THE MINISTRY OF HOME
Expository Lectures on Divine Truth"
by Octavius Winslow
The Woman That Left
Then, leaving her waterpot, 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
It was a striking and instructive feature in the personal
ministry of the Lord Jesus, that the most gracious and unreserved
discoveries of His Messiahship were to the most unworthy and improbable
objects. His saving and sovereign grace delighted to illustrate its wealth
by conferring it upon the poorest, and its power by saving the most vile. It
was deep in the mine of fallen nature He loved to sink the shaft of His
Gospel, in quest of the lost and hidden jewels He had come from heaven to
seek and to save.
This fact introduces us to that large class of the community to
whom, for the most part, our blessed Lord limited His ministry. They were
the poor and unlearned, the depraved and despised of the race. Far different
from these might have been His listeners. Had He chosen He might have
identified Himself with the most celebrated scholars of Greece and Rome,
placing Himself at their head, attracting and chaining them to His feet as
His adoring disciples. He could have composed a poem, or have painted a
picture, or have propounded a philosophy that would have filled all Athens
with the splendor of His genius, and the world with the echoes of His fame.
But this was neither His mission nor His sphere.
He left these pagan sages to prove to the world that by its wisdom it
knew not God; and allowed them to learn the utter inefficacy of are,
science, and philosophy, either to emancipate their own selves from the
groveling superstitions by which they were enthralled, or to elevate the
masses from the moral degradation into which they were sunk. The people
asked for bread, and these heathen philosophers gave them a stone; they
looked for a fish, and received a serpent. Thus true is the Bible- "Has not
God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that, in the wisdom of
God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of
preaching, to save those who believe."
But let the evangelical Prophet Isaiah describe the nature of the
ministry, and the character of Christ's hearers: "The Spirit of the Lord God
is upon us, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the
meek: He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to
the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound."
The incident selected for our present exposition is a true and impressive
illustration of these remarkable words. It refers to the conversion of the
woman of Samaria. Our Lord had traveled forty miles on that day, and at the
sixth hour (or, at about twelve o'clock, the time of the Jewish meal) weary
and footsore, He sat Him upon (or, probably, near by) Jacob's well. "There
came a woman of Samaria to draw water." Then follows the remarkable, soul
converting conversation of Christ with this woman, and the happy result, as
narrated in the words I am about to unfold: Then, leaving her waterpot, 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?" -or, the Messiah.
Guided by the leading points of this interesting and instructive
narrative, three things suggest themselves for our study- Christ's knowledge
of the woman of Samaria- the woman's discovery of Christ- and her spiritual
change consequent upon that discovery.
The knowledge which the Lord Jesus possessed of this woman was marvellous
and minute. They had never met before, and, perhaps, never met on earth
again, and yet He knew all about her- her name, her abode, her past history,
and the sad, sad life of sin she then was living. What a great and precious
truth does this unfold with regard to Jesus- His especial knowledge of His
people. "I am the good Shepherd, and know My sheep. My sheep hear My voice,
and I know them." Jesus knows them before conversion, when in their natural
state of sin and rebellion. Hidden though they are in the quarry of their
unregeneracy, mixed with the world, lost in the crowd, He has His eye of
mercy upon them, for He knew them from eternity. When the Father placed the
lost jewels in His hand to seek and to save, each one passed before His eye;
He knew them when, with His own hand, He wrote their names in His eternal
Book of Life; He knew them when He hung upon the cross, pouring out His soul
unto death -a ransom to God for their redemption.
Not less minute is Christ's knowledge of His people after conversion. If
He knew them from eternity- if, when involved in the wreck and ruin of our
fallen nature, He knew them- if, in their rebellion and folly (lost,
perhaps, in many instances, to virtue, honor, and happiness) He knew where
to find them- surely there is nothing belonging to them, since His sovereign
grace has sought and found them, which He does not know-and with the minute
knowledge of His own divine love.
Believer in Jesus! the Lord knows everything about you. Deem not yourself
as hidden in the crowd. While His knowledge of His flock is universal, it is
also personal and special. He knows them collectively, and He knows them
individually. You may feel yourself almost overlooked; those who are
acquainted with you do not know you, and those who do know you may not
understand you. But, be still every thought! hushed be every murmur! Jesus
knows you personally, knows you minutely, knows you altogether. He knows
your name, for He wears it upon His breastplate; He knows your burden, for
He carries it upon His shoulder; He knows your sorrow, for He enshrines it
in His heart; He knows all the way that you take, for all that way He has
Himself ordained. Such knowledge as this, how unutterably precious to the
How closely and firmly does the faith of the Christ-loving heart enfold
around itself the omniscience of Jesus!
