Hello, and welcome to “Key to the Kingdom,” my name is Bret McCasland. Attempts are made by people everywhere and at every age to stay alive as long as possible. Medical personnel are trained to prescribe proper medications and to administer appropriate care. We try to eat right and get necessary exercise. Oh, all kinds of efforts are put forth on a daily basis to stay healthy, because we value life. We appreciate the opportunity to live in this world and we want to do so as long as possible. As much as we value our physical life on earth, there are some who seek to receive, enjoy, and value spiritual life, and, that too is important and it is of far greater value. The question is, however, how can one receive that spiritual life that leads to eternal life? Well, the short answer is that it comes through Jesus Christ. In today’s lesson on “Key to the Kingdom,” we will look at a story where Jesus offers living water to a woman in need of it. He then tells her it will lead to eternal life. Living water, eternal life, and freely given by Jesus is the focus of our study today. Perhaps you are looking for that same living water. Maybe you are seeking that eternal life which Jesus offers. If so I hope you will join us for this lesson, as we consider how Jesus makes it available to all people everywhere. I invite you now to open your heart and your Bible to the Gospel of John chapter 4, as we study together.
In some of my travels I find myself in a strange place. I have never been there before and I don’t know for sure what to expect. There are some different cultures or traditions going on, and I don’t know whether or not I will be accepted by those local people. I feel a little bit uncomfortable. Perhaps you feel the very same way when you travel. You find yourself, on some occasions, in what you might call ‘no-man’s-land’ and you don’t know how to respond; and more than anything else, you want to get back to your familiar and comfortable surroundings. Well, in Jesus’ ministry here upon this earth, He was not content to stay in one place very long. He was constantly on the move. And on several occasions, He said things like, “I must go to other towns also, for that is why I came.” Yes, Jesus was always moving from one place to another, and as a result He sometimes found himself in a strange place. John chapter 4 tells us Jesus was in Judea teaching and His disciples were baptizing. Yes, many people were becoming followers of Jesus Christ. And with that kind of success, He decided to move to the north into a different place, called Samaria. Well, this was a place where the Jews were not welcome; there was a great deal animosity between the Samaritans and the Jewish people. It went all the back to the days of Nehemiah and Ezra, when they were reconstituting and rebuilding the city of Jerusalem. Oh, there was a great deal of conflict that went on as the Samaritans tried to stand in the way of Nehemiah building the city and trying to appose the work of the Jewish people. Well, that same kind of hatred, if you will, carried over into the day of Jesus. And as He traveled through the land, often times Jesus would simply cross over the Jordan River and work on the eastern side, which was called the Decapolis. Well, His disciples encouraged Him to do that, primarily to avoid the Samaritans who were on the western side of the Jordan River. In this case, however, Jesus decided to venture into the land of Samaria. And as He did, He stopped at a place called Sychar; He sat down at Jacob’s well. And according to Genesis chapter 33, one of Isaac’s sons, named Jacob, bought some land in this area, and he dug a water well. It is some 138 feet deep, and it still produces fresh water today. Well, as Jesus sat there and rested, a Samaritan woman came to that well in order to draw water. In the mean time the disciples had gone into the town to buy some food to eat as Jesus sat there and took a break. Well, the woman was surprised when Jesus talked with her and asked for a drink of water. She brought up a fact that He was a man and she was a woman, but more importantly she mentioned that she was a Samaritan and He was a Jew, and no doubt that lead to a very awkward situation. Listen to part of the exchange that took place between Jesus and this Samaritan woman, as we look in John chapter 4 beginning with verse 10. <Jesus answered her, “If you knew the Gift of God and why it is that He asked you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks this water that I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give will become in them a spring of water, welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”> As they sat at the well, Jesus offered a Samaritan woman living water. Now, she had never heard of such. She did not know what He was talking about, and she asked some questions. The only water she knew about was the water that she drew from Jacob’s well, that she took back to her family and she gave it to them and then also to the livestock. She then began to question Jesus’ authority; “Are you greater than Jacob. Are you greater than our forefather, that gave us this well and he and his family even drank from it themselves?” But Jesus went on to explain that He was offering living water, something that could not be drawn from the well; and, this living water would lead to eternal life, or to that abundant life which Jesus came to offer, according to John chapter 10 in verse 10. But once she understood that, she wanted what Jesus had to offer. She wanted that living water so that she would not continually, day after day, have to come draw water from the well. But in the midst of that, Jesus seemed to change the conversation. He asked her to go back home and to bring her husband out to meet Him. Well, she admitted that she had no husband. Then notice Jesus’ response to that, in the 4th chapter beginning with verse 17. <“I have no husband,” she replied. And 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.”