John 4:5-30 “The Woman at the Well”
5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8(His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in
Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” 28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29“Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah,can he?” 30 They left the city and were on their way to him
COMMUNION MESSAGE “Give Me a Drink” James Renfrew, Pastor
Did you ever feel like everything you did was just one disaster after another? One time, when I was painting houses in Rochester to pay my way through seminary, one of my partners, Rich, had a day with one disaster after another. First thing in the morning he put the ladder up against the side of the house and broke a window on the second floor, he couldn’t seem to hold the brush in his hand without dropping it on his partners working under his ladder, and, finally, from the top of the ladder he dropped a full bucket of paint onto the home owner’s beautiful garden. At first we laughed at Rich, but by the end of the afternoon, David and I were working as far away from Rich as we could, partly to avoid getting splashed with paint or hit on the head by a falling object, but because whatever disease was affecting Rich to we didn’t want to catch it!
Our Bible story is about a woman like that; not one mistake, not one accident, but more than you could count. Every choice, every decision she’d ever made was a disaster. Every relationship she’d ever had was a failure. And every disaster, every failure knocked her down even lower than before, lower than rock bottom. At first her neighbors were sorry for her, then they laughed at her, and finally they just whispered about her and tried to avoid being anywhere near her. After all, her propensity for disaster might be infectious? It was awful, a serious of failed and broken relationships, but she had nowhere to go, so all she could do was hope for something better to come along. But disaster was what was always in store, failure was what her neighbors expected, catastrophe was always the result.
She took to going out of her door only during the hottest part of the day, when everyone else stayed inside to escape the heat. She couldn’t stand their whispers and their stares. She would go over to the well in the center of the village to fill up her water jug. She released the rope and the bucket fell to the bottom of the well where it would fill with water. But before she pulled it back up to the top – never easy on a hot day – she always paused for a moment, remembering that day long ago when her distant ancestor Rachel found true love at that very same well. She always waited for a moment or two, hoping that a handsome young man like Jacob of long ago, would walk up, gaze into her eyes, take care of the water bucket, take care of her forever. She was waiting for her life to become the familiar love story.
Jesus takes a rest by the well that to this day is still called Jacob’s well. The story begins when Jesus asks a Samaritan woman to get him a drink of water from the well to quench his thirst. By the end of the story, it is the woman who is asking Jesus for water to quench her thirst, asking for the LIVING WATER that will soothe the thirst in her troubled soul once and for all.
Living water? It’s not the water at the bottom of the well. It’s not the water in the bucket. It’s not the water you drink, or the water you cook with or the water you wash with. Living Water is something from God that stirs up your soul, that gets your heart beating in anticipation, that causes your spirit to soar, and that bubbles and churns and gushes through you like a beautiful fountain filled with love and joy. When you’ve tasted the Living Water, you’ll know it! You’ll never forget it.
Jacob and Rachel met at this same well and found true love. In this meeting at Jacob’s well, a happy outcome seems improbable. For one thing, there is a hard boundary. Samaritans and Jews had no dealings with one another. By custom neither one could drink from the other’s cup. The story is complicated, as well, because of the woman’s history. It can’t turn into a love story because the woman is already married. In fact she’s been married five times, and now she is living with another man who is not her husband. This means that there is a second boundary in this story, by the scandal of her life and her reputation, the woman is separated from her own people. Given these two boundaries, between Jews and Samaritans, and between the woman and her neighbors, it seems that pursuing this conversation at the well would be pointless.
Jesus cuts right through all of these boundaries. The care and love of God recognizes none of these human designed boundaries. It’s a theme that sings throughout all of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, God’s love is always spilling over whatever walls we try to build to hold it in for ourselves. Samaritans are not excluded. People with personal problems are not excluded. People whose lives might be considered a complete mess are offered the living water. It is offered in equal measure to me, to you, and everyone.
The Gospel of John does not include a story about the bread and the cup, but maybe this story is equivalent to it. In the Living Water God’s love is offered to the world in abundance, and no one is excluded from it. God’s love is all about invitation, not exclusion. This meal is our assurance that God loves us, accepts us, forgives us and heals us of the things that plague our lives.
We can guess what that Living Water could do for the Samaritan woman – soothe her troubled spirit, tie up the damaged and hurting loose ends of her life, give her confidence, fill her with hope and purpose? Whatever it was, she felt drawn to the love of God and the power in that Living Water to change her life. She immediately ran off to tell everyone else. That must be some powerful Living Water, because she went right to all of the people who had pushed her away to tell them all about it.
We can guess what the Living Water would do for that woman at the well. But, more important, we can begin to picture what that Living Water would do for you! So take a moment and ponder what the Living Water of Jesus Christ could do in your life. Welling up from your heart, and gushing like a fountain, reaching up to heaven!
What are you waiting for? Find out more about that LIVING WATER! Find out more about Jesus! Imagine that Living Water gushing from your heart up to heaven!