12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:
18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.
19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
Coming part way to knowing Jesus is not enough; it is vital to know Him as John presents him: Savior and King.
Right away I see that the woman at the well is spiritually intrigued by what Jesus is saying. She speaks to Him, but after Jesus spoke to her, an act considered against the Law. McGee compares her to Nicodemus: “What a contrast she is to the man, Nicodemus, we saw in the preceding chapter. And notice how differently our Lord deals with her. With Nicodemus, a man who was religious to his fingertips, our Lord was harsh and blunt, but see how gentle He is with this woman. He asks a favor of her. He appeals to her sympathy—He is thirsty and asks for a drink.” He probably would have had to look a very long while to find someone lower in the social order. She has had five husbands and the man she is now living with is not her husband.
With Nicodemus we find him asking Jesus questions like: “How can a man be born when he is old?” Jesus upbraids Nicodemus for not understanding the basics of spirituality, because his point of great pride was in understanding his religion. On the other hand, there is nothing that is pretend righteousness about the woman; she is honest to a fault for she confesses freely her lifestyle. I notice the quick accumulation of respect the woman has for Jesus. She starts with impudent answers to His question, but as He draws her in, she begins addressing Him as “Sir”, then after Jesus makes a remark about her five husbands, she quickly promotes Him to “Prophet”. Very quickly she alludes to the Messiah, catching perhaps the great wonders of what Jesus is saying. I notice that she is the one who brings up the Messiah. Was she already watching for the Messiah? I think so, but at any rate, she is quick to bring up the subject. Jesus effectually answers what I think she is already guessing: “I that speak unto thee am He.” And she believes!
He offers her the living water, a water which she quickly asks for, and in her asking, I think she shows her willingness to believe. At this point of openness, Jesus brings her to realize her sin—she confesses freely about her deviant lifestyle. She has both believed and confessed—agreed with God that her way is not the proper way. What does she do? She goes into the town, and begins to bring other people to hear the Word of Jesus. What a marvel! This lady is a believer for just a few minutes and she is already working to bring her village to the Lord.
What of Nicodemus? God is not through with Nicodemus. I heard someone today declare that once God starts a work of conviction, He will not rest until completion. How untrue! Have you not seen many people convicted of their own sin, of the righteousness of God? I see the Billy Graham Crusades on television, and am so grateful to watch people coming forward to be saved. But what of the thousands who hear and do not come forward? Are they hearing the Word of God? Are they convicted? Jesus himself teaches of the job of the Holy Spirit: “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt, in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8, italics mine) It is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of evil—a job which He not only performs very ably, but also a job which is worldwide. Do all come to Christ? The answer we see is quite evident, but is told us earlier in John: “Men love darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
I think of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus, who bade him to sell all he had and follow Jesus. Was he not convicted of the righteousness of Christ? His question to Jesus showed that he saw something: “Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?” He was willing to follow Jesus, to follow the Law, but in the end, he chooses to keep his wealth. Luke tells us important information left out in Matthew: “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” But Mark puts something in his gospel left out in both Luke and Matthew: “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” Here is God come in the flesh, looking at a man with love, teaching and convicting him toward the gospel—and the young ruler turns Jesus down. I submit that this is a clear case of conviction not leading to salvation.
But Nicodemus was of a different sort. In him, as I freely admit happened in me, Jesus’ words came back again and again to convict him. I do believe that Jesus was speaking to a responsive heart in chapter three, and I think Nicodemus showed that responsiveness in his subsequent behavior. There is considerable evidence that Nicodemus became a secret believer—something akin to what I see happening in Moslem countries, and in China today.
50 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,)
51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? (John 7:50)
I see in this passage, Nicodemus taking the high road and using his influence to try to protect the Lord. I think it is because he is a secret believer.
38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. (John 19:38-40)
Here I see Nicodemus again trying to do what is right by Jesus. Is there enough Biblical evidence to call Nicodemus a believer? God only knows, for I surely do not. But I think the evidence is compelling that Jesus had sharply affected his life, whether to salvation or not is best left in the hands of the Judge. I find it compelling that John gives us the great chapter, perhaps the greatest in all of Scripture, as the words of salvation to a religious leader whose life subsequently appears greatly changed.
It says: “Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think that ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me, yet ye refuse to come to me that ye might have life.” (John 5:39,40) God will judge you one day and it will be one on simple question: Did you believe God or not? Notice here the words of Jesus, “ye refuse”. I do not know how he could put it plainer. Involved in the election of man is very much the drawing of God himself. The people who refuse to believe are condemned already, “because they have not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
Could it be any plainer than this? “32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” All men. All men are convicted. The Holy Spirit unceasingly does His work in many ways. But men love darkness. Romans 1:18 tells us they suppress the truth by their wickedness. Men are held responsible for their choices. But it is never to my God that I may lay a charge of holding me responsible for something for which I had no choice—whether to the good or bad. Those who overemphasize choice or election cannot avoid diminishing the gospel in one area for the sake of harmonizing gospel in another.
Abraham believed God and it was reckoned unto him as righteousness. Have you believed God? As for me and my house, we will believe the God who commanded us to believe and has drawn us to Him through His Spirit. All praise be to God!
Christ For the World We Sing
1. Christ for the world we sing;
The world to Christ we bring
With loving zeal
The poor, and them that mourn,
The faint and overborne,
Sinsick and sorrow-worn,
For Christ to heal.
2. Christ for the world we sing;
The world to Christ we bring
With fervent prayer
The wayward and the lost,
By restless passions tossed,
Redeemed at countless cost
From dark despair.
3. Christ for the world we sing;
The world to Christ we bring
With one accord
With us the work to share,
With us reproach to dare,
With us the cross to bear,
For Christ our Lord.
4. Christ for the world we sing;
The world to Christ we bring
With joyful song
The newborn souls whose days,
Reclaimed from error's ways,
Inspired with hope and praise,
To Christ belong.
Lyrics: Samuel Wolcott