Summary: Jesus broke through the individual & social stereotypes to carry the message of hope (eternal life).
Today, we begin a new message series we’ve entitled, “DEEP.” It’s not a take-off on that bad 80’s movie nor are we going to about some prosperity gospel theme about the money you have to give. However, we will be attempting to wrestle with three areas of personal and corporate growth: pride, prejudice and performance. We will be exploring those topics over the next 3 weeks by reading and dissecting the fourth chapter of the gospel of John. We will be covering the first 15 verses.
Before we do, let me set the scene. Jesus has been making a name for himself in another town with the religious authorities and they were starting to have issues with John the Baptist and Jesus. So Jesus gauging the temperature of city decides it’s best to mosey on back to Galilee. The interesting part is there were three routes by which he could have gone home. Two of which didn’t cause people to talk and the third was simply scandalous. It was directly through a bad neighborhood. So bad in fact, the religious leaders wouldn’t step foot there. The stereotype was so ingrained in the people of Jesus day, they used the name, Samaritan as a derogatory slur. Samaritans were despised. It all began hundreds of years before when after the Assyrians moved the best and brightest to the capital, those Hebrews who were left, intermingled with the Assyrians. This created so many hard feelings that when the Jews did return, they ostracized the Samaritans. The discord gets deeper when the Jews realize the intermingling created a mongrel religion which had a little of the pagan religion, with cultural religion with Judaism. Do you get the picture? Jesus is about to break all the rules and cultural norms so let’s read the scripture. Beginning in John 4:4-15
Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to the town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, you are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink? (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “if you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water. “
Now it's interesting to note that at the end of today’s scripture, the woman at the well’s world is absolutely rocked when Jesus talks about eternal life and how eager she is to get this living water even though she doesn’t fully understand what He’s talking about or the implications. Doesn’t that just speak to all of us? When we come into the faith, we have this goofy Moonie smile. We have our expectations of how this world is going to change now that we have Jesus on our side. However, we never fully think about what this change will mean internally. It’s almost prophetic for the Samaritan woman at the well to say, “the well is deep” and then ask what tool he’s going to use to get the water from the well. Because in our greatest learning, it is always Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit who give us the answers we are longing for. It is here we meet Jesus and stumble upon our own preconceived notions and prejudices that will have to change if we are going to go deeper in our understanding of Him and this life in which we live.
In March of 2006, I was entering my last semester of seminary. I was contemplating what God wanted me to do with my life when I went for an ordination interview. The committee preceded to tell me I went to the wrong seminary and that just because I would graduate in two months didn’t mean they could put me to work. I was devastated but it gave me the freedom to say yes to a 3-week mission trip to the African country of Tanzania. It was a blessing from God. After an 18 hour airplane trip, I was confronted with my own prejudices concerning the poor, our American freedoms we possess and even a racial bias. I’ll never forget our driver John in Dar Salam. As I rattled off questions about what I seeing, hearing and smelling, he was gracious with explaining the roadside markets, the people, the trucks, the interesting sheds (homes) and even why the guy at the “hotel” cared an Uzzie machine gun. Every day pushed my worldview and my understanding of this new reality I was being exposed to. How could folks so little smile so much?