Finding Living Water
At a Stagnant Well
New Hope B.C.
November 19, 2006
There are certain characteristics of water that we intuitively consider. Characteristics that many of us take for granted. Many people in under-developed countries have no choice in the water they drink, but we, in this land, often take our precious gift for granted.
We intuitively consider water temperature, water turbidity, water color, and water taste or odor. There is nothing like a cold glass of water on a hot day or after a strenuous activity. But we want it clear, without turbidity with a fresh clean taste.
Many times water that is drawn from a well lacks these qualities. One reason is the stagnation of the water in wells. It is interesting to note that the term stagnation identifies something that is sluggish, inactive, dull, heavy and declining; something that is on its last legs or have seen better days.
Such was the woman in our text, the Samaritan woman who drank from the stagnant waters of Jacob’s well. Scripture does not name this woman of Samaria, but it is not difficult to surmise her mental, emotional or worldly state at the time. The woman was a Samaritan. She was from the region of Samaria, not the town of Samaria. Now, just being a woman in that day was bad or difficult enough, but a female Samaritan was far worse. Samaritan women were considered by Rabinic Law to be continually menstruating, so anyone drinking from their vessels was also considered to be ceremonially unclean.
We know from Scripture that this woman was living an immoral lifestyle. She had been married five times but at the time of her meeting with Jesus, she was living in fornication. She came to the well around the 6th hour. That could have been at high noon Jewish time or 6:00 in the evening Roman time. At any rate, it was a time of day when she would probably not run into other women of the town. She did not want to be caught in their presence to be ridiculed, talked about and humiliated for her lifestyle.
The woman came to the well to reload her water pot; the well, a familiar source that she used to refill her empty life. A source of filling that kept her coming again and again. The well of stagnant water could only offer a temporary fillings, temporary solutions, and temporary plugging of the void in her life. This woman who any other Jew would avoid like the plague, it was of this woman that Jesus dared to ask, “Give Me a drink?” The translators of the Scripture reminds us that the Jews would have no dealings with the Samaritans, but a more literal rendering would be that they would never drink after a Samaritan or use dishes that they had used. The Jews had some dealing with them for the disciples had gone into town to purchase food. But for Jesus to ask for a drink from her ladle was a shock to say the least.
Most times when people are void of life giving nutrients; when they are stuck in filling up on stagnant water; when they continue to return to the same old place and continue to live in the same old, non-satisfying, non-producing way it is because they are ignorant of better ways. This woman was no different. When she met Jesus she was ignorant also; Ignorant of His Identity; Ignorant of His Capacity; and Ignorant of how to execute Acceptability.
This woman was living in the natural and she sought material things to satisfy her needs. She mistakenly thought that Jesus was speaking about material water when He was speaking about Spiritual. She was seeking a material filling for a spiritual void in her life, yet she did not know that she was speaking to the One who could satisfy all of her needs. She was in the presence of the One Person that she had heard so much about and had been taught about, the Messiah.
It matters when seeds are dropped in the lives of those who do not know Christ. It may not come to full bloom right away, but sooner or later, it will be watered and it will bloom. Recently on the news it was reported that the Marines refused to accept an $80,000 gift of dolls for the Toys for Tots program. The dolls were originally rejected because they each quoted various Biblical verses like “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son”. Their reason was that the dolls would go into Jewish and Muslim homes and they did not want to offend. After much public outcry, the dolls were accepted, and if they are truly passed out, they could very well be the seed that God will use to reach even one soul.
Some of us sitting here this morning have had seeds of faith planted in our lives, many from childhood, but the tragedy is that many of us have never come to really know the true identity of Jesus. We know about Him but we lack full knowledge of His person. That’s why many continue to return to material ways and material things. Material, meaning the world’s way instead of God’s way. Just like this woman, many people are looking for love in all the wrong places; seeking fulfillment from temporary means and always hungry for some satisfaction and fulfillment in life yet never really attaining it.
