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Let’s pray one more time as we come to God’s Word. Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my Lord, my God, you are very great. You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment. Stretching out the heavens like a tent. Bless the Lord, O my soul, praise the Lord. We ask, O Lord, that you give us ears to hear, minds to understand, hearts to feel, wills to obey, that we would not be hearers of Your Word only, but doers also. Speak to us, we pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
I invite you to turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to John. If you are visiting this morning, we are very glad that you’re here. It’s our practice to go through the Bible verse by verse, and I’ve been working through the Gospel of John for several months now, and you’ll want to follow along in your Bible because what I have to say is not very important unless what I have to say comes from this book.
John chapter 4, beginning at verse 1 through verse 15: “Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus Himself did not baptize but only His disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And He had to pass through Samaria. So He came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as He was from His journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ (For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 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 woman said to Him, ‘Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.’ 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.'”
Today is Palm Sunday. If you know the story, you know the crowd of Galilean pilgrims, together with His disciples, praised Jesus as he approached Jerusalem and put palm branches along the way, and He rode on a new colt, a symbol just as Solomon had entered into his reign, that Jesus was the coming king. Later in the week, the Jews in Jerusalem would not be crying “Hosanna,” but chanting “crucify Him.” With very few exceptions, perhaps no exceptions at all, Jesus was not the Messiah people were looking for. He was not the Christ they expected, and for most of them, He was not the Messiah they wanted. Jesus was often surprising. He was oftentimes scandalous. His birth was not what they expected from the Messiah. The way He spoke, the things He did, often astonished, marveled the crowds, sometimes to their delight, sometimes to their great disappointment. And clearly no one thought that the Messiah would come and suffer and die. No, He was supposed to get the Romans off their back. He was supposed to put an end to their suffering. He surely could not be the Messiah if He would suffer and die, and they were not expecting that once dead, He would be raised to life again.
Jesus was full of surprises. He was not what they were expecting. And if we’re honest, Jesus may not be what you’re expecting either. Jesus is not as many people in our world imagine Him to be.
I don’t know if you’ve seen the trailer for this movie or documentary coming out this summer on Mr. Rogers. Remember seeing this with your kids or being a kid growing up, and I’ve seen lots of people saying what a balm to our broken world this documentary is going to be, and what good Mr. Rogers is going to do to introduce him again to our world. And I have no particular beef against Mr. Rogers, so don’t leave here saying “Pastor doesn’t like Mr. Rogers, he shot Big Bird.” [laughter] No, I didn’t. He seems to have been a genuinely very kind man. But I was commenting to some friends this week, it strikes me that Mr. Rogers is exactly what most people would like Jesus to be. He’s nice to children, he’s very calm, soothing, inoffensive, sweet, kind, inclusive. He was actually a Presbyterian minister, he was ordained in the Presbyterian church, in the more liberal Presbyterian church, himself belonged to a Presbyterian church that was more liberal and aligned himself sometimes with more progressive wing of things, but he seemed to be a very genuinely kind-hearted, genuine man. So there’s no beef with Mr. Rogers in that regard. Except to say, Jesus was no Mr. Rogers.
He was not simply a soothing, kind, inoffensive, nice, sweater-wearing, first century Jew. And let’s be honest, Jesus was not as safe and tidy and manageable as some of us imagine Him to be. We may say, “that’s right, He wasn’t safe and inoffensive and Mr. Rogers. He wasn’t a kind sort of Santa Claus.” But listen, He wasn’t as predictable as we would like Him to be. I’m not so sure that if we were around in the first century that we wouldn’t have been some of those saying “who does this guy think He is? Do you see the things He’s saying, the things that He’s doing, the claims He’s making for Himself? I think maybe He ought to die.” He certainly didn’t play by all the rules that very religious people thought He ought to play by. And He was amazingly unsentimental.
Now I know many of us are very familiar with the Bible, so it’s hard for stories in the Bible to be shocking to us. But listen, if Jesus never surprises you, then either you have become very, very holy, or you have stopped paying attention, because Jesus is often surprising, sometimes shocking. This is one of those passages. Jesus was certainly a surprise to the woman at the well. And I only imagine what His disciples thought when they returned, and found Him talking to this woman at the well.
