The Woman Who was Found Out
In the fourth chapter of John’s Gospel we are treading on familiar ground. I don’t suppose there are many people who haven’t at one time or another received encouragement and blessing, and at the same time, a great challenge from this portion of God’s Word. But like everything else in the Word of God, you never exhaust it.
Of course, if you stand back from it and look at it as a whole, you will be impressed with the fact that this story pictures one of the greatest facts of the whole Bible. Have you ever stopped for a moment and taken your Bible and said, “Now what is this book saying? What is its main theme?” I think if you did, you would be impressed with the fact that the great theme of the Bible centers around a thirsty humanity and a God who has promised to quench that thirst. How often in the Old Testament you have language like this: “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” “Hungry and thirsty, their souls fainted in them.” “My soul thirsteth for Thee”—over and over again that expression of thirst, dissatisfaction on one hand and on the other the promise of God to satisfy: “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty; the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water” all culminating in that triumphant statement of our Lord Jesus, “He that believeth on Me shall never thirst.”
It was in those terms that the Lord Jesus spoke to the woman of Samaria, and it is in those terms, I believe, that God wants to speak to some of us. Where there is a thirst, and desire, and dissatisfaction, I am absolutely sure that there is a God who says to you, “He that believeth on Me shall never thirst.”
I don’t need to remind you of the story of this woman’s life. She was a woman of a religious background. She knew something of the history of her people, but somehow or other in the course of life, passion had just burned itself out and she was dissatisfied. Her thirst was unquenched. She just flung herself at anything the world offered her—not five, but six men had been in this woman’s life, and she had just given herself and given everything that she had, and now she was just burned out as it were, but still thirsting, longing.
As I think of that woman, I am absolutely amazed at the approach of the Lord Jesus to her. I often wonder exactly how I would have spoken to her. I am sure not so graciously as He did. If anybody is interested in what we call “soul winning,” by that I simply mean seeking to point someone to Christ, you study how the Master did it.
Notice how He goes about this—First, appeals to her courtesy: “Give Me to drink”; and then, He appeals to her curiosity: “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it was that spoke to thee, thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.” Then He goes a bit further and He appeals to her thirst, her feverishness: “He that drinketh of this water shall thirst again, but He that drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst.” And then He goes on still further and finds her out completely and says to her, “Go call thy husband.” He appeals to her sin. Then He goes beyond her sin and probes still deeper and speaks to her of her knowledge of God: “God is a Spirit. They that worship Him, shall worship Him in spirit and truth. The Father seeketh such to worship Him.” Then finally, He appeals to her hope of the Messiah and said, “I that speak unto thee, am He.”
What a Master He is in probing deep into the soul, and in the course of those few moments, this woman’s curiosity was aroused; she was challenged concerning her thirst and dissatisfaction. She was herself completely found out and exposed for the first time in her life. She came face to face with a God who knew everything about her.
But as I think of His probing deep into her heart, would you notice here in this story, the contrast that is revealed in verses 13 and 14, “Jesus said unto her, whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again, but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of living water springing up into everlasting life.” Notice these tremendous contrasts. One is obviously on the surface: “He that drinketh of this water shall thirst again.” “He that drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst.” You go on drinking, He said, of that water, from that well and you will go on thirsting. If you are prepared to drink of the water that I shall give you, you will never thirst again—“Thirst again?” “Never thirst.”
Here is a tremendous contrast, and why? Because of the contrast in the source of supply which isn’t so obvious on the circumference of this story, but it is the significance of the whole thing. You see, in the course of that conversation with the woman at Samaria that day, the Lord Jesus and she had been speaking about a well. This was Jacob’s well, and as He spoke to her, and aroused her curiosity about living water, she reminded Him that He had nothing to draw with, and that the well was deep. Was He greater than Jacob who drank of this well himself, and his cattle? And the Lord Jesus simply turned that question, and said, “It isn’t that well I am talking to you about at all. If you go on drinking from that you will thirst again, but if you drink of the water that I shall give you, you shall never thirst, for the water that I shall give you shall be in you a well.”
