WE MUST NEEDS GO THROUGH SAMARIA
[Transcribed from a recording of a sermon preached on January 19, 1998 at
the Annual Meeting of the National Black Pastors and Clergy Fellowship
held in Fort Worth, Texas.]
Text: John 4:1-39
"When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made
and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized
not, but his disciples,) He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.
And he must needs go through Samaria." (vs. 1-4)
Did you catch that? Jesus said that He "must needs go through Samaria"
(vs. 4). The Bible does not say that Jesus wanted to go through Samaria.
It does not say that Jesus thought it might be nice to go through
Samaria. The Bible says that Jesus "MUST NEEDS GO through Samaria."
Preacher, YOU MUST NEEDS GO through Samaria.
"He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go
through Samaria." (vs. 3-4)
Jesus is traveling from Judaea to Galilee. Galilee is several miles
north of Judaea. The established route between the two was to the east
along the path of the Jordan River, which takes you straight to the Sea
However, Jesus does not take the established route. Instead, He
chooses to take a westerly route through Samaria. This is something that
Jews just did not do. Jews are simply "too good" to travel through a
"Gentile Dog" ghetto like Samaria. But Jesus "must needs go through
Why does Jesus go out of His way to take the always-avoided road
through the land occupied by the despised Samaritans? Why is it that He
"must needs go" this way?
Because Jesus knew that in Samaria there was a place called Jacob's
Well. He knew that at the sixth hour a little lady would come by who was
lost and dying and going to Hell. He "must needs go" because He "must
needs" tell this lady that He is the Messiah, the Son of God so that she
can believe on Him and be saved.
Preachers, we "must needs go through Samaria!" There are some places
that we "must needs go" because people who will die and go to Hell live
there. Preacher, we "must needs go" and preach the gospel to them.
Yesterday I was in services with my good friend Robin Smith who
pastors the Fort Worth Baptist Temple. Brother Smith and I were
classmates at Hyles-Anderson College. We worked together in the First
Baptist Church bus ministry.
In 1993 Brother Smith loaded everything he owned on a church bus and
moved his family from Hammond, Indiana to Fort Worth, Texas. I asked him
why he did this and he said, "Brother Ed, God told me that I had to come
here to Fort Worth." Jesus said that He "Must needs go through Samaria"
and in 1993 Robin Smith said, I "must needs go" to Fort Worth, Texas. I
asked him why God told him to move here to Fort Worth and he told me that
it was because Fort Worth was full of people who were lost and dying and
going to Hell. He said, "God told me to come here and pull some people
out of Hell."
So he came to this town and planted the Fort Worth Baptist Temple. In
his first year he baptized 212. Last year he baptized 187.
Pastor Smith said that he "must needs go" to Fort Worth to pull some
sinners out of Hell and preacher, there is some place in America where
you "must needs go."
"Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the
parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was
there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the
well: and it was about the sixth hour." (vs. 5-6)
Jesus realized that He "must needs go through Samaria." So He went.
When He arrived He immediately went to the well because He knew that is
where the sinner lady was going to come.
If we are going to win sinners we must go to where the sinners are.
And the sinners are not in our church houses; the sinners are on the
street corners. Jesus was not looking for a righteous woman. If He were,
He would have gone to the synagogue. Jesus was looking for a sinner
woman. So he went to the sinner hang out, He went to the well.
So preacher, you "must needs go through Samaria" and when you get
there you "must needs go" to the places where the sinners hang out so
that you can preach the gospel to them and pull a few of them out of
The only way to build a church is to find people outside the church
and bring them in. Jesus said to "GO OUT into the highways and hedges,
and COMPEL them to COME IN, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).
When you go to where the sinners are and preach on the street corners and
pass out tracts and knock on their doors you will begin to win them to
Christ. After they get saved they will begin to come to church and the
church will grow. But first, you must go to them because they will not
come to you.
