Thursday, January 23, 2014

John 4:1-26, Living water, instead of broken wells

We're still looking at this passage, and there is so much here for us to learn! Hang in there through this lengthy post, OK?

Let's dig in again!

The very first thing that we should recognize is that in these verses, Jesus is thirsty, too. He knows how we feel, remember?
4 Now Jesus had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”
This is the Lord of Jeremiah, chapter 2. He's tired. He sits down to rest. And He's thirsty. He is the Creator of the universe, and He has taken on flesh. Now He gets tired and thirsty.
Now, to "top it all off" He does something pretty scandalous. Did you see it? He asks a question of the Samaritan woman!
The woman is shocked -- see in verse 9? "Jews do not associate with Samaritans." Here's a little history: Samaritans were cousins of the Jews; they used to be a part of Israel, but when the two kingdoms split, they began to intermarry with other nations. A strict no-no according to scripture. So the Jewish people regarded them as "half-breeds" and really looked down their noses at them.  Another problem was that their religion had become a hashed up mixture of Judaism and other things that were brought in, when they mingled with other nations. Well, any "upstanding" Jew would tell you that this woman is the wrong race, and the wrong religion -- but WAIT!!! She's also a WOMAN!! It was absolutely scandalous for Jesus to speak to her in public! She is NOT the right kind of person for the Savior to meet and talk to at the well.

Think about this: she has three strikes against her: wrong race, wrong religion, and wrong gender . . .what does Jesus do? He offers her Living Water:
“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.”
But the woman misunderstands, and she says:
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
It’s really kind of comical – Jesus speaks of living water, she can only think of running water. But our Lord tries again. He says, v13:
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 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.”
Here is Jesus, offering her a relationship of such deep satisfaction and complete security that is would surpass anything that she has ever known before. Hey, she has been looking for a man that she can depend on . . . and here is the Bridegroom from heaven, offering her more than she can want or need. But she still doesn't quite "get it."  She asks Him to give her that water, so she won't have to keep coming back to draw water. The light is beginning to dawn on her, but she still is thinking in physical terms.
What does Jesus do? He cuts through all of the mess and exposes her need:
“Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband” she replied.
This is a calculated command. He tells her this, to force her to "come clean" about her broken life, and the wells that she keeps on digging. Jesus grabs onto the one honest and personal truth which the woman has offered.
“You are right in saying 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.”
Aha! We are finally getting somewhere! We have cut through all of the baggage and the social issues and brought her need into the daylight. He's telling her that He knows: You have been married five times, and the guy you are living with now, will not marry you." Have you noticed how when you say some things out loud, they sound worse? When you can keep things hidden, they are more manageable; they're easier to ignore. But now she is being forced to examine her own reality. That is why she tells the people in town that He "told me everything I ever did."  And yet, the Good Shepherd is not doing it to hurt or shame her . . . He is saying, "Isn't your well broken? Aren't you digging around and finding nothing by mud? You can come to me for living water, and pure joy."

You know what she does next?
Yep, you do.
Whenever you start having a gospel conversation with some people, what do they do? You start talking about Jesus, people start really thinking about what you are saying, and then . . . they switch the topic of conversation. They start talking about religion. Because everyone knows that you can have a rip-roaring good argument about religion, and that distracts from the truth that you were getting close to, in your conversation!
So, she asks Jesus:
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. [So let me get your opinion as a prophet] 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
Enough, already, she says. You're getting too close to me. You know too much, and you have made me uncomfortable. So let's talk about which mountain is the holiest.
Well, Jesus steers the conversation back where it needs to be:
21 Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 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 worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Our God is so giving . . . The Father is seeking us; the Son is offering us living water; the Spirit is quenching our thirst. Our God is a Fountain for us, the thirsty diggers of wells. The ones who keep digging in the same broken wells, expecting to find more than mud. The ones who should turn to God for the truly thirst-quenching water.

You see, there is another time that Jesus is described as thirsty. It's when He was on the cross. Psalm 22 tells about Him being parched, and His tongue sticking to the roof of His mouth. Jesus, the source of living water, is parched. You remember that on the cross, Jesus takes our place. He steps into our guilty place and takes what is coming -- to us. We are the ones who ignore the Father and dig wells, but instead, He is thirsty.
You remember the story we looked at, about Moses, right? Well, look at what happened when Jesus died on the cross. One of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and a sudden flow of blood and water came forth. John is making sure that we "get it." The Rock is struck and water comes out.

The only thing He asks is that we come to Him. To drop to our knees, figuratively or literally, and confess that we've ignored Him and searched everywhere for water. To confess that we've been digging our own wells, broken wells, instead of accepting the Living Water He offers. And if we've come before, but it's been a while, He stands ready to refresh us again . . . if we will just come to Him.

Are we too busy to come to Him? We all get busy; there's so much for us to do. But do we have an unsettled spirit, a soul that won't pause long enough to look hard at what we're doing? Never able to stop and think? Are we shoring up broken wells, and not willing to admit that we need Him? Are we saying, instead, "If I just had _____, I'd be alright." What we need to say is, "I know You will satisfy my life," to Him.

Are we sad, depressed? Maybe we are so busy digging out that broken well, but it's run dry. Now we have to face the fact that this particular well just isn't going to work out. And we may not feel like standing back up and laying the shovel down. If we will give it up, though, He will refresh us with His joy and peace.
Wherever we are right now, whatever we are struggling with, Jesus says to us:
“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.” John 4:13-14

1 comment:

Belinda said...

The thought that Jesus loved this woman so much, he went against everything to offer her salvation brings real tears to my eyes. He loves me that much. It's almost too much to comprehend.

I've tried very hard in the last few years to be content with my life as it is and as it comes. Nothing happens that hasn't first gone through the hands of God. And He is always there to hold me in them as well.