“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3
I grew up in church and almost missed knowing Jesus. Yet Scripture reveals and important truth associated with our salvation. It begins with a personal encounter with the Living God. Beloved, do you know the One you claim to have believed?
In the fourth chapter of John, we find the story of a broken woman who came face to face with her Savior. Bearing the shame of both past and present sin, she would walk to the public well for her water in the heat of the day, avoiding the humiliation of accusing eyes and snickering tones. Somehow the sun’s scorching rays can feel less damaging than society’s judgment. This particular day, however, she did not make it to the well unseen. She discovered someone waiting there, a stranger in need of a drink. That stranger was Jesus.
He initiated conversation with her, “Will you give me a drink?” (John 4:7) She could not conceal her surprise that He would even speak to her. Recognizing He was a Jew and knowing the animosity that existed between their people, she would have expected Him to ignore a Samaritan, much less a Samaritan woman. Yet this stranger didn’t ignore her. He actually seemed interested in knowing her story. He even mentioned a gift.
“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10
Then He got personal.
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” Verse 16
Something about Him made her open up just a bit. To her astonishment she discovered He already knew her completely!
“I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” John 4:17-18
She had admitted a tiny piece of her shame: she was unmarried. But in the light of His presence, the true depth of her sin was revealed. There she stood, fully exposed, probably bracing herself for judgment, yet it never came. Instead she felt the touch of something altogether different. Grace began to infiltrate her senses as she recognized that this revelation of her sordid past came free of its usual weighty shame. A light began to dawn in her heart, and she realized that this One who had sought her out was something special. As their conversation turned toward the Messiah who had been foretold, Jesus revealed Himself fully to her with the words,
“I who speak to you am he.” John 4:26
Face to face with her Messiah, she found herself confronted by her personal truth, and the collision of grace and truth found only in Jesus Christ produced in her the only response that could save her: she believed.
Do you think Jesus will be any less personal with us? Just as He divinely appointed a meeting between Himself and a broken woman thirsting for something she couldn’t define, He sits in wait for us to interact with Him at appointed stops along the pathways of our own lives. He will stir up questions in the depths of our hearts to turn our attention toward Him and move us to respond to Him, but very often either the shame we carry or simply the busyness of our lives keep us from turning our gaze to see who it is that beckons us to answer Him. As our Samaritan woman found, responding to Jesus’ personal invitation reveals truth that can set us free (John 8:32)! What happened next?
“Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” John 4:28-29
Remarkable, isn’t it, that this woman, who bore so much shame she went out of her way to avoid the people of the town, felt the touch of Jesus’ grace so powerfully that she ran shamelessly to the very people who scorned her? That’s what an authentic encounter with Christ produces. Liberation and transformation! Grace frees and heals, and we always come away changed. But her salvation didn’t end with her own story. Many in the town also believed because of her testimony as she became a witness for Jesus, inviting them to come and see Him for themselves. And…
30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
…39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.
42They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” (John 4:30,39- 42)
Let’s not miss a vital element to our story found in verse 30: they came out of the town and made their way toward him. Notice that those who believed had to approach Jesus themselves. It was not enough for the people of her town to hear her testimony of Jesus. Hearing was the catalyst that propelled them on their own journey toward the Messiah, but their salvation didn’t come through her testimony. It came when, struck by the power of her testimony, they made the journey toward Jesus themselves. They got personal with Him, and when they did, He revealed Himself to them as well, and many moved from the realm of doubt to certainty, “…now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
Have you had your encounter with Jesus, dear one? Are you basing your faith on someone else’s testimony, or have you allowed Him to give you your own? Maybe you’ve heard things about Jesus that have produced a stirring in your heart to believe. Run to meet Him, dear one, that your faith may be complete. He waits to offer you a drink.