Summary: In his encounter with the woman at the well, Jesus calls us to confess our guilt and shame, to receive eternal, abundant life, and to share that life with others, inviting them, too, to know the Savior.
Found Out and Fulfilled
What if God set up a video projector right here in the foyer and began to show all of your greatest sins on the screen, for everyone to see? Would you be embarrassed? Full of guilt and shame? Or what if God set up the projector and started the reel, and all that came out was the light of Jesus in your life? Every sin had long since been forgiven and thrown into the deepest ocean, to be remembered no more? Would you feel grateful, appreciative of what Jesus has done for you? Maybe even a little proud and ecstatic that he took notice of you individually and did such a great thing for you? Such undeserving love!
Today we see a story of a person whose life was in shambles. She had pretty much given up on any significant relationship, with a pattern of failures laying behind her. What’s more, she lived in a small town, where everyone knew everyone’s business. So her sins were public knowledge. She was basically shunned by society, living on the outskirts, barely surviving. And the God of the universe took a personal interest in her. What’s more, he used her word as a catalyst for change for the entire community!
In the story read earlier, of Jesus and the woman at the well, consider these three points on your outline. If we’re truthful, we can all relate to each, in some form or fashion. First,
1. Give all your guilt and shame to God (vv. 16-19)
This woman had three strikes against her: 1. She was a woman. Women were considered second class citizens in the First Century, much as they still are today in many ways in many parts of the world. Rabbis in Jesus’ time taught that women could not learn the Law, and that a long conversation with a woman would lead a man astray. (Think of the Barbra Streisand movie, “Yentl.”) Power-hungry men in every generation forget that God made male AND female in his image, that women carry the image of God just as men do.
2. She was a Samaritan woman. The Samaritans were half-Jews who had bred with non-Jews in the past. They believed in the same God but only recognized the first five books of the Bible. Israel hated them more than unbelievers! Imagine your most hated stereotype, whether it be somebody of a different skin color, someone from the LGBT community, or -- worst of all -- a civilian! (Smile) That’s who the Samaritans were to the Jews. They were to be ignored at all costs. And...
3. She had a questionable reputation. We surmise this early on because she was at the well in the heat of the day, instead of coming early in the morning with the other women. She had been shunned, ostracized by her own community, because of her reputation.
All of these strikes against her should have made her the least likely candidate for a private chat with the Savior of the world. At least that would be our logic, but not God’s logic. Throughout scripture God consistently roots for the underdog. Jesus reveals the very heart of God by spending private one-on-one time with a woman caught up in sexual sin, failed relationships, questionable reputation, undoubtable loneliness, and lots of resulting guilt and shame. He calls her on her sin, but not in a harsh, condemning way; rather, with care.
And this woman does what any of us might do when called out for our sin: she changes the subject. She shifts the conversation to where the best place to worship should be. The Samaritans hold one view, the Jews another. What she really needs to do is confess her guilt and shame to the One who can replace it with his love and forgiveness. She needs to confess that she has put others first, where God alone should be in her life. Without confession, there is no salvation.
Jesus gently guides the conversation from who SHE is to who HE is. She talks about the return of the Messiah in verse 25. And in verse 26, Jesus says, “I, the one speaking to you--I am he.” Except that’s not what he really says. Our English translators added the word “he” to the end of the sentence to make more sense. What Jesus literally says is, “I, the one speaking to you--I AM.” Jesus refers to himself with the great “I am” title of God that Moses had encountered at the burning bush. This woman would have understood that immediately, since the story was in her Bible, too. The gospel of John captures some 23 times Jesus uses this title for himself, seven of those times with major teaching points accompanied by dramatic sign miracles. The message is clear: Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the very Son of God, deity in human form, the author and finisher of our salvation. And once we get that, we are called to #2 on your outline...