In our study this week, I want to take a look at two separate conversations that two people had individually with Jesus. Our goal in this study from one standpoint is to see what we can learn from Jesus in His approach of ministering to people in a one on one setting. From another standpoint, I want to show you what we gain by going to have a conversation with Jesus.
Having a Conversation With Jesus
The way that we, as believers, have a conversation with Jesus is through prayer. In this season of our studies, we have focused a great deal on faith and being diligent in our prayer life is of the utmost importance when it comes to our faith. We are encouraged throughout scripture to be diligent in our prayers so that we can be comforted, encouraged, strengthened, and lift up others as well.
The biggest hang up that many people have about prayer is that they never hear anything back from the Lord and because of this, prayer does not work. The truth of the matter is that prayer does work. As James said in his prayer, the fervent prayer of the righteous avails much (Jas. 5:16). The Lord does talk to us, but you must be of faith and the same spirit in order to hear Him and perceive what He is saying to you.
Of course it was different from those that were physically in the presence of Christ and were able to have one on one conversations. Yet, though we are not physically in His presence, the Lord still answers us in a like manner. So, for this study, we are going to take a look at the conversations that a Samaritan woman had with Jesus and also the conversation that Nicodemus had with Jesus.
The Samaritan woman and Nicodemus are both representative of two different types of people. The Samaritan woman represents the person that is not religious at all and lives in a manner that would not please the Lord. Nicodemus, on the other hand, was a very religious man. However, Nicodemus represents the person that “knows everything” but at the same time, knows very little.
I want you to pay very close attention to how Jesus treats and speaks to both individuals. I also want you to pay very close attention to the questions they ask, and of course, we are going to go over Jesus’ responses and statements as well.
Jesus and Nicodemus
In John 3, we will see one of the most well known conversations with Jesus mostly because of John 3:16 – the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus.
Something very interesting about this conversation with Jesus is that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night (John 3:2). The Samaritan woman’s conversation with Jesus, scripture plainly tells us, happened at the “sixth hour” or about noon (John 4:6). I point this out because it has always fascinated me that the religious man essentially had to ‘sneak’ to have a conversation with Jesus.
Why did Nicodemus wait until it was night time to go speak with Jesus? Nicodemus, a Pharisee, was a part of a group of people that hated Jesus and desired to not only move against Him but to also have Him put to death. Though this was the case, Nicodemus observed that there was something unique to Jesus’ teachings and rather than kill Him, he desired to learn from him.
Note: Nicodemus sought Jesus out because he wanted clarity and more understanding. Though he sought Jesus out under the cover of darkness, Jesus did say that when we pray to Him, we should do so in a place to where we cannot be disturbed (Matt. 6:6). If Nicodemus felt he would have been antagonized or bothered while trying to seek out Jesus during the day, we should not hold it against him that he sought Jesus out “in secret”.
Jesus will know what you desire
Nicodemus’ approach to Jesus was with much honor and respect; he called Jesus Rabbi (John 3:2). A Rabbi was seen as a scholar of great intellect. Frankly, the other religious leaders would not and did not approach Jesus or the other disciples in this manner. Many of the religious leaders viewed where the disciples and Jesus came from, Galilee and Nazareth, as a detriment to their level of intellect. So Nicodemus’ approach with honor was truly proper, and it is the same kind of honor that we should approach Jesus with as well.
Jesus knew what Nicodemus had come to Him for which, again, speaks to how the Lord knows what we come to Him for in our prayers. When He taught the disciples how to pray, Jesus said to them that they did not have to use vain repetitions because the Father knows the things they and we have need of before we ask (Matt. 6:7-8).
Though the Lord knows our needs, that does not mean we should not still go to Him. Some people have this idea that they do not have to pray to the Lord because He already knows our needs. No, we pray to the Lord because our seeking Him out stands as a testament to our faith being true.
Note: You will notice that Nicodemus did not even ask a question but that Jesus immediately began to feed him what he desired. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3).” Nicodemus desired to know about the kingdom of heaven and how to get there.
Oftentimes when we have a conversation with Jesus, we will not immediately understand what He has to say to us, this was the case for Nicodemus. Jesus, you will see, began to speak about being born again. Though Nicodemus knew the law well, this was a topic that he was not ready for – it confused him. So, Nicodemus responded, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born (John 3:4)?”
Note: Nicodemus asked God a question, and I want you to understand that there wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with him doing this. We often think that it is wrong to ask the Lord questions, but that is not true. It is not a good thing to question the Lord’s motivations and actions, but the Lord desires for you to come to Him with questions when you lack understanding.