O Lord, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O Lord.
You hem me in--behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
We approach now a remarkable and instructive part
of the narrative- Christ's discovery of Himself to the woman. In the course
of a lengthened conversation the question of Christ's Messiahship was raised
. "The woman said unto Him, I know that Messiah comes, who is called Christ:
when He comes He will tell us all things." The blessed Savior could not
resist this pointed and touching reference to Himself. The hidden spring of
His love was touched by the hand of a poor sinner, in quest of whom He had
traveled that day many weary miles- and that touch, unconscious to herself,
was irresistible with Him. No longer able to preserve His disguise, and, as
if aware of discovery, He removed the veil, and stood before her- the long
promised, the true, the acknowledged Messiah: "Jesus said unto her, I that
speak unto you am He."
What a precious prophecy concerning Christ was now fulfilled! "But I will
reveal my name to my people, and they will come to know its power. Then at
last they will recognize that it is I who speaks to them." What an honor did
Jesus confer upon this woman! That He should make Himself known in such
explicit terms, in so gracious a manner, and to so obscure an individual and
so great a sinner, while from all others the fact of His Messiahship had
been withheld, except to His Apostles- and only revealed to them under the
seal of silence- surely was a marvellous and precious instance of His great
and free grace to poor sinners!
What an announcement- "I who speak unto you am He!" The discovery of a
new world were as nothing, compared to this! The Savior promised, before the
gates of paradise closed upon our sinning and expelled parents; of whom
Moses wrote, and Isaiah sung, and whose day Abraham saw; the Redeemer whom
types foreshadowed, and symbols taught, and prophets predicted; the Beloved
Son and the unspeakable gift of God, now stood before this guilt-stained
woman; the revealed, the confessed, the gracious Savior of men!
O what marvellous, what sovereign grace! Here let me pause, and ask you,
my reader- Has there been a discovery of the Savior, through faith and by
the Spirit, to your soul? Has this same Jesus been made known to you? I
inquire, not if you have found Him, but- has He found you? Oh! it is of
infinite moment to you to be assured of this. The religion of many is a
religion destitute of a manifestation of Jesus to their souls. It is a cold,
lifeless profession of Christianity without Christ, - a form of godliness
without the power! It is for your life I press the inquiry- Has Christ
revealed Himself to your soul? This is the essence, the very soul of vital,
experimental, saving religion. Real religion is to know Christ, to have a
revelation of Christ- yes, it is Christ Himself in us. And there can be no
true comfort, no assured hope until faith has apprehended or laid hold of
Christ, and Christ has removed the veil from our heart and the disguise from
Himself, and has spoken these precious words- "I who speak unto you am he."
And the Lord Jesus is prepared to make Himself known to poor anxious
souls. What the woman of Samaria, in her deep sinfulness, found, you may
find. Limit not His redeeming mercy, restrict not His free grace, doubt not
His pardoning love, but bend your ear to His gracious voice. "I who speak
unto you am He who came into the world to save sinners. I am He upon whom my
Father laid the burden and the curse of your sins. I was wounded for
your transgressions, and was bruised for your iniquities. I obeyed the law,
and my obedience is your righteousness; I suffered and bled, and my death is
your atonement. I am He who binds up the broken in heart and heals their
wounds. I am He whose blood cleanses from all sin, who pardons the
guiltiest, accepts the poorest, saves the vilest. I require no merit, expect
no worthiness, ask no price; but receive, pardon, and save you just as you
are. It is My office, My delight, My glory to seek and to save lost sinners.
I am the good Shepherd; I know My sheep and the work of My Spirit in their
hearts, and the desire of their souls towards Me. I am He that speaks unto
you by My Spirit, in My Word and through My ministers; by all the
temptations that test you, and by all the sorrows that shade you, and by all
the blessings that gladden you, and by all the hopes that cheer you. Let no
voice but mine speak peace to your soul. Let no other pronounce you
forgiven, or assure you that you are saved. Let your prayer to me be, 'Say
unto my soul, I am your salvation.' Let Me speak, and all shall be peace!"
