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There was an argument a number of years ago among beer makers about who used the best water in their beer making process. One argued that their water was the best because it came from underground artesian wells. The other argued that their water was the best because it came from fresh mountain streams. In the final analysis, it probably doesn’t matter where the water used to make beer comes from. But what if a brewer could claim that the water they used to make their beer could heal whatever ails you and give you eternal life? Even people who don’t like beer would want to drink their product!
Of course, no brewery can make such a claim, but Jesus can. He claims to be able to give us the water of life that bubbles up inside us and gives us eternal life. This water isn’t bottled and sold anywhere. It’s free and only available in one place, right here in the Bible. Jesus told the crowds in Jerusalem, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.
Living water is the good news of the gospel, the only thing that can quench the thirst of those who feel the flames of Hell licking at their feet because of their sin. It’s what the Holy Spirit uses to bring people to believe that Jesus is their Savior, that baptism washes away their sins so that they have eternal life. You have that living water. By God’s grace, you have heard the Gospel. The Holy Spirit has used it to bring you from death to life, from unbelief to faith. By God’s grace you have been baptized into Christ and been united with him in his death resurrection. You know that everyone needs this living water, or they will suffer eternal death without even a drop of water to cool their tongue. So, share it. Let it flow from within you. No matter how much you give away, it will never run out.
This morning, we see Jesus modeling for us how to share the living water of the gospel with others.
John tells us that Jesus was traveling from Judah to Galilee, and that he was traveling by the most direct route which took him through Samaria. He came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the piece of land Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Then Jesus, being tired from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
Most of you probably know why John tells us this. In verse 9, he reminds us that Jews and Samaritans don’t associate with each other. They aren’t friendly with each other. In fact, most Jews would go through the trouble of crossing to the other side of the Jordan river just so they would not have to go through Samaria on their way back and forth from Galilee to Jerusalem. By going through Samaria Jesus was showing us that the water of life needs to be shared in uncomfortable places, places where it might not seem that we, or the gospel would be welcome.
What’s your uncomfortable place? Where would you feel uncomfortable, or unwanted if you tried to share the water of life? Would it be work, or at the coffee shop, or on an airplane, or maybe at a family dinner where you knew some people were hostile to Christianity?
Whatever your uncomfortable place is, it couldn’t be more uncomfortable than it was for Jesus, a Jewish man, resting at the well of Jacob in Sychar. But he wasn’t looking uncomfortable. He was looking for an opportunity to share living water with someone even in that place where he knew he might not be welcome. And an opportunity presented itself.
Verse 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” Normally a Jewish man might have just ignored her as if she didn’t exist, or maybe made some derogatory comment under his breath. The hour of the day also implies that she was a social outcast even in her own city, probably because of the number of times she had been married. She was coming to the well when she knew it was unlikely anyone else would be there. But Jesus initiated a conversation with her, which took her by surprise.
Jesus was willing to share living water with unlikely people, people like the tax collectors and sinners, like this Samaritan woman. Who would you consider an unlikely person? Someone with green hair, tattoos and piercings? A homeless person? Someone of a different color? Someone with a strange accent? Your neighbor who rarely comes out of the house? Bottom line, we know what Jesus knew. No matter how unlikely it might seem to us that someone might be willing to listen to the gospel, if they are human, they need the living water of the gospel. Be willing to talk to anyone with whom you come in contact, no matter how unlikely it might seem to you that they will listen. They need what you have.
That brings us to the next thing that Jesus did. He peaked this woman’s interest. He let her know that he had something she wanted, something she desperately needed. Jesus told 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.”
