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John 4: 5-4

 

Jesus came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.  Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well.  It was about noon.

 

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”  (His disciples had gone to 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?”  (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “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.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep.  Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?”  Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty.  The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

 

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.”  Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband.  What you have said is true!”  The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet.  Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.”  Jesus said to her, “Women, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain or in Jerusalem.  You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.  But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”  The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ).  When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.”  Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

 

Just then his disciples came.  They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or “Why are you speaking with her?”  Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city.  She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done!  He cannot be the Messiah, can he?”  They left the city and were on their way to him.

 

Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.”  But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”  So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?”  Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.  Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest?  But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.  The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.  For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’  I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor.  Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

 

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.”  So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days.  And many more believed because of his word.  They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

 

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and redeemer.

That prayer is from the nineteenth psalm.  We could imagine those words on the Samaritan woman’s mind, when she rushed from the well into the town to tell everybody about this man she just met.  What words would she use?

The Gospel of John is a Gospel of words.  Chapter 1 Verse 1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In Verse 14: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us.”

Jesus is that Word.  Jesus loves words; he loves to take words and turns them around, to turn ordinary words and use them to express heavenly things.  In last week’s Gospel, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born from above, born anew, be born again, of the spirit.  In this week’s Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples who have come back with food that he has a food that they do not know about, “to do the will of him who sent him and to complete his work.”

The Samaritan woman comes to the well and there, sits Jesus, a Jew.  Her plan of action must have been “OK, I’ll just nonchalantly go to the well, fill my jug, and then slowly walk away, keeping my eyes straight ahead.”  You see, Samaritans and Jews did not interact.  Hey lived in parallel worlds; the lived as if the other community did not exist.  How sad that one group of people refuses to acknowledge another, because they’re different or because they have different theories about God.  It’s great that that sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore.

But Jesus is tired and he is thirsty.  So he asks her for some water.  So the Samaritan woman says: “You’re a Jew.  I’m a Samaritan.  Hello?  Generations of Hostility?  Ritual Purity?”  And Jesus says “If you know 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.  Those who drink of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty.”  The woman says “If I never have to come back here to draw water, sign me up!”

Jesus asks her to return with her husband.  Now the Samaritan woman needs to choose her words correctly.  She answers “I have no husband.”  She feels she has to hide herself; she doesn’t lie, but she conceals what the truth is.  But Jesus removes the veil from the situation.  (Now notice that Jesus is not scolding or rebuking or questioning her morals).  He says to her “You’re right in saying I have no husband; for you have had five husbands and the one you have is not your husband.  What you have said is true!”

The woman is amazed.  But she is uncertain.  She says “Sir, I see you a prophet.  Our ancestors worshiped on (Mount Gerazim)…and you people (meaning the Jews) say you have to worship in Jerusalem.”  Jesus says “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.”  The time is coming when that religious argument will not matter. He tells her about worshiping in spirit and truth.  She is further amazed, she’s catching on, but still uncertain.  She says “I know that the Messiah is coming, and when he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.”  Jesus says to her “I am HE, the one who is speaking to you!”

In the Greek the words are I AM (not I AM HE), recalling God’s word to Moses, when he asked, what name, what word should we use to describe you?

Pastor Gary reminded us last week that much of what Jesus speaks is in the present perfect tense (which in English, is imprecise).  When Jesus says “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth,” he’s speaking about NOW.  Jesus’ entire speech to the disciples is all about the present stretching out all the way into eternity.

So the woman takes her leave, as quickly as she planned to but for a different reason.  She drops what she’s doing literally and rushes into the city.  By the standards of the nineteenth psalm, her words are MORE than acceptable to God.  She is a true evangelist.  She doesn’t sweat over the words; she just tells the people what she knows. 

“Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done!  He cannot be the Messiah, can he?”

And so they hear her words of witness, and go to see Jesus and they came to believe that the man is truly the great I AM, the Messiah, the Savior of the World.”  All because she invited them to experience what she has experienced.

And so it is for us to witness to what we have seen, to how this man knows everything we have ever done, and gives us breath and food and water so that we may have eternal life.  Eternal life NOW.  When we gather at the table today and take the bread and wine, it is not a promise of Jesus being with us sometime soon, it is Jesus being with us NOW.

We would gladly sign up for evangelism classes if they were taught by this Samaritan woman.

Pastor Gary likes to quote St. Francis, “Preach the Gospel, but only use words when necessary.”  When we as a congregation feed the homeless, stand up for the downtrodden, give comfort to those who are beaten down, we give witness.  When we raise money to give people clean water and a new lease on life, people thousands of miles away that we will never speak a word to, we are witnessing to our faith.  When we visit someone beaten down by illness or loneliness, even if we say no words but just sit and hold their hand, we are preaching the words of the Gospel.

We as a congregation have all the words we need to witness to Christ’s love.  We have met this man that knows everything about us, everything we have ever done, and loves us. 

We have everything we need to witness for the great I AM, the Messiah, King of kings, Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.