Summary: As we examine this event is Jesus' life and ministry [John 4:1-42] we will learn that he comes to break down social barriers (cultural, racial, traditional) and to turn our focus from the temporary to the eternal.
We’re in the middle of our Summer Series entitled: “LIVE-LIKE-THAT” and through this series of messages we’re challenging each of us to begin living as Jesus lived and loving as Jesus loved. Jesus demonstrated the importance of loving God with all of His being and here at Gateway that’s our desire as well . . . to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength . . . make disciples (fully devoted followers of Jesus) who love God with all their head, heart, and hands. And, so we’re spending the Summer months examining particular events from the life and ministry of Jesus as well as specific teaching from the Gospels that demonstrate how Jesus interacted with others and how He calls His followers to live in relationship to one another and to those in the culture around them.
Our hope is that as we look to Jesus, we will begin to LIVE-LIKE-THAT. The Apostle Paul wrote in the book of Philippians: “For to me, to live is Christ . . .” [1:21] and ultimately that is our goal. As disciples (fully devoted followers of Jesus) our lives are to emulate the character of Christ; to live as He lived; to LIVE-LIKE-THAT.
It had been a long time since anyone had uttered a kind word. Her life began as any other, but had taken a turn for the worse. Bad choices, poor judgment, and a lack of direction had left her feeling ashamed of whom she had become. The people in her life – her family and so called friends – had rejected her. Others mocked her, made fun of her, pointed and talked behind her back, but just close enough to make sure she could hear. All she really wanted was love, acceptance, a little compassion – someone to put their arm around her and tell her, “I know you’ve made mistakes, but I love you and I care about you in spite of those things.” She lived her life hoping that someone – anyone – would just love her.
This is how I imagine the woman we find in John chapter 4. We really don’t know a great deal about her or the details of her life. We do know that she lived in Sychar, a city of Samaria, near what was known as Jacob’s Well. She would draw water from this well, but the Bible tells us that she came at the sixth hour of the day. The Jewish day began at 6:00am, so the sixth hour would be 12:00 noon. This would have been the hot part of the day. Most would have come to carry water in the coolness of the early morning . . . but not this woman. Why would she come to carry water at such a hot part of the day?
The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly why, but we can make some guesses based on some of the details we find in John chapter 4. She probably didn’t have the best of reputations. She had been married 5 times and the man she was living with at the time wasn’t her husband. I know it’s just inference, but can you imagine what the others in the small town of Sychar must have thought about her? You know how small towns are . . . everyone knows or at least thinks they know everyone else’s busyness. The gossip hot-line and the rumor-mill runs rampant. Even in today’s culture, she would have been looked down upon and even gossiped about – FIVE HUSBANDS! Give me a break! And know she’s working on number 6. Can you imagine what the people in her day must have thought? Can you hear the other women as they come to draw water in the coolness of the early morning?
“Oh look! Here she comes. I heard she’s had 4 husbands . . .”
“Oh no, she’s already been through 5 and someone told me the other day that she’s working on number 6!”
“She’s married again?”
“Oh no! This time they’re just shacking up.”
“Oh! What a slut!”
And on, and on it goes! Day in and day out! Gossip and rumors are flying about – no one taking the time to talk with her and see things from her perspective. Who cares about that? It’s much more fun to be vindictive that to empathize, right? The latest juicy gossip is much more fun than actually finding out the truth. No wonder she comes to draw water at the sixth hour. She’d rather endure the burning heat of the sun than to experience the searing words and looks from the others. She’d rather just be alone, in spite of her deep need for love and acceptance.
So, she begins her day like any other. She waited until the sixth hour in order to avoid everyone else. But on this day, her trip to the well would impact her life so as to never be the same again. For it was on this day . . . she met Jesus.