Summary: This sermon uses the illustration of the Woman at the well to show how christian friendship and community is developed
On the way to Galilee Jesus passed through Samaria. It was noon when He reached the beautiful Vale of Shechem. At the opening of the valley was Jacob’s well. Wearied with His journey, He sat down here to rest while His disciples went to buy food.
The Jews and the Samaritans were bitter enemies, and as far as possible avoided all dealings with each other. To trade with the Samaritans in case of necessity was indeed counted lawful by the rabbis; but all socializing with them was condemned. There were several things a Jew could not borrow from a Samaritan; he also couldn’t receive kindness, not even a piece of bread or a drink of water. The disciples, in buying food, were acting in harmony with the custom of their nation. But beyond this they did not go. To ask a favor of the Samaritans, or in any way seek to benefit them, did not even cross the minds of Christ’s disciples.
As Jesus sat by the well side, He was tired, hungry and thirsty. His journey this morning had been extremely long, and now the midday sun shone down upon Him. He was made even thirstier by the thought that the cool, fresh water was just there, right beside Him, but yet it was so far away, down the shaft of the well; for He had no rope nor water jar, and the well was deep. He was just as human as the next person in this regard, and He waited for someone to come to draw.
A woman of Samaria approached, and seeming unconscious of His presence, filled her pitcher with water. As she turned to go away, Jesus asked her for a drink. Such a favor no Samaritan would deny. In the East, water was called “the gift of God.” To offer a drink to the thirsty traveler was held to be a duty so sacred that the Arabs of the desert would go out of their way in order to perform it. The hatred between Jews and Samaritans prevented the woman from offering kindness to Jesus; but the Saviour was seeking to find the key to her heart, and with the tact that only God himself could have, he asked, not offered, a favor. The offer of a kindness might have been rejected; but trust awakens trust. The Creator came to this outcast soul, asking for service at her hands. ….
As Jesus spoke of the living water, the woman looked upon Him with wondering attention. He had caught her interest, and stirred a desire for this water.
As the woman talked with Jesus, she was impressed with His words. Never had she heard such sentiments from the priests of her own people or from the Jews. Jesus had convinced her that He read the secrets of her life; yet she felt that He was her friend, pitying and loving her. O.K., I’ve spent a little time looking at the devotional aspects of this story, but lets change tack totally and have a look at a model for fellowship, and then see how this applies to our story.
The process that leads to fellowship in its true sense can be broken down in a series of steps. I would like to take you through these steps, and as we go through them, relate them back to the story we just read and also to your own experience. Don’t worry if you struggle to apply the Biblical story, as we will come back to it at the end.
As this is an American model for fellowship, you can imagine, it is based around a baseball diamond.
In baseball, you have to go round all the bases before you achieve a home run, the same can be said of the steps to achieving true fellowship, there are definite stages, or bases you must touch before fellowship is reached. With this in mind let’s head off to the first base. This is called HISTORY GIVING.
HISTORY GIVING usually begins as small talk, i.e. the weather, politics, shopping or where to find the best bargains, cars, pets, computers, or basically any safe, non-threatening topic. It doesn’t need to be deep, you don’t have to tell your life story, or go through your family tree. It can just be things you have done in the past few weeks or months, or even yesterday. Did you realise that right now you are making history? O.K. so it might not be recorded in any major books of history in the late twentieth century, but it is still history. HISTORY GIVING can also project what you plan to do in the future, such as having children, buying a home, career aspirations, for some of us life partners, or business enterprises. In HISTORY GIVING you can be very shallow, or you can choose to share something more personal. This is where all relationships start.