You can look at this familiar story in John 4 as having three acts; that is, the three acts in a play. Verses 1 through 15, this morning’s passage, you could entitle “Water.” Verse 16 through 26, Act Two, you could entitle “Worship.” And then verses 17 through 42, you could entitle “Witness.” Those are the three acts unfolding in this story as we will see them in the next few weeks, from water to worship to witness. And in this first act, you’ll notice that Jesus speaks three times. He speaks in verse 7, He speaks in verse 10, and then again in verses 13 and 14, and each statement is more surprising than the last. Three statements from Jesus, three surprises. And I think as we see these surprising statements, we will find not only the Samaritan woman being shocked, but perhaps we need to be surprised as well.
Three statements from Jesus. First, “give me a drink.” It seems innocuous enough, there in verse 7, “give me a drink.” Until we realize the cultural religious setting. Jesus is in Samaria. So we see in verses 1 through 6 that the Pharisees, this group of religious leaders, had heard of His popularity, that He, or actually His disciples, are baptizing all sorts of people, so you have John the Baptist and you have Jesus and His disciples who are baptizing. Now part of what was scandalous wasn’t baptism so much, baptism was present in first century Judaism for proselytes. You baptized those who came into the Jewish faith, it was a means of marking them out as having entered into your community. So the surprise and the scandal was that John and Jesus were having Jews be baptized. Oh, wait a minute. I thought they were already in because they were Israelites. Well, John the Baptist and Jesus say, “No, no, you need to repent. You need to be born again if you are going to enter.” And so they were baptizing Jews to enter into this new kingdom of faith. The Pharisees got wind of this and perhaps fearing that they would drive some sort of wedge between John’s ministry and Jesus, or perhaps fearing for His life, they decide it’s time to head back to Galilee, which will be His center of ministry for most of these three years.
Now in order to go from Judea, in the south, up to Galilee, in the north, you have to pass through Samaria. True, come Jews could go the very long way around, just because they didn’t want to get through Samaria, but here Jesus goes, as many people would have, the most direct route. And He stops there in this town called Sychar, which may be the modern town known as Askar, which is related to that word, or it could be, scholars think, the town of Shechem, which is closer to the well. The Samaritans were descendants of the Shechemites.
So Jesus comes, and we read in verse 6, He was wearied. Now isn’t that amazing? Jesus, all that we’ve seen about Christ in John’s prologue and up to this point, that He is the Word, He was with God, He is God, He’s the only begotten Son of God, He is light, He is life, all things made through Him, this Son of God was tired. That’s the mystery, the wonder of the incarnation, that the Word took on, assumed human flesh. And so He’s wearied. He sits beside the well. It’s the sixth hour. They reckon the day beginning at 6:00 in the morning, and so this is noon. If you’re a teenager, it’s the first hour, but here it’s the sixth hour. He’s tired. It’s the heat of the day. And a woman comes to draw water at the same well. Notice she’s alone. This was unusual for women to come to the well alone, let alone to come in the middle of the day. You come in the cool of the day in the morning or you come later in the evening, and for safety precautions and just for community, you don’t come alone, you come with others. So we can reason that this woman was something of an outcast, that she was all by herself, coming to the well in the middle of the day, and there she is and she finds to her surprise this Jewish man, a rabbi. She will say later “how can you, a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan?” so there must have been something in Jesus’ speech; did they have different accents, did they have different religious dress or garb, but there’s something. She knew He’s a Jew. Something about Him signaled to her you’re not from around here, you’re not one of us.
And Jesus says to her those simple words “give me a drink.” He was acting against received protocol. One, He was talking to a woman. Two, he was talking to a Samaritan woman. And, if you know some of your Bible, He is at something of a provocative place here at the well. Jacob found his wife at a well, Isaac found his wife at a well, Moses found his wife at a well. So there’s a certain sense that be careful talking to women at wells. [laughter]
But Jesus isn’t bothered by all of that. There’s a woman and He talks to her. Now verse 8 gives something of an explanation. His disciples had gone into the city to buy some food, so that’s why His disciples aren’t there to attend, or to talk to the woman on His behalf, it’s just Jesus and this woman. And the fact that He sent His disciples to buy food and they were willing to buy food from Samaritans shows that they’re having a measure of freedom that most Jews didn’t think you should have with Samaritans.
He talks to her. Jews and Samaritans did not get along. You see that at the end of verse 9: “Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” You could translate it some suggest as “they did not use utensils with Samaritans, because that’s the literal idea behind the word that they were not in table fellowship with one another. Now they were both united as the province of Judea under Roman rule, but this area of Samaria was divided by history and religion. There was considerable acrimony between Jews and Samaritans. That’s why the woman is so surprised, that Jesus would use, not only speak to her, but be willing to use water that had touched her drinking utensil.
