Scripture: John 4:5-26

Jesus and his disciples were traveling in the middle of the day and they came to a Samaritan city called Sychar.  It was hot and Jesus sent his disciples to go and buy food.  So, he was sitting at the well and was thirsty.

Then a woman came to draw water, and Jesus reached out to her in her loneliness and said, “Excuse me, may I have a drink.”  The woman was probably shocked that Jesus had spoken to her.  She could tell by his accent and dress that he was a Jew and Jews didn’t talk to Samaritans.

Jewish men were not supposed to speak directly to a woman in public.  Walls had been built between Jesus and this woman.  Society had placed walls designed and intended to keep Samaritans and women in their place.  And years of bad experiences with men had led the woman to build walls in her heart; walls of mistrust and bad feelings.

But the woman had come to the well to get a drink.  So, Jesus reached across the barriers to touch the woman.  He reached across the barriers of racial prejudice.  He reached across the barriers of sexism.  He reached across the barriers of shame and guilt.  He reached across the barriers between good and bad.  And Jesus asked her for a drink.

Like the woman, Jesus was thirsty too.  It was a hot day and he and the disciples had been walking since sunup.  He needed water for his dry throat.  I believe he sensed the deeper thirst in her.  Out of compassion he needed to offer her help.  He wanted to touch and heal the hurt, pain, and mistrust.  To fill the emptiness of her soul with the love and peace of God. 

Maybe if they shared their resources they could help each other.  Jesus needed physical water but he didn’t have a rope or bucket to draw the water from the well.  The woman did have a bucket.  She had access to the water they both needed.  But she had a deep need for spiritual water.  Jesus had access to what she needed most; the love and forgiveness of God.

So, Jesus’ boldness surprised the woman.  She quickly reminded him of the barriers between them that he had just ignored.  “How is it that you, a Jew, speak to me, a Samaritan and a woman.”  Jesus replied, “If you knew the gift of God and who I am, you would have asked me for living water.”  “But you have no rope or bucket, how would you get me water.  My ancestors dug this well.  Are you saying that its water is inferior?”

Jesus had begun the dialogue around their mutual need for water and now he had the chance to deepen the discussion.  “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.”

This made the woman more curious, but she still failed to catch the significance of what Jesus was saying.  So, she said, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”  Jesus had a chance to touch that part of her that hurt and heal it.  “Go get you husband and bring him here.”  She said, “I have no husband.”

Jesus had touched her pain and now had a chance to offer healing.  “You’re right.  You have five husbands and the man you are with now is not married to you.”  “How did he know that?” she thought.  “And if he knew that, why is he talking to me?”  “You’re a prophet,” she replied.  So, she asked him a religious question, “Should we worship on the mountains like the Samaritans or in Jerusalem like the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “That is not the real issue.  You Samaritans don’t know what you are doing and the Jews are right.  But soon - all that will mean nothing.  The time is coming, and has already arrived, when real believers will worship in Spirit and in Truth.  After all that is the kind of worship God wants.  God is spirit and the place isn’t what is important.  What is important is the spirit of the ones worshiping.”

“I know,” said the woman, “that the Messiah is coming and when he arrives he will teach us much we do not know.  Maybe he can explain these things.”  Then Jesus replied, “I am he who is speaking to you.  I am he who can answer all your questions.  I am he who can save you from your sin!”

Friends, are you thirsty?  Is there a dryness anywhere in your life?  Is there a part of your heart that has been burnt by the heat of someone else’s hate?  Is there a part of your soul that you have failed to water and it’s like an abandoned house plant is brown and wilting?  Is there a need in you for love, forgiveness, and acceptance?  Do you ever thirst for something deeper and more meaningful in life?

Come to the well.  Meet Jesus by the well.  He will give you living water.  Water that brings new life to the dead parts of our hearts and souls.  Once we have drunk of that water we will never be thirsty again.  Jesus is the Living Water.  Shalom and Amen.