What God is Still Looking For

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Text:  John 4:1-42


                Card readers, palm readers…no one in history can read the life of someone and know them intimately.  Jesus could look someone in the eye and see beyond the bluff to the real need.

                Two lessons here.  #1: Nothing is hidden from is all-searching eyes.  That which we try to hide from Him is as visible as if we were wearing a sign around our neck.  As Scripture says, “Be sure, your sin shall find you out.” (Num. 32:23)  The embarrassment is worse if you are discovered trying to cover up, than if you are honest about it up front.  #2: Jesus knows our need even if we don’t.  Some people live some rough years seeking to fulfill their deepest need, and yet they can’t put their finger on what it is.  The searching results in an experiment in pain and failure…and still desperately in need.

                In the nutshell, it’s that God-sized vacuum in our soul…that vacancy that ONLY HE can fulfill.  And I’ll tell you…when you find Him, you KNOW that’s what you’ve been looking for all along.  Because you soul knows it’s the round peg for the round hole, instead of the square peg you’ve been trying to force in the round hole for all those years.

                Such a needy woman had a divine encounter with Jesus.  Her conversation is famous.  The result is phenomenal.  We will find that not only was she looking for something, but so is God.  Let’s revisit the story and find out what God is still looking for.  Read Text.

1.        Chapter 4 opens with the presence of the ever-hounding Pharisees.  When Jesus discovers they know He is baptizing and making more disciples more disciples than John, He relocates.  How do you handle people who have a spirit of negativism towards your ministry?     Are there different strategies depending on the problem?  Explain.

2.        What do you think was Jesus’ strategy towards them in the first three verses of chapter 4?  (To avoid being arrested before the appointed hour by the Father.)

3.        The shortest route for a traveler going north was through Samaria, but Jews avoided it.  Why?  (They considered the Samaritans as half-breeds.  It originated with their refusal to help rebuild the city wall and the temple when the exiles from Babylon returned.  They had adopted local pagan gods during that time also.)

4.        Since Jews normally avoided going through Samaria, what do you think John is trying to convey in verse 4 that Jesus “had to pass through Samaria”?  (He had an appointment to keep; the appointment with a woman at Jacob’s well.)

5.        What’s the overall message we should retain from this story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman?  (That the Kingdom of God is made up of people no matter what their race or moral standing.  All you have to do is acknowledge Jesus as your Savior and receive His life-giving Spirit.)

6.        Verse 9 indicates that even this woman was surprised that Jesus was speaking with her.  Besides the Jewish/Samaritan conflict, what else might be going on here?  (In that day women did not speak to strangers without their husband present.  As a side note, Jesus was probably the first man in a long time to be talking to her without impure motives.)     What in their conversation gives you an indication that this may be the case?  (Jesus tells her to go get her husband.)

7.        What are the contrasting ways Jesus and the woman are thinking about “water” according to their conversation?  (She is thinking about physical water; He about spiritual water.)
Comment: The word Jesus used for “living water” indicates a spring of flowing waters, in contrast to a well or a cistern.

8.        How does the living water Jesus has to offer meet man kind’s greatest thirst?  (Our greatest thirst is for a right relationship with God.  The spiritual water He has to offer is the resource that connects us with God.)

9.        Jesus explains to her the meaning of the living water He has to offer her, but she still asks where she can find this “running water” so that she doesn’t have to put forth the effort to walk outside the city every day and draw water from Jacob’s well.  What does this tell you about the condition of her soul?  (The welfare of her soul was not her primary concern.  Her concern was relief from a menial task.)     When faced with an offer for something better and truly satisfying, why do people still go back to their foolish habits of trying to fulfill the void with the wrong thing?  (They are mindlessly stuck on the treadmill of searching for the right thing that will fulfill their need, and can’t get off the treadmill without the Holy Spirit literally knocking them off of it and getting their attention!  Some are blinded by Satan in their pursuit of the wrong thing.)

10.     Jesus then tells her to go call her husband.  It’s the bombshell that starts to get to the bottom issue.  What do the facts of verse 18 tell you about the woman?  (She was probably attractive; she lived loosely since she was living with a man and not married to him; she had faced many rejections.)
Insight: The current man gave her a bed, but no name...mere rejection.  Jesus, the Law Giver, didn't nail her to the wall with her sin that He knew full well; He just helped her to see her sin and her need and then gave her living water.

11.     When she replied to Jesus, “I have no husband,” Jesus recognized she had spoken the truth, and told her so.  How is speaking the truth liberating?  Jn. 8:32  (Our confession of our sin {telling the truth} is one of the conditions to forgiveness.)  1 Jn. 1:9

12.     Upon realizing that Jesus knew her past (and they had just met), she realizes she’s in the presence of someone from God (a prophet at the minimum).  In the hot seat, she tries to shift the topic of discussion away from herself to an age-old debate.  What was the debate of places of worship all about?  Gen. 33:18-20; Josh. 8:33; 2 Kings 17:26-29; 2 Chr. 6:5-6; 7:12

13.     How did Jesus respond to her distraction, yet keep at the heart of the issue? 
Insight:  Worship cannot be confined to a spot; rather it’s what happens in the heart of the worshipper that counts.

14.     What kind of people does Jesus say the Father is seeking?

15.     What does it truly mean to worship in truth and spirit?  (You can’t worship Him with sin hidden in your heart, you must come to Him in the truth of what you are and let Him cleanse you and take you from there to where He wants you to be in His sight.  Second, worship is not confined to a location, a certain body position or worship style.  God is Spirit, and the flesh can’t operate on that level and please Him.)  Ps. 66:18; 32:5  -  Jn. 3:6; Rom. 8:6-11; Gal. 5:16-17; Phil. 3:3

16.     The woman then realizes the true one who will revolutionize worship is the Messiah and declares what true worship is that pleases the Father.  Jesus reveals that He is the Messiah.  They are interrupted by the disciples’ return.  She leaves.  What is there about what she tells the town people that gives you an indication she understood who Jesus said He is?  4:29
Insight:  The woman would not have to wait for the Messiah to solve her problems…He was right there in front of her!

17.     When asked if Jesus would like to eat, Jesus has an unusual response.  What does He mean by it?  (He gets energy through doing ministry…the work of the Father charges him.)     What gives you the same experience?

18.     Jesus encourages His disciples to get charged doing the work of the Father also.  What does He suggest would give them the greatest charge (energy)?  (Working to gather souls for the Kingdom.)

19.     Do you find any peace from verses 37 & 38 that winning souls is not your sole responsibility?  How so?  1 Cor. 3:5-10; 1 Thes. 1:6-10

20.     What was the result of this woman going back to town and telling others about her encounter?     What does that tell you about how soon God can use someone to reach others?     Does it tell you anything about WHOM God can and cannot use to further His Kingdom?


                Had Jesus left the itinerary for His travels to His disciples, most likely they would have never ventured into Samaria.  But Jesus is able to see all the fields that are white unto harvest.  Had He left it up to His disciples to make appointments for Him to talk to, the woman at the well would have been bypassed.  But Jesus saw her potential once she was liberated from her sin.

                Have you bypassed certain people because of what you see on the outside?  Do you need Jesus’ eyes to look upon the fields of potential believers?

                Once this woman found hope, she was ready to surrender all and she was bold in her witness to tell others what she found.  The result is that she is the first native missionary to Samaria.  Her testimony set the scene for a field being harvested for the Lord both on this occasion and later when Phillip visited Samaria.  Acts 8:1-12  That’s the way it happens with the Gospel…one is won, and it sets off a chain reaction…one can lead to many more!

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