Most Christians want to share their faith with their non-Christians friends. Yet for a variety of reasons this is often easier said than done. We have a case study in how Jesus spoke to the woman he met at Jacob’s well. In the following updated extract, George Hutcheson picks out several striking aspects of how Jesus interacted with her to win her soul to Himself for salvation. As we observe His heart and His words we should be able to find guidance for how we can and should introduce Him to the people we meet too.
In John 4, John records what Christ did and the success He had on His way to Galilee, in bringing a soul to Himself. While He was sitting by the well, a woman of Samaria came to draw water. They had a conversation, in which He led her from one thing to another, till she came to know Him to be the Messiah.
Jesus Comes Close to Sinners
Providence may be intending much mercy to those who are unworthy of it, and who have little thought of it. This woman, who was guilty of vile sins, came to fetch water, and no thought of anything else. Yet providence brought her to meet the Saviour of sinners, and at a time when He was actually feeling weary and thirsty. In this way He was an appropriate Lord to deal with such an unfeeling woman.
Christ is a Lord who will not be stopped by any impediment, but will overcome everything, to reconcile sinners to Himself. He doesn’t even keep a distance from Samaritans, not even a lewd woman among them. He counts it His glory to win someone so unlikely to Himself.
Jesus Introduces Himself to Those Who Do Not Know Him
When Christ spoke to her, He lets her see how much she mistook her own mercy (verse 10). If she had known Him, she would not only not have refused His request, but would have instead requested something from Him, and He would have given her better and living water (by which we are to understand the Spirit of God, and the graces of the Spirit acted by Him, John 7:38-39). Christ’s meekness passes over a lot of frowardness, which He finds in His own in the time of their conversion. By His goodness He overcomes their badness.
Ignorance of Christ, and what He has (and is ready) to give, is a major reason why sinners treat Him so badly. “If only you knew!” Christ says. He is known rightly and savingly when He and all He has are looked on as freely gifted to the world by the Father (as well as by Himself) and made theirs by offer to be embraced. This is why He is named “the gift of God.”
It greatly adds to Christ’s reputation that He is the one who makes the effort to come to sinners, and He pre-empts them by making offers of Himself. And when Christ is rightly known, as offered to the world for the salvation of lost sinners, it will beget a thirst for Him. It gets souls seeking for Him by prayer to supply their thirst, and they cannot stay away from Him. They see Him seeking sinners, to give something – salvation! – to them, more than to receive anything from them.
This woman, rather than refusing Him a drink of water, should have asked for water from Him! Christ has better things to give sinners, then anything He can ask from them, or anything they can offer Him. The well of life is in Christ’s hand, to dispense it as He wishes. Instead of her water, He has living water to give her.
Christ, who makes offer of grace before we seek it, will not refuse it to those who ask it. Nor do our past sins hinder us from being accepted by Him when we come to seek grace from Him. Even to this wicked woman He says, “If you had asked, He would have given you living water.”
Jesus Persists Against Misunderstandings and Disbelief
When the woman replies, she argues against Christ’s offer, alleging that this water either had to come out of the well – which was impossible, seeing the well was deep, and he had nothing to draw with – or this water had to come out of a better well, which would mean Christ was making Himself out to be better than Jacob (verse 11).
When we are unconverted we can’t help taking up spiritual things in a carnal way. People are not able to discern grace till they have it. This woman understood Christ as if he were speaking of elementary water.
We are also naturally enemies to our own good. Far from preparing ourselves for conversion, we are prone to dispute against our own happiness, and deceive ourselves, just like this woman reasoning against this living water because, in her judgement, it was impossible to be had or given.