Sidle up, Friends. It’s time for a little rest on this dusty journey. Grab a stone, shade your eyes from the noonday sun and look up. You can tell a lot about someone by the way they talk to others. We’re in John 4, at an old well–a well that has seen generations of God’s people coming and going. Our Savior is taking a rest, and sets His wearied body down. Along comes a woman–an ordinary woman going about her daily business of water-gathering. Jesus starts a conversation by asking her for something simple, yet deceptively complex-a drink of water. There were a lot of social protocols attached to the getting of water in those days…
There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”For his disciples had gone away into 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? For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.”
I love how Jesus doesn’t even really answer the woman at the well’s initial question, the question she thought was the most important to ask. He doesn’t get sucked into that conversation. He steers the conversation toward Himself. Now this would be quite off-putting for any of us to do. No one’s heart or mind stays open to the words of an arrogant conversationalist who must always be the focus of the dialogue.
Somehow it’s different with Jesus. Because it’s supposed to be different. This is the One Conversation that we should have that is always, ALWAYS turned to Jesus.
The Questions: What on earth are You doing with me, Jesus?! You are not following the rules! Who ARE you?
He leads her heart and mind a bit, until it’s ready. Then…
The Answer: I am He.
Sometimes, the first questions that pop into my head aren’t the ones I really need answers to. What are my first questions?…Why? How? When?
Maybe they need to be Who?
Not Why is this happening? How will it unfold? When will it change?
But Who will walk me through this? Who will grab ahold of its edges and peel them back to reveal what is needed? Who will choose the right time, and Who will help me wait?
Not Why do we do things this way? How should it look? When should we start?
But Who will help us see it? Live it? Whose eyes and hands and feet shall we use?
Have you ever had a faith conversation with a skeptic, particularly one who comes from a religious tradition? They are often relentless in their questions that hinge on the perceived externals of faith. Like this woman, they say
Question 1: Why aren’t you following the rules? How is it you are even speaking to me, let alone asking me for something? What ARE the rules?
Watch Jesus. He massages her curiosity. He knows her heart. This one…she needs to be led, with dropped crumbs, as though leading a skittish bird to hand. She’s missing the point.
“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.”
I wonder how often I stand beside Jesus, asking Him a question, without remembering, without really KNOWING the Gift of God, and to whom I am speaking? Is that why I get my questions so wrong sometimes? It’s not that He doesn’t hear my questions, He just knows me so well, that He tries to guide my heart to asking the deeper, more needed questions-the ones that have the important answers to unlock the power of His grace and majesty. These are the questions that point to HIM.
Question 2: What you offer is impossible, and it doesn’t fit with what I think you’re saying. You don’t have a jar, the water is out of reach, and by the way, where do you get that living water?
Question 3: (She doesn’t even give Him a chance to answer her second question before she’s peppering Him with another. I am so like her!) Are You greater than those leaders in the past on whom we place our confidence?
Jesus does not stray from the point He’s trying to make. He has something to offer that is different from anything she’s ever had, and He’s willing to offer it to her.
Next, she responds with a demand, and it’s a demand with an expectation that when satisfied, this daily burden of water-drawing will be gone from her life.
But Jesus gets personal. She won’t, so He will. Let’s talk about your husband…s.
Uh-oh. I know that sinking feeling of Jesus hitting my heart in the hard places.
She deflects His attention away from her to yet another religious argument.
Jesus is so patient. He finally addresses her question…sort of. He reminds her of what she should already know. It’s about salvation. Then He opens it up for her: God is seeking those that are His. (I love that He shares that the Father SEEKS those who worship Him!)
The woman mulls over her religious history… “I know that Messiah is coming…”
Jesus responds: I am the one you’ve been waiting for. I am He. He has spent the whole conversation trying to lead her to Himself. He has been bringing her past what she supposed was important to wrestle with, and led her to Who He is.
How often does He do this with me? What kind of questions have I been asking Him? Am I missing the point?
I laugh when I imagine the next few moments. The disciples arrive, carrying food from the city. They notice Jesus in conversation with this woman. Their eyebrows raise. (Can you imagine the knowing looks flying back and forth between them?) They see it. They marvel at it, but for some reason they don’t question Him about it. Maybe they’ve learned that this Man of God has the authority to not play by their rules. He’s a game-changer. Then the woman flees, leaving her water jar, and calls out to the people to come see this man that may be the Christ!
*I really see myself in this woman. I am so grateful for Jesus’ patience in our humanity and often misdirected focus.
*Jesus knows our hearts. He’ll steer our conversations the way they need to go. Even if we don’t ask the right questions, He’ll give us the needed answers.
*Jesus will wait while we pepper Him with questions that aren’t of primary importance. He’ll answer them by redirecting our attention to Himself, then He’ll get personal. What’s REALLY going on in our lives? He sees that, and takes it, and uses it to move us forward.
*God seeks after us. He offers full satisfaction. How wonderful to be sought after and satisfied!
*This ‘living water’ He offers…it’s amazing! It means active…blessed…endless in the kingdom of God…having vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul. Soul refreshing!
I hope our stop has been restful. We next stop in Jerusalem, after continuing on our journey through Galilee. This would be a good time to check the soles of your sandals, and fill up your travel mug with some of that living water.
May your day and walk be blessed. Enjoy your drink.