Such, virtually, are the precious words of Jesus to every spiritually
We now reach the transforming effect of this manifestation of Christ upon
the character and conduct of this woman. Our text informs us- Then, leaving
her waterpot, 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?" She
left her waterpot. What does this sudden and marvellous change mean? Why
this forgetfulness of her errand to the well? What had she found as a
substitute? Why this hasty and eager abandonment of her worldly goods? Oh,
she had now, by the Savior's converting grace, become" a new creature." A
new spiritual world had burst upon her view. She had found Him of whom Moses
and the prophets spoke- Jesus of Nazareth; the Christ of God, the Savior of
sinners. She had found the Fountain of living water; she drank of it, and
her soul lived.
Until now she loved sin, lived in sin, and, had it not been for Jesus,
she would have perished in sin. The object of His everlasting love, she now
became the subject of His converting grace. The living water which Jesus
gave her was now a well of water in her soul- a springing well of life,
grace, and love in her heart; and, with this new-found treasure and this
new-born joy, she forgot her errand to the well, and retraced her steps back
to the city, to tell her friends and neighbors what great things the Lord
had done for her soul!
Such, my reader, is true conversion! The Holy Spirit imparts a new and a
divine nature; divine grace supplants the principle of sin with the
principle of holiness- changes the thirst for the world into a thirst for
Christ. The pottery of earth is exchanged for the golden vessel of heaven,
now filled to overflowing with the new-born love and joy of Christ the Lord.
"Whoever drinks of this water shall thirst again; but whoever drinks of the
water that I shall give him, shall never thirst."
"I thirst: but not as once I did,
The vain delights of earth to share;
Your wounds, Immanuel, all forbid
That I should seek my pleasures there.
"It was the sight of Your dear cross,
Fast weaned my soul from earthly things;
And taught me to esteem as dross
The mirth of fools and pomp of kings."
I want the grace that springs from Thee,
That quickens all things where it flows,
And makes a wretched thorn like me
Bloom as the myrtle or the rose.
"Dear Fountain of delight unknown!
I no longer sink beneath the brim;
But overflow, and pour me down
A living and life-giving stream!"
Precious and important are the instructions we may gather from the whole
narrative. We learn, in the first place, that our Lord's initiative step in
the conversion of this sinful woman, was to make her spiritually acquainted
with her own self. She was living in known and deadly sin. Jesus, who knew
all that she was, said unto her, "You have had five husbands and one whom
you now have is not your husband." Thus did the Lord turn her eye in upon
herself. Where did He get the knowledge of her sin? How did He know her life
and read her heart? Because He was GOD as well as Man- the God-Man, Christ
Jesus. What a proof of the divinity of our blessed Lord is this!
Thus we learn, in conversion, that before the Lord makes Himself known to
us, He first makes us known to ourselves. A personal acquaintance with our
sinfulness is essential to a personal acquaintance with Jesus as our Savior.
Have you been so enlightened, my reader? Have you approached God in the
spirit, attitude and prayer of the humble and penitent publican, and cried,
"God be merciful to me a sinner"? O this is the first step in your
conversion! Lord! show me to myself, that I may know You!
We learn from the history of this woman the coexistence of formalism and
sin in the same individual. How close may be a religious form and an
irreligious life! The woman of Samaria was a zealous Ritualist; she could
argue intelligently and contend warmly for her place and mode of religious
worship. "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and you say, that in
Jerusalem is the place where we ought to worship." How deceitful and
desperately wicked is the human heart! Thus may an individual maintain with
tenacity, and contend with fiery zeal for a form of godliness which is
utterly destitute of its vital, sanctifying reality; for a party, a
denomination, a church; and all the while be the vassal of Satan, the
servant of sin, and the slave of lust.
But nothing can be a substitute for the new birth; no religious service,
nor creed, nor zeal, nor profession, nor worship, nor sacraments, can be a
substitute for the conversion of the heart. We must be BORN AGAIN, or
eternally perish! Oh, let us examine our hearts, each for himself, touching
this vital and momentous matter!
The Lord Jesus likewise teaches us in this narrative the nature of true
and acceptable worship. He emphatically declares it to be spiritual. "God is
a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth."
No other worship is acceptable with Him. However splendid the building, or
beautiful the ritual, or imposing the ceremonial, it is nothing with God.
The sweetness of the music, the grandeur of the service, the solemnity of
the demeanor, without the devotion of the heart are an abomination in His
sight. Let us seek much of the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit, that
we may worship our heavenly Father in spirit and in truth; for He seeks
such, and only such, to worship Him. He looks to the heart- "to the man who
is of an humble and contrite spirit." Oh how costly and precious in His view
is the incense of a heart lying lowly and broken at His feet!-no sacrifice
upon His altar is like this to Him.
