Do what the Father does: Jesus’ meeting with a Samaritan woman teaches us how to interact with Holy Spirit, and our Heavenly Father.
When Jesus goes to Samaria, he waits next to a well, while his disciples go to get some food.
When a woman approaches the well, he opens up a conversation that changes her life and creates an evangelistic opportunity. Along the way, he shows us how we too can “only do what we see the father doing”.
Something has always touched my heart about the story of the Samaritan woman (John 4:4-34), or as she is often known, “the woman at the well”.
Here we have a record of an encounter that is at once intensely personal, and also with a greater and wider implication.
When I read this tale, I am struck by Jesus’ intimate knowledge and understanding of the woman’s situation. But he also has compassion:
He accepts her just as she is, but doesn’t just leave her there. He allows his Heavenly Father to do his work, through the Holy Spirit.
What excites me most however, is the implied cooperation between Father, Son and Spirit. When we read between the lines, we can see an intricate interplay between the members of the trinity.
And the result is nothing short of a miracle:
The woman realises something of who Jesus is, and immediately hot-foots it back to her village to collect everyone she knows.
So when Jesus speaks to his disciples shortly after, about the coming harvest, they look up and see that harvest approaching!
The story of the Samaritan woman reveals how Jesus interacted with his Father.
It works out just as Jesus said in John 5:19:
Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does”.
And this is the key to how Jesus operated: choosing to follow the Father, every moment of every day, and every night.
We can be confident that Jesus always knew exactly what to do, whether he was:
This tells us 3 things about him and how he worked:
The good news is that we can do this too: we just need to practice!
Let’s take a closer look at the Samaritan woman’s story, and see if we can understand how Jesus operated, a little better.
Due to lack of space I won’t quote the complete passage here. However, if you would like to follow along, open your bible to John 4:4-34.
As I mentioned earlier, in order to understand what was happening, you have to read between the lines.
Here are the highlights:
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”
He could potentially have found a way to get some water himself, but Holy Spirit asks Jesus to open up a conversation.
The woman (who is never named) is shocked. She knows that the hostility between Jews and Samaritans at that time, would usually preclude any interaction.
That Jesus (a lone man) would talk to, let alone acknowledge a woman, was even more radical, given the cultural norms of first century Judea.
She therefore asks Jesus how he can possibly ask her for a drink.
Jesus answered her, “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.”
Holy Spirit gets Jesus to draw her further into the conversation. His statement is based in the real world, but is full of mystery.
She answers with a further question: she now wants to know what this living water is, and where he can get it from. She begins to wonder who this man Jesus is.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Now Jesus has hooked her in completely. Importantly, his words becomes a prophetic proclamation, which begins to open up the spiritual realm.
The woman asks if she can have some of this living water.
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“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.”
Holy Spirit gives Jesus these words to say and this is another lever that he uses to bring revelation and blessing to this woman.
She realises he is a prophet and this takes the conversation on towards it’s final trajectory.
It leads Jesus to speak out more prophetic words. He proclaims eternal truths about worship, the people that his father seeks, and ultimately reveals the truth about himself.
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
And the rest, as they say, is history:
The disciples arrive back, the woman runs off to her village and calls her people to meet him.
And it was such a remarkable event, that the gospel writers saw fit to include it in their account of Jesus ministry.
We are later told that many members of that village choose to believe in him, not on account of the woman, but on account of his words and teaching.
Above all, the story of the Samaritan woman reveals a transaction. A transaction between God the Father, Jesus the Son, and Holy Spirit.
It works like this:
In this case, Jesus’ simple obedience leads to prophecy and a word of knowledge. The prophetic words unlock an evangelistic miracle, and the glory goes to God.
Jesus is watching and listening to Holy Spirit at every step of the conversation – in great detail.
We can learn to do the same as Jesus did, as we learn how to cooperate with Holy Spirit. So we too can do what the Father does.
We can do this in three ways:
We can be filled with, or full of, the Holy Spirit. This is important for our identity, confidence, and the “fruit of the Spirit” – the character that he wants to give us.
But we also need the Holy Spirit ON us. As I’ve heard it preached, “He’s in me for me, He’s on me for you!”
This is God’s anointing that enables us to minister to others. And it’s crucial, if we really want to make a difference in people’s lives.
With the anointing, comes the spiritual gifts. Just like Jesus with the Samaritan woman, we can never know what our simple obedience may unlock.
This is particularly true with the gift of prophecy. Prophecy often opens up the way for other spiritual gifts to operate, or to be more effective.
If the Christian life is one of increasing dependence on God, then it’s a life of increasing reliance on Holy Spirit.
To learn to how do this, more and more, we need to focus in on listening to and watching Holy Spirit – in the details of our everyday lives.
I used to think that Holy Spirit would just send me off in a particular direction, and after that, I would be on my own. I have since learned that this is simply not true!
Holy Spirit is present and alert, to our needs, and to the will of the father. His desire is to be intimately involved in every situation, wherever we are. And just as with Jesus, there’s a cooperation, a transaction we can step into.
If we take praying for another person as an example, it happens like this:
In his discussion with the Samaritan woman, Jesus shows us how he relies on Holy Spirit. The above transaction happens not just once, but several times in the course of their conversation.
And this is how Jesus lived the whole of his life. Every part of it. (Hint: it was his lifestyle)
I don’t have space here to go into this in depth, but the gist of it is this:
“I only want to do what I see the father doing” has become my heart’s desire.
While I don’t always succeed, I believe it’s my calling, and my message for others.
And I believe it’s a message for you.
I believe that every follower of Jesus can choose to live in this way. But it’s a choice that we have to make, again and again.
By making that choice, we can be set free, and can set others free.
Will you make that choice too? Will you choose to do what the Father does?
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