Be Silent and Come Out of Him

Mark 1:21-41; Luke 4:31-41

“Be silent and come out of him!”

Jesus was teaching in the local synagogue at Capernaum, the home town of Peter and Andrew. The people gathered in that congregation would have already been somewhat familiar with Jesus by now, and they would have been very familiar with one another, since most of them had lived there all their lives. But within their midst was a man possessed by a demon.

Whether this man was well known to the others or a stranger is not clear, but his condition became obvious to everyone once he began to cry out in terror at the sight of Jesus. “Go away!” he cried, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus’ response to this was both immediate and absolute: “Be silent and come out of him!” was all that he needed to say. The demon instantly threw the man down with a shriek and came out, leaving him unharmed.

Shortly after this incident, Jesus went to Peter’s house where Peter’s mother-in-law was lying sick in bed with a fever. Although Jesus’ exact words are not recorded, Luke’s gospel tells us that he rebuked the fever and that Peter’s mother-in-law was instantly restored.

“Come out of him!” – The demon who had shouted in fearful defiance for Jesus to “Go away!” was impelled to come out at his command; it had no choice but to obey. The same was true of the fever, it too could not withstand the rebuke of the Lord, for this was a command from God himself – the same God who commanded the light and separated it from the darkness, and who established the boundaries of the sea upon the sand. (Genesis 1:3-10)

“Be silent!” – Each time Jesus encountered a demon, he silenced it. He did not engage in arguments with them, or scold them, or respond to any of their questions – he simply commanded them to be silent. The gospel writers tell us that he didn’t allow them to speak because they knew he was the Messiah. As we continue to study the words of Christ, we will see that this was a consistent pattern with Jesus – he wanted people to believe in him by faith through direct revelation (Matthew 16:16-17) and not by word-of-mouth, especially not by word-of-mouth from demons! He wanted the message of the gospel to precede the revelation of who he was, for though he truly was the Messiah that they were waiting for, he knew he was not the one that they were expecting.

I Will Make You Fishers of Men

Luke 5:1-11; Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20

“Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.”

All three of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) contain an account of this call to discipleship, spoken by Jesus to Peter and his younger brother, Andrew. If the Bible were limited to just the Synoptics, we might think this was the very first time Jesus had met them, along with their fishing partners, John and James. However, John’s own gospel informs us that they were actually well acquainted with Jesus by this time, and had even witnessed some of his miracles.

These disciples were real men, not just characters in a story, and they had real families and real lives which intertwined with one another in a variety of ways. They were friends and business partners living within a community of other devout Jewish families, attending the same synagogue each week and celebrating the same yearly feasts.

When John the Baptist traveled through this region preaching his message of repentance, these men would have stood together among the crowds who flocked to see him. In fact, both John and Andrew had actually been disciples of John the Baptist before meeting Jesus, so the news of his recent imprisonment must have brought great sorrow and discouragement upon them, as well as their families. We can almost sense the despondency in the air when looking at this account in Luke’s gospel, for here is Jesus, speaking to his usual crowd of eager listeners, but Peter, John, James, and Andrew are not among the crowd. They are off on the sidelines, wearily washing their fishing nets after a long night of fruitless labor.

This air of despondency grows even more palpable within the text as we see Jesus coax the weary Peter back into his boat, asking him to row it out from shore so that he might continue his sermon from the water. And then afterwards, when Jesus asks Peter to put the fishing nets down again, the tone of apathy and discouragement in his response is unmistakable: “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing! But at your word I will lower the nets.” Yet as soon as he did this, everything changed:

When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets started to tear. So they motioned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they were about to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For Peter and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s business partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” So when they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:6-11 NET)

“Do not be afraid.” – Fear is really just a visceral manifestation of unbelief. We may not understand the exact cause of the fear which brought Peter to his knees in a fit of remorse at Jesus’ feet, but it’s easy to imagine what it might have been. We know that Peter was responsible for running his own business and that he had other mouths to feed. We know that the world he inhabited was currently in the midst of great upheaval, and that the righteous John the Baptist had just been inexplicably imprisoned by King Herod. But Jesus knew far more than this – he knew all that was in Peter’s heart, and his words, “Do not be afraid,” would banish all traces of fear, giving Peter the courage to leave everything behind and follow him.

