John 4:7-14 The only way to enter into eternal life is to take God at His word
John 4:7-14 The only way to enter into eternal life is to take God at His word
There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
When the Jews started to take notice of Jesus’s rising influence, it was time for Jesus to move on to other cities. He headed for Galilee while passing through Samaria. By divine providence, Jesus rested at a well where He met a woman who was about to bring the gospel to the entire city. Jesus was seen breaking social norms as He interacted and ministered to the woman. Indeed, people prosper when God’s kingdom values take precedence over social norms. Jesus challenged the woman to seek living water as opposed to physical water. Indeed, physical water can never provide for eternal life which living water can. Today’s devotion teaches us: The only way to enter into eternal life is to take God at His word.
There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus “said to her, “Give Me a drink.”
The way Jesus approached the Samaritan woman was unassuming and He broke the social norms of that time. The woman was bewildered at Jesus’s request for a drink and she said, ”How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” It was not socially acceptable for the Jews to interact with the Samaritans, especially with one of the opposite sex.
Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God…”
Jesus, responded to the woman’s bewilderment and said, ”If you knew the gift of God,…” Here, Jesus implied that if she knew who He really is, she would have responded to Jesus’s request very differently. She would have seized the opportunity to ask Him for a blessing, and He would have given her the blessing of living water. Jesus seemed less guarded in Samaria as compared to Jerusalem for He openly declared Himself as the Saviour, the giver of living water. Living water connotes its life giving properties.
The woman, unconvinced of Jesus’s bold claims responded sceptically that He had nothing to draw water with let alone living water. The well was widely accepted as belonging to Jacob, the revered father of Israel. And the water that came from the well was perhaps considered as life giving to those who drank of it. Jesus took this opportunity to reveal Himself as the One who is greater than Jacob, who is able to provide true living water. By ”this water” taken from the well of Jacob, He contrasted with the ”living water” that He will give.
Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst.
Everyone who depends on the resources of this world, who feeds on material things will not be satisfied (thirst again). But whoever depends on God, who feeds on His Spirit will be satisfied (never thirst again). Here, Jesus is speaking about the profound need in a man’s spirit. Jesus explained that the living water is indeed the water that I will give him. And this living water contributes towards eternal life; the heavenly kind of life. In simple terms, eternal life is in fact the life lived out in heaven. For believers who posses eternal life, though our physical bodies are on earth, our hearts and minds are living the heavenly existence. Hence, in obtaining eternal life, one experiences a dramatic regeneration of his soul in righteousness (loving and living what is right), peace (harmony with God and with men) and joy (blessedness) while on earth.
People prosper when God’s kingdom values take precedence over social norms
What the society and its culture consider as acceptable, do not always resonate with God’s kingdom values. Certain social norms tear down rather than build up, thus stifling the progress of the people. Jesus, in order to reach out to the Samaritan woman broke social norms by taking the initiative to connect with her. The Jews have long distant themselves from the Samaritans accusing them of breaking God’s law by intermarrying with people of other nationalities. Moreover, it is also unacceptable for a man to approach a woman in public. First and foremost, Jesus did not consider the Jews as superior to the Samaritans. Secondly, Jesus considered the woman’s soul as far more valuable than keeping with the customs of the gender divide. Jesus’s mission to establish God’s kingdom on earth necessitates the transformation of whole societies with their cultures and customs. What kingdom values did Jesus espoused to? No gender, tribe or nationality should consider itself as superior to another. Jesus, by approaching the woman considered her as a respectable and fitting vessel to bring the gospel to the entire city.
Thus, God’s children, must always look to God’s kingdom values as the universal norm. If we claim to be citizens of God’s kingdom, we must endeavour to live out its values wherever we are. The apostle Paul encouraged the early church that comprised Jews and Gentiles to put aside their differences and adopt God’s kingdom values.
For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Romans 14:17-19
The Jews and Gentiles came with their peculiarities with regards to lifestyle, mannerism, and living habits: eating and drinking. However, the values of the kingdom: righteousness and peace and joy must always take precedence over what is considered as the cultural norm. God’s people must come to accept kingdom values as the new norm (For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men). In this way, there will be perpetual peace and progress for all (So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.)
God is nearer than we think.
The woman would not acknowledge that the man who asked her for a drink is really the life giver, the Saviour of the world; the sceptic in her just would not allow her to believe. It is only through Jesus’s persistence that she came to realise that God is nearer than she thinks. God met her at a divinely appointed moment at the sixth hour, and at that instance her life of mourning was turned into dancing.
Perhaps, she had prayed countless times and has already given up hope. But God came from heaven to earth, from Jerusalem to Samaria to seek out a seeming reprobate woman, despised by all. Indeed, God had looked pass her transgressions and into her broken and contrite heart. Nevertheless, God is ever looking to draw near to those who despite their imperfections desire divine perfection. The apostle James said,
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8
As we draw near to God, the blood of Jesus cleanses our hearts of worldliness, lustful inclinations and pride, filling us with the living water of eternal life.
The only way to enter into eternal life is to take God at His word.
Many are trying to experience eternal life without first obtaining it. They are like people who desire to experience what life in Singapore is like by just reading about the experiences of others, but without actually living in it. Or to understand what an apple tastes like without eating it. Because of this, many churchgoers remain outside of God’s kingdom thinking they are inside. Such participate in church activities and immersed themselves in Christian culture supposing that is true eternal life. Like the woman at the well who mistook the water in Jacob’s well as living water, many thought that eternal life is about having good health, family with bright children and earning lots of money. They are making a grave mistake by superimposing the ideals of this temporal world with that of the eternal world. One acid test would be to ask ourselves if we have perpetual peace, joy, and righteous inclinations welling up continually and springing up from our soul. Or are we still seeking material things, being trapped in various bondages while putting our interests before the interests of God?
As we have earlier said… eternal life is in essence a heavenly kind of life or a life fitting of God. If you are caught in the bondage of worldliness, lust or pride, you have yet to enter into eternal life. It remains that for one to enter into eternal life, he must exercise faith. Faith in God’s word and His promises must exist before the experience of eternal life. Indeed, eternal life is the fruit of faith and obedience, not of understanding. One will not fully understand what eternal life is until he experience it through faith. The way to enter into eternal life is not to understand what eternal life is, but to walk in God’s will, fully obedient to His word. And we will experience eternal life as it is: infinitely amazing and glorious.
Do not let culture or social norms hinder you from spreading the message of salvation and the truth of the gospel. We tend to let society dictate what is right to do and what is not. Jesus showed us that the greatest commandment is love. Let us reach out to the people that society neglected: the foreigners, the unskilled workers, and the minorities in our society.
Do not limit what God can do for you, for God is nearer than you think. Make a list of your current challenges and talk to God about it. By faith, write down the outcome of your life if God could have His way. Ask God for life’s important things: wisdom, strength and love, and He will give them liberally.
Are you experiencing the eternal life as it is meant to be? What is hindering you from experiencing eternal life in increasing measure? Make a daily commitment to read the word and walk humbly before God. And the eternal life of the Spirit will well up and spring up from your soul.
Dear Lord, I thank you that your Spirit dwells within me bringing me the eternal life of righteousness, peace and joy. Cause me to see people through the eyes of Jesus and use me to bring love and truth to them. Remove from me the prejudices and biases against people of other races, religion, social background or nationalities. As I walk by faith, use me to make this world a better place. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.