No. 7: The Right Place at the Right Time
John 4:1-30; 39-42
Jesus knows just where to find you! This is the most exciting passage of the Bible, so far, for all Joy for Life students, as it shows us how Jesus went out of His way to meet the enormous need of one individual woman who was certainly not accepted by the crowd. Just one encounter with the Living God completely changed how she saw herself, the town, her enemies, her sin and her future.
If we take this wonderful example of God’s personal encounter with one woman, we can see how He will go to any lengths to meet with us and change our disasters into His victories.
Jesus had no difficulty making the decision to go through the country of Samaria because He had the love of God for all people and didn’t feel any cultural restrictions. The quickest way from Judea to Galilee was through this country whose people were real enemies of the Jews. After the Northern Kingdom with its capital, Samaria, fell to the Assyrians, many Jews were deported to Assyria, and foreigners were brought in to settle the land and to help keep the peace, 2 Kings 17:24. The intermarriage between those foreigners and the remaining Jews resulted in a mixed race, impure in the opinion of Jews who lived in the Southern Kingdom. These Samaritans had set up an alternative centre for worship on Mount Gerizim to parallel the temple at Jerusalem, but it had been destroyed one hundred and fifty years earlier. The Jews did everything they could to avoid travelling through Samaria. The route Jesus took past Jacob’s Well was a much-used watering spot, attracting women and their servants twice a day, morning and evening. This Samaritan woman came at midday, probably to avoid meeting the people who knew her reputation. Jesus’ timing was always right. We see several situations throughout this gospel when Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to move on to where the Father wanted Him, at just the right time. This woman’s opinion of herself was so bad that she would never have expected the Living Saviour to want to make contact with her.
Jesus had no such prejudice, bigotry, or hatred
He knew all about this woman and knew it was an appointment made in the heart of His Father. He did not look on her with condemnation or with religious prejudice, either of which would have prevented Him from talking to her. Since she was a woman, a Samaritan and an adulterer, the prevailing culture meant that conversation between them was forbidden. No respectable Jew would talk to a woman under such circumstances and certainly would not use her water container. That made a Jew ceremonially unclean. But Jesus knew that the Gospel is for all people, no matter what their circumstances, social position, race or past sins. What about you? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any unrecognised areas of prejudice or racism, resentment or insensitivity to others. Are there ministry opportunities or relationships that you are holding back on because of these feelings? These are not appropriate for the children of the King and we are all joint-heirs with Jesus. He has no favourites, so deal with it today.
“Will you give Me a drink?”
Jesus took her everyday job of collecting water to show her desperate need for a life-changing experience and to point her to the Saviour who was talking to her. Jesus knew that there was no point in ramming down her throat that she was a dreadful sinner. He knew He had to show her how to get her deep needs met and so bring about a miraculous change in her outlook. Jesus talked to her about “living water”, which interested her in purely a material sense as it would stop her having to do this heavy, tedious job every day. She didn’t realise that all the water in the world would not satisfy her thirst. Her material problem was not her real need. Her desperate need was in her spirit. That was exactly what Jesus was interested in, getting her to see her desperate need and to acknowledge it. She was so taken up with her everyday living that she had not considered anything about her spirit or her eternal future.
“Go, call your husband.”
Jesus then asked her about her husband in order to get her to face up to the truth of her situation before God. He wanted to bring her to that place of repentance and change through conviction of sin rather than condemnation. She knew her life was like an open book to Him; she could not lie to this man, and yet He neither despised nor blamed her. He showed her that He could not give her the “living water” without first dealing with the sin.
“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.”
When feeling very uncomfortable on being confronted with her own sin, she immediately became religious instead of dealing with her feelings. She tried to divert Jesus away from the subject of her lifestyle on to the safe subject of worship, which she could discuss for hours whilst not having to face her true feelings or position in God.
“Worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.”
Jesus did not ignore her question, but pointed out that the place was not as important as the attitude of the spirit, because God can be worshipped anywhere at any time. We have the help of the Holy Spirit. He prays for us (Romans 8:26), teaches us the words of Christ (Romans 14:26) and tells us that we are loved, Romans 5:5.
Jesus took the opportunity to teach this precious woman about true worship. He knew He had come to this place especially for her. He knew that, after He had left Samaria, the most vital part of her life would be her time of intimate love with her heavenly Father during worship. So what seemed like a side-track was a very valuable teaching time. Nothing is wasted in God’s economy, even what seems to us to be a side-track. Jesus knew her heart was filled with a deep longing to see the Messiah and He was looking for people who would seek Him with their whole hearts and who wanted to follow Him totally. Jesus knew that all people can come to the Father through Him on two conditions: firstly, they have to acknowledge their sin and, secondly, they must trust in, cling to and rely on Jesus Christ.
“I who speak to you am He.”
In a split second she saw it all very clearly. She was sinful, horrible, and contemptible. He was full of love. He was also understanding and forgiving. She understood that this was the reason He sought her out. She received Him into her heart. She said “yes” to Jesus Christ. She was now free of all condemnation, from both herself and others. She was free from the past, a new creation with a new sense of direction and purpose. This was the reason she went immediately to tell all her neighbours, forgetting her water pitcher (representing her past), and openly testifying to everything Jesus had told her about her past without shame. She was so changed that they all wanted to see this amazing man. At first they believed because of her testimony but, when they met Him for themselves, they believed because of His words, John 4:41. This woman of the world who had no hope of any change in her life, who certainly had no security and no future, was completely changed on one day by one conversation with the One true Living God. She was used by Him to reach her whole town, so the most ‘value-less’ member of that society became the most valuable as she showed them the way of Eternal Life.
How do you judge your own value?
Home Challenges for Power Up! – No. 7: The right place at the right time
1. Read the notes “Jesus knows just where to find you!” What part relating to the Samaritan woman did you find encouraging, challenging? What changes in your life did you decide to make?
2. What do you think this woman thought about herself?
3. How do you think her attitude changed after she met Jesus? Give your reasons.
4. Was there anything special that blessed you from this study?
Read John 4:31-38; 43-54
5. Where do you think spiritual nourishment comes from? (John 4:32) Do you have a balanced spiritual diet? Where does God want you to make changes?
6. What is your main reason for doing what you are doing? Do you recognise the desperate need to share the Gospel and see a harvest of souls in your everyday situation? (John 4:35)
7. What reception did Jesus get in His own country? (John 4:44-45)
8. Who came to Jesus at Cana? How did He deal with this man’s cry for help?
9. What instructions did Jesus give him?
10. What was the man’s response?
11. When did the man make a decision to believe? Who also believed with him?
12. What has God told you He will do for you? Have you taken Him at His word?
13. What has really spoken to you in this passage? Write it down now where you won’t forget it.
14. Choose one verse to learn, and review previous memory verses.
15. Write one short sentence to sum up this passage of scripture.