The woman did not go to Jesus, Jesus went to the woman.
"There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her,
Give me to drink." (vs. 7)
So Jesus goes to the well and sure enough, here comes the sinner
woman. And Jesus says to her, "give me to drink."
Why does Jesus say this? Because he knew those words would open the
door for Him to engage her in a conversation about His being "living
water". He knew that once she understood that he was the "living water"
she would get saved.
Jesus did not go to Samaria for any other reason except to give this
sinner woman the gospel and lead her to Himself. He went to where He
knew she would be. Then, He said the words that heknew would spark her interest in the gospel so that He could show her how to be saved.
"Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a
Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have
no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If
thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me
to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee
living water." (vs. 9-10)
The sinner woman responds by pointing out the fact that Jesus was
Jewish and she is a Samaritan. She wants to know the real motivation
behind Jesus' openness to her since she is of a race that He, as a Jew,
is supposed to hate.
So obviously it did not matter to Jesus who the sinner is. It did not
matter if the sinner was black, white, red, yellow, or even Samaritan.
All that mattered was that they are a sinner and Jesus is the Baptist
preacher who "must needs go" and preach to them the gospel
We are going to find that when we get to Heaven color no longer
matters. And by the way, color does not matter in Hell either. People can
be black, white, Mexican, Chinese, or Eskimo and if they are sinners they
will all die and go to the same Hell.
There will be perfect racial integration in Hell. There will also be
perfect racial integration in Heaven. So what we need to decide is where
we want to integrate folks? Do we want to integrate them into Heaven? Or
do we want to integrate them into Hell?
Do you want to know how to have perfect racial integration in America
today? Stop preaching racial integration and start preaching the gospel.
It will work because as people get saved they will become brothers,
and brothers love each other. Quit trying to force it on folks because
when they get saved it will come natural. Quit trying to make sinners
live like saints and start preaching the gospel so that Jesus can make
saints out of the sinners.
Jesus did not come to the Samaritan woman as a Jew to tell her that
they should live in racial harmony. No, Jesus came to her as a Baptist
preacher and gave her the gospel. And guess what? The Samaritan woman got
saved and was then no longer prejudiced against Jews.
"The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the
well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?" (vs. 11)
She does the same thing that most sinners do after they hear the
gospel. She starts making excuses. Some sinners will even mock you and/or
harass you. Some simply will not believe the gospel.
"Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and
drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered
and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never
thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of
water springing up into everlasting life." (vs. 12-14)
She gives her excuses and protests but Jesus just keeps right on
giving her the gospel. Let them mock. Let them laugh. Let them spit on
you or kick dust on your shoes. Let them call you names or do whatever
else they will do. Just keep on preaching the gospel to them. That is
what Jesus did.
"The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not,
neither come hither to draw." (vs. 15)
Now she is finally starting to come around. She sees a meaningful
advantage to being saved so she decides that she wants what Jesus can
You see she has spent her entire adult life walking across town, maybe
over a mile, to draw water from a well. She has to carry a pitcher and
then, after she has pulled the water out of a very deep well she must
carry this heavy water jug all the way back home. So when she comes to
think that getting "living water" means never having to do this hard
labor ever again she is willing to take all of the "living water" that
Jesus will give her.
She is exactly like a lot of the people who walk the isles in our
Baptist churches. They hear a message on prosperity and they say, "Wow!
All I have to do is ask Jesus in my heart and I will be wealthy." They
think to themselves, "I really hate having all this revolving charge card
debt, 21% interest, past due bills, having to outrun the repo man, etc."
They have heard half of the truth and they are ready to get "saved"
because they think that it will "save" them from debt.
So they walk the isle and "ask Jesus into their heart." The preacher
tells them to "pray this prayer," fill out a decision card, and be
baptized. Their baptism makes them a church member so we give them some
tithing envelopes. Everyone calls them Brother John or Sister Jane and if
they are still coming in six months they will be made a Sunday school
teacher. If they are still coming two years later they may be elected as
a deacon or as an officer in the women's missionary league.