> The Jews believed that a woman could be divorced two, perhaps even three, times at the most. And if the Samaritans believed the same thing, then, this woman was indeed living an immoral life. For she even admits, or Jesus states, that you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband, you’re only living with him. Well, yet, during those times a woman could not divorce her husband, and I think we tend to forget that. A wife could not divorce her husband, a woman could not divorce the man, but rather the man was in control. In fact, a man could divorce his wife for most any and every reason; he could simply put her away if he fell out of love with her or did not like her for some reason. Evidently that had happened to this woman at least five times. Well, the woman was a victim of her circumstances, perhaps. She was not proud of her past. She perhaps wished that it would simply go away, that it had not even happened in the past. She wished she could move on with a new and a better life. And Jesus, no doubt, was well aware of that. He knew about her mistakes, He knew about the problems, He knew about those difficulties and challenges, and yet, Jesus was willing to accept her, as He offers to her the invitation to receive living water. Well, with the hope of something good happening, it is her turn to change the conversation. Notice how she responds in verses 19 through 24. <“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we worship is in Jerusalem.” “Woman,” Jesus replied, “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, and we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming, and indeed has 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 mountain the woman referred to was Mount Gerizim, which was near by; and in her mind, it was a sacred mountain. It was the mountain on which Moses had built an alter; he even recognized it as the Mount of Blessing. And that was basically all she knew about worshipping God; that, she would go up on that mountain, she would make her sacrifice there on the alter and then she would return. But Jesus took the time to teach her more about worship. He stated that the place of worship is really irrelevant; it doesn’t matter if you’re worshipping here on the mountain or in the city of Jerusalem. Rather, who you worship is important, and that is God; and God is a spirit; and you worship Him in spirit and in truth; and, being a spirit, He cannot be fashioned into some kind of idol or an image; but rather, He created all good things and He is above all created things. Well, that was enough for this woman. She stated that the Messiah would come some day, and when He did, He would explain all such matters. And then Jesus made that statement, “I am He, to whom you are speaking. I am the Messiah. I am the One you have read about in the prophets of old.” Just imagine her surprise. Oh, she longed for, perhaps even prayed for, the day when the Messiah would come; but, little did she know that Jesus would meet her at the well and He would talk to her about such important matters. Well, about that time the disciples returned with something to eat, and they were surprised to find Jesus, a Jewish man, talking with this Samaritan woman. They did not understand what Jesus was doing, and then they wondered if someone else had brought Jesus something to eat. Well, Jesus has a response for those disciples, and it’s found in the next passage there, beginning with verse 34 of the 4th chapter. <“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? Well, I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying, ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 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.”> On several occasions such as this, Jesus stated that He came, not to do His will, but rather, to do the will of His Father. In fact, we find that kind of statement at least ten times in the Gospel of John, alone. Yes, Jesus was God’s representative here upon the earth. Jesus said what God instructed Him to say. He went where God instructed Him to go. Well, then He offers some what of a proverb, or He reminds them of a proverbial statement that they had heard in the past, that the harvest can not be rushed. And indeed, while it takes time for the crops to grow and mature, the harvest will take place. And yet, at the same time, there is some which is ready for harvest even now. But everybody working together, the sower and the reaper, will all be glad when the harvest takes place. Well, in the mean time, this woman, as the disciples were talking with Jesus, went back to her village and she invited the people to come out and meet a man who had told her everything about her life; and, that’s what they did. They came out to see Jesus for themselves. Notice the passage that begins with verse 39 of the 4th chapter. <Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So, when the Samaritans came to Him, they urged Him to stay with them, and He stayed two days. And because of His words, many more became believers. They said to 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.”> The people came out from the village to meet Jesus, and they heard for themselves the words He spoke. They saw with their own eyes what the woman was referring too. And they made that statement, “Yes, we now believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world.” Perhaps the greatest statement made by a group of people identifying Him as the One who has come to save all people. This woman became a witness to her very own people back in that village. She was fulfilling what Jesus was telling His disciples, that there were some people that were ready for harvest even now. In fact, she herself was ready for harvest, and that’s why Jesus spent time with her. And then, the people there in that village were ready for harvest, also, even though it wasn’t really time, but God was working behind the scenes. He was working in lives of those people and in the life of this woman, and she went back and she proclaimed the good news of Jesus, so they, too, would have the opportunity to experience that salvation. Yes, the woman was taking place in the harvest that Jesus was explaining to those disciples. Well, Jesus then went back into that village and He stayed for some two days. And, no doubt, He continued to teach more about living water and eternal life and how indeed He was the Savior of the world, He was the messiah, the One about whom they had read for so long. As I think about this passage of scripture I recognize there are several things that deserve our attention. First of all, when Jesus met this woman, He did not criticize her; and, that’s important, isn’t it? Here was a woman who came at the noon day hour to draw water. Most of the women drew water early in the morning, before