“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to bear witness to all of you about these things for the churches. I’m the root and descendant of David, the bright morning star. The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who is thirsty come! Let the one who wishes receive life-giving water as a gift.”
Therefore, he left Judea and went back to Galilee. Jesus had to go through Samaria. He came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, which was near the land Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus was tired from his journey, so he sat down at the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me some water to drink.” His disciples had gone into the city to buy him some food. The Samaritan woman asked, “Why do you, a Jewish man, ask for something to drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” (Jews and Samaritans didn’t associate with each other.)
There is so much packed into the woman at the well story, we will be spending 2 Sundays on it. As we look at how scripture matters and speaks to us, our challenge is to think about who we are in the story, this scripture has an interesting twist in that there is not a good and bad person in it but there is just Jesus and the woman. I challenge you to think about who you are in the story but be careful if you identify with Jesus. He has some high standards.
Due to a dispute about baptism in Galilee up in the north, Jesus took off from Judea in the south and he headed north through Samaria. Good Jews went around the home of the half breed, unclean, the lower class, hated Samaritans, even if it took longer to get there. Where are you going? They couldn’t put an overpass right through the slum country, so they went around it. They lived by the phrase, “I don’t drink smoke or chew, or associate with those that do.” Especially if they are Samaritans. But Jesus takes the straight route, the direct route, the dangerous route, even if he got unclean enroute. Jesus was on a mission from God. Seems like a simple detail doesn’t it? But it’s a big detail.
Sermon point #1
Do you purposely go the most direct way, even in unfamiliar places, to find people who need to know Jesus? Do you purposely go the most direct way, even in unfamiliar places, to find people who know in their heart that there must be a God yet they are not yet sure about Jesus and what he can do in the lives He touches? Do you purposely go the most direct way, even in unfamiliar places, to find people who need to increase their faith and relationship with Jesus Christ? That’s what He did, Jesus took the direct route.
Our natural tendency is to live and be in places where we are comfortable. I am not necessarily speaking about geography today. The direct route is often different than our preferred route. The direct route is to purposely search out places and times where you actively find people who need Jesus.
The direct route is getting to know and love those who don’t know Jesus in the place that they are. It is purposely getting to know neighbors that you may not like in order for them to see Jesus. It is finding people in your workplace and talking to them, rather than the same old group you talk with, in order for them to see Jesus.
Jesus went and sat at a place where he knew people would be. Jesus wouldn’t just post religious facebook things, Jesus didn’t just say that the Samaritan’s needed more God in them, just like we like to simply just say “what the world needs is more God/religion/Jesus” then we really don’t do anything about it. Jesus got right inside the people, one on one. Jesus knew people got thirsty, somebody had to come to the well.
Where are the places where you know that people are at? Is there uncomfortable places you need to go? Note this is not inside your house! If you identify with Jesus, did you notice in the scripture that it said “Jesus had to go.” And God says that to you today …….”You have to go” to those places you know where you haven’t gone before and remember this isn’t just geography but it is to people whom you haven’t went to before. You have to go, just like Jesus did, and speak to people that make you uncomfortable.
Jesus speaks to me today that by doing what He did, He went the most direct way that He could for real personal contact. And yes the direct way might be different. Technology is great but I’m not sure that facebook posts, or e-mail, or even texting, has had a person really surrender their life to Jesus. They are great supports and suppliments but it usually takes real personal contact. How about trying a good old fashion phone call, how about a meal invite, or let’s get really old fashioned and stop at their house and talk.
Jesus tells us to take the most direct way and be like Him and recognize that God calls you to a mission. Purposely look for people you do not know. Jesus talked to outcasts, he went out of his way to.
Now I recognize that you may be a creature of habit. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but Jesus will. This may make you uncomfortable. Trust Jesus and just try it. The disciples did. I am sure those fishermen thought Jesus was crazy, but they tried it. And after Jesus rose from the dead, they really did this. If you are a follower of Jesus, you will too?
So Jesus stops an unfamiliar place, Jacob’s well. It is still there today. The capstone is about 20” thick and it is 5 feet across with a small hole in the middle in order to lower a bucket. The capstone kept the dirt out and the children out too. Jesus sat on the capstone at noon. He was tired and He was thirsty and here comes a woman during the heat of day to draw water, and she even has the audacity to approach the well.