After the Assyrians wiped out Israel in the 700 B.C., the land was resettled with foreigners who intermarried whatever poor Israelites were left. And those who were left there in Samaria were the poor of the poor who intermarried with those who were religiously and ethnically different, and so the Jews thought of the Samaritans as religious and racial half-breeds, that’s what they thought of them.
The Samaritans for their part built a rival temple in 400 B.C. The temple had been in Jerusalem, they built a temple on Mount Gerizim. We’ll come to that in the passage that follows in the weeks ahead when the woman asks about which mountain do we worship on, because the Samaritans had a different mountain. In 128 B.C., during the Maccabean revolt, the Jews destroyed that temple in Samaria. The Samaritans only recognized the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible as their religious canon because they believed that after the time of Moses, Israel’s religion became polluted and perverted, and so they didn’t acknowledge any of that. So this is a different religious group, it’s a different ethnic group, lots of animosity between the two. In A.D. 6 or 7, so just a generation before these events, Samaritans scattered bones in the Jerusalem temple during Passover, an act to make the temple unclean. So the fact that this Jewish rabbi would speak to this Samaritan woman was shocking, and she’s floored by the request.
It’s hard to think what exactly might be the sort of parallel for us. It’s hard to even come up with one that doesn’t sound offensive, like we’re making outsiders insiders, but you might think perhaps going out and finding a poor Muslim woman in a burka, or someone that our culture would label as trailer trash, or maybe closest would be the way that many whites felt about blacks during the Jim Crow era. You can’t drink from the same fountain, can’t touch the same things. There’s an ethnic barrier, there’s a gender barrier, there’s a moral propriety barrier. You just don’t do these things.
The Jews thought of the Samaritans as less than Jews and they probably thought of them as actually less than real people. There’s a statement in the Mishnah. The Mishnah is a collection of Jewish rabbinical oral teachings. It was put together maybe a century after the time of the Gospels, but it would reflect many of the practices and beliefs that the Jews had in this first century. And there’s a line from the Mishnah, the book Niddah, chapter 4, verse 1, says this: “Samaritan women are deemed menstruants from their cradle.” That was the rabbinical understanding captured in that verse. In other words, Samaritan women from birth were deemed to be as unclean as menstruating women. And there were laws in the Old Testament against men and women and their uncleanness and these rabbis concluded every Samaritan woman from birth to death is in that same position of unclean.
Calvin said the Samaritans were “known to have been the scum of the people gathered from among foreigners.” That’s how most of the Jews thought of Samaritans. So it is surprising, these few little words that Jesus would say to her. “Give me a drink.”
Do you notice how Jesus will talk to anyone, and He’s not shy about confronting everyone. Chapter 3, Nicodemus. He’s a man, he’s learned, he’s respected, he’s orthodox, he comes in the middle of the night. Chapter 4, a Samaritan woman. She’s female, we presume she’s not learned, she’s not respected, she’s something of an outcast, she comes in the middle of the day. Jesus talks to both of them.
There’s a lot of Christians who can’t talk to both types of people. All right, okay, I’ll talk to Nicodemus, he’s put together, he’s a religious person. I’ll share the gospel with him. Her? She’s sort of dangerous, she’s an outcast. And then sometimes it gets flipped. Well, my heart really breaks for the outcast, but these religious people, they’re so set in their ways and their so, you know, full of it, and elite, I don’t want anything to do with them. Jesus would talk to anyone.
And you notice with Nicodemus and with the woman, both instances, He takes charge of the conversation very quickly. And He brings it to a spiritual plane that they don’t fully understand. With Nicodemus, He begins “you must be born again.” What? How do I climb back in there? With her, “you need some living water.” You don’t even have a bucket. He’s bringing it to a level that they’re not prepared to understand, let alone accept.
Are you and I willing to talk to anyone? People that don’t know what church is, people that don’t get dressed up for church, people that don’t live in the some places, people that don’t come from the same sort of background, or do we subconsciously or explicitly have certain people off our list. “I can’t talk to those sort of people,” not foreign people, or Muslim people, or LGBT, or whoever you might think is on the list, we can’t talk to those people. Jesus talked to anybody.
