Want Some Water? - 3/4/18

I have just read one of the longest scripture readings ever, from a pulpit.
I will have to admit, … after such a long and rich Gospel, … I kind of want to say
‘Amen’ … and sit down … but this reading contains a lot of food for thought.
In fact, I was planning to go one way with this sermon … and found myself taking
a total 180 degree different direction.
Today, … I want us to explore the meeting of Jesus and the woman at the well plus
the new life He promised her … and all of us if we follow His teachings.
During the course of His journeys, Jesus traveled from Judea to Galilee, by way of
Samaria. … Most Jewish travelers preferred to make a detour that could take days
to go around Samaria in order to avoid contact with Samaritans who were pagans,
of-a- since … and sworn enemies of the Jews.
This stereotyping by the Jews of Jesus’ day of the Samaritan woman … and all
Samaritans, … as unclean and to be avoided at all costs is a lazy way of lumping
together all of those who come from a certain class, … a certain occupation …
or a certain race; … attributing to each individual the same characteristics as the
group. … Although some traits may generally be true of a group, … it is not
specifically true of each person in that group.
Such stereotyping, … as prevalent today as in the time of Jesus, … brings with it
offenses against our fellow human beings that are cruel and repulsive to the
Christian life!
Prejudice; … Discrimination; … Segregation; … Stereotyping; …Racism.
Our society is quick to cry out against such behavior … as well it should!
(although most of the shouting is hypocritical) … Regrettably, … all of these
negative attitudes were as much a part of the Jewish and Samaritan cultures as they
are part of ours today.
Prejudice judges a person’s character by their outward appearance.
Discrimination deprives a person of the right to have all the benefits of the society.
Segregation robs a person of the right to belong fully to that society.
Stereotyping denies a person of the right to be fully the individual they were
created to be.
Racism cheats a person of the rights inherent at their birth.
Prejudice against anyone who is different, … divides, isolates, and ostracizes
people.

2

It is the mark of an ignorant mind that perceives itself to be enlightened, …
who thinks they are better than someone else. … Prejudice has its root in an
ill-bred, faulty sense of reality … and leads to further ignorance.
1 Samuel 16:7: … “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance
or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the LORD sees,
for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.”
When we judge according to an outward appearance, … we are not seeing people
as God sees them.
Jesus took the direct route to Sychar, which was a town near Jacob’s Well.
Here, … in this little inconsequential village, … Jesus stopped, tired and thirsty, …
in the midday heat. … His disciples had left Him alone to go buy food.
Only a Samaritan woman was there, drawing water from the well. … Jesus did not
see the Samaritan woman as anything less than a human being.
In this time, every drop of water used in a household had to be carried from the
local well. … The well was the hub of every village. … The strong younger
women of the household normally did this task … but the Samaritan woman was
no longer young. … Scripture suggests that she was drawing water during the
hottest time of the day, … most likely because she wanted to avoid meeting other
townspeople. … She was probably considered a pariah because of her multiple
marriages and was an outcast because of this.
Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for something to drink … and here begins the
longest conversation recorded between Jesus and another person in scripture.
Given the role of women in that culture, … it is surprising that this conversation
happens with someone who was a woman and non-Jew. … The woman herself was
certainly surprised when Jesus spoke to her … because Jews and Samaritans
simply did not have anything to do with each other.
The story of the Good Samaritan reminds us just how much these two peoples
avoided one another, and how biased each was toward the other.
“From one man He has made every nationality” - Acts 17:26
One race cannot be better than another because all of us were born from the same
ancestors.
We are not given The Samaritan Woman’s name, which is not unusual in John’s
gospel. … As with other Biblical stories with no proper names, … this leaves us
the ability to insert our own name. … We could all be one of these persons.
Once again, we learn that Jesus was different from all other men; … He taught and
lived a life devoid of the prejudices of His culture. … Jesus never thought of the
historical division between Jews and Samaritans … and began talking to the
woman about ‘living water’.

3

But the Samaritan woman had a feeling that Jesus meant more. … She questioned
him. … Jesus explained that when people drink ordinary water, they get thirsty
again … but He knew of a water that gave an eternal quenching of thirst.
Needless-to- say, … this caught her interest, tired as she was of carrying water
daily. … She asked Jesus for some of this ‘living water’.
Jesus spoke to her as an intellectual and social equal … and she responded in kind.
Jesus told her that very soon none of the false rules that society had developed to
divide and hurt others would matter, … because the Messiah was coming …
and He would change everything.
In fact, He said: … “I am He (being the Messiah), … the One speaking to you.”
(John 4:26)
The story of the Samaritan woman, once again, … shows us that Jesus cared about
every person, … regardless of gender, race, or station in life.
This teaching, … that we are all brothers and sisters, … equal throughout eternity,
… is a great part of the ‘living water’ which He came to give us … and to bring
that love and caring for all persons into our lives is to drink of the ‘living water’.
The Samaritan woman was transformed by her meeting with Jesus, … just as we
all can be. … She believed Jesus was truly the Messiah, … the Anointed One.
She immediately repented of her past sins … and went back to tell her friends and
neighbors; … “He told me everything I ever did!”, … then how she met Jesus and
His offer of life-giving water.
In many ways, this story tells us that there is a well of grace ready to refresh all
souls parched by sin and suffering. … Jesus came to serve those who still need
both physical or spiritual healing. … He offers new life to all; … He came to give
‘living water’, … which is like a stream, that bubbling within us, … will pass from
us to other people as we share His love, … covering them in the spirit of Jesus.
The Samaritan woman does not appear in the Bible again but Saint Augustine and
most Biblical scholars later use this example to describe the spiritual thirst of the
human heart for goodness, … truth … and unconditional love; … that thirst is not
fully quenched until people are in the presence of God forever.
Take a few moments and think about: …
Are you thirsty for that ‘living water’?
What attitudes and cultural prejudices may be stopping you from fully
experiencing it?
Are you ready to accept this ‘living water’, … making the changes in your life, …
great and small, … that will allow you to drink more fully?
Where can you find that … ‘living water’?

4

Are you willing to do what you must to receive the ‘living water’?
Are you ready to
“love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31)
Are you ready to accept that ‘living water’?
O Love, thou spring of life,
well up in me.
Gush up from deep within,
receiving, glad, and overflowing,
giving life, the breath of God
that mortal life nor heart cannot contain,
life rooted deep beneath the earth,
above the stars.
Run deep, pure water of your grace,
pure flow of living energy,
that I may flow with love
each day, each breath.
O Love, thou spring of life,
well up in me.
That is from Pastor Steve Garnaas-Holmes, “Spring of Life”
AMEN