How can you peak someone’s interest and let them know that you have something they want, something that they desperately need? Listen for clues. Watch their body language. Do they talk about how worried they are about Corona virus? Do they seem sad about something? Do they talk about a lack of justice or fairness in the world? Whatever it is, you have what they need. You know that God promises that he is in control. You have the peace of knowing that God may put an end to the Corona virus very quickly, but if he doesn’t, even if you become infected, you know that God can heal you, or he can use it to take you to be with him in heaven. Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. You know that even in the midst of the saddest experiences in life you have joy, a joy that comes from knowing that your sins are forgiven, a joy that comes from knowing that when someone dies believing in Jesus they have eternal life. You know that unfairness and injustice exist because of sin, but that Jesus suffered the worst injustice of all, he was punished for our sins. When he comes again, he will establish perfect justice for all eternity. Let people know that you have something they want and desperately need.
Jesus let this woman know that he had something she wanted and desperately needed. At first, she was only thinking of earthly, physical things. At first, she thought Jesus could make it so that she wouldn’t have to keep coming out to get water from the well every day. So, Jesus helped her recognize her real need, her sin and her need for forgiveness.
Verse 16 Jesus told her, “Go, call your husband, and come back here.” “I have no husband,” the woman answered. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say, ‘I have no husband.’ In fact, you have had five husbands, and the man you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.
Unlike Jesus, we can’t see into someone’s heart and know their sin. But we don’t have to. All we have to do is let their conscience go to work. We can do that by asking them, “are you ready for eternity? If you were to die tonight, do you know where you would be?” Getting someone to think about their mortality gets them to begin to think spiritually, even if they say that they don’t believe in anything after death.
Of course, talk of death and mortality makes people uncomfortable and often, they will try to change the subject. That’s what this woman did. She tried to make the discussion about a controversial subject – differences between places of worship. And Jesus could have easily followed her train of thought made clear to her what the Bible has to say. Yes, God did say that the location of the Temple and the only place where sacrifices were to be offered to him was Jerusalem. But he managed her objections and kept the focus on God and not the place or manner of worship.
People will try the same thing today. They might try to derail the discussion and bring up all the terrible things that have been done in the name of religion, or how there is only one Bible yet so many different religions that can’t agree on what it teaches. Those might be topics to discuss at some point, but be like Jesus, don’t get distracted. Keep the focus where it needs to be. Regardless of what may or may not have been done in the name of religion, regardless of the fact that there are many different religions and only one Bible, you will still have to face death one day. Do you know where you will be?
Jesus kept the focus where it needed to be. Verse 21, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will not worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem… a time is coming and now is here when the real worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for those are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. What matters is your relationship with God, not what others have or haven’t done, or where you worship.
Her response is interesting, I know that Messiah is coming” (the one called Christ). “When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Sounds a lot like what many people say today. “I know who Jesus is. He is love, and when he comes, I’m sure I’ll be just fine because, if he is love, then he surely won’t punish anyone.”
The problem this Samaritan woman had, and that so many people today have, is that they know something about Jesus, but they don’t really know Jesus. If you think that because you have heard Jesus is loving he surely won’t punish anyone, you don’t know Jesus. If you think that just because you belong to an organization and help it do a lot of good for others in the name of Jesus you are one of his disciples, you don’t know Jesus. He made it clear to this woman that worship needs to be in Spirit and in truth. You have to know the truth about who Jesus is and what he has done. He is I AM. He is true God and true man so that he could live a perfect life in your place and then be punished in your place. He rose bodily from the dead and has ascended into heaven. If you deny any of these truths, as many do, you don’t know Jesus. But when you know who he is and what he has done for you, that he has given you living water, that he has washed your sins away and given you what he earned by his life and death as a free gift, you can’t help but worship him in spirit. As he continues to pour living water into you through the gospel in word and sacrament, the joy of your salvation bubbles up inside of you and streams of living water flow from within you.
Share living water- even in uncomfortable places, with unlikely people. Let them know that you have what they desperately need. Help them recognize that they need it. Manage their objections by avoiding peripheral arguments. Keep them focused on who Jesus is and what he has done for them.
Share Living Water
- With _____________________ people
- Let them know you have ____________________________________________
- Help them recognize their ______________________
their objections by
- Avoiding ________________________
- Focusing on _____________________