Preached at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission July 30, 2017
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
So, I read the story to you of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well. I want to focus your attention tonight on what Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory offers to this woman. Because you see what he offers to this woman is not something just for her. This offer he makes to all of us too.
It is really wonderful to know that the Savior of the World and Great God of the Universe, Jesus Christ, has enough time in his day to care about, take interest in, and really help someone like this woman at the well. And it’s not very hard to see that Jesus cared about those whowere the outcasts of society. He really made a pattern of hanging out with peoople like this woman, who seemed to be in the “sweet spot” of his heart and His plan.
As he put it once in his own words, “the Son of Man came to save sinners” and the “righteous don’t even know they need a doctor”. I don’t think I would be strectching things to say that Jesus probably felt more comfortable with people like this woman, because they weren’t trying to do any coverup. The Gospels do show us more than once that Jesus did not always suffer fools, especially hyprocrites all that easily.
And it ought to be a comfort to us that Jesus is that kind of Saviour and that kind of person. But what I want to focus on tonight is what Jesus specifically offers this woman. I’ll try be very clear and get to my point quickly on this.
Jesus Christ is in the thirst-quenching business. He is in the man-satisfying business. We are not center of the Universe. He is. But, he is skilled enough, the one who createe us, to satisfy us in our thirsts, in our desires and in all that makes us human beings. He did not create us to be always thirsty, always craving more, always looking for more. That is what I want to show you through John 4.
Jesus Christ made a decision that day to interact with a woman, a woman that was on the fringe of society and everything that should have been taboo for him to associate with. He was a Jew. She was a Samaritan. Jews did not get along with Samaritans. They mixed about as well as oil and water, which is that didn’t mix well at all. There was generations of hostility built up between the two races.
Every Jew and every Samaritan had seen and been party to many scenes of the kind of racial tension, and contempt and swearing and foul attitudes that go along with that. On that level alone, Jesus and this women didn’t stand a chance. There was no good reason for them to talk or certainly get along, and hundreds of reason why they should avoid each other.
Second, Jesus was a man and she was a woman. Do you want to talk about ackward? This wasn’t 2017. This was 2000 years ago in the back hill country of Galilee. The divide between the sexes was monumental. Men and women found ways of relating, in family settings and in a very narrow slice of social settings. But this was not one of those settings. This was off the map of ways to interact between man and woman.
Not only was she a woman and he a man. He was a holy man and she was a loose woman. He hung out in synoguoges, someone pursuing God, someone practcing ritual religion, with religious training, from a religious family. And those are just his human credentials. We know that He also was the Son of God, God’s only Son and himself God incarnate. He was of the very nature of God. He was sinless. There was no blood on His hands, no deceit in his heart and a track record of faithfulness to the Law of God.
The woman was from the other side of the TRACKS. She had had 5 husbands. She was visiting the well to get water in the middle of the day. Hey, let me tell you that the upstanding people,the respectible people of the community didn’t draw water in the heat of the day but went to the well earlier or later. She was almost certainty coming at that time of day to avoid interactionss with the reputable people of the community. Having a string of husbands would not have made her part of the inner social circle of the community. She was certianly a major topic of the local gossip and rumor-mill. Jesus asked her to bring her husband and she reveals that the man who is with her now is not even her husband. We don’t know for certain but he might have been her pimp. She might have been a prositute too, we don’t know.
The reason I point I point out all these things is that all of us know that we often stand on very uncertain ground. And when even the idea that God might have something wonderful to offer us enters the picture, it is human nature to start finding some protests within our own hearts. Because each of us knows the sins of our own hearts. Each of us knows that what goes on inside is not always clean and pretty and ready for public view. And because of this we all wonder if this doesn’t disqualify us for God’s favor, for God’s desire to bless us, to do something for us. And so, our own hearts, our own minds protest, “but what about this…”. What about the kind of person I really am? Why would someone like me deserve anything from the God of the universe?
