Readings: Exodus 17:1-7; John 4:5-10; 39-42
MESSAGE – where is your bucket?
If Nicodemus struggled to understand the new birth, even though he was a teacher and trained in his faith, its not surprising that a Samaritan woman with a fairly muddled life couldn’t get around Jesus’ offer of living water.
Jesus starts the conversation by asking for a drink at this well.
The woman is perplexed, to say the least.
Joh 4:9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Joh 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” Joh 4:11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
- Where’s your bucket?
- How do you get this water out of a deep well?
- But she is keen at least – even if to save on the daily chore.
Joh 4:15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Jesus must have been an interesting person to have a casual conversation with. He always managed to take people in another direction.
If you don’t know the story, well Jesus reply is certainly not what she would have expected. He gives her a curious instruction.
Joh 4:16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” Joh 4:17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. Joh 4:18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” Joh 4:19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.
You’d think this woman was a contemporary Christian. When it gets personal, talk theology. Have a debate. She avoids the discussion about here failed love life or relationships.
Aa a Samaritan she would have been familiar with the differences between her people and the Jewish religious traditions. They had their own Bible in their script. Their own temple. And they didn’t get on.
Which makes the whole encounter quite unique. In addition as we see when the disciples come back from their shopping trip, they are surprised to find him talking to a woman. It just wasn’t done.
It’s to this woman – who comes alone at the heat of the day – probably avoiding the critical eyes of others because of her failures – to who Jesus reveals the most profound truths. Especially this statement: Joh 4:24 God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
She responds with some insight here: Joh 4:25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Joh 4:26
But Jesus responds: “I who speak to you am he.” What an amazing revelation.
The disciples come back from the shops at this point. The woman is so challenged and perplexed by this that she leaves here water jar and goes back to her people. We read on: Joh 4:28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, Joh 4:29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
The result is startling in the next verse: Joh 4:30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him. A whole entourage of Samaritans come out to meet this man.
There’s another message within this passage that follows as we see the conversation between Jesus as his disciples. This time it’s about food. Listen to this: Joh 4:31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” Joh 4:32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Joh 4:33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” Joh 4:34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
Like the new birth – the water in the well – the food – another teaching session flows out of this about their work reaping the harvest. And again – it’s not about agriculture, but about reaching people.
I love the outcome of this story: Joh 4:39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” Joh 4:40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days.
She models our responsibility doesn’ t she – tell people about Jesus – and let them come and see. These Samaritans persuade Jesus to stay for couple of days. And despite the fact his was just a stop over, he agrees.
It ends really well: Joh 4:41 And because of his words many more became believers. Joh 4:42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
Isn’t that our desire too? To help people get to that point?
We can do it.
If we share our story about how Jesus has touched our lives. “Come and see” remains a key part of the Christian’s witness in the world.