“Finding Meaning in a Meaningless Life”
May 19, 2013
The Pharisees heard that Jesus was winning and baptizing more disciples than John. 2 But in fact Jesus was not baptizing. His disciples were. 3 When the Lord found out about all this, he left Judea. He went back to Galilee again.
4 Jesus had to go through Samaria. 5 He came to a town in Samaria called Sychar. It was near the piece of land Jacob had given his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there. Jesus was tired from the journey. So he sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 A woman from Samaria came to get some water. Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew. I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” She said this because Jews don’t have anything to do with Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered her, “You do not know what God’s gift is. And you do not know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would have asked him. He would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you don’t have anything to get water with. The well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
12 “Our father Jacob gave us the well. He drank from it himself. So did his sons and his flocks and herds. Are you more important than he is?”
13 Jesus answered, “All who drink this water will be thirsty again. 14 But anyone who drinks the water I give him will never be thirsty. In fact, the water I give him will become a spring of water in him. It will flow up into eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water. Then I will never be thirsty. And I won’t have to keep coming here to get water.”
16 He told her, “Go. Get your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands. And the man you have now is not your husband. What you have just said is very true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our people have worshiped on this mountain for a long time. But you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 Jesus said, “Believe me, woman. A time is coming when you will not worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know. Salvation comes from the Jews.
23 “But a new time is coming. In fact, it is already here. True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. They are the kind of worshipers the Father is looking for.
24 “God is spirit. His worshipers must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah is coming.” (He is called Christ.) “When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus said, “I, the one speaking to you, am he.”
The wisest man who ever lived said,
““Meaningless! Everything is meaningless! Everything is completely meaningless! Nothing has any meaning.” Ecclesiastes 1:2
We all have probably felt that way at one time or another. We start off in life with these high hopes; with these unrealistic expectations. We chaff under our parents rule and long for the day when we are finally on our own. It doesn’t take too many days on our own before we realize life was not all we expected it to be with our new found freedom. We come to realize we didn’t have it so bad. Now we are faced with living life. Paying rent; finding and holding down a job; keeping up the car and keeping it filled with gas. Life is just a little more than we expected. It’s not quite as much fun as we expected.
The Mr. or Ms. Right – didn’t turn out quite the way we thought. After the newness wore off their faults came shining through. Bad breath, passed gas, messed up hair – WOW! It wasn’t like we expected.
And freedom. Where’s the freedom? We are a slave to our jobs. We don’t have time to play and have fun like we expected. Who has time for fishing or hunting trips?
And so we begin to do one of two things. Maybe first we try to dull the pain; blunt the sharp edge of life. We begin to drink a little bit – just to take the edge off. But before long we find we have to drink more and more or pop more and more pills. We have to smoke more and more just to get a little piece of mind. Before long we find we NEED the fix or whatever out drug of choice is. We deny we are alcoholics or addicts or junkies – we think we can control it. We can quit anytime we want – we just don’t want to. Or we WANT to – just not right now.
Some people’s escapism is sports or entertainment of some kind. But, like drugs – it doesn’t really satisfy.
So secondly, we try relationships. There is a deep need for love. We were created to love and be loved. The girl or guy of our dreams didn’t work out – but HEY! There’s more fish in the sea. Mr. Right may be the next guy we meet. The girl of our dreams may be that sweet thing we just met. And we go from relationship to relationship – never satisfied. Never finding love. Never having that deep need met – never finding our ‘soul’ mate.
As I was reading this story of the woman at the well some words popped out at me. First, she was alone. Verse seven says, “A woman from Samaria came to get some water...”
She was alone in the heat of the day. Many scholars say she came at this time so she wouldn’t run into anyone else. She may have been osterized by the women in the community. Maybe they thought she would steal their husband, too. She was alone. What choice words did she hear in her wake? Floozy? Husband stealer? Maybe worse. Who knows? It probably wasn’t nice. What a lonely, lonely person she appears to be. Have you ever felt that way? All alone. Nobody understands you. Solitary. That’s a hard way to live. We have probably all lived there at one time or another.
Another word that comes to mind is, 2. Aimless. She had five husbands and the one she was living with right then was not her husband. That tells me a couple of things. First, she was probably very beautiful to have been so desirable to so many men. But maybe now her beauty is fading or she has just given up on the institution of marriage. Aimless, purposeless; just trying to make it through life. How many people are living like that today?