“From now on you will be catching people.” – The sight of those heaps of fish gasping and flopping about on deck must have presented a striking contrast to the faces of the men and women who had gathered along the shoreline. But this imagery serves to illustrate the paradigm shift taking place in the lives of Peter and the others at that very moment, for suddenly they could see the world, and their own futures, from a new perspective – a heavenly perspective. They were no longer fishermen laboring for their own gain, but were about to become apprentices in the vocation of their heavenly master – they were going to be fishers of men!

Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven Is Near

Mark 1:14-15; Matthew 4:12-17

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

This was the message proclaimed by John the Baptist as he went about the Judean countryside baptizing people and making disciples. After John was put in prison, Jesus himself began proclaiming the exact same message. (Matthew 3:1-2, Matthew 4:17)

“Repent” – The Greek word used here (“metanoeó”) literally means, “to change one’s mind or purpose.” Repentance is not a matter of simply changing one’s behavior – the real change must first start within, inside the heart and the mind, and then the outward change will inevitably follow. Genuine repentance always brings about some sort of behavioral change, which is why John the Baptist warned his listeners that they must “produce fruit in keeping with repentance,” saying, “every tree which does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” Alarmed by his warning, the people sought him for practical examples of this “fruit:”

“What should we do then?” the crowd asked. John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” (Luke 3:10-14)

The advice given to each of these groups was not merely to do good deeds, but to change their mindset. They must surrender worldly ambitions of material gain and be content with what they had; they must be generous and compassionate toward others. Repentance requires that we turn away from ourselves, from our pride and selfish desires, and that we turn toward God and seek the things that God desires; serving him rather than serving ourselves.

“The Kingdom of Heaven” – Called “Kingdom of Heaven” in Matthew and “Kingdom of God” in the other gospels, it is the same kingdom which was foretold in the book of Daniel:

In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. (Daniel 2:44)

“Has come near” – The word used for “near” is in verb form – this kingdom of God which was first spoken of so many centuries ago was now very close and advancing still closer as Jesus drew nearer to the cross. But this was not to be a geographical kingdom; it was, and still is, a heavenly kingdom, and the entrance to that kingdom is not through an earthly gate, but through a spiritual one – Jesus Christ himself is the Door to this kingdom.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” – This is the Eternal Gospel (Revelation 14:6) in a nutshell – this is the message of reconciliation, the tidings of great joy, the the good news that God’s kingdom is near and accessible to anyone who is willing to turn away from their selfish attachments to the things of this world and submit themselves to God.

But what does it say? “The message is near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart.” This is the message about faith that we are proclaiming: If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:8-9 ISV)

Unless You See Signs and Wonders

John 4:43-54

“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe.”

After his conversation with the woman at the well, Jesus stayed in the Samaritan town of Sychor for another two days before continuing on his way to Galilee. The Bible doesn’t say whether Jesus performed any miracles of healing during this time with the Samaritans; instead it indicates that it was the things Jesus said, and not his deeds, which convinced them to believe in him. They themselves testified of this, telling the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Jesus next came to the small town of Cana, in the region of Galilee. (This was the same place where he had once turned water into wine.) The Galileans also welcomed his arrival, just as the Samaritans had, but their welcome of him was mainly due to the many miracles they had seen him doing in Jerusalem when they were all there for the Passover feast.

The news that Jesus had returned to Cana quickly spread throughout the entire region and eventually reached the ears of one of Herod’s royal officials who lived in the city of Capernaum, a distance of over twenty miles away. This man had a son who was desperately ill and very close to death, so he decided he would make the journey to Cana in order to seek Jesus out and persuade him to come back with him and heal his son. Here is the account of their conversation:

When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.” Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.

“Unless you people see signs and wonders you will never believe.” – Jesus wasn’t just saying this about the man as an individual, but was actually lumping him in with all of the other Jewish people in the region. The Apostle Paul would later make a similar generalization when he said, “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom.” (1 Cor 1:22) This wasn’t meant to condemn the man, however, for Jesus went ahead and healed his son anyway – and because of that one miracle, the nobleman and his entire household ended up believing in Jesus.

But why would Jesus make such a generalization about the Jews, when they were the very ones whom God had chosen to reveal his glory on earth? Because it was true, that’s why. Nicodemus, the Pharisee, articulated this same somewhat skeptical attitude when he came to Jesus and told him, “We know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Even some of Jesus’s own disciples needed to see a sign before they could really believe. (John 2:11)

We see this pattern repeated over and over again in the gospels. Many sincere Jewish people traveled from all over to see Jesus because they truly wanted to believe in him, but they still needed a sign to complete their faith. Jesus never condemned them for this, instead, he had compassion on them – the blind received sight, the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed, the deaf heard, the dead were raised, and the good news was proclaimed to the poor. (Matthew 11:5)

This is still the case today. God in his mercy reaches out to us as we are; he understands the human heart and he does not punish us by withholding his grace when our faith is weak. If we sincerely seek him, he promises that we will find him. (Jeremiah 29:13)

The Samaritans believed in him because of his words, the Galileans believed in him because of his works, but in both cases the the end result was the same – they believed.