And so, HERE CAPTURED FOR ALL TIME IN HISEternal word, there are stories like this: about a woman who had her own track record of sin, sins and more sins. But what does Jesus focus on? He doesn’t start by focusing on her track record. Jesus focuses on the fact that she is the thirsty person. He focuses on the fact that she needs to have her thirst satisfied.
The very first miracle told in this same Gospel, the Gospel of John, tells us how Jesus made water into wine at a wedding feast. God knows all about our thirst. In fact God does not just know this because He made us to be that way, but God himself became incarnate, He became a man, He then knew about it by experiencing itself. Some of the last words on the cross were these words, “I thirst”. God knows. God knows because he made us this way. He knows it even as a human being in the person of Jesus Christ.
And so let me talk now specifically about the offer that Jesus makes to this woman. This starts out talking about water, the stuff we call H2O.
The woman says to Jesus, “How can you a Jew ask me a Samaritan for a drink.” Jesus replies, “If you asked me instead I could have given you LIVING water. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.
So what kind of water is this that makes you not thirsty again? Jesus calls it “living” water. I don’t know about you but that sounds kind of scary to me. Living water. I tell you, if waters starts jumping around like it is alive, it’s a pretty scary thing. A lot of you guys have been around long enough to remember the cyrpto-sporidion scare we had in Milwaukee. In 1993, the whole water supply for Milwaukee was tainted by this really nautious stuff called cyrpto-sporidion. Everybody was getting sick. It was the largest waterborne disease outbreak in documented United States history. Over the span of two weeks, 400 thousand people in the Milwaukee became ill. And the reason was that there was all kind of stuff jumping around in the water. Very small stuff, but enough to make you sick. I don’t it would be right to call this jumping water living water, guess I would call that “dying” water. Water that was bad enough to kill you.
But Jesus offers this woman “living” water. So what does he mean “living” water. Is it the water that is alive, or does it make people alive? That is the question. I can make water alive by putting in a pan on the stove and turning it up above boiling. That water will jump around in the pan. It will look alive.
But, no, Jesus is talking water that makes people alive. He says to her:
The water I give (them) will become (in them) a spring of water welling up to eternal life.Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.
ThE water HE IS TALKING ABOUT has the characteristic of making people alive, and not just air moving through lungs, not just blood pumping through their veins. No, this is eternal life. This is a different kind of life he to those who drink it. And not only that, but whoever drinks this water will never be thirsty again. He calls it “living” water, but what he means is water that makes you really alive.
And so, you see we’re not just talking physical water. We’re talking another thirst being quenched. We’re talking what I guess you could call Spiritual thirst. It’s not so much the thirst of the stomach. No, it’s that gnawing, more general kind of thirstiness. It’s that desire, it’s that craving, it’s that seraching for something more, for the something more that just physical water can’t give us. A thrist for we know not what some times, or sometimes it may be more specific, we want more, more comfort, more gas in the tank, more esteem, more encouagement, more, more, more.
And these words to the Samaritan woman are also for us, here tonight at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. Jesus Christ has an incredible offer to make in the area of thirst. He says, “I can satisfy your thirst.” He says, “I can give you what you’re looking for.” He says, “I know all about what is in a man.” I created man. I lived as a man. I know men better than anybody else. I know what the thirstiness of man is all about. I know what men crave. I know what men desire. I know what satisfies a man.
How do I know it is for us too? Later on in John chapter 7 on the last day of the fesitval, Jesus says this:
Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.- John 7 37-39
Are you thirsty? I know you are. God has made man to be on a search. He made men and women to be thirsty. Not just physically thirsty, but spiritually thirsty.
Let’s face it, you Don’t drink alcohol because you are physically thirsty. That’s ridiculous. You can get your physical thirst satisfied with a glass of water. No, alcohol makes this claim to offers much more to you.. Maybe it started out by helping you to relax a little. Maybe it helped you for a while to forget about your problems. Maybe in a real stupid moment it seemed like you could just stay permanently drunk: completely careless and unburdened by anything in life.
