THE account of our Lord’s interview with the woman at Jacob’s well carries many precious truths which we might easily overlook.
Our Lord was on a detour here, and we observe that some of our best work is often done when we are off the main line. No one knows or cares what the good Samaritan had started out to do that particular day, but he is remembered for what he did not start out to do. Bunyan wrote Pilgrims Progress as a sort of matter “on the side,” but by it he is remembered.
Our Lord first broke custom by speaking to the Samaritan woman. We, too, need to shatter precedent—and must, if we are to win souls.
This woman with a hidden thirst knew only the well of Jacob. How many souls are depending today upon broken cisterns that can hold no water and know not the gift of God!
This woman was disposed to raise side issues, but our Lord brought the matter down to the sin in her life: “Go, call thy husband….” Immediately the woman said, “Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.” The mark of a prophet is to bring people to realize they are sinners. Too much preaching today never exposes sin, never makes people face their iniquities. This woman, sensing her needs, kept speaking to Jesus as the one who told her all things that ever she did; she so described Him to her acquaintances back in the city. There is a pleasant preaching today that tries to prescribe the remedy before people are made to realize that they are sick; tries to lead to the light people who do not know they are in the dark! Men will never be convicted until they are made to see themselves as sinners, and to do that, sin must be condemned and exposed, and it must be made personal. We must get down to the street where people live. Jesus did not give this woman a lecture on sin in general, He spoke of her sin. Paul’s epistle to the Romans starts by picturing sin and it names sins, and then proclaims the remedy in justification by faith.
When you get close to the sins of people, do not be surprised if they want to change the subject. This woman immediately raised the issue of where to worship—a liturgical question. How easily sinners shift the subject of conversation when you specify sins in their lives! But our Lord was not to be sidetracked; He held to the subject.
Finally, when she spoke of the coming Messiah, our Lord made a clear and unmistakable claim to be the One who should come. It is strange how anyone can read our Lord’s claim here and then deny that He ever professed to be the Messiah.
The woman left her water pot and went into the city to tell others of this prophet she had found. When we find the Living Water, we have no more use of the broken cisterns of earth! She was a good personal worker, for she brought her crowd back with her to see the Lord. The disciples who had been out looking for food came back and marveled at our Lord’s conversation with this woman. They were looking for meat. He was looking for men. The church today is too busy looking for tangible things: numbers, money, success. If we made our business soul-winning—which is the business of the church—all other things would be added.