Open Your Eyes and Look at the Fields

John 4:28-42

“Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”

God is, and always has been, the Sower. He plants his seed in the hearts of men, and though it is his seed and his harvest, he allows us the privilege of laboring alongside him in the fields. And it truly is a privilege!

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” quotes Paul, as he reverse engineers the process of salvation in the epistle to the Romans:

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14-15)

The Samaritan woman was running upon her own beautiful two feet as she hastened back to the village, proclaiming to anyone who would listen, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did!” And they did come; they came in droves.

“Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.” – The Bible tells us that many people from the village believed in Christ because of the woman’s testimony. This nameless woman had played a major part in reaping this harvest of souls, and thus she had the exquisite honor of sharing in Christ’s joy with him.

“I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” – The Holy Spirit is always at work within the hearts of those around us and he incorporates our simple acts of obedience into the process, whether we realize it or not. Sometimes, we may be helping to till the soil, at other times, we may be helping to water the plants, all the while not knowing what the final results of our labor will be. And we might never know, at least, not while we are living here on earth.

“Do you not say that it is yet four months and the harvest comes? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and see the fields, because they are already white toward harvest!” (Berean Literal Bible) – Once again, Jesus challenges his disciples to shift their attention away from the natural world to focus on the spiritual world. In the natural world, the newly sowed fields were only beginning to turn green, but in the spiritual world there was a ripe harvest ready to be gathered in.

Imagine the beautiful sight that met their eyes! Here comes the Samaritan woman, followed by a whole crowd of men and women eager to meet the one she spoke of; their flowing white garments mimicking the spectacle of a ripe barley field swaying in the midday sun. What a sharp contrast to the scene they had witnessed earlier that day when they glanced back to see their master seated at the well, weary and alone. But such is the glory of the unseen power of God at work – Seed and Sower, Water and Well – he alone is the source of all.

“Drip down, O heavens, from above, And let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, And righteousness spring up with it. I, the LORD, have created it.” (Isaiah 45:8 NASB)

My Food is to Do the Will of Him Who Sent Me

John 4:27-34

“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

When the disciples last saw their master, he had been sitting at the well, too fatigued to go into town with them on their errand to buy food. They likely rushed through their purchases out of concern for him whom they had left behind. They didn’t know it, but during their absence something spectacular was happening back at that well. The centuries-old wall of hostility between the Jews and Samaritans was about to be breached. Soon, this region which had so long isolated itself from the truth would be set ablaze with the Gospel.

The disciples were surprised when they got back to find Jesus engaged in conversation with one of the local Samaritan women, but they didn’t bother to ask him what the two had been talking about. They were too focused on their mission of providing him with something to eat. They urged him to take some food, saying, “Rabbi, eat,” but Jesus didn’t appear to need it anymore. He told them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” And the disciples, oblivious to the fact that these words had a spiritual implication, wondered to themselves how he could have managed to get food during their absence.

I think that, at this point, they may have noticed a difference in Jesus since the last time they saw him. He was no longer weary and fatigued, but revived and refreshed. The grace of God had sustained him, just as it had when he had been in the wilderness for forty days. The disciples could not understand this for they were still thinking along natural lines, too dull to notice that something supernatural had taken place. So Jesus explained it to them further by saying, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

Please pause here with me to reflect upon this for a moment, for this one statement defines everything that Jesus ever said or did while he was on earth. Just as he had explained to his own earthly parents so many years before, he would always and only be about the business of his heavenly Father (Luke 2:49); from the very first to the very last, it was always, “Not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) Contrary to popular belief, Jesus was not a revolutionary, he was not trying to “change the world” – his only desire was to do the will of the one who had sent him and to finish his work.

“My food is to do the will of him who sent me.” – This is such a simple statement, yet the profundity of it still lies beyond the reach of our own human comprehension. We, who are innately self-centered, cannot fathom a heart so perfectly aligned with the will of God. How foolishly presumptuous it is for us to speculate, “What would Jesus do?” How could any one of us ever know that? The only way we can hope for even a glimpse into the motivation of his sinless heart is by continuously seeking the will of our own heavenly Father and subjecting our own desires to his, up to the point where his will forms the base of our very sustenance. Because, after all, that is what Jesus would do.

