When therefore the LORD knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,…
The Church has a twofold mission.
1. To collect the masses, to bear patiently with them and educate them.
2. To go after individuals, person- ally to lay hold of their inner life in order to bring them into a state of salvation. Particular communions have leaned some to one side and some to the other. Romanism has cultivated the social element; lesser communities have laid greater stress on individual faith. Both objects ought always to be united. Let us learn from the pedagogic example of the Lord. Here He reaches the community through the individual; but the individual must first be educated to the faith and knowledge of the truth. There are three steps.
I. The first is reached BY AWAKENING IN THE WOMAN A SENSE OF A DEEPER WANT, the desire for something better than this well can offer.
1. She had regarded life as a matter of sensual enjoyment. The accusations of conscience had not troubled her, and she was happy in her way.
2. Jesus makes her discontented. It was not cruel, only inevitably painful, as is a surgical operation. To destroy quiet is the first step to the cure. Suspended between heaven and earth our souls are drawn to God, but bound to the World, and in the latter we seek happiness. This is the delusion of sin. A life of worldliness assumes a variety of forms, from the most degraded to the most refined, but the principle is the same. And that all is vanity is the first lesson we must learn and teach, to excite the desire for "living water."
II. "GO, CALL THY HUSBAND," is the second stage. The first is of doubtful result. It may lead right or left; to pride and contempt of other men who have no aspiration. Christ's words, there. fore, lead us from the struggle without to that within, to sin as the occasion of the mischief. This sin we must willingly know and renounce. This the woman was led to by the look of love which read her history in her heart. This teaches us to enter lovingly into personal life. A tender solicitude unlocks the heart and encourages confession. The word which exposes sin is the law in the hand of love.
III. Conviction of sin awakens the desire for forgiveness in prayer. The inquiry respecting Gerizim and Jerusalem was no evasion, but led to the third step, where our Lord refers her to THE HISTORICAL REVELATION FOR SALVATION. "Salvation is of the Jews." God must be worshipped in Spirit, yet the revelation of Himself was in Israel, and its end the Messias. It is not enough to tread the path of inward self-knowledge; we must walk also in the way of faith. Not only do we move to meet God, He is come to meet us. The truth of salvation is historical, and the historical gospel is a moral certainty. So the woman proved. The saved individual now seeks to save society. "She left her water-pot," etc. Conclusion:
1. We should go forth and lead souls to Christ as Christ led this woman.
2. No doubt we shall be weary sometimes, but, if the Master was weary, we need not be ashamed, And the wells which men have dug will then be doubly refreshing; for what- ever the Creator has given to man to enjoy is also given for the refreshment of the soul.
3. But the soul lives not by these alone, and when the highest matters press we must be prepared to renounce them, for they do not quench the soul's deepest thirst.
(C. E. Luthardt, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,