Maybe it’s the other way. Maybe it’s not you feeling like you can’t talk to people, maybe it’s you thinking Jesus won’t speak with you. Listen, don’t think you’re too smart for Jesus to have something to say to you. Or you’re too accomplished, or you’re too religiosa, or you’re too put together. And don’t think you’re too broken or you’re too despised, or your too lowly. He’s not afraid to talk to anyone. He’ll talk to Nicodemus. He’ll talk to a Samaritan woman at the well. “Give me a drink.” Yes, Me drinking from you. That must have been surprising.
And here’s the second thing He says, in verse 10, the second surprise. “Give me a drink” and then He says “if you only knew.” Look at verse 10, the words at the beginning of verse 10 should make you sit up straight. Jesus answered her, “if you knew.” If you knew. If you knew the gift, if you knew who’s speaking to you, if you knew, you would ask Me for a drink. Jesus says just the opposite of those famous lines from JFK. Jesus says “ask not what you can give to God, ask what you need to receive from God.” Yeah, we want to give to God, we want to give back to God, we use that language and that’s fine. But here’s the first step: Not God what do you need from me; He doesn’t need anything from you. What do you need from God? He’s asking for a drink, and all she can think of is “you shouldn’t be doing this, this isn’t right, I’m a Samaritan woman, you’re a Jew, this doesn’t happen together. We don’t get together, and I don’t give you water from the well.” And Jesus says if you knew, you would be asking Me. She thinks Jews and Samaritans can’t mix, but she does not know the sort of Messiah she’s talking so.
See, Jesus is not defiled by what he touches. No, what He touches He makes clean. See, with lepers, you can’t come near the lepers, they make you unclean. Can’t come near a Samaritan, she makes you unclean. Jesus operates with the opposite understanding. No, I’m not in danger of becoming unclean by being near you, you might just be made clean by hanging out with Me.
We don’t ask because we don’t really know. You see verse 10. Two things she doesn’t know. He says if you knew what could be given you. If you only knew the gift, but you don’t. You think too small.
I remember one time several years ago in pastoral ministry I was, the church was in a weird spot and I won’t go into all the details, but they needed a significant loan, like of a million dollars to try to keep going with some construction, and so these were the sort of things that, you know, they don’t have a class on that in seminary. I was thinking, “okay, number of people I know who could loan a million dollars. That’s a short list.” [laughter] But somebody has said here there’s some people from a different part of the country that you don’t know and, um, they, they’re very generous and put you in touch with them and through a friend of a friend, I got on the phone with these people. And people had given me advice. “Hey, you know, when you gotta go in for the ask, you know, don’t go too small.” I thought okay, so I asked not only for the loan, I said “maybe you just want to give it to us.” [laughter] Now, I want to give you great confidence in your pastor to know that they did neither, [laughter] in the end, but I was sort of fumbling around and stumbling and you know a one point I said “look, you know, I’m not very good at this, I’m just trying to do what I can I’m just trying to do just do what I can for our church, you know, I don’t want to ask too much, I don’t want to ask too little,” and they said “no, you’re doing a good job, you’re not asking too little, we’ll give you that.” [laughter] They didn’t have the means or didn’t feel called to it, and that was fine, we worked out some other way and the Lord provided wonderfully through some other channel.
God’s never exhausting His resources. He doesn’t have to sort of ration His grace. He doesn’t have to think “well, if I give grace to you, I’m not going to have any grace left over for these people.” He doesn’t have a limit of mercy. If you knew the gift, Samaritan woman, if you knew the gift, Christ Covenant, you would ask. You’re not going to exhaust it. Jesus says if you knew what I could do for you, you would not worry about giving me a glass of water, you’d turn around and ask Me for oceans. He says you don’t know what can be given and you don’t know the One who is giving. You see that? If you knew who it is who’s speaking to you.
Now it’s amazing Jesus would say something like that. He truly is either an egomaniac or He is the Christ she’s been looking for. Who speaks that way? If you knew who you were speaking to? Anyone else talked that way, you’d say “man, get off of it. You are so full of yourself.” If you knew who were speaking to, you’d ask for, no, a billion dollars. But it’s Jesus. Do you know that the singular command that Jesus gives in the gospels relative to prayer, do you know that that is? Ask. That’s the command that He gives more than any other. Ask. We don’t ask because we don’t believe. We don’t ask for living water because we don’t know what the gift is and we don’t really know the giver. If you and I are never praying, if we’re never coming to God, if we’re never asking God for anything, it’s a measure of our unbelief. We don’t know what God can give us and we don’t really know who He is. If you only knew.
