Summary: Making small changes in our lives or the lives of others can have big impacts, especially since we live in an area that is spiritually dry and thirsty.
There once was a man who was not well-educated and rather rough and crude around the edges, but he was recently converted and was on fire for the Lord. He constantly asked the minister to give him some work that would be helpful to the church. Finally, the minister gave the man a list of ten people who hadn¡¦t been in church for years nor made any financial contribution. Some of these people were quite prominent in the community. The minister said, "What I want you to do is get these people back to church, however you can. You can use church stationery if you want, but get these people back to church."
Three weeks later the minister got an envelope in the mail from a prominent doctor whose name was on the list, along with a cheque for $1,000.00 and a note that read, "Dear Reverend, please excuse my inactivity at church. I really have no excuse. Accept this cheque as a partial contribution for all the Sundays I¡¦ve missed, and be assured I will never, by choice, miss worship again.
Sincerely, J.B. Jones, M.D.
P.S.: Will you kindly tell your secretary that there is only one 't'¨ in dirty and no 'c'¨ in skunk?"
John 4:5-42 marks a shift in Jesus ministry. It marks a shift from ministry to the Jews only to ministry to both Jews and Gentiles. Jesus had to go through Samaria. God is willing to go anywhere to meet us as sinners. No one is outside the reach of God¡¦s love. God¡¦s gifts are for outsiders. Those who consider themselves worthy of those gifts will be in for a nasty surprise!
It was ironic that he, as a Jew, went through Samaria. The Assyrians defeated Samaria and took many Samaritans into captivity. Those remaining in Samaria intermarried with non-Jewish people, which compromised their ethnic identity and went against many Jewish customs regarding cleanliness. Later, the Babylonians defeated Judea and took many Judeans into captivity. The Judeans managed to maintain their identity while in captivity. When they were finally allowed to return to Judea, they rebuilt the temple. The Samaritans offered to help, but were rebuffed because of their mixed heritage. They later built their own temple on Mount Gerizim, which started a continuing controversy regarding the proper place of worship. John Hyrcanus destroyed the Gerizim temple in 128 B.C.
Because he was human, Jesus was tired. To make matters worse, he was travelling during the hottest part of the day, so he was thirsty. Jesus took the initiative by speaking to the woman. In Jewish society, that was a taboo. It was against the culture and traditions for a man to speak to a woman in public unless she was his wife. The woman also broke with tradition by going to the well during the hottest part of the day. Normally women came to the well in the morning or in the evening. While they were getting water, they would catch up on all the news or gossip (much like people around here do when they go to the barber, the beauty salon or Tim Horton¡¦s!ƒº )If the immoral woman showed up at the same time, she would have been the target of their gossip.
Jesus often used physical things to teach spiritual lessons. When he mentioned living water, he was referring to the spiritual water that he can offer to all believers, but the woman thought he was referring to physical water. Jesus knew that the woman was searching for something that would give her life meaning. That is why he offered her living water. That is also why he made the comment about her five husbands. The woman did have a spiritual hunger, and so did the Samaritans. They thirsted for the truth, and their thirst made it possible for them to see that Jesus was the living water gushing up to eternal life.
We are also restless and unsatisfied even though we have access to all sorts of earthly treasures. Just look at all of the rich celebrities who have died because of drug overdoses. The world searches for relevance and significance without success. People go from one relationship to another, from one activity to the next, and from one fashion or ¡§in thing to do¡¨ to the next. They are literally dying of thirst and hope that the ¡§new drink¡¨ will satisfy them. It never does. Earthly ¡§drink¡¨ can never satisfy our desires like the living water Jesus offers can.
Once we have tasted Jesus¡¦ living water, nothing else will satisfy our thirst. The living water provides cleansing and a spiritual life. It flows through true worshippers who worship God and Jesus with all of their heart. In order to drink the living water, we have to repent. That is why Jesus brought up the woman¡¦s past. She needed to see and admit that she messed up and needed God¡¦s help. We also need to admit that we are messed up and that we need God¡¦s help. When God looks into our souls and sees our dark side, our secrets, our guilt and ou motivations, he loves us anyway. That love is the living water that renews us and restores us. When God sees how we are dying inside, and when he tells us everything we have ever done, he still gives us living water. The Holy Spirit helps us to see our mistakes and failures.