Questioning is one of the first skills a child learns when he or she is learning to speak: “Why?” “Why not?” “Water?” “How come the sky is blue?” “Are we there yet?” “What is that?” “Can I have a cookie?” “Can I have more cookies?” “Why can’t I have more cookies?”
As parents, sometimes we want to escape the hundreds of questions a toddler can ask in just one hour. Anyone who’s spent several uninterrupted hours with a verbal three-year-old knows what I’m talking about!
Still, questions are a good thing. Good questions are even better, and the Samaritan woman at the well asked some of the best. John 4:1-42
“How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (John 4:9)
In other words, Jesus, why are you willing to speak to me? Sure, Jesus was thirsty from his long walk, but his request for the woman’s help was meant to grab her attention by the very unlikelihood that he would speak to her at all; Jesus ignored all social norms and expectations by acknowledging her existence, never mind holding a conversation with her!
Aren’t we in the same situation as the Samaritan woman at the well? We are the created ones, the fallen ones, the unworthy ones. Why, Jesus, are you willing to speak to us? The only answer that presents itself to me is the one given in John 3:16; Jesus was sent by God to save those who would believe in him. So then, a greater love than we can understand is at work here.
“Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob?” (John 4:11-12)
Such a great question! Are you greater than…? Are you greater than the best men who ever lived? Are you greater than Gandhi? Are you greater than Abraham Lincoln? Are you greater than Gautama Buddha? Mohammad? Socrates? Einstein?
This is the pivotal question that every man and woman must ask: Jesus, are you greater? The answer shouldn’t be automatic. So many people are “raised” as Christians, but nobody can inherit faith, and many who claim to be Christian have little to do with Jesus. Faith is an individual thing, and being raised as a Christian has little value without a faith decision.
If you examine the claims of Jesus, you can’t get away with calling him a “good man”. You must either call Jesus the Son of God, or dismiss him as a sad, deluded (yet strangely charismatic) philosopher who said many wise things and had a bunch of weird ideas about himself.
“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29)
First, let me point out that the reason this woman was at the well during the heat of the day was that she was trying to avoid the people of her town. She was a social outcast in a society of social outcasts (the Samaritans). So, the woman’s willingness to seek her neighbors out and bring them to meet Jesus was a complete turnaround for her. I marvel at this transformation.
How many of us hesitate to share our Jesus story because we’re afraid of what others will think of us? Perhaps the Samaritan woman felt that she had nothing to lose, but if we’ll think about it, there’s nothing of lasting value that we have to lose either, by sharing our Jesus story.
Second, she asked, “Could this be the Christ?” Her last question was just as important as her first. Ask yourself, could Jesus be the One and Only? We’ve been so empty. We’ve felt that our life had no purpose. We’ve been so alone. We’re insatiable, trying to fill our hollow hearts with something, anything to hold out the dark world around us. Could this Jesus be the one we’ve been waiting for all of our life?
Jesus poured out the truth to the Samaritan woman because she was thirsty. Since this series is about Water and Spirit, maybe I should spend a moment on the water and spirit references in this passage.
“…whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.” (John 4:14)
Ah, here’s one of those claims I was talking about earlier. It’s a wild claim that pushes the reader to make some sort of decision about Jesus. Naturally, Jesus wasn’t talking about a physical thirst, but he’s talking about the spiritual thirst we all share. Even atheists share this thirst, trying to find a source of value, purpose, and satisfaction in life.
Jesus cut straight to the heart of the woman’s longing for fulfillment and her thirst for truth in a life devoid of satisfaction and full of lies, and he made a huge promise to her if she would only believe. Decisions. Decisions.
“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)
Jesus held nothing back from the woman. He told her straight out that he was the Messiah (John 4: 25-26). He promised spiritual fulfillment to her. He even told her how to worship.
You have some decisions to make as you consider these questions:
- Jesus, why are you willing to speak to me?
- Jesus, are you greater?
- Jesus, are you the Christ?
- Jesus, can you satisfy my spiritual thirst?
- Do I worship in spirit and truth?
If there’s any way I can help you reach an answer to these questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Your comments and questions are welcome.
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