. Think of the brokenness involved with that. Think of the sorrow, the disappointment. Maybe her husbands died. Maybe they divorced her. Maybe it was a combination of both. There was pain there, failure there. Jesus pointed out and opened the wounds. That’s the only way healing can come. This woman was thirsty. Jesus was going to help her quench her thirst. Jesus gently but firmly speaks reality and truth to this woman. He affirms that the woman has spoken honestly in admitting she has no husband. The truth of God always brings conviction to the sinner. Jesus speaks the truth in love. We should too (e.g. Eph. 4:15). Jesus uses the Law to bring conviction of sin to this woman. We should too. The Law of God is like a tutor that convicts the sinner of their sin and points them to the cross for redemption (Romans 7:7; Gal. 3:24). The Law is to expose sin and help the sinner see their sinfulness (1Tim. 1:8-11). Here the portion of the Law Jesus uses is the seventh commandment prohibiting adultery (Exodus 20:14). And she is living with but not married to a man; that’s fornication (Eph. 5:3-7). This woman is living in sin. She must realize her sinfulness and repent of it and trust Jesus as her Savior.
Are you thirsty for more? Are you broken? Jesus has water that will mend your broken heart and quench your thirst forevermore. And He offers this living water to whoever would turn from their sin and trust in Him as Savior. Thirsty? “You talkin’ to me?” Yes, Jesus is talkin’ to you who are thirsty. Come drink from the streams of life He provides.