Today we have the familiar story, found only in the Gospel of John, of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Jesus is tired from his journey. He encounters the woman while he is sitting down by a well:
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 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.) 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 woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 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.” 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.” (John 4: 7-15)
So much can be said about this event. The first sermon I ever preached was about Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Each time I read this portion of John I see something new. This time I see a woman who is tired from her daily grind. The water jar was heavy and the well was very deep. She had to continually come back to the well to draw water. And to top it all off, she is bothered by this Jewish man who was interrupting her by asking a favor. Why was he even talking to her. After all, Jews did not normally even deal with Samaritans.
At times we may feel exhausted. We have been pushed beyond our limits? This is how the children of Israel must have felt. They thought they were stuck in a desert with no future. They were going to die for lack of water:
The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. (Exodus 17:2-6)
What happened to belief in the promises of God? God has shown them signs and wonders. They had left Egypt without a sick person among them. But now they were lost and abandoned by God. Do any of us fit that category?
We need food and drink. Indeed, but life teaches us that we need more. Jesus was talking about a supernatural supply he called of living water? He is the living water. Just as Moses struck the rock at mountain of God. God, the Father, would strike him. He is our rock and our fortress. But he was wounded for our transgressions.
Jesus would soon face the cross. He was in Jerusalem, celebrating the Festival of Booths. Reading from John 6:
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39)
Jesus would pour out his Spirit into our hearts. We would be given living water. Our hearts would become a reservoir of supernatural supply. But first he had to be glorified on the cross to atone for all our sins.
Have we been filled by Jesus or are we letting religion get in the way? When Jesus gently confronted the Samaritan w0man concerning her sin, this is how the conversation went:
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 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 have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:16-24)
The woman first retreat to religion. Does she cling to it in defense? Without our traditions we are free to look at the deep truths of God. Fortunately she raised her heartfelt question:
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.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” (John 4:25-26)
Where do we stand today? Have we runout of our own resources? If so we have an alternative. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman:
“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.” (John 4:10)
Do we know about the gift of the Holy Spirit? If so, have we asked Jesus? Perhaps we have, but let us keep asking him. Jesus is the giver of the gift. In this gift we find the rest we are looking for us. Indeed, it will be in us a spring of water gushing up to eternal life. The psalmist wrote:
Harden not your hearts,
as your forebears did in the wilderness,
at Meribah, and on that day at Massah,
when they tempted me.
They put me to the test,
though they had seen my works.
Forty years long I detested that generation and said,
“This people are wayward in their hearts;
they do not know my ways.”
So I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter into my rest.” (Psalm 95:8-11)
God wants us to enter into his rest today, and every day. Thanks be to God who gives us living water through Christ our Lord.