Third Sunday in Lent | March 15, 2020
5 Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. 7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” 8 He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
15 “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”
16 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.
17 “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.
Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— 18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. 20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”
21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!”
27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?” 28 The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” 30 So the people came streaming from the village to see him.
31 Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, “Rabbi, eat something.”
32 But Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.”
33 “Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other.
34 Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. 35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”
39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” 40 When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, 41 long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. 42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”
John 4:5-42 New Living Translation (NLT)
This really is an amazing story that John tells. It comes on the heels of the story of Nicodemus. According to John these events happen early in Jesus’ ministry. As we begin this story, we find Jesus and his disciples headed back to Galilee. While it’s not included in the text above, John tells us that Jesus had to go through Samaria. Did Jesus know the encounter that was about to happen? We do know that there was no love lost between the Jewish people and the Samaritans. Jesus instead of taking the usual, long er route from Jerusalem to Galilee, takes the short route through Samaria.
On this journey they stop in a town called Sychar, which happens to be near Jacob’s well. Jacob was the father of Joseph. The disciples head into town and Jesus sits at the well – in the dessert heat. It’s then He sees her. Why would she come to the well in the middle of the day? Jesus already knew something about the woman. While we’ve often surmised that she may have been promiscuous, there is a real possibility according to some scholars that she may have been barren – unable to have children and this may be why she had been married five times. This would have also been reason for her to avoid the cool of the day and all the women who gathered at the beginning and end of the day.
Jesus begins an encounter with this woman. She is shocked. Men don’t talk to women…Jews don’t talk to Samaritans…and certainly Rabbis don’t talk to random strangers – only to their disciples. Yet, Jesus asks the woman for a drink. They have a discussion about water – living water – not the kind you can get from the store – or a well – but living water. Jesus claims that He is the living water that can give life – that you will never thirst again.
We find again that Jesus is speaking about spiritual things and he is misunderstood. The woman thinks, like Nicodemus that Jesus is talking about physical things. Finally the woman thinks she understands – ah, but no. Jesus reveals that He knows things about her – things that she has hidden deep – because of the shame.
She quickly changes the subject – to worship. She asks Jesus where the correct place to worship is. Jesus replies:
23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”John 4:23-24
She is amazed at Jesus teaching and sticks her neck out and says, “I know the Messiah is coming-the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Can you imagine her reaction when Jesus says, “I AM the Messiah!”
Woah! Jesus has dropped a bombshell on this woman and she has a living encounter with Jesus – and it literally changes her whole life. No longer is she ashamed but tells people that the Messiah is out at Jacob’s well. Jesus changed her life.
This whole encounter confused the disciples, especially they had went into town to get food – and Jesus says “I’m satisfied!” Again Jesus is speaking in spiritual terms and the disciples are speaking in the physical.
Jesus explains that He is there to provide spiritual nourishment to those who are dying spiritually – just like the woman at the well. Jesus tells his disciples that the time is short. That He needs more laborers in the field to work the harvest. How about it? The same could be said now. The Wesleyan Church has a strategy statement that says:
“Celebrating every time a disciple makes a disciple and the church multiplies itself until the Wesleyan Church has a presence in every ZIP code.”
We are in desperate need of workers – the fields are truly ripe for the harvest, but the workers are few. We are called to sow, water, and reap. Sometimes we get the pleasure of doing all three and sometimes we play a part in only one – but the thing is – we are still called to work the fields. Without that we can never reach all the people in all the ZIP codes throughout this land.
Is God calling you to join His work? Each and every believer has a call to go and make disciples and teach those disciples everything that Jesus taught us. The question is: “Are you willing?”