Of course, she doesn’t understand. We see that. In verse 11 she’s thinking in a very literal way. She says “sir,” being respectful, “you have nothing to draw water with.” Usually travelers, everyone would carry some sort of skin bucket that they could lower into a well along the way when they have to stop and be nourished, but He doesn’t even have that. The disciples have presumably left into town and they have all of the equipment; He has nothing. And she says “this water, this well, Jacob’s well, it was given to his son Joseph.” We read about that in Genesis 48, the land and the territory that was given from Jacob to Joseph. She says something of this tradition which we don’t have recorded in Genesis, whether it’s true or not, but she mentions that Jacob gave us the well, drank from it himself, his sons and his livestock did in addition. We don’t have that information, but there’s no reason to think that it couldn’t be true. She’s still thinking water.
You see at the end of verse 10. Jesus says He would have given you living water. Living water was the ancient way of saying spring water. You had well water and you had living water. Still water from the well, you have living water from springs. Now, Jesus has in mind more than that, but you can see why she’s confused. “You’re offering me living water, look, where’s the spring here? We have a well. It’s probably, it’s about 100 feet deep. You don’t have a bucket. You don’t have any water. How are you giving me something to drink?” The way that she asks the question presumes that the answer is no. Are you greater than our father Jacob? And the thought in her mind is obviously “You’re not. You’re some sort of con artist, you’re some sort of Jewish man who is up to no good, you’re someone I can’t trust. You’re asking me for water and then you tell me that you have all the water in the world to give me. You don’t even have a bucket, you don’t have a spring, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You think you’re greater than Jacob, you’re not.” That’s what she’s thinking.
Which leads to the third statement Jesus makes, the third surprising statement. First He says “give Me a drink,” second He says “if you only knew,” and then third He says “this is not your ordinary water.” This is not your ordinary water.
You know it is amazing that we buy bottled water, but somehow, something about it just pulling it right from the fridge and it has some, you know, French name on it or something, it just seems like it’s just gotta be magical water. This is not ordinary water. I remember sometimes when I’ve been in some place in Europe where I guess it’s much less common and they would ask what you want to drink and I’d just say “just some water,” and they’d say “you want a bottle of water?” and I would say “tap water is fine,” because it’s free, right? I’d say tap water, and they’d sort of look at me like I just said “go ahead and ladle something from the toilet” [laughter] because that’s what? From the tap? That’s where normal people drink their water. We have special, chilled water.
Jesus is not talking about Brita filters. He’s not talking about Evian water bottles. He’s talking about something different. And she has not yet begun to understand it. He says this is not your ordinary water. Notice, look at two things about the water that Jesus gives. First He says if you drink of it, you’ll never thirst again, verse 13. You’ll never thirst again. There are few things more basic to the human condition than the need for water. Hunger is bad, thirst much worse.
I made the mistake once of hiking with my friends; that might have been the mistake there, camping and hiking. But besides that, we were going climbing a mountain and we just weren’t thinking. It was a day hike, you know, early in the morning and back by the late afternoon. But I had somehow one water bottle. I don’t know what I was thinking, that that was going to be a good, you know, sustenance for eight hours of walking, but had one water bottle. And we had a water filter and we got to a stream and we thought should we fill this up? We thought, nah, you know, that peak doesn’t look too high, we’ll be there before long. Turns out those peaks are higher than they look when you’re climbing up them. And it wasn’t until we came back down and we are now at the level of water that we could fill that up on the way back and we all remarked several times how foolish it was, we needed to have our moms with us, I think, that we filled up one water bottle for a half-day’s hike up this mountain.
When you get thirsty, you feel thirst, and particularly so, think of this cultural context. They don’t have 24 water bottles in the refrigerator. They don’t have a camelback system, they don’t just go to any room in the house and just turn on the tap and they get a drink of water. They have to plan for water. You have to make a trip to the well, you have to fill up cisterns, you have to bring it back, you have to try to keep it cool. Water is a precious commodity, just like it is in some parts of the world today. So imagine how amazing it is that Jesus says to her “I can give you water and you won’t be thirsty. This whole back and forth to the well, you won’t have to do it,” she’s thinking. But of course Jesus is talking about more than physical thirst.
