Jesus was busy preaching and teaching in Judea... when it was brought to his attention that the Pharisees were concerned that He (and his disciples) were baptizing more people than John the Baptist! In other words, the Pharisees were in confrontation mode... because Jesus’ ministry was growing, and they felt threatened! So Jesus decided it would be better if he took a “short-cut” home to Galilee, through Samaria.
Now I’ve tried to take a few short-cuts in my life... trying to save a few minutes... I’ve ended up on some dirt roads out in the country that all looked exactly alike! And I’ve gotten lost... or ended up in a part of town I wasn’t so sure about!
Well, Samaria was one of those places that most people didn’t want to get lost in. Traveling through Samaria was, no doubt, the shortest route between Galilee and Judea... but most Jews would literally go out of their way to avoid it!
But not Jesus... at least not on this trip! We’re told, Jesus “had to go through Samaria.” Or, as the KJV puts it: “He must needs go through Samaria.” It kinda stresses the fact that Jesus had set his mind towards going through Samaria.
Of course, as Jesus and his disciples were making their way through that area where others dared not travel... they came upon a well, just outside of a Samaritan town. So being hot and tired from traveling, Jesus did what most of us would do. He stopped to rest and get something to eat... and drink. The disciples went into town to buy some food, while Jesus stayed behind, at the well. And while he was there, a woman came to draw water.
Jesus surprised the woman (and broke all kinds of cultural norms) by asking, “Will you give me a drink?” The woman says... “What... you... a Jew... are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink!” She was shocked!
To which Jesus replied... “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked for him for living water... and he would have given it to you.”
Of course, the woman found Jesus’ words to be a little humorous. I mean, here was Jesus... no bucket... no rope... he couldn’t even draw his own water from the well to quench his immediate thirst! What was he gonna do? Magically make this water, this living water appear!
Jesus said... “Every single person who drinks from this well will get thirsty again! But those who drinks from the Living Water I give... will never thirst again... it becomes a eternal spring, welling up to eternal life!”
Of course, this woman was at Jacob’s Well doing her duty... tending to her daily need. It was hard work... a daily, burdensome chore to draw water from the well. We tend to take for granted how easily accessible water is in our modern lives.
So, not really understanding what Jesus was getting at... the woman said, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and so I won’t need to keep coming here to draw water day-in, and day-out!”
Of course, Jesus and the Samaritan Woman continued to talk... giving Jesus the opportunity to help her understand the real thirst in her life... the real vacuum there... the real void that she’d tried and tried to fill, to no avail... and that void could only be filled by worshiping and serving God in spirit and in truth.
She said, “I know the Messiah is coming, and He will make everything known... He will show us all things.” And Jesus said, “I, the man speaking to you, am he.” At that moment - something clicked! The irresistible grace of Christ broke through... and she discovered something she had never known before... the one thing she needed most.
We all have need of one thing, more than anything else in this life - and that one thing is the living water... that only Jesus offers... living water that quenches our thirst for meaning, and purpose... for hope... hope both for today (now, the present moment) and also hope for the future!
That living water wells up (as Jesus says) into a spring of eternal life through our faith in Christ... who meets us were we are... along the ups and down, the ins and outs, the good and bad... even along a dusty, hot, dry road in a part of life where others don’t want to be... And when he meets us there, he offers us more than we’ll ever need.
I read a story about an elderly woman, who lived her whole life in poverty... barely scraping by... never really having enough of anything! The woman joined a community group, a program kinda like the Senior Centers/Active Life centers we have here in our area... that provide meals and activities for senior adults.
The group’s director had scheduled a day-trip to the beach. And this woman signed up to go! She had never been to the beach before... she’d never seen the ocean with her own eyes. And when the day of the trip arrived... and she stepped off the bus... as she stood there, on the beach... looking out at water as far as the eye could see... she said, “Look at all that water! For the first time in my life I’m able to see something there’s enough of.”
That’s the Good News of the Gospel today. With Jesus there’s enough... there’s always enough... whether it’s a little boy’s lunch of 5-loaves and 2-fish that fed a multitude... or be it grace that’s sufficient to meet our current situation... with Jesus there’s always enough!
And the Living Water is no different. There’s plenty for everyone! In fact, it’ll never run out... there’s an endless supply. It’s eternally refreshing, and readily available for anyone who believes... and places their faith in Christ.
You and I have tasted of that Living Water... we know it’s good... we know the goodness of the Lord and the sufficiency of his grace.
And we also know that it’s not enough to just say “thank you” or to say, “Wow... this is mighty good water!” - or to say, “Look at me... I’ve been drinking from the Well... don’t you wish you had some, too?”
No... there’s only one response that’s acceptable. And the Samaritan Woman understood. She left the Well, and went to find her friends.
After Jesus made himself known... after he identified himself as the Messiah... she didn’t say another word to Jesus. John tells us she got up and went straight to the city, and said to all the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” And the people of town left the city and went with her, to meet Jesus. That’s the model of thankful response given in the Gospels: to be truly thankful for the gift of life... for the Living Water... we’re called to share it!
*Andrew met Jesus... then immediately went to find his brother Simon... and brought Simon to meet Jesus.
*Philip met Jesus... then went immediately to find Nathaniel, and Philip brought Nathaniel to meet Jesus.
*A wild man, living in a cemetery... met Jesus... and immediately went into town and told everyone he could find about Jesus.
It’s hard to miss the point... isn’t it?
The fact is... once you and I meet Jesus... once we’ve truly, honestly, effectually met Christ... we cannot keep it a secret. Our “cup runneth over” as the Psalmist says... and we’re compelled to share it... tell someone about it!
Of course, when we do... when you and I start sharing the Living Water... when we start passing that cup around, something amazing begins to happen. No longer do other people just take our word that this Living Water is good. They begin to discover for themselves that what Jesus offers is the water of life... Living Water that wells up into eternal life.