Jacob’s well; Jesus’ well. Those two words in the authorized version are the same, but in the Greek New Testament they are entirely different. For this is the word here, “He that drinketh of this water shall thirst again,” and when Jesus spoke of that, the word that is used there in relation to that well from which she drew water is a word which elsewhere in the New Testament is translated “pit.” As a matter of fact, it is used in the Book of Revelation to describe the bottomless pit of hell. That was the well from which she was drawing. It was a well in the earth. The source of supply was down in the ground and the word means “pit.” You go on drinking from that source and from that pit and you will go on thirsting, but when the Lord Jesus said to her, “The water that I shall give you shall be in you a well” He used a totally different word, and the word that He used is elsewhere translated in our authorized version by the word “foundation,” “spring.” Again it is the word in the Book of Revelation concerning the great picture John gives of heaven in which he says that the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall lead them into fountains of living water.
Now you know, that’s an amazing contrast. On the one hand here was this woman going day after day at midday to this pit in order to drink of it and to get satisfaction, and here on the other hand one day she meets the Lord Jesus Christ who says, “Now you go on drinking from that pit and you will go on thirsting, but I am offering you today not a pit but a fountain—a fountain of life that will spring up within you into everlasting life.” That’s the contrast, and of course the contrast in this source of supply had the inevitable effect of the contrast in the result “Thirst again” “Never thirst.”
I want to underline one or two things about that, because you see every man and woman listening to me is drawing from the source of satisfaction in their life—from one or the other of these sources. Every personality has an outlet; every man has an ego; every person must express themselves—some people perhaps are more extrovert than introvert, but nevertheless, every person has an outlet to their personality, and they are constantly seeking something or other that will satisfy every craving of their individual needs. Everybody is like that. But you see some people are trying to find something that will satisfy the course of their whole personality from a well outside themselves. Others have found the secret of a fountain of life within. Some people’s source of satisfaction is outside; others is inside. Some have to go outside themselves to find satisfaction. Others have it within them. Some are drawing from a pit and others have found the fountain of life that comes from heaven, and, of course, it is very easy for you to know which one you are going to.
Are you finding yourself dissatisfied until life is not worth living, and the more you go on trying to get satisfaction the less you get? Do you know that over every worldly ambition you can write, “If you draw from that well you will thirst again.” Over every night club, over every tavern, over every human passion, over every cry for friendship, you can write over them all—if you drink of that water you will go on thirsting, and the tragic thing about it is that that well is very deep, and the Devil keeps people at it for a long time. But ultimately though it flatters to deceive; ultimately it fails completely to satisfy the heart.
“I tried the broken cisterns, Lord,
But oh, the water failed;
E’en as I stopped to drink
They mocked me as I wailed.”
Perhaps nobody has ever spoken to you about the possibility of real deep soul satisfaction. Perhaps never has anybody offered to you that life that truly satisfies, and you have never understood that it is utterly impossible because of the very makeup of your human personality to find satisfaction in any other person than in Christ.
You notice that this woman was completely bewildered by His offer, and said, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.” No, of course, He hadn’t anything to draw with, because the source of life was within Himself. He hadn’t to go outside Himself. He possessed the life; He was the Life; He could give the life and bestow soul satisfaction to that poor soul, for in Him is the fountain of life. He offers us an experience of real heart satisfaction, and He transforms our affections. He takes away the longing and the thirst, and in place of it all He has put a fountain of life within our heart. That’s a wonderful salvation, isn’t it?
Do you know if you are thirsting for that which is wrong, you can know a thirst that has been quenched? For the Lord Jesus not only satisfies, but He quenches and He completely transforms our affections and our desires, and our wishes, and in place of a desire for the thing that is wrong, He implants within us new life with a desire for righteousness and holiness. He doesn’t leave you a kind of neutral impassionate person. The Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.” Isn’t that a wonderful thing? On the one hand there is a thirst for that which is sinful, and the Lord Jesus Christ comes into the life and quenches it and in its place He imparts another thirst after godliness, and purity, and holiness, and that thirst He satisfies.
Does that experience last? All I can say is that it lasts as long as Jesus lasts. “If thou knewest the gift of God,” He said to the woman of Samaria, “thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water. This is, therefore, something that I do not earn. I do not work for it, but something that I take. Is it all as easy as that? Not quite. No, because the woman said, and I can just hear her say it, “Give me this water that I may no longer come here to draw. Can it be that this is the answer to my prayers?” says she. “Can it be that I have met someone who can give to me now that which will satisfy? Or Lord, give me.”