But God has put thirst in man, not that man would look to satisfy this spiritual thirst in all the wrong ways and all the worng place but that man might find his thirst satisied in him, in the Living God.
Psalm 107 says this:
Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
And when Jesus told the Samaritan woman that he could give her water that was never-ending, she wanted it. She said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
But the story goes on. Next Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” The woman said, “I have no husband”. And Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
This woman, you see, was thirsty for something. She was thirsty for men, you see. She was a man-drinker and a man-eater. She had had six men at least. Jesus said she had had five husbands, and the dude she was with now wasn’t here husband. So that makes at least six. She was hungry for something in these men. And apparently that wasn’t enough.
Now why do you suppose Jesus startED talking about these men in her life? I’m not sure she really knew she was a man-eater. And I think he had to find a way to show her own thirstiness….not for physical water, I’m talking about this other thirst.
I DOUBT THAT THE WOMAN SAW RELIGION AS A WAY TO SATISFY THE THIRST IN HER SPIRIT. IT seems like this woman saw religion and spirituality mostly AS ceremonies and rituals. “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
She’s talking about the different physical locations. She was sayng, you Jews worship in Jerusalem but we Samaritans worship on our mountian. And you wonder if her idea of religion was just about the places, the rituals and the ceremonies. And so Jesus wants her to understand that religion is not a place, or a ceremony, but that true religion is a living thing.
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth.”
True religion, Jesus iS saying, is not about a place, a ceremony or a ritual. We don’t worship God at showing up at point A or B. The only place you can really worship God is your spirit, in the heart, in the innner place. The true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit…..and in truth.
He’s trying to get her to understand that what God has to offer IS ABOUT OUR INsideS. It starts in the heart, in the spirit. He wants her to see what he really offering her. He is offering to quench the thirst in her spirit.
“The water I give them will become IN them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” And alsor remember John 7 where he said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
Right after that in John 7 right after says that, the writer John says. “By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.”
The water is the Holy Spirit. It is God himself who can come into the well of a human hears. And when God himself comes in, look it is a well with no bottom, with an endless supply of water.
The woman said next, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
So let me ask this.…Why was this woman so thirsty for men? I think she was just hungry for intimacy. Maybe just the intimacy of having someone close, someone who really knew you, someoen who wasn’t afraid of being with you, who could look at you naked and as you are and not want to run the other way. The human race is thirsty for intimacy. But, unfortuately, it is often looking in all the wrong places.
SO, the disciples at this point came back into the picture. But do you know what the woman did next? She scurried back to town. She was in such a hurry, she didn’t even bother to take her water jar. And do you know what she said to the people in town, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.”
Jesus, you see had pressed her thirst button. It took a little bit of work, but Christ the Great Physician went in with his scalpel and exposed her area of thirst. This woman who craved the intimacy of a man, had found the ultimate, the absolute extreme version of intimacy. Her was a man told me everything I ever did. Here was intimacy on steroids. Here was industrial strength intimacy. Her was somebody who knew everything about me.
And the most mind-blowing part of it was this man, this one who everything I ever did was…..the Messiah. This was the Saviour of the world. And not a condemning Messiah. Even though she carried a checkered past, even though she was a Samaritan. Even though she was a woman. He was offering his Spirit to HER!! Without end and without limit.
Do you understand that that same Messiah is calling out tonight? “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
Friend, I know you are thirsty. There is a fountain, the fountain of God flowing for thirsty sinners. Isaiah 43 says:
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
How do we find a way to this endless supply of water? It starts with a recognition of your own thirstiness. The way is not complicated, you are already there, if you know of your need for the Saviour:
Don’t let your conscience make you linger,
Or dream of some day when you ready for Him;
All the readyness He requires
Is to feel your need of Him.
Have you bowed the knee to Jesus Christ? I encourage you consider today to do that. Many of us who have come to Christ would plead with you: Stop looking for love in all the wrong places. Stop looking for water in all the wrong drinking holes. Real water, living water, endless water is available to you tonight: the Gracious, Merciful Saviour offers an endless supply of His resources to you.