The Woman at the Well
We have the APCM round the corner and I am obviously thinking a lot about the many people who contribute so much to our four churches over the course of the year.
Apart from the Churchwardens and PCC and DCC members, all of the flower arrangers, fund raisers, eucharistic assistants, sidesmen and women, cleaners, door openers, chair movers gardeners and so forth.
With all the activity in looking after the church buildings, an observer might imagine that the Church Of England Is predominantly about what we do for God; that perhaps the Church is like a historic building society, something like the National Trust.
We love these old buildings and the ceremonies that we have always performed in them and we have a vague sense that we are doing these things for God. I was wondering, when thinking about this passage, whether in doing so we are being a bit like the Samaritan Woman at the well at Sychar. We may think that we have been asked to keep these churches alive by God in this generation, that we have been called to do this and in doing so that we are helping God out, in the same way that the woman is asked by Jesus to give him some water. Verse 11 makes it clear that Jesus does not have anything to draw the water with, so he has been sitting waiting by the well for someone to come along with a bucket.
The woman may think, ‘I am serving this man at the well’ and feel good about it, like we who tend these church buildings may feel good about it, we are after all being Jesus’ hands and feet in our situation. And perhaps he has been waiting for some time for someone to come and draw some water from the spiritual wells in our parish, to draw water for him.
But Jesus says to her, as he says to us, ‘if you knew who you were talking to you would be asking me, not for water from the well but living water so that you will never be thirsty again’.
Jesus reveals that he knows everything about her life and even despite knowing her brokenness, he is offering her this living water…..absolutely what she needs in her life, rather than the succession of men she has been hooked up with all her life.
What does this mean for us?
Firstly do we know who we are talking to?
Do we know what we can receive from Jesus is of infinitesimally greater value that what we can give to him, what we do for him; much much greater value, because he knows us backwards; he knows our strengths and our weaknesses, he knows what we have been looking for, all our lives….the water in the well; in the case of the Samaritan woman, the comfort and love of men; these life aims are always inadequate, will always leave us wanting more, will always make us thirsty again, but what Jesus can provide is living water, indeed a spring of living water, welling up to eternal life…
The woman leaves her water jar verse 28 and says to everyone ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done. He cannot be the Messiah can he?’
We are told verse 39 that many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.
She had found the living water she had obtained from Jesus much more valuable than anything that she had done for for Christ
In the same way, what he can and will do for us, if we ask him and if we let him, is so much more important than what we do for him.
Have you yet found that living water?
If not, today is the day to ask him for it
So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him.
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”
The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jn 4:4–43). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.