The Woman at the Well

Good morning and welcome.  It’s always a pleasure to have Jan Thomson here sharing about how God is using her to impact the lives of orphans in Haiti.  We love her and appreciate her ministry.  If this is your first time here at Journey, Jan in one of our three ministry partners at Journey.  We help feed and care for orphans in Haiti through Jan’s ministry.  We build health centers and churches in Mali Africa.  We care for the poor and near poor in Omaha through volunteering at Heartland Hope in Omaha.  And for nine years now it’s been a pleasure to serve in a church that care about people.  A church that puts it’s money where it’s mouth is.  So thank you.

This morning we get to continue our study in the book of John.  John was Jesus best friend.  And near the end of his life he wrote about the life and ministry of Jesus with the goal of helping us believe that He is really is God in the flesh.  And that by believing in him we all might have an abundant life filled with joy and love and meaning and purpose.

So I don’t know what state you find yourself in spiritually today.  Maybe you aren’t convinced that Jesus is anything other than a teacher, or maybe you think the church has somehow warped Jesus’ original teaching or maybe you are just kind of curious about Jesus.   If you are on the fence about Jesus, then John is writing this with you in mind.

Last week we looked at John 3 and the story of Nicodemus who was a very good man.  I should say very moral.  Religious.  Seemed to have everything going for him.  He was powerful.  Influential.  Moral.  Good reputation.  Wealthy.  Respected.  Prestigious.  What does Jesus tell this guy who seemed to have everything going for him?

You’ve got to start over – you’ve got to be – like being born a second time.  And the good news – you get another shot at it.  Because is the god of the second shot.  So Jesus says, take all your reputation, power and prestige and give hand them to me.  Jesus says, give it up, and let me make something truly beautiful out of it.

That’s John chapter 3.  Today we look at John chapter 4.  The very next chapter.  No mistake.  This is a literary device here.  John is placing these two stories back to back for a reason.

The first story is the person who seems to have everything going for him.  The next is about a woman ho has virtually nothing going for her.  No power.  No prestige.  No influence.  A damaged reputation.  An outcast.  And Jesus takes both of these people – on both ends of the spectrum – and says – you are both on equal footing.  You’re in the same boat.

So he says to the self righteous person – get down off that ladder that you’ve been climbing that you think makes you special and get down here on level ground.

And he says to the person who’s dug themselves into a hole – get out of that hole you think makes you unworthy of my love and get up here on level ground.  We are all on equal footing.  Equally needy.  Equally loved by God.

So let’s read through the story and I will stop to make a few observations along the way.

So he (Jesus) left Judea and returned to Galilee.

He had to go through Samaria on the way. 

Nope.  He didn’t have to go through Samaria.  In fact, most Jews would make it a point to stay out of Samaria.  They would travel way out of their way NOT to go through Samaria.  See this map? Sychar is halfway between Jerusalem and Nazareth.  But good Jews would routinely go all the way east across the Jordan and up and then bang a left at the seal of Galilee to stay out of Samaria.   Samaria was the bad part of town and But John writes as if Jesus had no other option.

Want to know why Jesus went down this path through Samaria?  Because Jesus is a seeker and a saver of lost things.  At least those are Jesus’ exact words about himself.   For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.  Luke 19:10

My wife Jody is from San Diego – her family still lives there.  We got to the beach and in the morning you seek these people walking around the beach with metal detectors – they always look like this guy.  You get a free hat and pair of jorts with every metal detector.   weeooo  weeoooo  beep beep.  Seeking lost things.

Well don’t make fun of those people.  Jesus is a lot like them.  Except he seeks lost people.  And his detector searches for people who are thirsty for God and that’s why Jesus said – “I’ve got to go through Samaria.”  There’s someone there I’ve got to meet.

Let me tell you – you are here today – and you might not believe God exists – well he knows you do and he is after you because he loves you.  Run if you must but remember that He is the Hound of Heaven; With un-hurrying chase,  And unperturbed pace, he seeks and saves the lost.

And Jesus will travel any road to find you.  Yes he will.  As he had to go through Samaria, he will do what he has to do in order to offer you what you’ve thirsted for your entire life.  He’s chasing you because he loves you.

Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.  Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.

The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”

Here’s my next (2) observation.   This conversation that Jesus is having should have never taken place.  First – he is a man, alone, speaking to a woman he does not know.  Second, he’s Jewish and she’s a Samaritans, and they hated each other.  He is a rabbi and she is a notorious sinner.   Even the woman is shocked.  “You know you shouldn’t be talking to me, right?”

I can’t help but think that she might have said something like, Mister, you don’t want to be talking me.  Alone, by a well.  Because while you are talking to me – there will be a whole village up there talking about you.  See I’ve got what some might call a checkered past, and well let’s just say that Mister, if you only knew who you were talking to, you’d never ask me for a drink.

So why does Jesus do it?  Because Baby, there ain’t no mountain high enough.  There ain’t no valley, low enough.  There ain’t no river wide enough, to keep Him from getting to you babe.

So he sends his disciple away on an errand in order to ensure that he would be able to meet with this woman alone, putting his reputation on the line in order to ensure he could speak with her without the risk embarrassing her.

