Searched, Saved, Satisfied

Weary, hungry and thirsty, He sat at the well side. He, whose power upholds the planets in their tireless processions, and whose opened hand satisfies the need of every living thing, sat thus at the well waiting and alone. Waiting, for at that hour came a solitary sinner to that place, weary, hungry and thirsty in another sense, and it was His Father's will that He should meet and bless her there. Alone, for He had sent His disciples away to buy meat, thus giving them the opportunity of serving Him, and preventing them from obtruding their unsympathetic presence upon the sacred interview that was to be. Such was His gracious and considerate way with them.

He was to reveal Himself as the Christ who had come into the world to that lonely sinner that day, and to many others also, but who amongst them conceived what it meant to Him to be here, and how feeble is our conception of it? He was the Lord of glory, infinite in His holiness; His eternal dwelling place was the Father's bosom, yet He came and dwelt among us to bring God near to us who were so far away from Him. The world into which He came reeked with moral putrefaction and offensive pride, and He saw it all, knew it all, felt it all according to the holy sensitivity that was inherent in His nature. He changed His circumstances when He came but not His nature. He was just as holy when He moved amid the noise and tumult of those filthy Eastern streets as He was when He sat upon His glorious throne and made the worlds; and because of that unchangeable holiness He was the Man of Sorrows in a world of sin. We hide the most offensive men and repulsive sights behind frowning walls and closed doors, but nothing was hidden from His eyes. We see only what is external, and cannot look into the hearts of others to discover the corruption that is there nor plumb the depths of evil in our own, but He knew all men and needed not that any should testify to Him of men, for He knew what was in every one of them.

I speak not of that more terrible experience through which He had to pass when He was made sin for us upon the cross, and when in the sinner's place He passed through all that it meant to be abandoned of God and to sink down beneath His righteous judgment as our substitute. No mind of man can grasp what that meant to Him, but all that was necessary if the grace of God that He brought into the world was to reach us. We often think of that, and not too often. Now I would press this other side, the side of His sorrow as the Perfect Man in a polluted world.

It is impossible that we should understand or illustrate what it meant to Him to come from unsullied light to a sinful world, but I recall an experience that may help. I was invited to a leper colony in the West Indies, to preach the Gospel to the pitiable wretches within it whose only door out of their prison was death. One hundred and forty of them gathered in the little meeting house of the colony. A moving sight — the faces of many of them were distorted out of all human semblance, and the atmosphere was foul with their corruption, producing in me violent nausea. I wondered greatly at the altruistic heroism and love and pity that could have moved the Christian doctor and matron to live and labour there and to give their lives for the sakes of those dying negroes. But from them my thoughts turned to the Lord who came to live amongst men, a race of moral lepers, and what is physical corruption in comparison with spiritual and moral corruption? It was Divine love that made Him do it, love that transcends all human speech and thought; it alone brought Him here not to be ministered to but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many. And this calls not for admiration as we might justly yield to fellow mortals who do great deeds, but for adoration, for worship such as only ransomed souls can give to the God of all grace.

He was full of grace as the world was full of sin, but the grace in Him was greater than the sin that was in the world, and so it showed itself to be when the Samaritan woman arrived at the well. He was there to give to her as only the giving God could give, if she would but ask of Him, but she did not know Him and so she did not ask. Then He took the place of the suppliant and begged a drink of her. That was within her power to give Him, and He needed it! It is a marvellous thing to contemplate. He who could change water into wine for the joy of others would put forth no power for His own necessities. She marvelled that He, a Jew, as she supposed Him to be, should condescend to ask a favour of her, and his disciples marvelled also when they came and found Him talking with her. They had only known the pride that was in the heart of the Jew that would not demean itself to talk with a despised Samaritan, they had yet to learn what that grace was that could go down to the deepest depths of the sinner's degradation to meet and remove it.

The result of the interview was as marvellous as the interview itself. The sinner was changed by it, completely changed, as every soul is changed to whom the Lord reveals Himself as He revealed Himself to her, and she ran to tell the news and bring back others to Him. What He had done for her He could do for all. So she cried, "Come and see." This knowledge that she had acquired of Him was not for herself alone, it was for all, for was not He the Christ?

It is not difficult to imagine what she would say to those who were drawn together by her enthusiasm. "You men of the city shunned me, and no Jew on earth would have had dealings with me, but He talked to me, He sat by my side and unfolded wonderful things to me of which I had never heard." And they would reply, "Ah, but He did not know you. If He had known you as we know you He would have shunned you as we have shunned you." "Not know me!" she would answer. "Why He knew me through and through and yet He did not spurn me. He told me all things that ever I did, and yet did not make me afraid. He exposed my sin but He revealed Himself. Is not this the Christ?"

It was all grace. Grace that looks for no merit in the objects of it; that only looks for needy, empty hearts to display what it is in itself; and no need is too vast, no sin too great, no sinner too far away for this grace of God that is in Christ, it is grace abounding. The grace of God that brings salvation. Yet let none think that grace makes light of sin, or that God is ignorant of the depths of evil in the soul that He blesses. No, grace shows sin to be exceeding sinful, but shows that God is greater than it. Grace shows that God knows the worst, but blesses in spite of all He knows. And this Samaritan sinner, a typical case, for there is no difference, for all have sinned, was made to realize in the presence of the Lord that He knew all, for He told her all that ever she did. She was SEARCHED before she was SAVED; but the One who searched her did so in order to save her. The disclosure of what she was prepared her to appreciate the revelation of Himself. And what a joy it must have been to Him to say to her, "I am He."

When first He spoke to her, she only saw a Jew in Him, and marvelled that He should talk with her. She could have no hope from a Jew, or from any other man; all in whom she had trusted had failed her, and all who knew her shunned her; to whom could she turn, poor, harried, deceived, disappointed, degraded, unsatisfied woman? Now her conscience had been searched by the light, and with the conviction of sin, a new hope had sprung up in her soul; it is always so while grace reigns, and she cried, "When Messias comes which is called Christ, He will tell us all things." Her hope was in Him, her weary heart cried out for Him, He only could speak the words that her now repentant soul longed to hear; there was none other than He. When He appeared all darkness, doubt, and difficulty would disappear. Christ was all she needed, for Him she looked. Amazing fact, He was there, and waited no longer to make Himself known. "I that speak to thee am He," said He.

Then her eyes were opened, and she saw, she was saved and satisfied. And as she passed from darkness to light He was compensated for all the weariness and toil, and His joy was full in the midst of sorrow and grief.

The revelation of Himself was salvation to her as it is to all to whom He reveals Himself. But that was only the beginning. He was full of truth as well as full of grace, and all the truth came out in Him. God was to be known and worshipped as Father, and Christ revealed Him as such; and the Holy Ghost was to be given to be a spring of Divine joy and satisfaction within the hearts of those who believe — the power of a new life that should find its never-ending joy in God; and Christ it was who should give the Spirit. All depends upon Him. Yet before this could be He had to die and rise again and ascend to His Father and our Father, to His God and our God, for the new life and endless satisfaction into which He brings those whom He has searched and saved, is not of the flesh but the Spirit; it is not of the earth, it belongs to heaven. A wonderful story is this that is unfolded for us in John 4. It is grace and truth brought livingly before us in the Person of our Lord, and the effect of it in the sinner whom He SEARCHED, SAVED AND SATISFIED.