- The Woman at the Well
- John 4:4-42
- Lyndol Loyd April 19, 2020
Good morning Church! Today we are kicking off a new message series, “Jesus Stories,” where we are going to look at different accounts from the life of Jesus as found in John’s gospel. It seems to me that during this time of great challenge and upheaval, the best thing we can do is to draw near to Jesus. I know I need more of Jesus right now, and I have a feeling that is true for all of us.
We are going to get started by looking at a story that involves Jesus bringing the truth to someone’s life. It a story some of you will know as the “Woman at the Well” as we find it in John 4:4-42:
4 He had to go through Samaria on the way. 5 Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. 7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” 8 He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
15 “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”
16 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.
17 “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.
Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband—18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. 20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”
21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”
What are some of the truths we can learn from this encounter with Christ
Truth #1: I cannot hide my past from God.
Have you ever tried to hide something from God? I heard a story once about a woman who had to spend time in a Jamaican prison for attempting to smuggle two pounds of cocaine into Jamaica. She tried to smuggle it by hiding it in her hair, which tipped the authorities off because her hair was so big. In Texas, where lots of women have big hair, that might have worked. But in this setting, all that hair gave her away.
What she tried wasn’t terribly unique, though. Why is it that we believe we can smuggle our sins past God? What makes us think that we can sneak something past the all-seeing eyes of God? Past the all-hearing ears of God? Past the all-knowing mind of God? Why do we think that?
We’ve been doing it from the beginning. We believe that we can just pass something by God, and He’ll never see it, He’ll never know. Back at the beginning of time, when God created Adam and Eve, the Bible says that He put them in the Garden of Eden, they were naked, and they weren’t ashamed. They were living in perfect innocence. When they decided to disobey God, they immediately felt shame. Sin led to shame. Shame led to secrets. Secrets made them feel they needed to cover up.
The Bible says, “In the cool of the evening, God came to the Garden, and He asked the question, ‘Where are you?'” I tried to imagine that moment. God might have said, “What’s that you’re wearing?” “This old thing?” Did they think God wouldn’t notice them trying to cover up their shame, their sin, and their secrets?
We try just as ineffectively to deal with the sin in our lives. We do all kinds of things to try to deal with the sin problem in our lives. Don’t we all have a place in our lives where we tuck all the stuff we don’t want anybody else to know about? A secret cavern in our mind, a secret trunk we keep padlocked in our heart that we don’t want anybody to uncover or discover. We don’t want anyone to find our hiding places, so we carry them with us. They are heavy, and it’s shameful, and we’re afraid, and we even believe that God won’t see.
With the “Woman at the Well,” Jesus said, “Bring your husband,” and she tried to dodge that bullet and said, “I don’t have a husband.” Then Jesus decided that He needed to help her become honest with herself.
Jesus knew all about her shameful past. She tried to keep that secret. She lived in a culture where her lifestyle would have been considered very shameful. That’s the reason she went to the well in the middle of the day by herself. Nobody wanted to be with this woman. They would have been guilty by association. They shunned her, and Jesus knew about that.
He not only knew about her shameful past, He knew about her repeated failure. It’s not like she just had one mark on the scorecard. She had lots of smudges. Jesus enumerated those. Not only did He know about the issues of her past. He said, “I know what’s going on in your life right now.”
Do you know what’s true? Even amongst those who are watching via the internet or listening to the radio, there are people today who believe God doesn’t know how they’re living. “God doesn’t know what I’m thinking. God doesn’t know what I’m doing. God doesn’t know the secrets in my life.” It’s called denial.
The Bible clearly teaches that God knows about our past, He also knows what’s going on in our lives today. That’s where the saying comes from that you’re only as sick as your secrets. You can’t get well. You cannot have your spiritual thirst quenched until you’re ready to say, “God, I admit that I can’t hide anything from You. I want to be truthful about my sin, my past, and my secrets.”
The first step we can take is to move toward the truth. Be honest with yourself and be honest with God.
Truth #2: Jesus knows all about me, and He still loves me.
The very reason we try to hide our sins from God is that we believe God won’t like us if He discovers everything about us. We think if we can just hide parts of our life then God will still like us.
Does the Bible teach us that the moment God discovers things about us He stops loving us or caring about us? Is that what the Bible really teaches?
Let’s take a look at our story. During the conversation, Jesus refers to the woman by a descriptive term. We already know He knows all about her – her past and present. He knows all the good, the bad, and the ugly. He could have chosen to use several descriptive terms. He could have used a racially derogatory term and said, “Samaritan.” But He didn’t. He could have chosen to use the term “social outcast.” But He didn’t. He could have said, “Sinner”. But He didn’t.
How does that compare with your idea about God? Does that line up with how you understand God to be, or is it a new idea about God? Most people believe that God would rather beat us up than lift us up. This story teaches us the exact opposite.
Let me explain it with a story. A husband and wife are on a Friday night date. They’re holding hands and walking through the mall, window-shopping, and having a great time. The man hears a voice that says, “Hey, mister!”
