“I AM HE”
Key verse 26
“Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you - I am he.’”
In this passage Jesus meets a Samaritan woman by a well in Sychar, Samaria. She is a moral outcast who has had five husbands and at least one boyfriend. Though people reject and despise her, Jesus visits her and helps her to find the Messiah with great patient and hope. Declaring “I am he,” Jesus reveals his identity as the Messiah, the Son of God who gives the living water. Jesus is the Messiah who can satisfy our souls completely. Through him, we can worship the Father in the spirit and truth. Through this passage, we may find Jesus as the Messiah and receive the living water; we may also learn how to help the lost to believe in him.
First, “Will you give me a drink?” (1-14)
Look at verses 1-3. As we studied last time, when Jesus’ ministry grew, John became more and more joyful. On the other hand, the Pharisees became more and more envious and suspicious of Jesus. There was growing potential for conflict with the Pharisees in Judea. Knowing all these, Jesus left Judea and went back to Galilee.
Look at verse 4. “Now he had to go through Samaria.” John emphasized the route Jesus took from Judea to Galilee - through Samaria. Why? Jews chose not to go through Samaria. They go ground by crossing the Jordan to the east, going along the other side of the river and coming back across once they are past Samaria. It is almost twice longer than the direct route. We can see how much the Jews really despise and hate the Samaritans. The reason for the hostility between Jews and Samaritans goes back a long way. When the Assyrians took Samaria captive in 722BC, they deported most of the Jews and replaced them by gentiles from all over their empire. (2Kings 17:23-24) Those small remnant Jews had intermarried with gentiles. As a result, it created a kind of half-breed Jews/Assyrians culture and religions. To the Jews, the Samaritans were traitors and defilers of the faith with mixed marriages, religions, cultures, and moral. When the Jews returned from exile in Babylon, the Samaritans offered to help them rebuild their temple. The Jews refused their offer and even refused to allow the Samaritans to worship in the temple. Then, the Samaritans established their own place of worship in Mt. Gerizim (400BC). To call someone – especially a fellow-Jew – Samaritan was great insult.
However, Jesus had to go through Samaria. Why? Not just because it was the shortest route, but also Jesus is the Savior of the world. Jesus loves Jews and also Samaritans as children of God. Here, Jesus breaks barriers of racial prejudice, social prejudice, and all human prejudices just to reach out to one lost soul. Most of all, he breaks the barrier between God almighty and sinners through his death on across. Jesus is the Savior of All. We reach out to all people of the world through the gospel of Jesus.
He had to go through Samaria because he has 1:1 Bible Study appointment with a woman by Jacob’s well. Look at verse 5-6. Jesus had been walking in the hot sun all day. When he came to the wall, it was about noon. He was tired, hungry and thirsty, so that he sat down the well to rest while the disciples went into the city to find something to eat. We see Jesus being very intentional. This is not an accident that Jesus came to the well. Jesus has to go to the well because there was a woman who need to know the love of God for her; she need to the gospel of Jesus; she need to meet the Messiah. In God, there is no accident. At the just right time and at just the right place, Jesus meets her in her great time of need. When I was freshman in a college, someone visited my dorm roommate to invite him to Bible Study. At that moment, he went out not there, but I was. It was not an accident, but God visited me at the right time and at the right place. Nowadays, I realize that I have to go out campus for there is one lost who need to know the gospel. For over 3 month, God has helped me to meet at least 3 person to share the word of God every week. Meeting one student is not an accident. Each person we meet in the campus is so precious that we should do our best to share the gospel.
Look at verse 7. “When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” This woman was all alone drawing water in the middle of the day. Why was she alone? It was because she was a social outcast due to her past life. She had had five husbands; she was now living with someone. Obviously people condemned and despised her. This woman was of absolutely no standing. In Jesus’ day women could not divorce a man. Only men had that right. She had been personally rejected by 5 husbands. Even one time failed marriage breaks one’s heart for years. Can you imagine what 5 times failed marriage must have done to her? She felt rejected, unloved, unforgiveable, even forsaken by God. Even the most despised Samaritan women despised her. She came to the well alone in the middle of the day. What a lonely woman!
