I've found that I look at these verses from two different perspectives, one from victory and one from defeat. From victory I find that this scripture emboldens my faith, it affirms that I have truly persevered through adversity and thus found steadfastness. The issue with this perspective is
Have you ever had one of those moments where you adamantly thought you were right about something and you ended up being wrong?
But really, one of those things that you grew up believing and you were convinced with every fiber of your being that you were right and then someone enlightened you to reality! And that reality was that you were wrong.
That feeling comes with two emotions, first complete embarrassment and/or questioning of your convictions. Then thankfulness for the fact that you no longer have to walk in ignorance.
I’d like to share about a woman who interacted with Jesus and found herself in a similar situation.
Jesus is traveling from Judea to Galilee, In between Judea and Galilee is Samaria. Judea and Galilee were Jewish and had been in a centuries old conflict with the Samaritans. That being said the fact that Jesus’ disciples went to get something to eat in a Samaritan town shows the cultural impact Jesus was already making on those around him. It seems that when you hang around Jesus; cultural racism, segregation, or mis treatment of certain types of people no longer matters.
Jesus is traveling and decides to stop and rest for a minute while his disciples go look for some food to buy, he happens to sit down by a well.
Now we’ll pick up the story in verse 7: When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” The woman said to him “you are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”
In this moment for one of the very few times in her life she had found one with kindness in his eyes rather than critical superiority. Had she encountered any of the religious leaders of her day she would have fled in embarrassment and they surely would not have wanted to be seen publically socializing with her. But Jesus seems to find it the most natural thing in the world to interact with her.
Simply put Jesus broke down barriers: and one of the amazing things about church planting or starting new churches is this opportunity that we have to break down barriers for those that have found obstacles to being a part of the church. We get to engage in the kind of ministry Jesus would have us engage in. Then as we grow older as a church we will have to constantly fight against our culture becoming insider focused. Jesus has called us to focus on the marginalized and we will plant churches with them in mind.
Back to the story:
Can you imagine the pain and resentment that had built up in a more than 400 year old feud between the Jews and Samaritans? Jesus is crossing a cultural divide here that no would dare cross.
But there was yet another way that Jesus was breaking down barriers - Jesus was interacting with a woman. Strict Rabbi’s forbade a Rabbi to greet a woman in public there were even Pharisees that were called the bruised and bleeding Pharisees because they would shut their eyes when they saw a woman on the street and so walked into walls and houses! For a Rabbi to speak to a woman in public was the end of his reputation - and yet Jesus is here speaking to this woman.
Not only is she a woman but she’s is also a woman of a notorious character. No man, let alone a rabbi would have been seen with her. Yet Jesus spoke with her.
Let’s pick up in verse 10 Jesus Answered her, “if you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” Sir, the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?
Remember that feeling of confidence thinking you knew the truth... that overwhelming confidence? That’s what she is feeling right now she’s almost poking fun at Jesus. She takes Jesus words quite literally not understanding the spiritual significance of what he’s saying. Now in ordinary language living water was used to refer to a running stream as opposed to a stagnant pool or cistern. Running water would have been viewed as a higher quality of water for sure, so essentially the woman is saying you are offering me a pure stream of water!?! Where are you going to get it? Then she goes on to speak of our father Jacob which the Samaritans viewed as the father of their whole people group.
Basically she is communicating that what Jesus is saying is blasphemous. Jacob our great ancestor had to dig this well to gain water access for his family and livestock. Are you seriously claiming to be able to get running water? She sees that he has no bucket and again, she is thinking there is no possible way you are about to provide what you say you can provide.
Let’s pick up in verse 13 Jesus Answered, “everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
But, there was also another way of using the word water. The Jews often spoke of the thirst of the soul for God; and they often spoke of quenching that thirst with the Living Water. Jesus was not using terms with the intention of misunderstanding...let me unpack a bit from other places in scripture what the significance of this Living Water is...
Rev 21:6 To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.
Rev 7:17 Jesus will lead us to springs of living water and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Isaiah 12:3 with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
Psalm 42:1 that as the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, my God.
Isaiah 44:3 The Lord says I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground.
Jeremiah 2:13 My people have committed two sins: they have forsaken me, the spring of Living Water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
Revelation 22:1 speaks of a river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God.
So as you can see the Living Water that Jesus is speaking of is of the utmost importance.
It is with that kind of thirst quenching, need-meeting love that we named our church Living Water Church. We want every single Sunday to be an encounter with this kind of provision. That Jesus would wipe away your tears, that you would come thirsty and leave filled. But it’s so much more than just your needs being met. It’s that you would be that Living Water to someone else. That you would give someone a drink of Living Water at school, at the store or at home! This kind of Living Water is the kind of people we want to be! A people that loves one another the way that Jesus loves us.
And in verse 15, as if almost sarcastically she says, Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.
At the heart of all of this is that inside the human heart there is a thirst for something that only Jesus can satisfy...Have you ever felt that way? Empty, alone, unsatisfied, completely unsure of what is next in your life?
Part of the human situation is the fact that we cannot find happiness a part from what the human situation has to offer.
Verse 16 Jesus told her, Go, call your husband and come back. I have no husband she replied. Jesus said to her, you are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true. Sir, the woman said, I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.
Woman, Jesus replied, Believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the father in the spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshiper the father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the spirit and in truth. The woman said I know that the messiah is coming. When he comes he will explain everything to us. Then Jesus declares. I,the one speaking to you— am he.
Then she runs home with every intention of coming back...to tell the people of her town come! See a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the messiah? They came out of the town and made their way down to him.
Verse 32-39 And because of this one woman’s brave act to not just hold this to herself but to give this news to her fellow people it says: Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of this woman's testimony. So when the Samaritans came to him they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed for two days and because of his words many more became believers. They told the woman we no longer believe just because of your story but now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the savior of the world.
He’s your savior too!
Who do you identify with in this story??
Maybe it’s the woman who felt she was undeserving, maybe you’re one of the disciples who are looking on trying to figure out what your role is in all of this, maybe you’re one of the townspeople who are ready to respond to the life giving life of Jesus.
No matter where you are at you can respond to Jesus today and begin living the life he has for you.
We would love to join you on your journey at Living Water Church, in fact the journey really is more fun when we go together!