“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.” 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.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 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 is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him.” John 4:13-30 ESV
Living Water or Stale Cistern?
I want to start this morning by reminding you of where we ended last week, drinking from the water Jesus offers and never thirsting again. This woman jumps on that idea, and wants some of it! She doesn’t want to come to the well every day. I’m curious, how many of you think that God wants to bless us financially? Do you think he wants us to be so financially well off that we never need to depend on Him for anything? Consider these verses:
“Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Matthew 6:9-13 ESV
“”Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 ESV
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:31-34 ESV
We have this crazy notion that what God really wants for us is physical comfort, happiness and satisfaction. We think God’s ultimate purpose is to eliminate our daily trips to the well. But, we are to pray like this… “give us today our daily bread.” And in the next passage, Jesus makes a very distinct contrast between the “Gentiles” who “seek after” and people of the kingdom who shouldn’t. The Gentiles seek these things, but YOU should seek God’s kingdom (or rule/reign/authority) and righteousness first, and God will take care of those needs. Why would he make such a stark contrast between those who seek things and those who seek Him?
The Heart of the Matter:
As I studied this passage in John 4, I initially thought that the biggest motivation of this woman avoiding a daily trip to the well might be the need to draw water daily, or multiple times daily. I’m certain that carrying water pots to the well and filling them was no easy task. But, after reflecting on the story, do you think her biggest concern of coming to the well was the water? I think the biggest concern was the social interaction with the other women. I think her motivation in coming at noon to draw water and, subsequently, to get Jesus’ living water was to avoid this very embarrassing situation.
She doesn’t want to deal with the underlying issue, her failures or foolish life choices. She thinks that coming to the well at noon will keep the demons of her past at bay. Nobody will be there to remind her of her past marriage failures, her mistakes. Nobody will be there to draw attention to the fact that she’s not married to the man she’s living with. But, she encounters someone who knows these things and still offers grace, forgiveness, love and concern. The very issues she attempts to avoid by coming at noon are thrust before her, but in a very different way. Jesus doesn’t bring these things to the surface to rub her nose in it or to stand back and ridicule. He does so to offer a change in direction, to get her to face her situation instead of ignoring or turning away from it.
So often, we want to simply sweep our failures under the rug and act as if they never occurred. But, this woman has 4 failed marriages and, currently, a man who refuses to marry her. Instead of condemning and ridiculing her, Jesus offers her an opportunity to find real contentment and satisfaction. In essence he says, “I know all about your past, your failures and shame. I even know where you are right now, living with a man who refuses to marry you. But, I can offer you a drink of water that changes all of that. It satisfies the deepest needs and desires of your soul. Do you want a drink?”
Oh Look, A Squirrel:
But, notice how she responds. She tries to draw in religious conflicts and questions. I think she’s trying to deflect the issue. She tries to sidetrack Jesus onto a cultural religious issue instead of her letting Him focus on her heart. Her response is very similar to how many would respond today. Basically she says, “You Jews have your mountain where you worship God, and we have ours. You find God your way, I’ll find him my way.” But, Jesus calls her back to reality. He says, “If God is deserving of worship, then we must approach Him on His terms and not ours.” If we can approach God on our own terms and in our own ways then we are “God” and He’s not. But, if He is God then we MUST truly worship Him and it must be on His terms, not ours.
Many folks try to do this same thing today. In fact, some of you may be doing this same thing with God today. Instead of letting Him focus His gaze on our broken and hurting lives, we throw up distractions. We try and sidetrack the conversation onto irrelevant issues. In essence we are saying, “I’d worship God if he’d just do things my way.” or “If God truly loved me he wouldn’t try and change me, because I know what I need more than He does!” This woman saw God’s worship laws as restrictive and exclusive, but Jesus declared that a God who is worthy of worship is worthy of personal sacrifice and change. If we are to worship Him, it must be in spirit (coming from the very core of our being) and truth (honestly, humbly, as creatures made in His image, not hypocritically with false motives).
Up to this point, the candle had been flickering. She was getting glimpses of truth and reality. But, when she says that she knew someday the Messiah/Christ would come and reveal all things and Jesus says, “you’re talking to HIM,” the spotlight of the Holy Spirit lit up the remaining darkness of her soul. She left her water jar and runs back into town. The very woman who had gone to the well at noon to avoid the eyes of her neighbors was now calling them out and proclaiming “come meet a man who knows EVERYTHING about me, could this be the Christ?” This man knows all the things I’ve hidden, covered up, lied about, avoided and yet he invited me to drink from His cup!
When you are finally willing to come before God without hiding behind a mask of false goodness or righteousness, then you too will find the spotlight turned on and the truth suddenly very obvious. God loves you, but not in a way that leaves you wallowing in your own failure. He wants to transform your thinking and get you falling before God in true humility, honest confession, and worship. One who comes thirsty will be able to drink deeply and have his thirst satisfied.
“As when a hungry man dreams, and behold, he is eating and awakes with his hunger not satisfied, or as when a thirsty man dreams, and behold, he is drinking and awakes faint, with his thirst not quenched, so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion.” Isaiah 29:8 ESV
“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” Revelation 22:17 ESV