She thought she would be alone, but there is a Jewish man sitting at the well. What an awkward meeting this was. There are invisible barriers between Jesus and the woman which might be higher than a mountain. She ignores Jesus. But Jesus didn’t ignore her. Look at verse 7b. “Jesus said to, her, ‘Will you give me a drink’” Jesus broke the awkward silence by asking for a drink; “Will you give me a drink?” Though Jesus is almighty creator God, he initiates the conversation, humbling himself to ask her a favor – not out of arrogance or a command, but out of kindness. Then, How did the woman respond to Jesus’ humble request? Verse 9 reads, “The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I’m a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” She was shocked. As a Jew, there is no way He should have spoken this Samaritan; Men did not talk to women in public. More, this was a Samaritan woman. She was full of surprise and suspicion and said, ‘You are a Jew and I’m a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ Though it was such rude respond, the fact that “Samaritan woman talk to a Jew in public” is amazing. Woman never talk to a man in public. The Samaritan woman talk to Jesus in public. How could this happen? With the simple request “Will you give me a drink?” Jesus has drawn this woman into conversation. Since Jesus first breaks all barriers and obstacles to reach out to her, she could freely come and talk to Jesus. “Will you give me a drink?” This is the exact representation of God’s love for sinners. 1John 4:10 “This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Sinners are impossible to come go God for they are lost in their sins. But, Thank God for Jesus who come to seek and save the lost (Lk19:10) Jesus came down from heaven to save this woman by making a relationship with her. Though there are over 50,000 students in this campus, it is impossible for one sinner to come first ask for Bible Study. If we do not humble ourselves and ask a favor - “Would you like study the bible?”, nothing will happen. Asking students a favor “Would you like study the Bible?” we can practice the love of God for sinners. God is reaching out to sinners through campus fishing.
How did Jesus respond to her rude respond? Did Jesus become offended and close his heart to her? “OK, Never mind!” This might be how ordinary man respond to such woman. But look at verse 10. “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is who asks you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’” Jesus did not condemn her. Rather, he patiently bore her scratchiness. That’s what is so wonderful about Jesus. Jesus is love. He is patient; he is kind. He is not easily angered, he keeps no records of wrongs. Jesus always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres - Jesus never fails (1Co 13:4-8). Here Jesus revealed his motives for asking for a drink. It is not to receive something, but to give the gift of God, the living water. Jesus offers her the spiritual gift – Living Water.
Then, what was the woman’s problem from Jesus’ point of view? Look at verse 10 again. She did not know the gift of God. She did not know who Jesus was. If she only knew who he was, she would ask Jesus and receive the gift of God, the living water, eternal life. First and most of all, she needs to know who Jesus is. Jesus is the only one who can give the gift of God. Though she did not fully understand what he says, ‘gift’ and ‘living water’ stirred interest in her. Look at verse 11-12. She began to look at him. He had no bucket; the well was too deep to climb. Who is this guy? Saying “are you greater than Jacob,” she even compared him with Jacob, their common ancestor who had dug this well that provided water for generations of people and animals. She is obviously puzzled by the words of Jesus. She did not clearly understand about the living water, the gift of God.
Then Jesus now explains it in verses 13-14. “Jesus answered, ‘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’” (13-14). This is a very clear explanation. Here, Jesus compared the water in Jacob’s well to the living water that he gives. The water of Jacob’s well symbolizes the things of the world. These things bring temporary relief, but never lasting satisfaction. This woman was thirsty for human love. She tried to quench her thirst by finding the right man. She had done this again and again. Still she was unsatisfied. Some people are thirsty for human honor. But even though someone receives more and more praise and honor, they just feel drier and drier. Many people seek satisfaction through achievement at work. Is working hard in the world enough to bring us satisfaction? No, it is not. Many people become workaholic - Addict to work to fill their emptiness; addict to drug, porn graph, alcohol, games. Still they thirst again. The Bible calls it slavery to sin. Whether good or bad, nothing in the world brings lasting satisfaction to a human soul. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again.”
What really quenches our thirst? Let’s read just verse 14. “…but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” The water Jesus gives, the living water will not only quench our thirst, but also becomes a spring of water welling up to eternal life. Jesus himself is the living water. True satisfaction is found in him alone; in him alone can we find eternal life. We need to drink the water Jesus gives us. How can we drink this water? Practically speaking, we seek Jesus through his word, the word of life. When we believe in his words; when we put it in practice; when we hold on to live by it, we meet him personally and teste his love, his grace, his mercy and goodness. We taste the living water that Jesus gives. The word of Jesus fills our empty hearts with new life, new purpose, and living hope in the kingdom of God.
Last week I heard wonderful testimonies of two great mothers of prayer in Washington UBF. One of them was very ambitious girl. She wanted to be powerful and influential woman like the first lady Jackeline Kennedy and the famous feminist-novelist JunHea Len. However, when Jackeline married a millionaire-business man and JunHea Len killed herself, she totally lost her meaning of life. She suffered from emptiness of life. But through Bible Study, she found the fullness of life in Jesus and even calling to serve the lost with gospel. Though she has served campus students as humble servant over 42 years, she has never been thirsty. She has been full of grace, full of love, and full of life so that she really has become a source of blessing for all co-workers. Practically, she has become a spring of water welling up to eternal life for she has received the living water through the word of God and prayer. “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.”(v14) Let’s see how Jesus helped this thirsty woman to have the spring of living water in her soul.