The Lord will clear up any confusion
Jesus, in giving clarity to Nicodemus, is firm and direct in His response. For a second time, we will see Jesus lead a response by saying, “Most assuredly (certainly)” to Nicodemus. Jesus actually uses this phrase of certainty three times while speaking to Nicodemus (John 3:3,5,11).
Note: Jesus was speaking divine truth and was not guessing about anything. So, Jesus was speaking with great confidence so that Nicodemus would be left no more questions. We have to remember that Nicodemus was a well educated man on the law, and had Jesus spoken with a lack of confidence, it would have made Nicodemus question Him. The Lord is often more direct with us, especially us who know better, because God is not going to create confusion; He is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33).
Something else I want to point out about this conversation is the humor that somewhat comes out. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things (John 3:10)?” I can see where some will think that this was harsh but, to me, I can see a bit of sarcasm and humor shine through that statement. Maybe I am reading it that way because I am a sarcastic person myself when I am teaching.
Note: The reason why Nicodemus could not understand what Jesus was saying was because of what he had already learned and believed. What he believed he knew was correct, in his mind, and this was preventing him from learning anything new. When we speak to the Lord, we have to be ready for Him to point out to us that we think we know may not be right.
Jesus would go on to further teach Nicodemus about heaven and who will inherit the kingdom of God (John 3:11-18). Nicodemus’ questions were answered and along the way, he became a follower of Christ. Nicodemus was there to take the crucified body of Christ and anoint his body in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea (John 19:38-39).
Note: How was Jesus’ approach with Nicodemus? It was firm and direct in the truth. There are certain people that we have to be firm and more direct with when it comes to ministering to them; most likely those that know better.
Note: Always go to Jesus when you desire more clarity. There is nothing wrong with seeking out the Lord and praying to Him as He truly does desire to hear from us and give us understanding. You do not have to be afraid to seek Him. So, be sure you go to a place where you can communicate with the Lord and understand His response.
Jesus and the Samaritan Woman
Now, let’s take a look at Jesus at Jacob’s well with the Samaritan woman which is recorded in John 4:1-42. I want you to pay very close attention to what she and Jesus talk about at the well and, again, keep in mind that this woman is not the religious type. I want you to also pay very close attention to Jesus’ approach when speaking to her.
Jesus’ gentle approach
So, when the Samaritan woman approached Jacob’s well, she would have noticed a man sitting there at the well; there would have been nothing noticeably special about the man’s appearance. The man sitting at the well was Jesus; He was sitting there because He was tired from the journey and the disciples had gone into the Sychar for food (John 4:1-8).
As she approached the well, the Samaritan woman heard Jesus say to her, “Give me a drink.” Again, keep in mind that to her, this was just another man. Scripture shows us that she recognized Jesus to be a Jew but that was all that stood out to her (John 4:9). She was bewildered and responded sarcastically, maybe even somewhat rudely, “How is that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me?” (Jews and Samaritans did not get along.)
Note: You never know who you are interacting with, so all of us must be careful about how we treat people (Matt. 25:31-46; Heb. 13:2). The Lord reaches out to all people, but He especially reaches out to those who are not in fellowship with Him or have gone astray. The Samaritan woman is the example of God reaching out to mankind.
Rather than responding rudely or as direct as He was with Nicodemus, Jesus responds back to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water (John 4:10).” He, I would say, was being gentle and trying to pique her curiosity.
The woman looked at Jesus, noticed that He did not have anything to draw water from the well with, and sarcastically remarked, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water (John 4:11)?” So, her thoughts were more worldly focused as she thought the living water that Jesus spoke of was literally down in the well. Those whose mindset is worldly focused are blinded to the spiritual and often miss what is spiritual.
Note: The living water that Jesus spoke of was not water that is of this world. Jesus was talking about spiritual water which He, the Lord, provides and from that water comes life that is spiritual. Psalm 1:1-3 and Jeremiah 17:8 speaks of this water and a few chapters later in John’s gospel, scripture records Jesus saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
After her sarcastic remark, we see that Jesus had piqued her curiosity. She asked Jesus, “Are You greater than our father Jacob (John 4:12)?”
(For those that may be wondering, the Samaritans were indeed descendants of Jacob. The Samaritans came through the blood of the tribes that made up the northern kingdom that intermarried with the Assyrians after Assyria conquered the northern kingdom. This is also the reason why the Jews frowned at and looked down on the Assyrians.)
