March 21, 2014
Meet me at the well
We can only live a few days without water. In a desert, where water is scarce, there wouldn’t be many options for finding water. You would have to go to the well.
When Jesus went to the well, tired and thirsty from his journey, he ended up meeting a Samaritan woman. Samaritan religion and Judaism were fairly similar, but they disagreed about a few key issues. Yet, those disagreements were big enough that when Jesus and the Samaritan woman met at the well, they both started to feel a little uncomfortable.
Jesus had three options in this situation:
1. He could tell the Samaritan woman to leave. He was a man and she was a woman. In this situation, he probably had the authority to do just that. He could deny this woman his company and access to life-giving water.
2. He could have left the well himself. If he didn’t want to tell her to leave or she refused to go, he could walk away from that well, leaving parched and tired.
3. He could stay. He could stay and talk to her. He could stay and preach to her. He could stay and learn from her. He could stay and create community, create fellowship, create a relationship. He could stay and she could stay and no one would have to leave thirsty.
As Christians, we thirst for the living water that Jesus offered the Samaritan woman. We meet at wells like churches, conventions and schools. When we meet, we often meet people who are different from us. We see our different opinions on key issues and we get uncomfortable. What we need to remember is why we came to the well in the first place: we were thirsty. God has granted us not only the gift of living water, but sharing that experience with a diverse group of people. So when we meet at the well, maybe we should stop thinking, “What should I do?” and start remembering what Jesus did.
SCRIPTURE: John 4:5-42 (NRSV)
The Samaritan woman at the well
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 out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common 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 no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ 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.’
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 have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 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.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’
Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ Then the woman 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?’ They left the city and were on their way to him.
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, ‘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 how the fields are ripe for 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 labour. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour.’
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 for 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 Saviour of the world.’
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