Jeremiah 2:13, “for my people have committed two evils, they have forsaken the fountain of living waters and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” You’ve heard that verse before. Such a graphic picture of someone coming to the well with a great big cistern, and they try to get up their bucket and fill up the cistern to bring back to the camp, and it’s a broken cistern. There’s a hole in the bottom, there’s a crack, and they carry the cistern back to the camp and by the time they get back there, there’s no water in the cistern. Nothing to satisfy. The Lord said through Jeremiah, “that’s what My people are like, filling up broken cisterns, and you’re surprised that you’re always thirsty.”
We do the same thing. And if I could just get that, that one, just that one job, then I’ll be happy. If I could just have one more kid, if I could just have one less kid, [laughter] if I could be married, if I could be retired, if I could go on a vacation, if I could just, once I get, that movie, that opportunity, that… It’s broken cisterns. We think “that” will finally satisfy. It doesn’t.
We’ll get to the rest of her story. This woman seems to have had an insatiable appetite for sex. Or maybe it wasn’t for sex, maybe it was for men, or maybe it was for the security she thought she could get from men, or maybe it was from the validation or the self-worth she thought would come with having a man. For whatever reason, we’re going to find out later that she’s on guy number six. So Jesus is saying to her, though she may not understand it, “How’s that working for you? How would you like to try something that actually satisfies? You’ll never be thirsty again.”
And here’s the second thing about this water: Jesus says in verse 14 “it will be a spring of water welling up unto eternal life.” It’ll be in you. This is what the prophets foretold. There would be wells of salvation, Isaiah 12:3: Streams on the dry ground, Isaiah 44:3. In Isaiah 55, the Lord calls to His people, “Come, everyone who thirsts. Come to the waters, he who has no money. Come, buy, eat.” That’s what Jesus is fulfilling. “You’re a Samaritan, you’re a woman, you have nothing. I have water, come. You don’t need money. You don’t need to be someone. You don’t need to belong to the right group, you don’t need to be the right color, you don’t need to be from the right place, you don’t need to get worship on the right mountain. You just need to come and ask Me for a drink. This water that I give you will satisfy you and it will save you.”
There is a gift, a gift that the Lord Jesus stands ready to give to you. The Greek verb is “didomi,” to give. It occurs seven times between verses 7 and 15. It is the verbal center of this story. Give. “Do you know what I have to give to you? Do you know what I can give to you? Do you know the gift that is here for you? You can be forgiven. You can have meaning. You can have eternal life. You can have a Father who loves you always and forever.”
Now you see finally in verse 15, she says to Him in reply, “sir, give me this water so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” Now does she understand what Jesus is really talking about? Does she understand eternal life? Does she understand He’s speaking on a spiritual plane? Probably not. She’s parroting his words to some degree. She’s not yet fully comprehending. But notice she knows just enough. With all the things that she misunderstood, and she misunderstood a lot, she thought she knew about Jews and Samaritans, she thought she knew her own history, she thought she knew about the right protocol between men, she thought she knew about Jacob’s well, she taught she knew about how you get living water. It turns out she didn’t know a lot of things. But here’s one thing that she does know: I’m thirsty. That’s what she knows. I’m here at the well again and I’m thirsty. And she may not understand what this strange man is saying to her, she may not understand living water, she may not understand where it’s coming from, but she knows that this man says he has water and she is perpetually thirsty.
Do you know the same? You may be here and know next to nothing else about church, Christianity, God, Bible, but are you thirsty? Can you testify that you have broken cisterns and they are not holding water? You have tried everything and you are not satisfied. Perhaps if nothing on earth satisfies, it’s a testimony that you were made for something heavenly. Think of Nicodemus and this woman. So different, man/woman, Jew/Samaritan, learned/unlearned, orthodox/outcast, respected/disrespected, so different and yet they are more alike than not, because they need the same thing. They both need water. Jesus says you need water to be born again, Nicodemus. He says to her, you need water to live. They both need what only Jesus can give them.
And it’s what you need, and what I need. And it’s what only He can give.
Let’s pray. Our Father in heaven, we thank you for the gift of Your Son, for the living water that He brings, the gift of forgiveness for sinners, the gift of eternal life for all who believe, the gift of a new start, the gift of purpose, of joy, of satisfaction. What a gift we have from His hand, through His drink, by His body, by His blood. Satisfy us, we pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.