Maybe it is a couple who has come because they are on the brink of a
divorce or because they are about to loose their kids. They think that if
they will just get "saved" it will save their home and so they come "ask
Jesus into their heart" and join the church.
But Jesus does not work His altar calls like we do. He realized that
this woman has not repented of her sin. She may have come singing "I
surrender all" but Jesus knew that what she really meant was "lets see
what all I can get." She did not want the "living water" to meet her
spiritual need, she was simply going to patronize Jesus because she
thought it would meet her fleshly needs.
So we must make sure that when people say, "Jesus save me," that they
are really saying "Jesus save me from my sin" and not "Jesus, save my
marriage" or "Jesus, pay my mortgage."
The Bible says, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die,
it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John
12:24). When Jesus gave an invitation in Matthew 16:24 He said, "If any
man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and
Taking up the cross means that we, like the corn of wheat, must first
die before we can truly follow him. That is why He says in verse 25, "For
whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his
life for my sake shall find it." The old man of sin must die before we
can be genuinely born-again.
But the woman at the well was not ready to die so what does Jesus do?
- By the way, most every Baptist preacher I know would have accepted her
"profession of faith," baptized her, given her the tithing envelopes, and
called he sister woman at the well. - But Jesus risks running her off
because He wants more than her "membership." He wants for her to be
It is better that they leave lost and knowing they are lost than for
them to leave lost and thinking they are saved.
"Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither." (vs. 16)
She has walked the isle. She will pray any prayer she is told to pray.
She is willing to be baptized. She wants to join the church. She is even
willing to pay tithes to get out of drawing water from the well. But
Jesus will not let her until the sin issue is dealt with.
"The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her,
Thou hast well said, I have no husband" (vs. 17)
Jesus will give her the "living water." He will save her. But first,
she must repent of her sin. Most preachers would not make a big issue
about the fact that this woman is a sinner because they would not want to
"run off" such a "hot prospect."
But Jesus knew that if He had taken her "profession of faith" in verse
15 she would one day die and go to Hell because there would have been no
repentance, no dying, and no new birth.
He also knew that unless she was genuinely born-again she would not
have stayed very long in the church anyway. This is because she was only
coming to be saved from something. In this case it was manual labor.
Jesus could have taken her profession of faith and let her join His
church. But He knew that after she realized that she was still having to
draw water at the well she would have determined that her "salvation" did
not work for her and she would stop coming to church.
A lot of folks will come, participate, and even tithe because they
think they will get something for it. But as soon as the divorce is final
or the repo man takes their car they determine that they have missed all
those Sundays of sleeping in or watching football and paid all those
tithes only for God to renig on what they thought He promised and so they
leave. We call them a "backslider" but they never actually had anything
to backslide from. They were never saved. If anyone tries to invite them
to a church they say, "I tried it and it did not work for me."
Jesus wanted her to have more than a frustrating religious experience.
He wanted her to be saved. So He risks offending by encouraging her to
repent of her sin.
"The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her,
Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands;
and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.
The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet." (vs.
It always amazes me. You know absolutely nothing about a person. Then,
as soon as you mention the sin issue they think you have been reading
their mail. They do not realize that all sinners are alike. The details
may be different, but the problem -SIN- is always the same. The Bible had
them figured out long before we ever met them or started to share the
gospel with them.
Since this is always an uncomfortable process for sinners it is only
natural that excuses will be made.
"Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem
is the place where men ought to worship." (vs. 20)
Out of desperation she goes back to making an issue out of race again.
What she is really doing is looking for a way to get out of having to
repent of her sin. But Jesus, the master soul-winner, refuses to be
sidetracked by this. He is persistent in His request for her to repent.
"Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall
neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye
worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of
the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers
shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh
such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must
worship him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that
Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us
all things." (vs. 21-25)
Now she gives her final excuse. She says she will wait for the
Messiah. Like many sinners, she offers to do something religious thinking
that that will appease God enough so that He will overlook their lack of
repentance. It is as if they think that they can negotiate terms with
Other sinners will make excuses that are less religious. They will say
something like' "I will get saved, but first I need to sow my wild oats."
Or, "I am not ready to give this up yet, I will get saved when I am ready
When they come down to these generalized excuses you know that it is
because they are running out of excuses.
"Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he." (vs. 26)
She is out of excuses now. If you deal with the sin issue long enough
they will always eventually run out of excuses.
Once the person has run out of excuses they must do one of two things:
1- walk away having rejected the gospel, or 2- repent of their sin and
If they reject the gospel, then simply obey (Matthew 10:14), " shake
off the dust of your feet" and go find another sinner. If they are saved
they will become a "new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17) in Christ, the "
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Angels
will rejoice (Luke 15:10) and it will be a joyous occasion for both of
In this instance, the sinner chooses repentance and she is genuinely
converted. And guess what she does immediately after her conversion?
"The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and
saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I
did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came
unto him." (vs. 28-30)
This is how you know that a person has been truly born-again. They
will start to share the gospel with others.
Let me ask you Baptist preacher: Are you bringing others? Are you
showing the lost how to be saved?
If you are not bringing others you may be a Baptist preacher but are
you saved? The Bible says that "by their fruits ye shall know them"
(Matthew 7:20). The Bible teaches that everything is to produce fruit
"after their kind" [Genesis 1:21, 1:25, 6:20, and 7:14] So what is the
fruit of a Christian? Other Christians. Are you bearing fruit preacher?
"And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the
woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with
her?" (vs. 27)
Mark it down. Once you start winning sinners you will no longer "fit
in" with the "religious" crowd.
Here we read that the disciples rebuked Jesus because He was talking
with an undesirable Samaritan. They did not want that kind of people in
their church. Why after all, if the Pharisees found out about it they
would loose their reputation for "holiness."
The Jewish apostles thought of Samaritans [and all gentiles] as being
worth less than dogs (Matthew 15:26-27). The same is true in many of our
We have all heard stories about "white" churches that did not want
"niggers" in their church. I have no doubt that there are also some
"black" churches that do not want "honkies." This is what the disciples
were doing in verse 27.
I wonder what they would have said if they had known that she was an
adulteress? Why after all, no "respectable" church would have an
adulteress. There will be people in your church who will not want to have
you dirty up "their" church with pimps and hookers and junkies and
homeless people. They will not want to see someone come because he beat
his wife, or because she is an alcoholic. Maybe their kids are not well
behaved, they do not wear the right kind of clothes or they do not drive
the right kind of car.
But Jesus did not care about race or status. He only knew that He
"must needs go to Samaria" so that He could win this lady to himself. Did
He do so because she was Samaritan? NO! He went because she was a sinner.
Did it matter to Him what type of sin it was. NO! He only knew that she
needed to hear the gospel.
He did not care about the reproach of the disciples. He did not care
what the Jews would say when He got back home. He was not worried about
his "ministerial reputation" or what folks would say when the town
adulteress joined His church. Jesus just pulled sinners out of Hell.
It does not matter what a person is before they are saved. Once they
are saved they are a "new creature." She may have been the town
adulteress before she was saved but now she is a saint who has been made
righteous in God's sight by Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
And if you are going to see the town pusher in your neighborhood
turned into a former pusher. If you want to see hookers leave the streets
and take up honest professions. You are going to have to come down off of
your spiritual mountain long enough to go to where they are and preach
the gospel to them.
WE NEED TO EXAMINE OURSELVES
Where did you make your profession of faith? Did you make it in verse
15 or did you make it in verse 24? Did the old man die? Can you give a
genuine testimony that you have become a "new creature" in Christ? Have
the old things passed away? Has everything become new?
