All she wants is water. That is all this woman came to Jacob’s well to get. To throw her bucket down a 90 foot deep well, to hoist it back up brimming with water, and then to haul it back home under the sweltering noontime sun. That is all she wants. Then she would be satisfied— or so she thought.
Our sermon reading comes from John 4:5-26:
So [Jesus] came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”
She reaches the city well only to run right into a Jewish stranger. That’s a problem. He’s a Jew, she’s a Samaritan; the two cultures do not blend together. Time and time again she is told how her Samaritan race is inferior to the Jewish race. Yes, a Jew can trace his family tree back to Abraham. Being a Jew means holding the promise of the coming Savior. You heard it earlier; God promises Abraham: “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). This is God’s way of saying: “Jesus will enter the world through Abraham’s descendants.
Her family tree doesn’t carry the Promise. Yes, she is half-related to Abraham, but also related to many other pagan nations. As a result, she blends the religious life of both into one worship. She searches for God’s comfort in the first five books of the Bible while also seeking guidance in sacrifices to the sun-gods. She craves comfort and certainty by praying to the One true God while also praying to one of the many fertility gods. The sight of this Jewish man only highlights that her worship is missing something.
Not to mention, this man doesn’t just sit there; he talks and pries and probes and asks questions— forcing painful memories to bubble up. It is as though he is trying to get her to confess that her life is a mess and that she does not know how she stands with God.
Yes, she has been married five times; she has five failed relationships. Yes, one time, when married, she fell in love with another man and ran off with him. Yes, she married that man, but got bored in their relationship. So, she delved into a forbidden, exciting affair. Yes, she married that affair, but the arguments kept coming and a divorce could end the argument quicker than couples counseling. Yes, she recognizes her live-in boyfriend is not the answer in her quest for commitment.
The more she stays here, the more she is reminded of all the things her heart chases after in the hope of finding true, lasting satisfaction— even when she searches for satisfaction in something as simple as water.
That is what Jesus gives. Listen again to verses 13-14: “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again…” You can imagine Jesus pointing at the well. The water she wants will eventually run out. Earthly things can never quench your heart’s real need. Water, food, clothing— these things run out and you need new and more and bigger and better. Relationships can have broken promises and tensions and frustrations. Chasing after false gods (or believing untrue things about Bible teachings) never gives your heart lasting contentment.
So, Jesus says: “whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” You know water quenches a hungering thirst. Yet, Jesus is not offering you something to drink. He calls faith “water.” Understand what faith is. “Faith” simply means “trust wholeheartedly.” When it comes to Jesus, faith is trusting he fully removes your every sin. Faith quenches your soul’s thirst for eternal life. The water is “living” in the sense that Jesus continually pours the guarantee of peace with God into your heart.
This is the water Jesus offers. This is the water he knows the woman so desperately needs. Yet, she still says: “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” She still thinks Jesus will fill her bucket with water! Maybe a part of you is screaming: “Come on, lady! Don’t you see this is Jesus? He offers eternal life! He can answer every question, fill you with lasting comfort, and guide you in life! How can you be so slow?!” Yet, could the same be said about you?
Yes, you do not worship the one true God with animal sacrifices. No, times have changed. Now, the heart is tempted to place both God and sports into the same position! So, you can worship for several Sundays in row and then worship the mighty god of tee-ball and baseball during the spring. Or maybe the gods of band concerts and sport practices and time out on the town take the place of walking behind your Savior during our special midweek Lenten services.
Yes, you may not search for love in affairs and lust. Yet, maybe you think alcohol can numb frustration. Maybe you think binging on online games can relieve stress. Maybe you think gardening can calm fears in a way the Bible never can.
Yes, you may not drag a bucket out to get water, but do you try to find happiness in what you own?… or in what you buy? That buying a new car means you will have respect? That getting a bigger house means you have money? That sitting in committee meetings mean you are finally important? How long are these things actually going to fill your heart with peace and comfort?
The more I look at this woman looks and where she looks lasting happiness, the more I realize I, too, chase after those same things. It’s as though I think the Bible will only starve my soul and that the world can offer me true and lasting happiness. If I am really honest with myself, I recognize my still-sinful-heart will gladly search for joy in stuff that will perish forever.
It is precisely for this reason that Jesus spends so much time at Jacob’s well. Yes, cultures clash; he’s a Jew and she is a Samaritan. Yet, Jesus sees a greater cultural clash going on: he is God; she, by nature, is an enemy of God. Jesus enters this woman’s world in order to pour out his blood and usher her into his heavenly family. With his victory over sin, he grasps the satisfying forgiveness our souls so desperately need. After rising from death, he pours out forgiveness to every thirsting soul.
Baptism’s waters have flooded you with a Holy Spirit-worked faith. Jesus’ body and blood continually fills you with assurance of sins forgiven. The Bible reveals the timeless truth that Jesus Christ gives you eternal life!
This living water does more than just assure you of your standing before God. It satisfies your heart’s every need as you journey through life. Satisfy your heart by filling it up with God’s Word. Make worship a priority; yes—a priority!—even if it means scheduling sports, friends, and family around the Word of God. Fill your heart with the truth of God’s forgiveness. Fill your heart with confidence that the Almighty God of the universe listens and answers your prayers! Nothing else will give you such deep joy. Stand in this Living Water!
Make your Bible a second spouse. Read the gospel books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and ask yourself: “How does Jesus put my needs first?” See a Savior who sacrifices his life for your benefit. See a Savior who is willing to listen to your questions every hour of the day. Reflect his selfless love in your relationships.
See God in everything you own, in all you buy, and in what your status is. God marks you as his child. No amount of money or job title is going to trump that. Through Jesus you have eternal life! Read your devotions and be filled with lasting satisfaction.
Jesus offers you this Living Water. “Water” than quenches the heart’s thirsting needs. “Living” because it never runs dry. Only Jesus gives you the answers the world cannot give. Only Jesus gives you peace unlike any other. Only Jesus gives you a title that truly matters. Run to him and Quench Your Thirst Forever!
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