Summary: Becoming a tepid or lukewarm church doesn’t take any effort at all … none. All we have to do is sit in the pews, sing the same old hymns, hear the same old sermons over and over again, and eventually you’ll end up with a tepid church full of lukewarm Christians.
The sun showed them no mercy. Directly overhead, it blazed and beat down on them. They were tired and hungry and very thirsty, so the sight of a well … even a Samaritan well … was a more-than-welcome sight. Jesus and the Disciples didn’t have a jar or a bucket with them, so they had no way to draw water out of the well to slake their thirst. Can you imagine being that thirsty and that close to water but you can’t reach it? So, Jesus sends His disciples into the nearby town of Sychar for food, while He sits down by the well and waits for someone from the town with a jar or a bucket to get water from the well. There’s not much chance of that because most people collect their daily supply of water early in the morning to avoid the mid-day heat. But Jesus knows that His Father will provide … and sure enough, a woman comes walking from the village towards the well carrying a water jar.
She slows down and eyes Him suspiciously. He’s clearly not a local or anyone she’s ever seen before. When she’s within earshot, the stranger asks her if she can give Him a drink of water from the well. “What?” she balks. “You want me, a Samaritan woman to give you, a Jew, water from our well?” “Woman,” Jesus calmly explains, “if you knew the generosity of God and you knew who I am, you would be asking ME for a drink … and I would give your fresh, living water.”
“How?” she asks. “You’re asking me for a drink of water because you don’t even have a jar or a bucket of your own to draw water out of the well. How can you, on one hand, ask me for water and, at the same time, say that I should ask you for water? This is the only well around. Do you plan on doing like our ancestor, Jacob, and dig us a new well?”
Jesus smiles because He knows that she doesn’t understand. He explains to her: “Everyone who drinks the water from this well will get thirsty again and again and again. You’re here to get water today and you’ll probably be back here tomorrow or the day after tomorrow to get more. But … I’m not offering you the kind of water that you find in this well. Nobody can provide you with the kind of water that I’m talking about. You see, if you drink the water that I am offering to you, you will never be thirsty again … not ever.”
“Never thirst again? Sir, give me some of that water so that I don’t have to be thirsty ever again and then I won’t have to keep coming here during the hottest part of day to avoid the sneers and stares of the townspeople” (paraphrased from John 4:4-16).
Water. So important to life … literally more important than food. An average person can last between 30 to 40 days without food but only three to four days without water. Jesus was trying to help the woman at the well understand that her “spirit” … her “soul” needs spiritual water… spiritual water that only He can provide … just as much as her physical body needs physical water.
As I’ve mentioned in the recent past, we tend to turn a jaundiced eye to the Romans because of their treatment of our spiritual ancestors but their innovations changed the world. For example, their development and skillful use of “aqueducts” made it possible for cities like Laodicea to exist without a natural source of water nearby. Laodicea was one of three sister cities in the valley of the Lycus River. Colossae was famous for its many springs. Hierapolis was know for its hot mineral springs … and Laodicea was located at the intersection of the North-South Highway connecting Pergamum and Attalia and the East-West Highway connecting Antioch and Ephesus … which made it an important and very prosperous trading center in Asia Minor … or the region that we know today as Turkey and Syria.
The city of Laodicea was founded in the third century BC by the Seleucid or Greek King Antiochus II, who named the city after his wife, Laodice. How’s that for a Valentine’s Day present, huh? Under Roman rule, Laodicea became one of the wealthiest cities in the world. At the time that Jesus had John write these letters, Laodicea was a powerful commercial and banking center. Just as Thyatira was famous for its purple cloth, Laodicea was famous for its fabric made out of black wool. What really made Laodicea so important and so well-known was its medicines. The main Roman temple in Laodicea was dedicated to Asclepius, whom they believed was the god of healing. One medicine, for example, was “Tefera fragia” or “Phrygian powder.” In a time and place where eye ailments were common, “Tefera fragia” was used to cure a wide range of eye ailments. It came in tablet form and you crushed it up, mixed it up with a small amount of water, and put it on your eye and hopefully it would cure the particular eye ailment that you had. I guess they had “Big Pharma” even in John’s day, amen? Needless to say, “Tefera fragia” was one of the many things that made Laodicea a very, very wealthy city.