Now, let’s focus on the question, “Are You greater than our father Jacob?” The woman went way back into their history to speak of the great thing that Jacob had done. She did this, I believe, trying to gauge and figure out who exactly was she speaking to. This is something many do who are of little to no faith – they try to get God to prove Himself to them.
Jesus will open your eyes
God does not have to prove Himself to anybody. No, what the Lord will respond with is the truth. So, Jesus said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:13-14).”
Note: Some may say that Jesus spoke in riddles here, but He gave her the truth in a manner for her to attempt to understand. Yes, He was being gentle in His approach but He was being truthful. Understand that when you have a conversation with Jesus, He is not going to hide the truth from you; He will give you the truth and invite you with the truth. The onus will be on you as to whether or not you heed the truth.
To further reveal Himself to the woman, Jesus shows that He is Lord by showing His omniscience. Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here (John 4:17).” This subject change caused the woman to admit that she did not have a husband to Jesus which was a truth that Jesus already knew. Jesus responded, “You have well said,” because the woman had been married five times and was currently with a six man that was not her husband (John 4:18).
This bit of information about her marriage life was not information that she had given to Jesus. She was trying to gauge Jesus but Jesus was now gauging her by revealing who He was to her. When you pray to the Lord for the first time and your prayer is genuine, the Lord will move for you immediately – He will open your eyes.
Jesus will seek the truth
So, why did Jesus lead her to this confession about her marriage life? First: it certainly shows that Jesus was not just another man sitting at the well, right? However, we have to stop and consider what the woman had just said about the living water. She had just said to Jesus that she desired to drink the living water from Christ – she desired the truth and everlasting life.
Think about this, in order for us to have everlasting life, what must we do? You will answer, ‘we must believe’. In order for us to truly have faith in the Lord, we must repent. Repentance is the admission and confession of one’s sins, and then committing to walking in the way of obedience to the Lord. Do you realize that Jesus was essentially seeing if this woman would acknowledge and confess?
Note: When you have a conversation with Jesus, He will desire that you come with Him in truth. Jesus wants you to dwell with Him eternally and He is going to offer you living water so that you are cleansed from your sins. In order to reap the benefits from the living water, we have to acknowledge who we are – we have to acknowledge the truth.
To her, Jesus had gone from just being another man at the well to being a prophet (John 4:19). Jesus said to her, “the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:21-24).”
These truths touched the woman’s soul to the point where she admits she knows that the Messiah is coming and that she knows He will tell (reveal) all things (John 4:25). This was a woman who I know for certain was not anywhere close to being as religious as Nicodemus was, but suddenly this woman is opening up with knowledge that was seemingly buried deep!
I believe that when you have a conversation with Jesus, you can be the most non-religious person there is, but if your heart is open to Him, He will lead you to the truth! Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (Matt. 7:7).”
When you have a conversation with Jesus, He is going to tell you the truth! He said to the Samaritan woman, “I who speak to you am He.” Do you know what this conversation did for the Samaritan woman? Her soul was filled with so much joy that as the disciples returned, she dropped her water pots there at the well and ran to get others! When she came into the city, she said to the people, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ (John 4:28-29)?”
Scripture tells us that there were many Samaritans that came to Jesus that day and believed (John 4:39-42). Yes, there were many Samaritans that believed that Jesus was/is the Messiah (Christ) as He remained with them another two days.
Note: Jesus said it best, the truth will make you free (John 8:31-32). You can be one of little faith and a conversation with Jesus can make you strong in the faith. You can be one filled with all sorts of doubts about Christ, but a conversation with Jesus will erase those doubts.
Moving as Jesus and listening for Him
So, in our study this week, we have seen two different approaches to ministering and in how Jesus speaks with us. In ministering to others, we should not be afraid to be firm and direct when the conversation calls for it. In other times, we have seen that we can be gentle in how we minister the word to others. In all cases, when we minister, we must minister the truth – the gospel of Christ.
When we hear from the Lord, His answer may be firm and direct or it may be gentle. Either way, when we hear from the Lord, we won’t have to guess about anything because He is going to give us the truth. If we have questions about an answer from the Lord, we should not be afraid to respond back with a question so that we can gain clarity.
To talk to Jesus today, all you need to do is genuinely pray to Him without any doubt in your heart and He will most certainly respond and guide you to the truth. Your heart be open to receiving the truth from Christ. A conversation with Jesus will make everything alright.