This woman was seeking a temporary fix from the Eternal God. Jesus said it best but I can only paraphrase and say that when you drink from His well, when you satisfy your thirst with the ‘living water’ that only He can provide, they you will never thirst again. He identified Himself to the woman. She said she was looking for the Messiah and that when He came He would be able to tell her everything. Jesus went a little further, for He said what you’re looking for, ‘I Am’; the same ‘I Am’ that sent Moses before Pharaoh and safely led millions through the Red Sea. What you need, ‘I Am’; what you lack, ‘I Am’, what your really want, ‘I Am’. He’s saying the same thing today to you and to me, whatever you need, ‘I Am’; wherever you are in life, ‘I Am’. You need a new start? ‘I Am’. You need inner peace? ‘I Am’. You need love? ‘I Am’. You need a lighter burden? ‘I Am’. In fact, I’m the burden bearer, the heavy load carrier. I’ll lift you when you’re down. I’ll brighten your day and still your nights. I will provide all of your needs, according you My riches in glory! I can because, I Am!
The woman at the well was ignorant of Jesus’ identity as the Messiah, and she was ignorant of his capacity, His generosity and His ability to offer her just what she needed. She was ignorant of His capacity and ability to give her lasting fulfillment, His capacity to bring activity into her dormant life, His capacity to bring joy into her otherwise dull existence. His capacity to fix things for good.
The true story is told of a woman whose car was stalled. She flagged down another driver for help. She explained that she could not start it, but that her husband said to ‘just jiggle the wire on the battery and it will work’. The other driver explained that the cable was too loose and that with the proper tools he could tighten them. She insisted that just a jiggle would work, to which he replied ‘that would only be a Quick-Fix, but with a wrench and a couple of minutes he could solve the problem for good’. I’m telling you this morning, Jesus can fix it for good. I’m a witness that if you drink, He will change your life. You may sputter and stall sometimes, but you won’t break down. He made you and He knows all about you. He can put a fixing on you that neither time nor circumstances can break.
The woman at the well had been looking for love in all the wrong places. She had experienced one Quick fix after another. In the process of her search, her search to quench a thirst that no man had been able to fill, her longing to be loved, her desire to experience lasting relationships and friendships, in her process and longing to revive a declining existence and life, she failed to realize that she was face to face with the grantor of Eternal life.
Like that woman, many of us have tried to get quick fixes from life and Quick fixes from God. We want Him to just jiggle the wire and get us out of a mess, quick. But God does not want to just jiggle our wires. He wants to reconnect us. You see, His Grace is not only sufficient, it is Eternal; his love not only invigorates, it is sustaining.
Many times we make do with fakes and imitations. We have trained ourselves to live with fake love from fake people; fake peace from an uncaring world; fake joy that dissipates when real trouble comes; fake thirst quenchers that look like Gatorade; fake friends and fake acquaintances – but you don’t have to keep using the fakes, you can enjoy the real thing. A few years ago, Coke Cola introduced a version of coke. They sponsored it at taste rallies and offered free samples at the super market. The public immediately chimed in and let their dissatisfaction be known. They did not like the fake coke cola. It didn’t taste the same; it didn’t bring about the same affect. It didn’t fizz the same. It was a fake. Coke cola withdrew it from the market and reintroduced Coke with a new label called Coke Classic. To convince its customers that the new label was the only change they dubbed it ‘The Real Thing’. Jesus is the Real Thing. He is The Way; He is The Truth; He is The Life. He is The God of Peace; Jehovah Shalom. The Joy of the Lord is my Strength and He alone can supply all of your needs according to His riches in Glory. Why? Because He’s The Real Thing. He alone can present you faultless before His Father to live throughout eternity in His presence. He has the capacity to do just what He says, and what He does is everlasting.
Not only was the woman at the well ignorant or His Identity; not only was she ignorant of His Capacity, but she was also ignorant as to how to execute acceptability. She didn’t know who to worship, she didn’t know where to worship and she didn’t know how to worship. She was still doing it the way those before her had done it. She was still in the material things of the world for she placed more value on her forefathers and their religion than on Jesus and true worship.
The world would have us to believe that all religions are the same; that we all have the same faith; that we all worship the same god. I listened to a special that is being run by the Today show on faith and religions. One day last week they dealt with Buddhists and Hinduism. Both of these religions advocate heaven on earth and Hindus believe in reincarnation. They say that though there are many different faces of gods painted on their murals and walls, they are really only worshipping one god. Most other religions would have you to believe that ultimately, we all believe in the same god.
Jesus dispelled that notion in His conversation with the woman at the well. The woman at the well challenged Jesus as to the proper place to worship; there on Mount Gerizim or, in Jerusalem as the Jews worshipped. But Jesus made it clear that there is only one acceptable form of worship, only one acceptable ‘religion’, and that is the one that is acceptable to the Father. True worshippers must worship the Father in spirit and in truth.