If the other disciples were there they would have at the very least made it very uncomfortable for this woman to speak freely about her life, as the topic at hand was a sensitive topic.    And he knows she will not talk about it if there’s a bunch of guys all within earshot.  Right?  Jesus isn’t out to embarrass or.  So he kindly and thoughtfully places his own reputation at risk in order to get a chance to speak with her. Alone.

And he will kick through any barrier to get you the chance to hear the good news, that there is a God, who not only loves you but likes you, and wants you to think highly enough of his goodness and greatness to trust him with your life.  Through faith in Jesus, you will begin a life so new that it’s like being born again.

Ever think about what it took to get you to hear the good news of Jesus?  What mountain did he climb to break through to get to you?  Maybe you feel like God is on the other side of some vast mountain range and you feel like you don’t know how to navigate through the pass to find him- Good news – he has done the work to come to you.  And he’s here right now – as close to you as the air you are breathing.

There ain’t no mountain high enough baby.  He is here because he seeks and saves the lost.  It is no coincidence you are here today.

Why are you asking me for a drink?”

10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

Now there’s going to follow this statement a little bit of back and forth between Jesus and the woman – she thinks he is talking about actual water – when it becomes pretty clear that he is not talking about quenching that which your physical body thirsts for – he is talking about quenching that which your soul thirsts after.

You know, I’m sure, that your soul can be thirsty.  It doesn’t always know where to turn to find the only thing that can satisfy that thirst.  And so the soul will chase after many a thing that it believes will finally satisfy it.  Some thirst for money, or power, or reputation, or relationships.

Our soul thirsts.  But there is only one well from which we can draw that will never run dry.  Never leave us thirsty for more.  And that is God himself.

13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

15 “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”

Now I don’t know why she responded this way – maybe she thought, what do I have to lose?  Maybe this guy i some kind of magician, or I don’t know – but hey, if I don’t have to come to the well everyday in the heat of the afternoon – I’m open.  And what follows seems like it’s a radical change in the topic.  But it’s really not.

16 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.   I think that this story requires a couple of pauses.  This is the first pause.   Go get your husband.  Pause.  Pause.  And during that pause this woman is suddenly dealing with a surge of adrenaline as she asks herself – what does this guy know about me.  Could he know my history?  Does he know my story?  Is he hitting on me?  Or is he sincere, and just happen to stumble upon the one place she was not willing to go.

I think all of that happens and she decides to play it straight by offers as little information as possible with hopes that it would go away without further exploration.  So she says…

17 “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.  Don’t go there.   Don’t meddle.  Don’t do it.

Aren’t you glad that Jesus is willing to meddle?  He’s willing to just jump right in the middle of our garbage and force the issue?  Jesus intends to quench that which her soul thirsts for, but he can only do that by first exposing as insufficient what she thought would bring her satisfaction.  And for her – it’s men.  She kept reaching for relationships to bring her what only God could bring her.  And she is certainly not the first or the last to do that.

Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— 18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”

Again – it’s best to add a pause here.  19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet.”  And then she tries to divert the conversation into theological issues.  Anything to get this guy off the trail of having to deal with her past.  With her reputation.

She’s had enough of that.  I mean, there’s a reason she is going to the well in the heat of the day – all the other women would go in the morning, in the cool of the day – but she really doesn’t want to have to deal with their whispers or slights, and so…  She has a bad reputation.

But here’s the deal.  Jesus does not care about your past.  He does not care about whatever you’ve done that you think is good enough to get special recognition from God.  He does not care about what you’ve done that you think disqualifies you from Him.  Nothing you’ve done disqualifies you from being able to walk this day and forward with Jesus by your side.

In John 7:37 uses this metaphor again – Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”

Are you thirsty?  Does your soul thirst?  Is it tired from drinking the bitter waters that can never satisfy?  Come to Jesus.

25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

And here Jesus – he’s just the best, I tell you.  The first human being that Jesus revealed himself to was this social outcast.  He tells her…

26 Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!”

Just about then the disciples come back from their errand and they begin to grumble about what’s going on.  But the woman isn’t grumbling she’s rejoicing.  And I love how the story ends.

She heads back to her town and she begins to tell the town – Hey everyone I’ve met a man down by the well!  And the town is like oh brother, here we go again.  He told me everything about myself.  And the town says, We all know everything about you.

But see, they only knew what she had done.  Jesus knew what she would become.  Jesus knew the real her.  He saw past her regret and shame and diagnosed her heart and she becomes the first evangelist.  The Samaritan Billy Graham – you’ve got to come with me to hear this guy.  I once was blind but no I see.  I once was lost now I’m found.

And as Jesus is sitting around that hill he’s circled by his disciples and Jesus says to them, lift up your eyes.  Look around.  The fields are ripe to harvest.  And through the fields come an entire town to hear Jesus.  Led by a woman others had written off.

Jesus never writes someone off.  There ain’t no mountain high enough to keep him from you.

As we close two questions: First – who are the “Samaritan women” in your life?  Do you have anyone you’ve written off in your mind as unworthy of the being loved and treated respectfully.  Forget crossing a mountain, you don’t want to cross the room to speak with them?   Take that person to the Lord in prayer and ask God to change the way you think about them.

Second.  Are you the Samaritan woman in this story?  Jesus has come for you today and invites you to a new life through faith.  He doesn’t call the qualified.  He qualifies the called.  Is he calling to you today?  Go to him and begin a new journey of an abundant life.

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