To this day there are the standards kept by good middle eastern women. You go early in the morning or late in the evening. You go in a group for proprieties sake as well as for help in lifting the bucket onto your head.
Jesus and the woman “should” have done the worldly thing. The woman should have stopped about 20 feet away and no eye contact made. Jesus should have courteously got up, not spoken to her, moved 20 feet away from the well, she gets her water, leaves, Jesus sits back down and waits for one of His religious kind of Jewish guys to come with a clean bucket. You know, the Israelite version of “I don’t drink smoke or chew or associate with those that do.”
Simple, Jesus was expected to be appropriately “religious” and ignore grace and mercy and forgiveness. Praise God, Jesus doesn’t do what the worldly, religious, good moral people of the time would do. I really hope that there are times in your life when you hear the Spirit of God and step outside the norm. Jesus does. He remembers the mission of God, when she approaches the well and He speaks to this woman and says “give me some water to drink.”
“Why do you, a Jewish man, ask for something to drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” (Jews and Samaritans didn’t associate with each other.) Here is my translation for what she says: “You talking to me?” In village society a strange man does NOT speak to a strange woman in a public place. This is from the Mishnah, the Jewish rule book, I got to read this too you:
And talk not much to womankind. Hence the Sages said: He that talks much with womankind brings evil upon himself and neglects the study of the Law and at the last will inherit Gehenna. (hell) Ladies that is a reason we don’t answer you…..and you thought we weren’t listening!
So Jesus risks hell and speaks to a single woman, let alone a Samaritan, at noon, at the well. She is “bad” girl and Jesus knew it. We will find out in scripture later that she had been rejected by the man in her life 5 times previously and is now living with the 6th man. Five times she has tried to start over and build a new life.
My guess at this point she had given up on marriage, given up on happiness, and given up hope. For this woman there is no turning back the clock. No new start. No new beginning. She has accepted her lot in life as an outcast. She has learned to live without hope. Later we will find that indeed she has a concept of God but whatever God is or wherever He is at…she feels far away from Him. She may be mad at Him, abandoned by Him. I must admit I have been there.
But Jesus says “Give me some water to drink.” If you are anywhere near feeling like that woman today…an outcast, life seem hopeless or kind of hopeless, here is sermon point #2 “Jesus wants to talk to you, no matter who you are, and no matter what you have done.”
So I ask you, have you come to church thinking that you are a “bad” girl or boy today? No matter if you are a believer or a non-believer, repentant or self-righteous, if you are a sinner, (I guess that covers us all then) Jesus is speaking to you. You can not be so unclean, so not right with God today that Jesus will not speak to you, listen to His voice. Do not lose hope!
As we close this sermon today, let’s look at Jesus’ first words, “Give me some water to drink.” First of all, what is missing in Jesus’ opening statement? There is no judgment! There is no condemnation. He just says (inflection) “Give me some water to drink.”
Notice that He didn’t say, “Do you know Jesus? Hey, listen sister, haven’t you ever heard of a guy by the name of Jesus, well it’s me! You wanna get healed? How about you and me go down to the local synagogue next Sunday, I know this great rabbi. He can really deliver a great message.”
I believe that Jesus didn’t say it as a command with a booming voice, I think the Son of God was tired, thirsty, he had no bucket, he expected to meet this outcast and then He humbled himself and said “Give me some water to drink.” No command, just the Son of Man speaking to a beat up lady made in the image of God that wanted help. Jesus didn’t begin the conversation with “hey lady, you need me!” Jesus began it with an “I need you.” I need you here on earth, in this life.
Jesus wanted her, seriously, Jesus wanted her and He humbled himself to her. Once again be reminded that he did not shake and point his finger at her, he calmly got into a conversation AND SHE RESPONDED. Remember that when you take that direct route outside your comfort area, don’t act superior to others whom you are searching for. Be careful with the “holier than thou” statements. Don’t get your nose too high in the air or you will drown when it rains.
Humble yourself, think relationship, think love, think about the living water that can flow out to others. Think about who you can touch. Jesus said He had to Go, I believe God tells us we have to go. Go. Go talk to an outcast today, and each day.