Thirdly, she was angry. She says, “You are a Jew. I am a Samaritan woman! Why are you asking me for a drink?” She knew Jews didn’t associate with her people. They considered them as low as dogs. Maybe she thought Jesus was making a pass at her. I think she may have responded in anger – given her past with men and the situation she was in.
Fourthly, she was ashamed. Have you ever done anything you are ashamed of? Ever done anything you would like to keep hidden in the past? Ever done anything you don’t really want anyone to know about? This woman did. Five husbands and only God knows how many others have been in relationship with this woman.
Folks, God knows all our secrets. Jesus is aware of our past. Every dark, dirty, despicable thing we have ever done is know by Him. But the amazing thing is that He loves us anyway. Do you think Jesus took this out of the way route by accident? I don’t. Most people didn’t travel this way. Jesus purposely went this way because He knew there was a lonely, angry, hurting woman that was going to be drawing water at noon. Jesus was on a mission to save a hurting soul. I don’t know what deep dark secret you may be hiding – but Jesus does – and He loves you anyway.
Another word that came to me was, fifth, Ignorant. Jesus said she didn’t know what the gift of God was and she didn’t know who was talking to her. She was ignorant. We are ignorant of so much going on around us. It is hard for us to see God working in our lives. It is so difficult to see the hand of God or to hear His voice. We are so ignorant.
The Bible says to ask for wisdom and God will give it to you. This woman, once she realized she was ignorant quickly asked for that gift. I believe she found it. I believe she discovered who was talking to her, too. Jesus revealed to her that He was the Messiah.
Don’t be ignorant. Seek. Ask. Knock. We need to be Truth seekers. This woman had knowledge of religion. Notice that she knew the history of the well. She was familiar with Abraham and the patriarchs. She figured Jesus must be a prophet. She had a little knowledge of religion – but not a personal relationship.
I wonder if Jesus was there in answer to some of her lonely prayers. I wonder if this woman, wounded and beaten down by life, had cried out to God. I think she did. I think Jesus was there to lead her into a personal relationship with Almighty God and to get her on the right track. That is how we stay on the right track when it comes to theology and religion and philosophy and all the rest. We need to have a personal, vital, relationship with Jesus – and He will help us to find the truth. He will help us find our way. He will show us how to truly live. After all – He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Another word that comes to mind when I think of this woman is, 6th, Hopeful. She says, “Give ME some of this water!” (V.15) she says, “I see you are a prophet!” (v.19) Can you hear the hope in her words? The Bible says,
“The woman said, “I know that Messiah is coming.” (He is called Christ.) “When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” (V.25)
This woman at the well was hopeful. How important it is for us to have hope. There is no situation; no sin; nothing we can get ourselves into that is hopeless. All we have to do is reach up to Jesus – He is already reaching down to us. Believe that those lonely, painful prayers you are praying will move the hand of God. I don’t know how long it took for Jesus to personally respond to her prayers. Daniel’s answer to his prayer was delayed for 21 days. God may not answer your prayers in your timing – but don’t give up hope. Always be hopeful.
You do that by reading the promises of God. Get hope through reading the Bible.
Another big word that pops out at me when I read this story is, 7th Needy. This woman was needy. She was lonely. She was aimless. She was angry. She was ashamed. She was ignorant. But she was hopeful in her need.
Do you have needs? Jesus is the answer to your needs. This woman at the well had one last important word to describe her. She was, 8th, willing. As Jesus began to talk to her she was so willing. “Give me this water!” she said.
Jesus explained how to have a true relationship with God. True worshippers worship in spirit and in truth. The right relationship is not through rituals and rites and old ceremonies. True worship is not a matter of the head. It is a matter of the heart. It is a matter of the Spirit.
Can I ask you how YOUR relationship is with Jesus? Has religion crowded relationship out? Have you been seeking to find fulfillment in anything but Jesus? Are you lonely and lost – like this woman at the well?
Jesus is only a prayer away. It only takes a prayer like this,
I come to you hurting and alone. Life is not what I had expected. I have sinned and tried to find my own way. Please forgive me. I surrender my will to yours right now. Would you guide me? Would you lead me? Help me to be a true worshipper of you.
In Jesus Name,