Thus our Christian homes may be true sanctuaries of God; the worship
offered to Him there pure and spiritual, and its ministry- expounding and
enforcing His sacred Word -a holy and divinely-authorized agency for making
known Christ, blessed and made a blessing, encircling the whole household
with the fragrance of His precious name.
We are told, in the commencement of this spiritually instructive
narrative, that Jesus "must go through Samaria." Why this constrained
necessity? Has it not a most precious spiritual significance? The whole
incident supplies the answer. There was a poor adulterous woman living in
that city, needing His grace, and for whom He had covenant purposes of
mercy, and eternal thoughts of love, and He must- as in the case of
Zaccheus- "pass that way" to search and find her, and draw her to Himself.
We learn a most precious truth from this, my beloved reader. There is a
holy needs be in all that Christ does. There was a needs be in the
providence which brought you into grace; and there has been a needs be in
all His gracious dealings with you since then- a needs be in every permitted
assault of Satan, and in every discovery of inbred corruption, and in every
season of spiritual darkness. There is a needs be in all the way by which
God is at present leading you, in all the dispensations of His love, in
every cloud that shades, in every element that embitters, in every stroke
that wounds. God does not deal with His people as a despot- tyrannically and
arbitrarily- but as a Father, lovingly and wisely.
O yes! there is a wise, righteous, loving needs be in all that He does
with us. He would not thus have shaded your life's bright landscape, nor
have embittered your sweet domestic joy, nor have thus sorely tried your
faith and patience, had there not have been a holy needs be- some inbred
corruption to subdue, some threatening evil to check, some unseen evil to
prevent, some untold blessing to bestow.
Yield yourself up unto God; and, "though now for a season, if needs be, you
are in heaviness through manifold temptations," yet, "the trial of your
faith, though tried with fire," will most surely result in your greatest
good and in the Lord's highest glory.
Have you left the waterpot? or, to speak less figuratively, Have you
abandoned your idols for the Lord Jesus? -and, finding Him, have you turned
your back entirely upon things that are seen and temporal, Caleblike,
"WHOLLY following the Lord?" O to be true followers of Christ! following the
Lamb wherever He goes- wholly; unreservedly following Him; renouncing a
sinful, Christ-rejecting, God-hating world its carnal enjoyments, its
worldly gaieties, its human confidences, its unhallowed friendships and
connections -following hard after that blessed Savior whom the ungodly world
condemned, whom the religious world covered with shame, and whom the infidel
world nailed to the tree!
Such is the world now! -and as such we must come out of it, and separate
ourselves from it, and touch not the unclean thing. We must leave all, if
need be, for Christ; we shall find all we have left, and infinitely more, in
"We have left everything to follow you!" "I tell you the truth," Jesus
replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or
father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a
hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters,
mothers, children and fields--and with them, persecutions) and in the age to
come, eternal life." And now the "waterpot" is left! The world has
lost its charm, the creature its attraction, carnal sweets their power to
please, earth is exchanged for heaven, and henceforth CHRIST is all in all
through time and through eternity!
Let us imitate the zeal of this new convert, and seek to bring others to
Christ. "Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did." One of
the first publishers of the glad tidings of the Gospel was a woman, just
rescued from sin and made a monument of grace! The Lord would teach us by
this fact that, while the office of the Christian ministry, as a divine
institution, stands alone, all private Christians not excepting the female
sex, may, like the woman of Samaria, invite sinners to Jesus. While it is
the work of the Holy Spirit alone to convert, it is our duty instrumentally
to say- "Come, and see Jesus." Oh! let none of us aspire after a "starless
crown." May the diadem which Christ will place upon the brow of every
disciple faithful unto death, be gemmed with many a precious soul, led to
Jesus by our hands. Then, with the Elders we will lay down that jeweled
diadem at Jesus' feet, and He shall have all the glory, and to Him shall be
all the praise!
"Now will I tell to sinners round,
What a dear Savior I have found
I'll point to Your redeeming blood
And say- "Behold, the way to God!"
One word: "The well is deep!" God's love, Christ's grace is an infinite
depth, - deeper than our sins, deeper than our unworthiness, deeper than our
need. Come in child-like faith, and just as you are, to Christ; and with joy
shall you draw water out of this deep, this fathomless, this free well of
salvation. "Of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." The
lord add His blessing, for Christ's sake. Amen.