Rom. 5. 14, John 4. 3-14.
The Way of Deliverance.
by G. Winslow
LET us dwell a little on the Son of God proposing to such a woman as the Samaritan sinner to give her a great gift from God, if she asked it from Him; even a fountain of water springing up to everlasting life (John 4).
She wondered that He should speak to a woman like her. She, and we, might well wonder, as the disciples did when they came back; but with Him there was no wonder in it—it was His life, His way, His nature, to do just what He did there, and God was in Him; He had sent Him to speak to sinners. It was from His Father.
But she did not put it that way, for she did not so know it; she was covering over what she was, though He showed that He knew her well. Her words covered her sins, except that she was a woman of Samaria, and He was at first to her only a Jew speaking to a Samaritan; and the Jews had no dealings with such a despised people.
Thirst drove her to the well, shame forced her out at such an unusual, untimely hour to draw water for herself, and her house, whatever that house consisted of. There was no sin in drawing water, but a burden in it to be borne allalone, and there was no one to sympathize with that heavily laden sinner, lonely in soul and body.
Yes, there was One whose heart was tender towards her—the same Jehovah who had of old said by His prophet Hosea (2. 14): "I will allure her and bring her into the wilderness and speak comfortably to her" (speak to her heart). God is faithful, if we are unfaithful (1 Tim. 1. 15; 2 Tim. 2. 13; 1 Cor. 1. 9). And what He is going to do to Israel one day, He was going just then to do to a Samaritan outcast, as He has done to many a burdened soul since then. Consider it. "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of Him."
"If thou knewest"; I know and my Father knows, why I have come down so low—so near thee—so like thee, in thirst, in weariness, in loneliness, in everything except sin, to meet thee here all alone, and tell thee how I know of a well deeper than this one, springing from my Father's heart and from My own. "The water that I shall give him shall be in him a fountain of water, springing up to everlasting life."
But consider again to whom He was saying all this. If there was no sin in drawing the water, there was abundance of sin in the associations which called her to do it all alone at that hour of the day; sin and shame brought her there alone, as shame brought Nicodemus in the previous chapter, all alone at night. Each had something to cover up, both from man and from God. But Jesus knew well how to uncover it in each case. And see how He did it in this case. Grace did it.
But was it thirst that led the Son of God to sit alone at that deep well? He knew a deeper spring and was going to draw from it to quench her thirst, not His, for we do not read of that thirst being quenched except in quite another way, which the narrative tells us of at the close.
His Father gave Him to eat of meat that the disciples knew nothing of. Consider that, my soul, what gave Him His pleasure was the will of God, but man knows nothing of it, till he believes it. As soon as he believes God in Christ, he knows it. It comes out here, however, plain enough for any thirsty souls to drink in by faith. We read, "He must needs go through Samaria." Yea, He must needs come from God; He must needs suffer; He must needs die (John 3. 14-18). There were needs on man's side, yea, abundant needs; but there were needs on God's side. If God is to be made known, so as to reach sinners—reach the lost, Christ must suffer and die.
But there were greater needs still, namely, that God should be known in His creation as He is, and the Son comes down as here to make Him and this known. Oh, what kind of a heart must that be that shuts Him out? This woman, at any rate, was not able to do it.
At first, she thought His request singular. It was more singular, however, than she thought it. Why, He created all the waters, separated them from the earth, brought a flood of them over the earth, walked upon them, turned a storm into a calm.
But God is more than a Creator, more than Almighty. He is love, and light—and His love lighted up the dark heart of this sinful Samaritan, and made her forget, or neglect, what she had taken that wearisome journey for, with a heavy earthen pitcher on her shoulders, to carry it back heavier still to her sinful home. She has no need of it now; at least the need has gone out of her thoughts. What, a deliverance! But we anticipate. Let us see further how it came about, that others may learn what the Son of God loves to do—has done, will do, for all that will on His terms converse with Him.
At first, she gave Him a rebuff; she thought He was a Jew too proud to ask a favour of a Samaritan, whom the Jews cast out. God is higher still; has He cast out men? Is He too high to converse with them? Behold Him in Jesus at this well, how low did He stoop? He was weary, thirsty, and yet approaching to ask a favour from an outside sinner.
They were well met; but it was He who must go through Samaria. He had His message to such as she was; He must needs deliver it. He would not have been enjoying His own meat and His drink if He had not used, nay, sought the opportunity of doing her this good. But she, what was she getting?
She was simply learning what was in a new man, another kind of man she never dreamed of. She did not know much about Him—thought Him a prophet.
But a prophet does not know all that everyone did; only God knows that. She took in that as to herself. He told her all that ever she did.
It was her conscience that ascribed to a man what was true only of God. But He was God. We always underestimate, but we cannot over-estimate God.
But to her this was a man, and so He was. But He was God in a Man. "God with us"—Emmanuel. And note, His Father was in Him: "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." You have no other to meet, not even at the judgment seat. But He is not judge yet. He is God as Saviour, a Saviour-God as presented in Timothy and Titus.
The pure Scripture itself is better than a paper on it. If enough has been said to attract to the Scripture, or to Him about whom the Word is written, it is enough. Is it enough for you?
Just note, a Man had taken possession of her, and that man was God (John 1. 1), and put others, other things, one and all, out of her mind. He had made her confess to Him what she would not have confessed to another; and she went quickly back to her city, lightened, certainly enlightened, and wishing to enlighten others. Where was her heavy water-pot? Did she miss it? Where her thirst and that of her household? Where were "the men"? except to tell them some news, not about herself—they must have known too much about her—but about this new man, this one man, this Jew so condescending, who possessed such knowledge as He had. To her at least, who could He be but the Christ?
She did not yet know all that this wonderful Man knew. But it was His knowledge that had brought Him down, not from Jerusalem or any other earthly city, but from dwelling in His Father's heart—yea, from eternity, to make known among Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles, what He knew about His Father—yea, sent by Him to make it known.
She was, by a few words spoken by Him to her heart, completely delivered from all need except need of Himself.
Observe, nothing is here said about His work on the Cross, for God and for men. This is in the previous chapter. This work, of course, was the righteous foundation for all He said and did. For God is not only full of grace, but there must be a perfectly righteous foundation for making known this grace.
God is as much light as He is love; but who has so good a title to make known the grace as He who bore in His own body the judgment due to this woman, and all sinners who believe—God has been glorified in His death and blood-shedding, or He could not righteously pass over all the sins and guilt that He well knew. The work done on the Cross is enough to cover, and glorify God about the guilt of all sinners, but they must believe it and Him who did it.
Who could know them so well as He who took the weight of them on the tree, and there put them out of God's sight? When the believer knows that, he may well leave them behind himself, turn to God, and wait for the Son from Heaven (1 Thess. 1. 9, 10).
For "unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." That is, wholly apart from every question of sin. (Heb. 9. 28).
"Scripture Truth" 1916