I Am He

John 4:25-30

“I who speak to you am he.”

As the disciples were approaching the well on return from their errand into town, the Samaritan woman capped off her conversation with Jesus by saying, “I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Jesus responded, “I who speak to you am he.”

There’s no doubt about what Jesus is claiming here. He is letting her know in no uncertain terms that he is the Messiah. Contrast this with his not-so-direct response earlier, when she asked, “Are you greater than our father, Jacob?” (John 4:12) He didn’t say it then, but the answer had become obvious by now. Yes, he is greater than Jacob. He is the God of Jacob.

Realizing that Jesus would soon be traveling on with his companions, the Samaritan woman lost no time in hastening back to the town to spread the news that Messiah had come.

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. (John 4:28-30)

Somehow, during her brief encounter with Christ, faith had taken hold within her heart. Let’s not make the mistake of taking her question (“Could this be the Messiah?”) as a sign that she still harbored any doubt. She did not pose that question in order for others to confirm her belief, but rather as a challenge for them to come and confirm it for themselves. And, apparantly, her argument was persuasive enough to cause a great many of the townspeople to drop whatever it was they were doing at the time and come with her.

This story of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman stands in contrast to his earlier one with Nicodemus. With Nicodemus, he was metaphorical and indirect, but with the Samaritan woman, he was more straightforward and personal. This is because Jesus approached each person who crossed his path as a unique individual; he didn’t rely on any particular method or formula for evangelism, for he could see within their hearts and already knew whether or not they believed in him. By the time he concluded his encounter with the Samaritan woman, he knew she was able to respond in faith to the truth which he spoke boldly and plainly.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17 NASB)

In Spirit and In Truth

John 4:11-26
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

The advent of Christ to earth signaled a time of transition within in the Kingdom of God. Things were changing – the crooked paths were being made straight, the roughs ways were being made smooth (Luke 3:5-6), the plan of redemption was unfolding. This is not to say that there were no “true” worshipers before this time, or that the genuineness of the Old Testament saints was being called into question, but rather that a new dimension of truth about God himself was about to be revealed, exemplified in the person and work of Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

“God is spirit” – Within the context of their discussion about where God ought to be worshiped, Jesus reminds the Samaritan woman that God is spirit, so he is not confined to any particular place, but rather inhabits all of the heavens and the earth. Solomon, who built the first temple in Jerusalem, understood this fully. Before the work on the temple had even begun, Solomon declared:

“But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him?” (2 Chronicles 2:6)

“His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” – In order to be clear about what is meant by the term “worship” as it is used within this passage, let’s see what Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance has to say about the Greek word, “proskuneó,” translated here as “worship”:

4352. proskuneó – From “pros” and a probable derivative of “kuon” (meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand); to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore) — worship.

However, let’s not delve too far down into the “dog and master” analogy, for Jesus did not refer to God as the Master but rather as the Father.  To worship God in this sense is to humbly show submission to someone who is inexorably higher and greater than ourselves. To worship the Father in truth, we must not only understand the truth about who and what he is, but also understand the truth about who and what we are in relationship to him.

“For they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” – So many of today’s Christian devotionals and worship songs focus on a God who is “crazy about us”; where we become the object of his adoration, rather than the other way around. But such hubris is antithetical to the very quality that God appears to value most in a person, namely humility:

“Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.” (Isaiah 66:1-2)

We serve a high and holy God, whose ways are inscrutable. We cannot know everything about God, but he already knows everything about us. He knows all our weakness, all our foolishness, all our shame, all the ugly things that we don’t even know about ourselves, and the astounding thing is, he loves us anyway!

In his famous psalm of repentance, Psalm 51, David said, “You desire truth in the inward parts.” (Psalm 51:6) I think that there is something deep within the heart of man that instinctively understands this, and yearns for it as well – a desire for this raw connection with the heart of God, where we can stand with upturned faces before our heavenly Father, naked and unashamed, loving him and knowing that we are loved by him. This is only possible through Christ.

You Worship What You Do Not Know

John 4:16-22

“Woman, believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.”

