The beginning of the interaction with the woman from the well is a fascinating one. There are intricacies of Grace that speak volumes to the way I should approach others thirsting for it.
*Side note: I realize there are many doctrines that can be exposed from this passage. The following view of the John 4:7-15 passage is done simply by looking through the lens of Grace... as with everything else at graceguy.org.
v7. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8. (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)
- These are Christ's first words to her
- He is proactive in establishing contact
- He joins her in what she is doing
- He talks to her even if there are a million reasons not to
v9. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
- The woman reacts normally (see why here)
- She questions the interaction, the request itself
- She brings up the obvious racial and gender differences between the two
v10. Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
- Jesus goes beyond the physical question and answers a spiritual question she did not ask
- He looks to her spiritual needs, not her physical ones
- He immediately begins by describing ... Grace!
-- As a gift from God
-- As himself being the provider of this great gift
-- As something that is readily given following a simple, honest request
- It's amazing to me that the Creator of the universe, the Sacrificial lamb, the three-times Holy God doesn't start with critical judgements, sin, hell, but starts with Grace.
v11. The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12. Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”
- The physical and the spiritual clash in her mind
-- She hears living water but does not see anything physical to draw it with
-- She takes the spiritual gift of living water and compares it to the physical well given by Jacob
- She questions Christ's credibility by comparing His worth to Jacob, the patriarch
- She doesn't understand Christ's initial description of Grace
v13. Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14. but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
- He is patient with her and listens to her questions
- He doesn't interrupt or belittle her
- He doesn't go into heavy doctrines or theology
- He acknowledges that she is struggling with the physical and spiritual differences
- He repeats and completes the description of Grace (again, forgoing judgement)
-- He is the giver of this gift
-- The gift is different from everything else that exists
-- The gift is all-satisfying
-- The gift transforms from within
-- The gift brings eternal life
-- Accepting the gift once means one never has to ask for it again
- He vulgarises what living water means to her
- He personalises the message to how it could meet her precise need
v15. The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
- She realises the need for such a gift
- She still believes that it is something physical and not spiritual
Oh that I should have the wisdom in my witnessing to start with Grace and to listen patiently to their needs.
In the following part of this amazing interaction, Jesus, full of Grace and Truth, considers the sin in her life.