Let us pray: Dear Savior, because we know You and have You in our corner, life does not have to be feared, but can be embraced! Countless people we meet don’t have that security. Most of them wander aimlessly through life, some run away from life. All are searching for meaning and purpose. Thank You for giving us that meaning and purpose. Inspire us to share it in humility and love whenever we can. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE PATIENT SAVIOR
TEXT: John 4: 3-26
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
Imagine this story taking place today. Imagine that Christ waited until 2013 to begin His public ministry and now He’s arrived at the well of Sychar where He met this woman. I dare say, the conversation would probably go something like this.—Jesus: “Ah, I see you’ve come to draw water, can you give me a drink?” The woman: “What are you, a weirdo? Don’t you have a better pick-up line than that? Stop harassing me. This is 2014, get your own water!” Jesus: “God wants you to give me some water.” The woman: “Hah! I knew you were a weirdo, a religious one at that! And as to this ‘living water’ you supposedly have an inside track on, what’s it spiked with?” Later in the conversation, Jesus: “I know you’re living with a man right now who’s not your husband and that you’ve been married five times before.” The woman: “What! You’ve been stalking me! What did you do before you set this up, a Google background search on me? Or maybe you’re with the government and work with the NSA—tapping my phone calls? Did you track me here with a drone?—I’m calling the police.”
God knew when the time was exactly right for Jesus to come and work out our salvation. He knew that we all needed precise examples as to how to reach hurting souls with the Gospel. He knew that most people are exactly like this woman, they are searching for happiness and meaning to their lives in all the wrong places and not finding it. And so, in December of 27 AD this poignant story of patient pastoral care and compassion occurs—for us to read and emulate today. And what does it clearly teach? The ageless truth that:
KNOWING CHRIST MAKES LIFE RIGHT
The well at Sychar was dug by Jacob. It was rock-lined, 9 feet across and at least 105 feet deep. It was a well-known “pit stop” on the main road between Judea and Galilee that extended through Samaria. It’s about noon. Jesus is tired and thirsty. He has sent the disciples into town for food. He’s sitting at the well and this Samaritan woman comes to draw water. Our loving Lord knows she’s needy. He knows she’s hurting inside. She’s looked for an inner sense of self-worth by going through various men. Currently she’s living with a fellow—living in sin. But she’s already had 5 husbands previously. Obviously she’s been looking for love in all the wrong places. She uses men and discards them like dirty tissue because she’s insecure. He knows she needs direction to her life that extends beyond what mere humans can provide. She needs God. She needs salvation. She needs to drink deeply from the life-giving water of Godly forgiveness, peace with her Maker, and the certainty that His blood would make her life infinitely valuable.
To pious Jews, this woman had numerous strikes against her. Her past was more than questionable. But worst of all, she was a Samaritan. Her ethnicity wasn’t pure. She descended from some Jews and various heathen peoples carted into the area 500 years before when Babylon enslaved the Jews. Her religion wasn’t pure, either. She had a smattering of the OT coupled with many heathen elements introduced by these forebears. Pious Jews hated Samaritans for this. And Samaritans usually repaid that attitude in kind. So, she is rather surprised that Jesus, an obvious Jew by His dialect, would even speak to her. But, souls are more important to God than social convention. That’s the first lesson for us to remember.
Next comes this discussion about water. Jesus was thirsty and had no rope or bucket with which to draw water. So, He asks her to oblige. Again, from her comment back, she’s a bit put out at it all. Then Jesus adds that comment about “living water.” She thinks: “Who does He think He is? Is He greater than my forebear, Jacob, who dug the well?” But, Jesus quickly responds: “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Notice how Jesus goes to the heart of the matter—she needs spiritual healing to escape her insecurities. Notice too, how she doesn’t yet “get it.” “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” But, Jesus is patient and doesn’t give up so easily. Neither should you.
How many people do you know who are exactly like this woman? They flit from job to job, from man to man, from woman to woman, from place to place. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence for them. They get all excited about ‘get rich quick’ schemes. But really they wander aimlessly because they are shallow, superficial, and have no clue why God put them on this earth. They put on a tough veneer, but inside they are o so fragile.
Now, Jesus addresses that fragility. “Go, call your husband and come back.” He knows her background. He knows her inner weaknesses. When she states she isn’t married, He again zeroes in. “Yes, you have no current husband, you’re living in sin instead. And what about the 5 other men you’ve gone through?” Ah, it’s obvious to her! He’s a prophet! But our forebears were important men, too. Those Jews from Jerusalem always think they’re so special. As long as I worship something, who cares? All roads lead to God, don’t they?
Well, if that were true, why is she so forlorn inside? Why does she keep repeating the same mistakes, again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again?
Now comes the closing argument. “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.'” Yes, God demands honesty from anyone who calls upon Him. He expects them to live a life of repentance. He expects them to turn their hearts to Him alone and ask forgiveness for their sins. God doesn’t merely go through the motions in dealing with us. He goes all the way. He has staying power. He lays down His very life to save lost souls.
The woman knows something about the Messiah and that He’s coming. It’s kind of like the mythical fable of El Dorado for her. So, a faint hope for something better does reside in her. And then Jesus pounces and says: “I who speak to you am he.”
Well, the disciples return as she leaves. They quiz Him about what happened. Meanwhile, the woman goes into town, finds her live-in boyfriend, other friends, and neighbors. She shares what she has heard. They come out to meet Jesus and we’re told many believed.
KNOWING JESUS MAKES LIFE RIGHT. That’s because He has the right answers to life and He literally has the right stuff! He has forgiveness for all sins, peace with God, and the gift of eternal life. He shares this bread and water of life with us freely. And through it He heals wounded souls and hurting hearts. In the process, He gives to us His staying power! Later on, John writes this of those newly converted Samaritans: “They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.'”
Yes, Jesus patiently and rather gently took time to speak the truth in love to one woman, to make her life right. Through it, the Spirit worked and she was saved along with a portion of the entire town! May such Christian charity begin in your own home, today. Amen