You flashy guys: Did you make your profession of faith in verse 15
because you wanted to be a "money grabbin', chicken eatin' preacher" who
would not have to sweat for a living? If that is the case then you need
to walk this isle and find verse 24, repent of your sins, and be saved.
And for all of the preachers who did get saved in verse 24, you are
born-again, you are a son of God, you will go to Heaven when you die, the
Holy Ghost does dwell within you, you were called of God into the
ministry. Are you going to do as Jesus did? Are you going to say, I "must
needs go through Samaria?"
Are you going to find a Samaria preacher? Are you going to go? Will
you allow God to lead you to the places where the sinners are? Are you
going to do as Jesus did? Will you preach the gospel?
The Bible says in Luke 19:10 that Jesus "is come to seek and to save
that which was lost." The Bible did not say that Jesus came to advocate a
political position. The scribes and the Pharisees wanted Jesus to
advocate a political position and establish the kingdom but Jesus
refused. He did not come to politic. He came to preach!
People always ask me if I am a member of the Christian Coalition. God
did not call me to join the Christian Coalition. God called me to preach
the gospel! These Christian Coalition guys will call our Bible College
and ask if we will host a voter registration drive. I tell them that they
need to stop trying to register voters and start preaching the Old Black
Jesus did not go to Samaria to register voters. He did not go to
advocate a political cause. He did not go to establish racial equality.
Jesus went to Samaria for one reason and one reason only. That was to
preach the gospel.
When the gospel is preached people get saved. When they get saved they
become a "new creature." Their old racial hate and prejudice is replaced
with love. As they read the Bible their political persuasion will change
as they develop the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5 ). " But seek ye
first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things
shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). So just preach the gospel and
let the rest take care of itself. Preacher: What are you preaching? Are
you preaching the gospel?
I'll give you a little statistic. The recent census reports tell us
that the black community will be predominantly Muslim by the year 2007.
THAT SHOULD BOTHER YOU BAPTIST PREACHER!!
The reason it is happening is because some preachers in the black
community are more interested in registering voters than they are in
preaching the gospel. Such men never knock doors. If they ever do knock a
door it will be to register a voter.
Here is another statistic. By the year 2015 the entire nation will be
predominantly Muslim. - This is going to happen in our lifetime. - In
2015 it will not just be the black community that is predominantly
Muslim. It will be every community.
This is because it is not just black preachers who are neglecting the
gospel. Too many white preachers are more involved in keeping unborn
babies out of Heaven than they are in pulling live sinners out of Hell.
They spend their Saturdays in "life chains" when Acts 20:20 has commanded
them to knock doors and preach on the streets.
Every year I turn down invitations to participate in "life chains." I
have no desire to go hold hands with some cigarette smoking baby
sprinkling Roman priest who would probably just kick me out as soon as I
started to do the thing that God has called me to do which is preach the
So tell me preacher: What are you preaching? Are you like the woman at
the well? Are you bringing others to the Savior?
Jesus said I "must needs go through Samaria." And He did. When He got
there He went to the place where He knew the sinners would be and He
preached the gospel. As a result, people were saved and God was pleased.
We "must needs go through Samaria." We "Must needs" preach the gospel.
And we "must needs" pull some sinners out of Hell. If we are going to save this nation it will not be by prohibition. If we will just lead the multitudes to Christ the people will no longer drink.
Outlawing abortion will not save our country. Saved people do not get
abortions. We will not save our country by electing a Democrat, a Republican, a
Libertarian, or a member of the Nose Pickers Party. Proverbs 14:34 says,
"Righteousness exalteth a nation." As we win this country to Christ it
will become righteous one convert at a time. And that righteousness will
exalt us based on our obedience to the Old Black Book, regardless of who
lives in that big White mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Preacher: Find yourself a Samaria and preach the gospel!