Reflexively he looks around and says, “What?” He hears the voice say, “You’re not smart, and your wife’s ugly.” He’s shocked by what he hears, and he’s trying to figure out who said it. He can’t see anybody. Then he has a thought, “This is one of those candid camera things.” So he’s really cool. He takes his wife’s hand, and they start walking again. He hears the voice again, “Mister!” He looks around. “You’re not smart, and your wife’s ugly!” Now he’s starting to get a little irritated.
About that time, they pass a pet store in the mall. At the door, on a perch, is a little parrot. He sees the parrot. It says, “Hey, mister!” He talks to the parrot and says, “What?”
The parrot says, “You’re not smart, and your wife’s ugly.” He’s really offended. He goes into the pet store manager and says, “Your parrot offended me, offended my wife, and I want to know what you’re going to do about it.”
The pet store manager said, “I’m so embarrassed. That parrot has offended everybody today. I’ll take care of it right now.” He goes to the parrot, grabs the parrot by the throat, smacks his little beak, and sets him back down on the perch. The parrot is just holding on. The manager goes back to the man and woman and says, “Please accept my apology.” The man says, “You did far more than I thought you’d do. Sure we’ll accept your apology.”
He takes his wife’s hand and they’re walking out of the pet store. As they pass the parrot, the parrot whispers, “Hey mister!” The man says, “What!” The parrot says, “You know what!”
This is the idea that many people have about God. We think that God just dogs our steps, stays in our shadow, never lets us forget. He says, “You know the truth about your life. You know what’s true about you. You know what.” He never lets us off the hook.
Jesus wasn’t like that. He wasn’t accusatory or condemning. It’s almost as if He sees this woman being dishonest with herself and dishonest with God, and He tilts up a full-length mirror in front of this woman and says, “Just take a look. Look at the truth about your past. Look at what’s happening in your life now. Just look at that.” He stands next to her while she’s gazing into the real picture of her life and He loves her despite what she sees. He helps her break the cycle of her denial.
God looks at you and doesn’t see you for what your past has been or how you are at the present. God sees what you can be. He sees the potential in you. He sees what can take place once you begin to live within His love.
I want to encourage you to believe that the One who knows you best, loves you most. God knows you better than anybody, and He also loves you more than anybody.
Truth #3: Jesus is the only One who can satisfy your deepest need.
Psalm 42:1-2, “As a deer pants for streams of water, so I long for You O God. I thirst for God, the living God.” You say, “I would love to have this thirst in my soul satisfied. How does that happen?” You have to take the final step towards truth. You must admit your emptiness. You have to say, “Jesus, I’ve tried to fill my life every other way and I’m still thirsty.”
Can you be honest with yourself? Can you be honest with God?
Charlie Brown once said, “Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, ‘Where have I gone wrong?’ then a voice says to me, ‘This is going to take more than one night.’”
That might be the truth. It might take you a while to admit the futility of your life, the emptiness of your life. It requires you to say, “Jesus, I thirst. Jesus, I need what only You can give.”
The woman’s life has a big gaping puzzle piece that’s missing. She tries everything to find a fit. She is hoping to find something that would completely fill that place in her life.
She tried pleasure, the temporary fix, “If I could just get a little something today that will carry me to tomorrow.” She lived her life going from fix to fix, one pleasure pursuit to another. But that didn’t fit.
She tried work. We know she tried work because going out to a well wasn’t just something you did to bide your time. People would go outside their village to draw water from a well so they could wash their clothes, bathe, and cook. This was a part of her normal work routine. Sadly, one day looks just like the next. It was so unsatisfying. Work didn’t do it in her life.
And of course we know that she tried people, a whole string of them. That didn’t satisfy. One loser right after another.
Then on this particular day, she comes out and finds the piece that fits. I believe that in each of our lives, there is a God-shaped void that only He can fill.
He’s the only One that can bring completeness and wholeness to our lives. He’s the only One that can quench the soul thirst that you have, the deepest needs you have, the greatest soul thirst you experience is the thirst for forgiveness, the thirst to be right with God, the thirst for eternal life. We crave that. We need that. And Jesus is the only one who can provide that.
Jesus said in John 7, “If you are thirsty come to Me. If you believe in Me, come and drink.” We’re so thirsty!
When was the last time you were able to peacefully put your head on your pillow at night, guilt-free, no more shame? All of your secrets exposed to heaven, and you discover God loves you still.
When’s the last time you felt like your slate was wiped clean? When’s the last time you felt like you had a fresh start with God?
Too often, we try to do like the woman at the well. We say relationships will do that for me. How many of you have ever been disappointed by a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend? That just doesn’t get the job done.
How many of you thought, “I’ll just accomplish more. I’ll earn enough money, and I’ll be financially secure. I’ll invest it in Nasdaq. I live for the weekends. Recreational pursuits. Good times!” And Monday morning comes, and you’re still thirsty.
Jesus just sits next to you and says, “I’m the only One who can quench your soul thirst, the only One who can make you right with God.” That’s exactly what He’s offering you this morning.