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Water from the Well

John 4:5-26(27-30,39-42)

Pastor James F. Wright

Second Sunday in Lent, Series A
St John Lutheran Church  
Champaign, IL

Sun, Feb 28, 1999 

Jesus came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacobís well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the jouorn3ey, sat down by the well. Vs 5

Are you feeling tired, worn out, dissatisfied with the way your life is going? Do you wonder about the real purpose of living? Are you hurt by your relationships with other people? I have good news for you! In His conversation with a woman our Lord Jesus revealed the way to peace, inner strength, and spiritual energy which only He can give.

After a long journey on a hot day Jesus sat down by a well to rest. He asked a woman for a drink of water. When she was surprised that he would speak to her, he spoke of a living water he was able to give.

The Christian is aware of the biblical imagery here at the mention of a well. It was at such a well that Abrahamís servant found Rebecca, who would marry Abrahamís only Son, Isaac. It was at a well that Isaacís son Jacob met his wife, Rachel. So when Jesus meets the unnamed woman at the well we ought to see the significance of this location.

Bad things also happened at wells in the Bible. It was down a well that Josephís brothers put him when the sold him as a slave. The prophet Jeremiah was thrown into a well also because the people were angry when he pointed out their sins.

We come to the well of Sycar with this symbolism in mind. Jesus hints at the marriage imagery when he tells the woman to go call her husband.

Marriage has not gone well for this woman. For reasons we are not told she has been married five times. This is tragic even by todayís standards. What is given as a permanent blessing to one man and woman is twisted and broken, a temporary relationship in a throw-away world.

When people marry today they think too much of gowns an honeymoons than they do about the commitment they are making to each other. That leaves them heartbroken and torn when their relationship fails.

What the woman does not yet see is that she has just met someone who can fulfill her life more than any husband could. She has met God Himself, who is able to give her the water of eternal life.

It is no secret of the marriage imagery in the Bible. Christ Jesus is the groom who loves His wife and gives everything for her. Believers in Jesus are the bride. Cleansed of their sins and dressed in the white gown of Godís forgiveness, they stand ready to meet the groom when he returns. They are faithful to him alone, waiting to go to the wedding banquet which has no end.

This woman, like many people today, is not honest with herself. She is uncomfortable about herself, her personal life, the choices she has made along the way. What makes her uncomfortable most of all is the number of husbands she has had, and the fact that somehow this stranger knows she is living with a man to whom she is not currently married.

Many people today try to change the institution of marriage God gave us. They tailor it to fit their needs as they see them. Living together, same sex marriage, unscriptural divorce, these are all attempts to make marriage into something it other than God gave it to be. These changes move us further from God and from real happiness.

The woman is far from Jesus even though He is right there speaking with her. Her life is broken, and she cannot find God or come to Him. But this day God has come to her!

She asks him where God would like to be worshipped, here at Mount Gerizim in the Samaritan temple, or in Jerusalem at the Jewish temple. Jesus answers that the time has come when these two places are no longer needed. True worshipper sill worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

Jesus risks hurting this womanís feelings because he would lead her to worship in spirit and truth. In truth because God desires that we be true to ourselves in our inward places, the real us. That we come to God as we really are, admitting that we are sinful, broken, desperate for His help. This is the truth that is in us.

There is another truth. The other truth is Jesus Himself. In chapter fourteen Jesus says that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No once can come to worship the Father except through the Son.

This son is not some mere concept of God or an angle of approach. The Son is not some New Age discipline of spiritual thinking or positive energy. The son of God is Jesus Himself. He is God come down into our world. He lives with us, breathes our air, eats food with us, and grows tired and has to sit down and rest. He thirsts for water and must ask someone to draw it for Him.

He feels pain too, the punches they dealt him before his death, the whip on his back, the nails in his hands and his feet. We worship the Father through this Son because He is our atoning sacrifice. By His death he cleanses our sins that we may have access to God the Father in worship.

This is the most freeing, invigorating experience this life can offer, to worship God in spirit and truth. This worship shows us who we areódead inside. Oh we look alive on the outside, but it is more like wearing make up, a covering to hide the imperfections and wrinkles. Into our empty lives comes Jesus with his gifts. He rescues us from ourselves, delivers us from our tired existence. Jesus gives us a future, an eternal one, and teaches us how to live here by loving other. Forgiving those who hurt us, loving our enemies, laying down our lives for others, because that is what He has done for us.

This has the power to change our relationships with others. We learn from Jesus how to really love another person. To give to them without expecting anything in return, to be faithful to them, honoring them, but caring enough to speak the truth when they betray us. If we have no one who will receive the love of Christ from us this way in marriage, it is better to wait than to marry someone who will not understand our love or be able to share and return it.

This is the living water Jesus offers this woman. Water because she cannot live without it, living because it will never let her die. She receive this gift and tells others, that they may drink the water from the well of salvation, as Isaiah predicted, With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation Is. 12:3. This water has the power to heal us. It can mend our sorrow, lift our spirits, and bring us joy because it cleans our souls. It can draw us to love others. Jesus alone gives it. He pours it out abundantly to us as we receive His Words in the sacred Book, return to Baptism by daily contrition and repentance, and receive His body and blood. This is His meeting place with us. The is where we may draw water from the well.

Copyright © 1998-2011 James F. Wright. All rights reserved.

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