A Well of Experience: The Introduction

Autumn RippleJohn 4: 1-42

Jesus has a divine appointment.  Instead of staying in Judea where He is seeing fruit in His ministry, He chooses to intervene in the life of a lost and hurting woman.  Jesus loves us and He will seek and save each one of us; when we are lost, He will search for us.

Jesus came to the well at noon, the hottest part of the day.  Few go to the well at this time when the sun is so hot, but Jesus knew He needed to meet someone; the lost, troubled woman from Samaria.  The Bible says He is tired from the journey, and He waits faithfully for her in His weariness.  What a lesson Jesus illustrates for us ~ not to allow weariness to keep us from fulfilling the will of the Father.  When we are tired from the work the Lord has given us, we must draw our strength from His well of Living Water.  He will strengthen and fill us with His power.

As she makes her way down that long, dusty road, she reflects on her life and is ashamed; she is going to the well at the hottest time of the day to avoid the other women.  She knows what they say; she sees the sneers; she hears the whispers.  She believes she has avoided everyone, then she sees a Jewish man sitting on the well.  She has no idea that He is waiting for her and that her life is about to change.  Isn’t it true that life changing experiences dawn on ordinary days?  Right in the middle of our mundane routines, we find Jesus waiting to give us a drink that will fill and refresh us.

Oh great!  She thinks to herself, she wants to avoid Him.  Then the unthinkable happens; He asks her for a drink of water.  What nerve!  He is a Jew and Jews hate us.  I am a woman and a harlot, and he wants me to give him a drink!  Doesn’t he know I will defile him?!  Who is this man?

What she ponders in her heart flows out of her mouth, and she says to him:

You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman, how can you ask me for a drink?”. (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)  John 4:9 (NIV)

How amazing God’s grace is!  God had no association with man because sin kept us from Him.  Yet He loved us so much that He came looking for us, just as He went looking for her, at the risk of being seen with a Samaritan prostitute.  Our restoration is more important to Him than His reputation.  He did not give up on her, and He does not give up on us.  He has a special gift He longs to give to her.  He responds to 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.” John 4: 10 (NIV)

I love the prose in the Living Bible:

If you only knew what a wonderful gift God has for you, and who I am, you would ask me for living water!”

Jesus has a wonderful gift and He is waiting to give it to us.  He wants to give us a drink so that we will never be thirsty again for love, joy, or peace.  He doesn’t want us to be lacking anything; He wants us to be filled.  God doesn’t want us lost in the world hungry and thirsty, separated from Abba Father.  He wants to give us everything He has and for it to be overflowing.  Jesus wants to give us this Living Water.  We don’t have to work for it, He gives it freely.

He offers her living water; Jesus is speaking figuratively, but she takes him literally:

But you don’t have a rope and a bucket,” she said, “and this is a very deep well!  Where would you get this living water?” John 4: 11 (The Living Bible)

It is easy to question God when we can’t see how He will perform His promises.  We have to see a “sign” to believe Him.  Though she is “missing it”, He continues to encourage her.

She is expecting Him to produce a bucket; she is expecting Him to deliver the Living Water from the same well.  The water Jesus is offering will not come from the well that our religious water comes from.  The water Jesus is speaking about is from the Spirit of the Living God.

In her religiosity, she asks him if he is better than Jacob.  What she doesn’t see, is that the water in this well is not better because it came from Jacob’s well.  The miracle isn’t in the well it is in the water.  The fact the well belonged to Jacob does not change the water.  The Living Water He offers is different than the water we have been drinking.  His is life changing ~ different from any water we have tasted.  This well is an altar for the Samaritans because Jacob and his sons dug the well, but it does not give life.

I was in Israel many years ago, and one of the main “attractions” is a rock in the Garden of Gethsemane.  The rock is believed to be the one Jesus prayed on the night of his arrest.  At the rock one will find a plethora of people kissing and blessing it, and placing vials of holy water on it, because Jesus had been there. (Hey, I touched it too!)  This is what their relationship with God boils down to: an altar.  The rock itself means nothing.  It is what happened at that rock that is important.  He overcame the temptation to give up; He overcame and fulfilled the Father’s will; He bled in agony at that rock.  People are so hungry to reach and touch God that they will flock to religious relics and “holy places” to catch a glimpse of Him.  They don’t realize that God has already sent His Holy Spirit to touch us.  We don’t need a relic or religion to reach God, we only need to reach out and He will be there.

The same is true for the Samaritans; they worship at the well because Jacob built it.  The Samaritans have nothing else to show for their relationship to God.  They aren’t truly worshiping God; they are worshiping an altar.  How often do we see this in our day?  When we seek to get to the Father by anything or anyone other than Jesus, we worship blindly like the Samaritans.  When we rely on what we were taught about God, and put our trust in going to church, and being the “perfect” Christian, we are practicing religion, not cultivating a relationship.

She has nothing else; this is her only access to God.  As a Samaritan, the priests are not available to her, and as a woman the Temple is not open to her.  She approaches God the only way she knows, and this Jewish man is about to change the way she worships, and give her access to God and replace that altar with Himself.

This is reminiscent of the Israelites at Mt. Sinai.  God’s plan was not the wilderness or even the Promised Land.  Their first appointment was with Jehovah, the God that healed them of every disease, delivered them from every oppression, and supplied their every need in abundance.  The Egyptians gave them money and treasure as they were leaving Egypt!  God brought them to Mt. Sinai to introduce Himself to them so that they would know Him intimately and talk with Him face-to-face.  But the people would not go.  They wanted what God had to offer, but they did not want to do the seeking; they were too afraid.  They told Moses to be their mediator to God.  They relied on Moses to be the go-between-guy, but when Moses delivered God’s message, it didn’t fit with how they wanted to live and they threatened to stone him!

Our problem today is that the Lord is trying to get us up to the mountain to hear from Him, but we don’t want to be confronted with our sin.  Instead we bypass Him for our self-built altars.  We will go at the hottest time of the day just to avoid Him; reducing the glory of the One True God and creating our own.  He wants to know each of us intimately; He wants to have a relationship with us.

Jesus answered, everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 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”. (John 4:13-14 NASB)

Jesus will not leave us in our religion; He will offer us a way out.  He wants us to know Him, and not some religious idea of Him.  He will give us Living Water so that we may be filled.  If we refuse, we will always be thirsty, and left searching for deliverance, but coming up empty.  In drinking His water we will thirst only for Him, but it will be a desiring thirst and not a despairing thirst.  When we taste of Jesus we will want more of Him and everything He has to offer.

She desires this water and asks Him for it.  She is tired of walking to this well every day, and being subject to scorn.  S he still thinks He is talking about literal water.  Out of His love for her he confronts her sin and He tells her to bring her husband.  Her heart sinks; she looks to the ground and tears fill her eyes.  The one thing she is trying to hide is exposed.  Jesus confronts our sin to cleanse us and make us whole, not to humiliate us; He offers restoration and healing ~ Living Water.

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