You know how she got on the topic of religion? The same way people today do. Jesus confronted her with her sin, her sinful lifestyle, and when people are confronted with their sin, they would rather discuss religion instead of salvation. There can be no conversion without conviction, so Jesus forced her to look at her life, her lifestyle and to deal with her sin.
True worshippers first have to come right before God, and you come right by coming through Jesus Christ. There is no other way to the Great God of the universe except through His Son, Jesus Christ.
But when you are in the Son and filled with the Spirit of God, then you can worship Him in Spirit and in truth. You can worship Him for who He is. Worship Him because He alone is worthy of all worship and praise. You can praise him for what he has done in your life. Praise him because he has given you life everlasting. Praise Him for giving you living water. Do you know about living water? Living water changes everything. It changes things because it moves, it offers refreshment, and it is clear so things can be viewed as they really are. Living water if pure, it’d light and crisp. It has the capacity to cleanse and not leave a dulling residue like stagnant or dormant water. Living water has no foul odor, but the taste is unremarkable. I don’t know about you, but I like living water. Have you ever taken a sip from a cool brook or washed your face in a mountain stream? Living water is like no other.
The woman came to the well with a pot, probably on her shoulder. That pot represented all of her worldly problems; all of her concerns; all of her secrets; all of her burdens; all of her cares; every disappointment; every rejection; every condemning tongue; every judging look and stare; all of her loneliness; her wants; her needs, and her desires. That pot was heavy and she was coming to the same old source to get a temporary fix, a quick fix for her thirst.
But when she met Jesus, when she laid her sin bare, when she said ‘give me some of that water that you’re talking about’ she drank from that living water and everything changed. She left to return to her village, but the Bible says that she left the pot at the well.
When you drink from the Living Water, things change. When you drink from the living water you can leave your pot at the well. When you drink living water, you have power to face your challenges; you have power to walk with your head held high; you have power to boldly profess Jesus Christ; your burdens become lighter; you can cast all your cares on Jesus for he cares for you. When you drink the living water, you don’t care what people think or what they say about you; when you drink the living water you will not only worship God in spirit and in truth, but you will begin to praise him for his goodness, praise him for his mercy, praise him, for his grace, praise him like David praised him with an undignified praise. You ought to praise him this morning for bringing you to another year’s end. Lay your pots down before him. Whatever is heavy on your shoulders today put it in the pot and set it before Jesus. Are our kids out of control? Put them in the pot. Is your marriage less that conjoined? Put it in the pot. Is your job unsure and your money on hiatus? Put it in the pot. Take all of your problems, all of your concerns, all of your lack, your guilt, your sin, your desires, your needs, your secrets and put them in the pot. Then praise him. You ought to praise him this morning for allowing you to be overweight from all of the food he’s blessed you with. Praise him for your kids, even if they are not where you’d like them to be, praise him for keeping them in the midst of this perverse world. Praise him for your home, praise him for your family, praise him with undignified praise. Stand up this morning, stand to your feet, and praise him. Raise your hands in the air and wave them, and praise him like you just don’t care. I tell you, he’s worthy this morning. Because you and I were incapable of saving ourselves, because we were lost without hope, he came in the flesh himself into this world of iniquity; he came to seek and he came to save, he came and lived among men and he lived like men only without sin; he came to die and die he did. One Friday he allowed himself to suffer the most horrific and humiliating time ever known to man. They beat him beyond recognition of humanity; they spit in his face and plucked his beard; they beat him until he was just one big piece of unidentifiable meat. They hung him on a cross, they stretched him wide, and for your sake and mine, he hung his head and died. They buried him in a borrowed tomb where he stayed on Friday, and he stayed all day on Saturday, but early, on Sunday morning, while the whole earth was still asleep and even the birds refrained from feeding their chicks; early on Sunday morning, before the sun had completed it revolution and the roses were still closed for the night, early, he got up from the grave, early, he declared all power, not some power, like when he healed the sick and gave sight to the blind; not some power like when he turned water to wine; not some power like when he fed thousands from a little bread and fish; not some power like when he walked on water or calmed the raging sea, not even some power like when he raised Lazarus from the dead, but all power, in heaven, all power in earth, all power to be his. He’s worthy to be praised, he deserves your worship, and he longs for your fellowship. He is living water. He will change your world if you just trust him.