The Samaritans lived in what had once been territory of the erstwhile Northern Kingdom of Israel, giving them jurisdiction over some ancient and very sacred landmarks. This helped to form their spiritual identity and fueled their assumption that, as descendants of Jacob, they were included among his beneficiaries in regards to the blessings foretold in the Torah. But they were also a very “mixed” race of people, and the sacred scriptures and religious customs they adhered to were a corruption of the teachings of Moses, mingled with the idolatrous traditions of the heathen nations included among their ancestry. So, although they observed the feasts, such as Passover, and used much of the same terminology as the Jews, they weren’t really worshipping the same God, but rather a “God” adapted to fit their own ideology.

All of this serves as a backdrop to the exchange taking place between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, and helps to explain why she would suddenly challenge him with a topic of religious controversy, just at the point when things were starting to get rather personal.

As outsiders “listening in” on this private conversation, we might assume that she just changed the subject in order to avoid talking about her deeper personal issues. But that wasn’t really the case. It wasn’t an attempt to steer the conversation away from deeper issues, it actually WAS the deeper issue; not her relationships with men, but rather her relationship with God. Who was she worshipping?

“Woman, believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” – The phrase “believe me” is unique here, this is the only passage in scripture where Jesus uses it, and the fact that he further emphasized the phrase with “woman” lends an explicit significance to the words which follow. He was telling her that a time was coming when she, herself, would indeed worship the Father, his Father, the one and only true God.

“You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know”– Throughout Jewish history, there had always been a remnant of true believers living in the land of Judea. Enduring through the reign of one wicked king after another, persistent despite the oppression of heathen conquerors, we can see them personified in the likes of Simeon (Luke 2:25), Anna (Luke 2:36-37), Elizabeth and Zechariah (Luke 1:5-6), as well as Jesus’ own earthly parents. They all knew the God whom they worshiped – not some hybrid, semi-biblical idol concocted from their own traditions, but the true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Creator of heaven and earth; the One who was, and is, and is to come.

“For salvation is of the Jews.” – When Jesus said this, he wasn’t speaking to a group of people, he was speaking only to her, so it was said with the intent that she would be able to understand him. As a Samaritan, she wouldn’t be familiar with the messianic prophecies of Isaiah or Jeremiah, but she would be very familiar with the messianic prophecies contained in the books of Moses, especially this one, spoken by Jacob himself:

The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. (Genesis 49:10)

As well as this one, spoken by Baalam:

I see him, but not here and now. I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel. It will crush the foreheads of Moab’s people, cracking the skulls of the people of Sheth. (Numbers 24:17)

Jesus was reminding her that the promised Messiah was to come from the lineage of Judah, the people that she now referred to as “the Jews.”

Never Be Thirsty Again

John 4:9-30

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The Lord has long been calling out to those who are spiritually thirsty, inviting them to come and drink freely of the water that only he can provide. We can see this in the Book of Isaiah when he says, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!” (Isaiah 55:1) and also in Jeremiah, where God describes himself as the “Fountain of Living Water” (Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13). So it’s not surprising that Jesus would extend this same invitation to the Samaritan woman at the well, knowing as he did the turmoil of her past and the unanswered questions of her heart.

The woman had been argumentative at first, protesting that Jesus didn’t have anything to draw water with, and why did he think his water was so great anyway? How could it be better than the water in her well, which had once belonged to Jacob himself? But Jesus patiently sidestepped her protests, brushing past the temporal in order to focus on the eternal – “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

She still didn’t get it, however. We can’t hear her tone of voice, but we can still discern the note of flippant skepticism within her response as she says, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” This woman is typical of so many of us who have toiled through life with our heads down, preoccupied with the immediate tasks necessary for daily survival, while inwardly our hearts yearn to worship our creator. We just don’t know how. It takes a supernatural encounter with the Lord to roust us from the stupor of our temporary existence and cause us to shift our gaze to what lies beyond.

“Go, call your husband and come back.” – This is not the hard sell tactic of a timeshare sales presentation (“both spouses required to attend”) this is the sound of Jesus drawing back the bow as he prepares to shoot an arrow straight into the painful recesses of her heart:

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.” (John 4:16-19)

Thunk! The arrow hit the target! We know this because she immediately says, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.” Or maybe it wasn’t so immediate. Maybe she took a moment of silent reflection before speaking again. In either case, it’s clear that she’s been jolted away from her mundane task of fetching water, for she begins to question him about spiritual things. As Jesus continues to talk with her, faith springs to life within her heart. She forgets her thirst, for she has discovered the Fountain of Living Water. Leaving her water pot behind, she rushes back into town to tell the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did; isn’t this the Christ?!”