Second, “What you have just said is quite true.” (15-18)
As Jesus had predicted in verse 10, the woman’s attitude toward Jesus completely changed. “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” (15). Though she did not understand the spiritual nature of the living water, she confessed that she was really thirsty woman. She comes to realize the true nature of her thirst. It is not physical one, but spiritual inner thirst. It is the thirst for the truth; thirst for the righteousness; thirst for holiness. It is the thirst for God since she was made with the image of God. For long years, she missed the point, seeking man’s love. Now she trusted Jesus and took him at his words. How did Jesus help her to receive the living water Jesus?
Look at verses 16-18. “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.’” “Go, call your husband and come back!” Suddenly Jesus exposed her painful sin problem which she really wanted to hide. Why does Jesus do this? It is not to condemn her. Jesus want to help her to see and admit the truth about herself. Under the light of Jesus, she faces the emptiness of her life and how terrible sinner she was by seeking human love. Though it was painful, she could not but acknowledge her spiritual reality, “I have no husband.” At the same time, she realized that she needs Jesus, the savior who can save her from sin and the emptiness of life. Jesus did not condemned her, but loved her. He said, “You are right...” and “What you have just said is quite true.” Jesus’ love embraced this wounded woman. Eventually Jesus shed his blood to heal her wounds and to forgive her sins.
For us to receive living water from Jesus, we have to admit the truth when all our sins are exposed in the light of truth. Our natural tendency is to cover up sins and conceal the truth. If we do so, we reject the truth and Jesus just like the Pharisees and the teachers of the law had done to Jesus. Jesus cannot help us. Without acknowledgment - “We are sinner and we need Savior Jesus” and without repentance of sins, we cannot receive the living water. Praise Jesus who reveals all our sins out of his love. Let’s listen to Jesus who challenged this woman to face her deep sin problem. Let’s listen to Jesus’ words of acceptance to this woman that relieved her agony. Let us listen to Jesus! Otherwise, we can never be free from sin; we can never be satisfied even if we might have 100 husbands one after another.
Third, “You will worship the Father in Spirit and truth.” (19-26)
When Jesus exposed the woman’s life problem, amazingly she did not run way from him. She admit her sin and honestly plea for help. Look at verse 19. She says, “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” (19). Now the woman acknowledged Jesus as a prophet of God and asked about worship. What a surprising! People judge her that she might be the last person who want to talk about Worship. However, the topic of worship was very relevant to this woman’s life, as it is to all of our lives. Worship is really about what we love.
Look at verses 21,-24. “‘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; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.’” Jesus points us back to God, and calls him the Father. True worship is not about location or rites or accouterment. It is all about God, the Father. Through Worship, we serve God, listen to God, and pray to God. We have fellowship with God. Through Worship in the Spirit and in truth, we have life-giving relationship with God like “vine and breach.” We need Worship. When the woman loved/worshipped mere men only, she never be satisfied. The satisfaction of our thirst begins with true worship. We need to worship God in the spirit and truth. To do so, we need Jesus, the Messiah, who is full of the spirit and truth. As Jesus promised here, Jesus opened the new and living way for us through his suffer and death, so that we can come and serve the living God without fear.
We should know the object of worship, God the Father. If we do not know God as Father, we are worshiping like the Samaritans; what we do not know. How can we know the Father? John 1:18 reads, “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” Only Jesus knows the Father. And God sent him to reveal the Father to each of us. Jesus, God’s way of salvation, gives the right to all who believe in him to become children of God. By believing in him, we come to know God, the Father.
Let’s read verses 25-26 together. “The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah’ (called Christ) ‘is coming. When he comes, he with explain everything to us.’ Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you - I am he’” She came to know herself and about the true worship. The one thing she really need is the Messiah. In fact, she was waiting and seeking the Messiah. Then, Jesus reveals himself, declaring, “I, the one speaking to you, I am he.” Wow, this man standing before her, who has just reveals to her that he knows everything about her is the Messiah. This is the most amazing moment in her life to find the Messiah. “I am he” meant everything to this woman. Her thirst was quenched; her agony lifted; her relationship with God established. Her life was transformed. She left her water jar and became Jesus’ witness in her town. She was just a Samaritan woman; what could she possibly say about Jesus? Nothing more than what she knew: “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah (29)?” She believed that Jesus is the Son of God, and by believing she found life in Jesus’ name. She was no longer a woman of broken relationship. From now on, she was known as the most joyful woman who had the living water – spring of water welling up to eternal life. She was fully satisfied so that she could share the living water with all of her townspeople.
Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. Everyone who receives him and believes in him will have eternal life in his name (20:31). Jesus is the one who can give life; abundant life that satisfies. Jesus understands and is the solution to our inner agonies and sin problems. Jesus restores our relationship with our Father God. We can worship God in the spirit and truth through Jesus. What we really need is Jesus! Where can we get Jesus? He has come to us; initiated with us. We need only receive his words. Then He will give us the living water welling up to eternal life.
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