See part one here:
As the woman recovers from her astonishment that a Jewish Rabbi is speaking to her at all, Jesus answers her.
“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who is speaking to you, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
She misunderstands him, and apparently thinks he is talking about the spring that is flowing at the very bottom of the well. It would be the freshest, coolest water. But Jesus doesn’t have a rope or a bucket. How will he get to that water?
But Jesus has water that is even greater than that. It is water that satisfies our deepest longings. He intends to draw us back into fellowship with God.
We look to Jesus to fix things for us. We want him to give us things that will solve our earthly problems. We want to be free from anxiety, from care, from trouble, from trials, from death…
And eventually, Jesus will give us all of that and more. But he has an even greater plan. He seeks to solve the original problem that is the core of everything else.
We want the Great Physician to fix the headache and the fever. And he will eventually. But first, the cancer must be removed.
We are in a cursed world because we are unclean. We are unclean because of our sins and because we are in a cursed world. We are miserable, because we were created as image-bearers of God, dwelling with him in eternity, and we are cast out of his presence.
God is holy. Man is sinful. We have a far greater problem than we can possibly imagine.
Jesus came to call his sheep, to gather them into his fold. He came to clean them, to lead them, to feed them, to take away their sins, to call them his own.
So he tells her to ask for living water, and she asks.
She genuinely desires it. She thinks that it would be great if she didn’t have to come to the well every day to get water…
So she asks. And Jesus wasn’t tricking her. He is going to give her exactly what she is asking for.
Jesus is lifting her thoughts higher. But first, a common hindrance must be removed.
And there are two things getting in our way of receiving the living water, depending on what kind of people we are. If things have gone relatively well for us – if we have money and health and reputation and a large, well-behaved family – we tend to settle too easily.
This is pride. We won’t allow anyone to shake us out of our complacency, even if it is to give us the Pearl of Great Price.
The other hindrance is the one that is common among those who are the outcasts, the losers, the people just like this woman. These are the normal people, with their normal anxieties and their normal fears.
And the biggest fear is this – if people found out who I really was, they would want nothing to do with me. If people knew what things were like in my house, if people knew what horrible things I’ve done, if people knew that I’m a fraud, if people knew the things that go through my head, if people knew my sins and my struggles and my shame, they would throw me out and never let me back in.
So you hold people at an arm’s distance. You keep yourself to yourself. You might be social, but there is a part of you that no one gets to see.
And the thought of Jesus inviting you into fellowship is terrifying. What if he finds out who I am?
THIS is what Jesus is giving this woman. He isn’t shaming her. He is saying, “I know who you are. I know your living situation. I know what you’ve been through. I know what your home life is like right now. I know all of your sins, even your most shameful.
“And I still asked you to give me a drink. I still want you in my family. I still want to give you living water.”
So he says, “Go get your husband…”
And he puts his finger right on her thirst.
Its funny how we read current cultural battles into the text. We blame feminism for high divorce rates (rather than abusive men) so we read that into this text as well.
We think that Jesus is confronting a fornicator, when there is no such thing in this text. But she is a divorcee! That is just a step above a prostitute, isn’t it?? But in that day, women didn’t divorce husbands. Husbands divorced them. A husband could throw his wife out for any reason whatsoever. And she had been cast out 5 times.
And now, she has given up and is simply living with a man. She still needs shelter. She still needs to eat.
And she is living with the shame in front of the whole community. She’s “that woman.”
But to Jesus she is “my sister, my spouse, my bride. The one I came to seek and save.”
Jesus is pulling back the curtain. He is doing the same thing he did in Eden when he said, “Adam, where are you? I want to cleanse you. I want to clothe you. But first, you must come out.
“You must first realize that I already know exactly what you did, I know exactly what your most shameful secret is. I already know your home situation. I already know who you are.
“In fact, I am going to take all of it on myself. I will take your shame on myself when I am lifted up naked in front of the world. I will be outcast and driven outside the city and take that from you. And I will take your sin and your misery and your death sentence upon myself – so that you can enter into Eternal Life.”
But again – I’m getting ahead of myself.
Because Jesus is God and his words carry power, the woman does NOT change the subject. She gets the subject. Jesus is talking about fellowship with God, which is what worship is. We get pictures of that on this earth.
So it reminds her of a long dispute between the Jews and the Samaritans. “Since you are talking about cleanliness, can you tell me where I can meet with God? The Jews say Jerusalem. But we have always worshiped here.”
When Jesus begins to gather his sheep together, he awakens in them the longing for worship. Where do I go? How do I act? I understand that you are desiring to gather me into your fold, but how, exactly, do we go about doing that?
The pictures and shadows are beginning to fade away. Jesus told her that in this particular debate, the Jews were right. Jerusalem and the worship there was the only proper form of worship.
But soon all of that would change. Soon, it wouldn’t be Jerusalem OR Gerizim.
God is not satisfied with empty rituals. He doesn’t want our sheep and our goats and our feast days and proper sabbath observance. He wants US.
This doesn’t mean that the rituals are not important. It is important to know what you are worshiping.
But if you just stop there, you have missed the whole point (Isaiah 1).
God wants YOU. He is gathering his sheep together.
He is calling us to put off our pride and our silly little dignities that we like to carry around.
He is calling us also to fully understand that he knows us inside and out, up and down, every word that has come or WILL come off of our tongue.
He knows what men have done to you. He knows what shame you are carrying around. He knows the sins that you are carrying around.
He knows your frailty and your weakness. He knows your greatest fear and your greatest longing.
He knows what you would do if you had the opportunity. He knows what you would do if you never got caught.
He hears the prayers under the fig tree when you don’t even know what to say.
And he STILL says, “Give me a drink.”
YES, he can get it himself. But he wants YOU, his bride, to take your part because you have dignity and worth. Just like Adam named the animals, and displayed his image-bearing, so also this woman is called to take part displaying her image-bearing. So just as Jesus asked for a drink, so now she gives that “drink” to her whole community – she brings them all to Jesus.
Bring the hope and the light and the joy of being forgiven, loved and accepted to the world. Take that water and pass it around.
Drink deeply of the Spirit and let that life flow all around you. LIVE!
It isn’t because he needs you. He is almighty God, and He upholds everything with his power. He doesn’t need his creatures.
But he loves you and you were created to bear his image. Give me a drink – because regardless of who you are and what you have done, you are still an image-bearer of God.
And he will wash you, purify you, take away your sins, clothe you with his perfect righteousness, and bring you into his family. He is preparing a place just for you.
And so you have dignity and worth. You aren’t what everyone says about you. Look deeper. Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. Take that water that he gives you and tell all of your neighbors about it.
This is a little bit different than Jesus simply shaming her for being a sinner and then allowing her to change the subject, isn’t is?