Summary: Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well serves a classic example of Jesus’ compassion toward all women (and men).
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
The Man Who Understood A Woman
I knew I was in trouble when my secretary giggled when she saw my sermon title. I know what the guys are thinking, “Oh yeah,…if only.” And the ladies, especially the married ones are thinking, “Oh, yeah, . . . that will be the day.” Many on both sides of the gender divide are convinced that “the man who understood a woman” is an oxymoron. A contradiction in terms. As John Gray’s best selling book declares: Men are from Mars and Women are From Venus.
This is the place where I need that joke I told a few weeks ago on Sunday night. The one about the guy who found genie in a bottle who promised to grant him anything he wanted. His first request was for a bridge to Hawaii. The genie balked at that reminding him how impossible it would be and how much concrete it would take. He was offered a second try. This time he decided to be more serious. Since he had been married and divorced a couple of times, he asked for the ability to understand women, what made them tick, what they really meant when they asked for something. The genie paused for a moment and then said, “Do you want that bridge four lanes or six.” But I decided not to tell that one!
Just to balance things a bit I want to read you the Top Ten Reasons Eve Was Created. Fasten your seat belts. The #10 reason why God created Eve—God was worried that Adam would frequently become lost in the garden because he would not ask for directions. #9—God knew that one day Adam would require someone to locate and hand him the remote. #8—God knew Adam would never go out and buy himself a new fig leaf when his wore out and would therefore need Eve to buy one for him. #7—God knew Adam would never be able to make a doctor, dentist, or haircut appointment for himself. The #6 reason Eve was created—God knew Adam would never remember which night to put the garbage on the curb. #5—God knew if the world was to be populated, men would never be able to handle the pain and discomfort of childbearing. #4—As the Keeper of the Garden, Adam would never remember where he left his tools. #3—Apparently, Adam needed someone to blame his troubles on when God caught him hiding in the garden. #2—As the Bible says, it is not good for man to be alone! And the #1 reason why God created Eve---when God finished the creation of Adam, He stepped back, scratched his head, and said, “I can do better than that!”
I am making light of this, of course. But the real tension that can sometimes exist between men and women, even husbands and wives, is not a laughing matter. “Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus” makes a cute title, but it also clouds the reality of a lot of pain and hurt and even more a hunger to understand and be understood. Even in the church in our day, just beneath the surface, unspoken, but not unfelt, runs a current of concern and confusion about whether men and women really understand one another.
I am not going to solve that problem today. I will not even attempt to. Our text today reminds us that the one we serve and follow understands us and our mates far better than we even understand ourselves. Where Christ is Lord, there is hope for a better future—either on Mars or Venus or more importantly on that third rock in between.
This month we are exploring personal meetings between Jesus and four different individuals. Last week and this week provide an interesting contrast, one I think John intended us to see. That is why he organized his book the way he did. Last week in John 3, Jesus met a male status symbol. He was educated, probably wealthy, religious, powerful, and highly respected. In John 4, Jesus meets one who was everything Nicodemus was not. The contrast is striking!
Jesus met a woman at a well. I have met her. So have you! You might have met her at a homeless shelter. She came beaten and bruised by her boyfriend. She has a couple of kids and no place to go because she won’t put up with the abuse anymore. Her family had taken her in before, but no more, they said. It’s her fault. It has to be, they say. Anyone who works in an emergency room has met her. Every policeman in almost every community has met her more than once. She calls the police for help one minute and attacks them the next when they threatened to haul her husband or boyfriend off to jail.