it got to hot to do so; and, perhaps this woman had done that in the past, but not so now. She had gone early in the morning on previous occasions and she perhaps had received those questioning looks or those questions, and she was tired of all of that. She did not want to have that anymore, because people were criticizing her; they were judging her for the life that she had lived in days gone by. And so, she would come when all of the other women went back home. She came when she thought nobody would be there, but now Jesus was. But Jesus did not criticize her. He did not judge her for a life that had not been very well lived. Instead Jesus gave her hope for a better future. He gave her the opportunity to move on to something better that would change her life completely. When I think about that, I realize that on occasion God puts certain people in our life and we have the opportunity to either judge and condemn them or to accept them for who they are, and to offer them a message of hope, to offer them some kind of encouraging word that might lead them, also, to the Savior of the world. Secondly, since Jesus is the Savior of the world, we would do well to listen to His teaching and to follow Him. And that’s what was given here by Jesus, He told the woman some things and she went back and told the other people and they were excited to listen to His teaching and receive His good word, and so He went back and was with them for some two days. Well, they knew the value of listening to Jesus; they knew the importance of hearing His word and understanding what it meant to receive that living water and to receive that salvation. And likewise, it’s important for us to pay attention to His teaching, to God’s Word, to learn from it and to grow and to become a follower and a disciple of Jesus, just like these people here in John 4. But then thirdly, the story allows us to take a look at our own life. That’s what happened with this woman. She looked into her own life, she realized some of the problems and mistakes she had made and she experienced the hope and the living water Jesus gave to her. Likewise, we can evaluate where we have been and where we are now, perhaps where we need to go. As we turn to the teaching of Jesus Christ, we have that hope and that opportunity of a brand new life, and hopefully we will embrace it. But then finally, to believe in Jesus is to begin living a new life committed to telling others about Him; and, that’s what this woman did. Her experience with Jesus changed her life, it transformed her into a different person and she was excited to go and share that good news with the people there in the village; and, that’s exactly what happened. Likewise, when we experience the salvation of the Lord we want to go and to share that good news with other people. Oh, hopefully all of us have experienced the living water, the abundant life, the eternal life which Jesus offers to all of us. As a result of that, hopefully, we are taking that message and becoming His witness in this world to those people that have never experienced the salvation which Jesus brings. My prayer and my encouragement for all of us today is that we will experience that living water and then share it with other people who are in need.
Jacob’s well was a deep, water well cut out of solid rock and was found a short distance from the Biblical site called Shechem. That actual well is now in a monastery in the City of Nablus, in the West Bank. Imagine what it was like trying to draw water from a well in the middle of this desert. No doubt it was quite the task. But now imagine Jacobs’s servants digging this well, some thirty-eight hundred years ago. Oh, the well is not specifically mentioned in the Old Testament, but Genesis chapter 33 states that when Jacob returned to Shechem from Padan-aram he camped before the city and bought the land on which he pitched his tent. Many believe this plot of land is the same one on which Jacob’s well was constructed. In fact, this area is even recognized as a Christian holy site. But the well boasts of an even more famous visitor; this is the area where the story from John chapter 4 took place. It is the story of Jesus meeting a woman from Samaria who came to draw water. It took place at noon one day as Jesus was sitting near by. This woman from Samaria had some real needs. She asked legitimate questions. Jesus listened, taught her about living water, and even went to visit her village. Jesus is still in the business of changing people’s lives. And even though He does not have a conversation with us at the drinking fountain, He is still present with us. We can read His words found in the Bible. As we pray to the Lord we know He hears and He answers those prayers. Yes, just as Jesus met that woman’s spiritual needs on that day in the desert, so too, He meets our needs as well.
Thank you for taking time to watch today’s episode of “Key to the Kingdom.” I trust you are grateful for Jesus’ gift of living water and eternal life, and that you have received it. If you would like to view this message again, it can be found on our website, keytothekingdom.com. It is entitled “Living Water.” There is no charge to download it in audio, written or video format; other lessons are there as well. Please feel free to access any that might be of interest or that will bless you spiritually. While visiting the website, please take a moment to look at some of the other things offered. Study questions are included with each lesson. Short devotional thoughts and videos provide practical application of God’s Word. If you have not already found us on Facebook®, I hope you will very soon. Many are viewing the weekly messages and sharing them with others, and this might be a good way to help you draw closer to the Lord. You might also be interested in our free phone app. It is easy to download and it will take you directly to our website. If you would like to speak with someone on the phone, please call the number on the screen. Leave your name and number and someone will return your call very soon. We would love to hear from you. I appreciate you taking time to be our guest for today’s broadcast. It is a privilege to share these messages with you, and hopefully they provide a spiritual blessing. I also invite you to join us again, at this same time next week, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”