Home > Sermons, Theological Reflections, Uncategorized > Living Water – A reflection on John 4

Living Water – A reflection on John 4

Streams of Living Water
Somewhere on the VIA Train through the Canadian Rocky Mountains, far from any roads, electricity or anything man-made.

It started as an ordinary day for me. I quietly grabbed my bucket and headed to the well in a town called Sychar. I liked this particular well as it was known as Jacob’s well and it reminded me of my ancestry. It was some connection with my people, sometimes my only connection.

See, I’m not really liked in my community. I’ve had more than my share of relational failures. I’ve had five husbands. People aren’t so interested in my story or my thirst for love that has yet to be quenched. I’m just known as that woman. This is why I come to the well at midday. All the other women come at the beginning or the end of the day as it’s much cooler. I can’t handle their whispering any more or their glances as I walk by to get water. So I come at noon. It’s the heat of the day, but at least not many people come. I quietly come and then I leave.

So on this day, I set out as usual to quietly fill my bucket with water and then return to my home. There was a man sitting by the well. I’d never seen him before but he looked Jewish. That in itself was strange – what was a Jewish man doing at a Samaritan well? He must have been travelling from Galilee to Jerusalem. Traveling through Samaria is the fastest route. However, not many Jews actually wander through our land – they take the longer route around us through the Jordan Valley and Jericho just to avoid us. Jews and Samaritans do not get along. In fact, my people tend to attack Jewish pilgrims – we don’t want them here just as much as they don’t want to be here.

As I went to draw water, this man asked me “Will you give me a drink?” He looked tired and I wanted to help him, but I didn’t understand why he was asking me – a woman. Devout Jews are not supposed to be alone with a woman, let alone talk with her. Oh the rumours that would start if someone saw him talk to me! To make matters worse, I’m a Samaritan woman.  Yet, he was asking me to give him a drink. He didn’t have his own bucket or cup – that would mean he would have to use mine. This would be another transgression for a Jew. In my confusion, all I could utter was, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”

This man simply replied: “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.”

Right, living water. Water that continuously flowed, like water from a stream. We all know that such water is prized – if someone wants to be cleansed or healed, living water is far more effective than stagnant standing water. Very different from the water in Jacob’s well. This man didn’t have anything to draw water! Where can he get this living water? Also, Jacob’s well has been providing water for many, many families throughout the years – how could this man be greater than Jacob who gave us this well?

The man just said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Never thirsty again? I definitely want that kind of water! I would be quite happy to give up coming to this well in the heat of the day and to not have to face the loneliness and rejection I feel as I try to avoid others each day. So I 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 then got personal – “Go, and call your husband and come back.”

What do I tell him? Will he reject me if he knows my story like all the others have? I want this living water – will he give it to me if he really knows who I am? I decided to be cautious – “I have no husband.”

His response astonished me. “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you have now is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” He knows me and he’s still talking to me! He hasn’t judged me yet. He said it just as matter of fact with not even a hint of condescension.

I have to say, this was a little too uncomfortable for me. I see He is a prophet. It was time to change the subject. Let’s talk politics – that will definitely steer the conversation away from the ache in my heart! My people have a lot to say on it. When the Jews were rebuilding their temple, we offered to help. But because we didn’t accept all the Jewish scriptures, we were considered heretics and so they didn’t want us to help. Eventually, we decided to build our own temple. The Jews destroyed our temple because there could only be one temple to God and that was in Jerusalem. Let’s see what he has to say to this!

The man then gave a spiel on how a time is coming when we will worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth. He seemed to be saying that a time is coming when it doesn’t matter the precise location of those who worship. As a woman I don’t have any formal theological training, but I did know that the Messiah is coming and that He would explain everything to us.

And then this man said, “I, the one speaking to you – I am He.”

This man in front of me is the Messiah, the one we’ve all been waiting for. He used the bold words “I am” that the God of my ancestors used.

I ran back into my community. I totally forgot my bucket and what I came to the well for. I also forgot that I was an outcast. I just was so excited – I wanted everyone I met to come and see the man who promised living water, the Messiah who knew everything about me. He knew my heart and its thirst for love and met me where I’m at without judging me. Maybe the living water he provides would purify my heart and heal my deepest wounds.

I wanted to share with them the One who invited even Samaritans to worship the one true God. I wanted everyone to know that He wants to give living water to them too and heal their wounds. That he knows them and loves them, that there aren’t any outcasts in his eyes – he offers living water to all.

This ordinary day and trip to the well turned into one extraordinary day because of this Messiah – because of Him, my life is forever changed!

So will you come and seek the man who told me everything I ever did? Will you drink of his constant, purifying water that will change every part of your life? Will you come to know and believe that this man I met at the well really is the Saviour of the world?

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