Commend the church for putting so much into VBS. Jesus gives time and attention to kids! You’ve put in a lot and likely feel that odd sense of being weary-but-filled-up. We’re going to talk about ‘being filled’ for the next two weeks as we look at look at a gospel story in John 4.
Human beings have a deep thirst (heart thirst, soul thirst). And we’re all looking for something to fill us—some thing or experience, some relationship, some feeling, some status, some lasting satisfaction. So many of the things we choose—sinful or not—give such short-lived satisfaction. Sometimes we need to take a good look in the mirror and say “How’s that working for you?”
Are you spiritually dehydrated? (Habitual sins are a symptom)
Jesus At a Rest Stop
Jesus At a Rest Stop
Jesus and his disciples were traveling and they made a rest stop at Jacob’s well. The disciples go into town to get lunch and Jesus sits down by the well, weary and thirsty. There he encounters a woman from Samaria who came to draw water.
And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”
If you’ve read the OT, there is a déjà vu feel to this scene. It is an echo of several significant OT encounters: Abraham’s servant met Rebekah at a well while looking for a wife for Isaac; Jacob met the lovely Rachel at well at “high day” and rolled a stone away so she could water the flocks; and Moses also met his wife at a well in the wilderness (a salvation scene). These at-the-well moments were providential encounters.
The déjà vu gives a subtle hint: this is a providential encounter. Even the language of verse 4: “he had to pass through Samaria” suggests something more than the given route from Judea to Galilee—he is following God’s lead.
Meeting this woman at this well was not happenstance—it was a divine appointment.
It’s providential and it’s shocking. Notice her shock:
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
Region of Samaria - repulsive to Jews. Many would go around it. Those that went through it, didn’t like it. For us, it would be like going to Oklahoma ;)
Jesus spoke to a woman—a Samaritan woman at that! (disciples marveled, v. 27).
Jesus was prepared to drink from a Samaritan water jar - Gross! It doesn’t get much more unclean that that.
Study in the UK: researchers observed university students smelling sweaty t-shirts with their own university logo as well as t-shirts with the logos of different universities. Measuring both self-reported and observable disgust, the researchers noted that students were noticeably less put off by the smell of t-shirts they thought had been worn by students from their own university. (E. Stetzer)
Throughout the gospels we see Jesus break the typical barriers and boundaries of gender, race, geography, and society. He touched lepers, dined with sinners and tax collectors. He talked to a Samaritan woman.). He drew near to the far off and offered grace. To her shock:
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.”
The irony is not lost on this woman.
The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”
I’m afraid we can be that way sometimes: seriously underestimating what Jesus offers? We are concerned with bills and meals, getting the car fixed, doctor appointments, and the latest Doppler Dave alert. We know what we need and where to get it. What can Jesus do for me that I can’t do for myself?
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
She was thinking only about temporal things. But what about the eternal things? Jesus is offering what only God can give, and that which is deep, true, and lasting satisfaction. This is a rich OT image:
Jeremiah described God as “the fountain of living waters” (Jer. 2:13)
Zechariah foretold a day when “living waters shall flow” (Zech 14:8)
Isaiah described it beautifully: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isa. 12:3)
But it may be the prophet Ezekiel that Jesus is primarily drawing upon. Ezekiel had a vision of a water issuing from below the threshold of the Temple. Those little trickles became a river, ankle-deep, knee-deep, waist-deep, then a deep, powerful, unearthly river that brought healing wherever it flowed—even to the Dead Sea. “So everything will live where the river goes” (Ezek. 47:9)
Jesus is talking about something much bigger than well water.
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
In his gentle-but-stern way, Jesus is putting his finger on her issue - leading her to see where she has been searching for satisfaction in serial relationships with men. “I think you aren’t all that fulfilled.” This is why you are thirsty—and I am the solution. How will she respond? (Next week)
If we’ll pay attention, Jesus puts his finger on our issue:
serial relationships, recreation (sport, gaming, entertainment), substance abuse, fantasy (romance, pornography, lust), people-pleasing, fitting in with crowd, perfectionism, material things/wealth, gossip /being ‘in the know’
Do you think perhaps you may be underestimating what Jesus offers?
Concluding observations: Jesus knew the worst about the woman, and yet he is the one who initiated the conversation and he offered living water—the gift of God. Jesus really knows us and moves toward us. That’s what the cross is all about.
There’s an interesting set of “bookends” in the Gospel of John. Near the beginning, Jesus is thirsty at the sixth hour talking about the offer of living water. In chapter 19, John will mention the sixth hour again as the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. One of the things he says right before he dies is: “I thirst.” Then, a few verses later, blood and water flow from his side—symbols of forgiveness and the initial trickle of that healing river: Everything will live where the river flows.