Summary: . WHEN WE DRINK FROM THE WORLD, WE ALWAYS THIRST AGAIN A. Temporary satisfaction is the norm - We live in a world full of temporary things! (groceries) - Temporary doesn't mean "bad" (Jesus gets tired, thirsty, hungry; vv.6-8) - The world offer
COME SEE A MAN
Opening Song: 292: Jesus I Come
Scripture Reading. John 4: 1-30
It was a hot day and the sun beat down on the man's head. The sweat poured off his brow as he walked along the dusty road. It was probably mid- to late-July when the temperature can top out at over 105 degrees. To make matters worse, he had been traveling with his friends since sunrise. Now the sun was directly overhead. They were hurrying to make their way through this part of the country as quickly as possible.
He came to a well with a rock ledge built up above the ground in the typical manner of the Middle East. He sat on the lip and thought to himself, "O, if only I could have a drink of water." At precisely that moment, the woman came along. It wasn't the normal time, and it was unusual for a woman to come to a well alone. But this woman was different. The Bible says she came from the tiny village of Sychar. We know basically where Sychar was. It was in Samaritan territory, nestled between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. Sychar was built at the confluence of two trade routes, one that came up from Jerusalem on its way to Capernaum, and one that came west from the Jericho region toward the Mediterranean Sea. Sychar was thus located at a very strategic point in central Palestine.
The well was about one-half mile outside the village near the point where the two trade routes came together. It was called Jacob's Well, after the patriarch who had first dug it some 2000 years earlier. Weary travelers from throughout Israel knew it as a place where they might drink from the spring flowing some 150 feet below the surface.
As the woman looks at Jesus and he at her, four invisible walls stand between them. There is a religious wall, a gender wall, a racial wall, and a moral wall. Yet our Lord found a way through all of them. He found her and then she found him!
The story of Jesus and the woman at the well is very familiar. As I have studied it this week, I have been struck by how simple and profound it is. A man meets a woman in a seemingly chance encounter. In a few brief moments her life is changed forever. There are lessons here about racial prejudice, religious hatred, and dealing with moral outcasts. This story also conveys valuable truth about how to do evangelism.
I should also note that this is the longest recorded conversation anyone ever had with Jesus. It is longer than any recorded conversation with any of his disciples.
Suppose a woman came to our church with this kind of history: She had three children by three different men – one of whom was a live-in boyfriend and two were husbands from whom she is now divorced. In addition she has had two abortions from pregnancies resulting from sexual relationships with two other men and right now she is living together with yet another boyfriend, and she is pregnant out-of-wedlock again
• Suppose she just accepted Jesus as her Savior a month ago, but is still living with her boyfriend and is unsure when – or whether -- she will marry him
• Suppose her history and lifestyle are well known in the community
• How would we relate to such a woman?
• Of course, we would be friendly to her and welcome her to our worship services
• Would we welcome her into a home group?
• Would we give her a baby shower for her new baby?
• Would we allow her to serve as a helper in the nursery or children’s church or pathfinder?
• Would we allow her to give her testimony in a church worship service?
• How “cleaned up” and “doctrinally sound” does a new believer need to be in order to witness for Jesus Christ?
Geography is all-important in understanding this story. In Jesus' day there were three regions stacked on top of one another. There was Galilee in the north, Samaria in the middle, and Judea in the south. The easiest and quickest way to get to Galilee from Judea was to go due north right through Samaria. Verse 3 says that Jesus "had to" go through Samaria. Now why did he have to do that? The answer is, he didn't. There was another route he could have taken. Some pious Jews would go east, cross the Jordan River, enter the region of Perea, then go north, re-cross the Jordan River, and they would be in Galilee. This was out of the way but it meant they wouldn't have to go through Samaritan territory.
A little history will help us at this point. The Jews and the Samaritans disliked each other. It all went back to 722 B.C. when the Assyrians conquered Israel and took the northern ten tribes into captivity. They brought in Gentiles from other areas to settle in that same region. Eventually those Gentiles with their pagan ways intermarried with the Jews who had been left behind. Over the generations those people were called the Samaritans, and they developed their own religion that was partly based on pagan ideas and partly based on Judaism. Eventually they built their own temple at a place called Mount Gerizim. And they developed their own language and their own version of the Old Testament (which contained only the first five books).