Summary: 1st in series showing Jesus’ priorities on earth. People are important to God, and they need to understand the full extent of His personal care and involvement in their lives.
John 4:1-42 – Eyes Wide Open
This week we are starting our series designed for the 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting. Our theme for the year is “Declare His Name: Aligning Our Lives with Christ’s Passion”. It’s about looking at who Christ is, and what He came to earth to do. So, for the next few weeks leading up to Easter, we will examine how Jesus lived on earth, how He spent His time, and what qualities made up His character.
The 1st truth of the series, Aligning Our Lives with Christ’s Passion, is this: People are important to God, and they need to understand the full extent of His personal care and involvement in their lives. Simply put, people matter to God. And they need to grab hold of what that means for them. They need to realize how much God wants to be part of their lives.
Today’s story from John 4 describes an incident from early in Jesus’ ministry that gives us a glimpse into Jesus’ heart. It shows that people really do matter to God. Let’s go through this passage: v1-3. Opposition had just arisen to Jesus’ new popularity, and since it was so early in His ministry, He left the region for awhile. It’s funny. We often think opposition to what we are doing means we are doing something wrong. That’s not the case. The most common opinion is not always the right one.
V4 – Jesus went through Samaria. Geographically speaking, Samaria was a non-Jewish region between 2 Jewish regions. Most good Jews went around it for reasons I’m about to describe. But Jesus was not like most other Jews. He chose to go through it, taking his disciples with Him. In fact, His vision and passion drove Him to it.
V5-6. The sixth hour was 12 noon. I don’t think this was accidental. He arrived at a time of the day when most people did not want to go to the community well. It was the hottest part of the day, so it likely would not have had a huge crowd there. But there was one person there.
V7,8 – a Samaritan woman showed up. This unnamed lady would become the 2nd main character of this story. And Jesus spoke to her. He asked her for a drink. Now, you have to understand how significant this was, for so many reasons. 1st, she was a woman. Men were not to speak to woman who were not their wives or daughters. Jesus broke that taboo. 2nd, she was a Samaritan – v9. Samaritans were half-Jew, half-Gentile. They were not pure anything. They were mutts, mongrels, unable to fit in anywhere. 3rd, she was poor. Unlike earlier times, women of any position at all would not have drawn their own water. And poverty was a sign of disobedience, not being blessed by God for their faithfulness.
The 4th reason that it is significant that Jesus spoke to this person is that she was divorced – v18. Multiple times, actually. You don’t have to go very far to find someone who’ll look down on you for being divorced. And 5th, she had a shady reputation. She was living with someone she was not married to. That’s why she showed up at noon-time, thinking the well would be deserted. She didn’t want to see other people and be reminded of her shame.
There were plenty of good reasons why a good Jewish boy like Jesus would have no dealings with this person. And yet there he was. The conversation wasn’t short, either. Jesus spoke about water. And not just any water, but living water – v10,13. Jesus spoke of God’s gift, and the woman was unaware that the gift was right there speaking to her. And she wanted this gift, this water that would refresh her over and over again. She wanted to get rid of feeling guilty in front of others – v15.
But Jesus wasn’t about to let her off the hook – v16-18. He told her, in essence, that He knew her. She didn’t have to hide because she just couldn’t hide. Note this: Jesus knew her sins, but He loved her anyway. He knew who she was, and where she lived, and still He loved her. He cared for her, and wanted to be involved in her life. He didn’t expect her to clean up right away, and He didn’t tell her to. Why?
Because Jesus knows that when a person falls in love with Him, he or she will eventually do anything that He asks. He doesn’t give the heavy hand, saying, “You have to give up this or that right away.” On occasion, He said that to people who asked to follow Him, yes. But in this case, He said, “Love me first. Then, you’ll follow me because you won’t be able to picture your life any other way.” What this woman needed was not more rules. She needed to be loved and accepted, despite her past, even her present. She needed to know that she mattered.