Jesus left Judea and started back to Galilee. But He had to go through Samaria. Samaria! What a strange place that was, a place you are not supposed to visit if you are well brought up. All of us had some section of town when we were growing up that we were not supposed to visit. Two thousand years ago, that place was Samaria. But you know what? Jesus went through it anyway. Jesus goes through all the places that we think are off-limits. So He came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired from His journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
Jesus was tired. Can you imagine Jesus being tired? If he is the Son of God, how is it that He can be tired? Does God get tired? We must remember that Jesus always shows us what it means to be truly human and what it means to be truly God. Jesus is both: God and man. This means that, with the exception of sin, whatever we feel in life, Jesus experienced it as well. Jesus knows us and He shares in our human experiences and emotions. When we are flat-out, dead tired, we need to remember that Jesus has been tired too.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well, and Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” He was alone at the well, as His disciples had gone on to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that you, a Jew, as k a drink of me, a woman of Samaria? She was taken aback at Jesus’ request because Jews did not really have anything to do with Samaritans.
Sound familiar? How many of us were talk as we were growing up not to talk to strangers? How many of us were taught not to associate with people of other nationalities or races by our parents because they were different from us, even inferior to us? Two thousand years ago, Jews were not supposed to speak with Samaritans.
Yes, we were all taught not to talk to strangers. And we were probably taught, implicitly, that there were some people we were just not supposed to associate with. Two thousand years ago, Jews were not supposed to speak with Samaritans. And they were certainly not supposed to eat with them, or drink with them, or especially drink after them. That would be more than just not right. For the proper Jewish man, to drink with a Samaritan would be like one of us drinking from the bottle of a wino on the street in a bad section of town.
Today, even among us “educated” and “enlightened” white people, many still do not like Blacks or Hispanics, considering them unequal and inferior. Some Irish still do not like Italians and vice versa. Some Muslims do not like Christians and some Christians look down on those who are Muslims. Well, that is not the way Jesus things.
Men during Jesus’ time were not supposed to mingle with women in that culture. I do not mean co-mingle. I mean that men and women did not share the common exchanges of daily commerce and need. But Jesus broke those rules. Jesus respected women. He respected women so much that he was able to share His ordinary need with a women; he shared His thirst.
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The women said to Him, “Sir, You have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?”
Living water? What is this living water of which Jesus spoke? Is not all water living? No, all water is not living. All of us have seen the opposite at some time or another. The opposite of living water is dead water. Some water is absolutely dead. Some water is dead, and yet folks continue to drink it. Do you know what that water is?
Dead water is an addiction to drugs. It is the constant need to inject or inhale chemicals into one’s body to experience joy and happiness in life. Dead water is an addiction to alcohol so that one can escape or cope with the difficulties and stresses of life. Dead water is an addiction to sex, a never-ending drive for self-gratification and carnal pleasure which never satisfies but leaves one wanting more. Dead water is the same old television show every night. Dead water is the same old argument over money, the kids, of feeling unsatisfied with your marriage or relationship. Dead water is that little habit you persist in nourishing, that habit which is small in itself, but which will kill you one day. Dead water is not something that gives one life, but is something that will slowly poison you and kill you. Dead water is not something that satisfies and nourishes you, but leaves you crying out for more.
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” Yes! The Samaritan woman wants this water now! She knows exactly what Jesus is talking about. Sir, give me this water!”
Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband, and come back.” 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 are with now is not your husband. What you have said is true!”
Jesus knew what was going on with the woman. She went from one husband to another to find satisfaction, to find whatever happiness she thought she was missing. Like her, we keep chasing after the elusive dream, that happiness that always seems to escape us. We try this self-help book. We try that therapist. We try this drug. We try that drink. We try this husband. We try that wife.
But, ultimately, we have no husband. Jesus knows that we have no husband. Jesus knows that our searching has been fruitless. Our well is dry. Or at the very least, it is full of stagnant and foul water.
The woman said to Jesus, “Sir, I know that You are a prophet.” Yes, Jesus knows. But He loves us nonetheless. He knows what sin is in us, but he seeks after us anyway.
The woman continues, “Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but You say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will worship the father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 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 worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father seeks such as these to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth. True worship has to do with spirit and truth. If you truly want to worship God you must enter fully into the Spirit and let the Spirit completely fill you up with His grace. You must also worship God in truth. This means that you must be willing to worship God with the truth of who and what you are. If you can worship god in truth, then you are in the Spirit and the Spirit is in you.
The woman said to Jesus, “I know that the Messiah is coming, who is called Crist. When he comes, he will reveal all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am He, the one who is speaking to you.”
“I am He,” Jesus said. “I am.” That was the phrase that Moses heard from the burning bush. “I am Who am.” “I am becoming who I am becoming.” “I am He.” Jesus says the same to us. He says too, “I am that living water. I am that Spirit. I am that Truth, that Way, that Life.” Jesus is saying all this to us right now, if we have ears to hear. He is speaking to us, here and now, in this very church, at this time, at this well.
If you have ears to hear and the mind to understand, then Jesus is in that ambulance that goes speeding toward the hospital. He is speaking through the volunteers who give of their time at the local soup kitchen. He is at your favorite restaurant among the workers who serve you your lunch or dinner. He is in that fire house or police station where men and women put their lives on the line to serve and protect you every day. He is in that nicu ward taking care of a premature baby born with a heart valve problem. Wherever you see goodness and charity, there you will find Jesus speaking and reaching out.
As Jesus was speaking to the woman, His disciples came back. They were astonished that He was speaking to a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” The woman then left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can He?” So they left the city and were on their way back to Him.
Somehow, the people were convinced. They realized immediately from the woman that something extraordinary had happened. Do you know what convinced them? It was the woman’s testimony, to be sure. She was a witness to the truth and the truth manifested itself in her. People were convinced that she spoke the truth by the manner in which she spoke. The Holy Spirit was working in and through her. And when the Holy Spirit is able to work unimpeded in us, great and wonderful things happen. People are brought to the Truth.
While all of this was going on, the disciples were urging Jesus, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought Him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to complete His work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest?’ But I tell you, look around you, and see the fields are ripe for the harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
Many Samaritans from that city believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony. “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”
This is the Jesus we worship today. This is the Jesus we worship in Spirit and in Truth: the Savior of the world.
Christ is Risen!