I can well understand exactly the feeling of her heart, and suddenly Jesus looked her in the face and said, “Go call thy husband.” I don’t know just what that woman felt at that moment. Once upon a time she had been an innocent child, but now she had been disgraced. I suppose she had forgotten all about those innocent days. That was merely in the past, and when Jesus said, “Go call thy husband.” “Husband? I have no husband,” she said. And Jesus said, “Perfectly true. You haven’t. As a matter of fact, you had five and the one you have got now he is not your husband.” What penetrating truth! Fancy hearing that from the Lord. I can somehow picture that girl wincing. I don’t know if she was still capable of it, and if she was, I can picture the blush on her face and the look of shame. She hung her head, “Oh, God, must all this be discussed? Must all this come out in the open? Can’t I forget? Can’t I overlook it? Can’t I somehow ignore the whole business? Why must He start talking to me about that? All that I want is this living water that He offers me. All I want is that I might leave this place never to thirst again. Why, why must He start talking again about this wretched, miserable tragedy of life?” “Woman, go call thy husband.”
Oh, there is a tremendous truth there. Some of you I have no doubt whatsoever are drinking from the wrong source of supply. It’s amazing how you can go on doing that and come to church at the same time, isn’t it? Quite staggering. I don’t know how it is, except I know my own heart, and that you can sit under the sound of the truth and know that the man is saying the thing that is right, but somehow or other Satan just throws sand in your eyes, and you go on the same way.
Amazing how you go on year after year, and one day the Spirit of God somehow seems to find you out like He found out the woman of Samaria, and for one awful moment it seems as if you gaze into the very face of the Lord Jesus and you are conscious that He is gazing right into your very soul, and He sees you through and through, and He says to you what He says to this woman of Samaria, “Go.” Maybe not the same word, but the same implication.
Some of you have been drawing from the wrong source of supply, going outside yourself and the Lord Jesus says to you,” If you would only take of the water that I give you, you will never thirst again. You will be satisfied.” It will be within you a fountain, and something within you says, “Well, Lord, give me that water” and Jesus says, “Wait a minute—not so easy as that. Go call thy husband and come hither.” In other words, there is no forgiveness apart from repentance. There is no life apart from cleansing. There is no Christ unless sin is dealt with. “Give me this water, Lord—satisfy my heart. Give me this that will come within me and quench my thirst and satisfy my life.” “Go call thy husband, and come.”
I am absolutely certain that in reference to everybody who is drawing from the wrong source of supply to find life satisfaction, that to you somewhere there is a “go” before Jesus says, “come.” That somewhere or other there is something that has to be put right, something that has to be cut clean out of your life before you may know His peace and cleansing and forgiveness. You can never have Christ and go on as you have been. You cannot have the fountain of life within and go on drawing from without. You cannot have salvation and sin. You must be prepared to get right with God.
I cannot offer you a cheap easy way out. I am afraid that some people seem to imagine that the evangelical faith is just an easy way through, is sort of a way of escape. Simply accept Jesus Christ and that’s all that has to be done. I have no authority from my Bible at all to offer you life except it be on the basis of repentance—“Lord, give me this water. Give me this life that I may no longer thirst.” “Go,” said He, “and then you may come.” Only you know what the word “go” means in relation to your own experience. The Old Book says, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” The man who attempts to cover up his sin when he comes to the Lord Jesus will discover it just won’t work.
He isn’t prepared to give you life unless you are prepared to come to Him in absolute repentance, and of course I don’t need to tell you that repentance is more than just being sorry. That repentance is much more than remorse; repentance is that which causeth the prodigal in the far country to say, “I will arise and go to my Father, and say unto Him, “I have sinned.” Repentance turns us right about from the life of sin that we have been living. Repentance turns our faces toward God and gets our feet on the road toward heaven. Repentance turns a man right around in a deliberate surrender of his will, and a determination to forsake sin in the power that God can give.
So the Lord Jesus says, “I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.” Yes, it is a gift and He offers that gift of life to you. Are you prepared to fulfill the conditions? I wonder if there is someone facing a battle now and the Lord Jesus is saying to you, “If thou knewest thou wouldest have asked of Me, and I would have given thee living water.” Are you longing for that satisfaction of heart? Are you longing for that peace; for that thirst of yours to be quenched and a hunger after God to be your soul? Are you willing to accept the challenge of the Saviour’s word, “Go.” How He longs to give you His Holy Spirit, that fountain of life in your heart. He died on the cross and He arose again to make it possible. He longs to give Himself to you. You may go to Him by faith and in spirit receive that gift, that life, if you are willing to say to Him, Lord, I am ready for the implication. I truly repent of my sins. I have no strength and I have no power over it, but I trust thee to impart to me thy power, thy forgiveness, thy cleansing. Make me a new person.