Sunday, January 13, 2013

Learning from the Woman at the Well

I have always loved this story! There is so much to learn and to identify with. I want to simply jump into this bible study because I will explain the story and all the details on the way. I present four truths to learn from the story of Jesus and the Women at the Well.

1. Jesus Comes to Where You Are

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John 4:1-5 -- “Jesus knew the Pharisees had heard that he was baptizing and making more disciples than John (though Jesus himself didn't baptize them—his disciples did). So he left Judea and returned to Galilee. He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.”

Most Jews of the day did everything they could to avoid Samaria. This was because of a prejudice that began far back in their history. The Jews of Samaria intermarried with Assyrians (foreigners) that occupied the land. This resulted in “impure” blood in the eyes of the Jews from the Southern Kingdom. They felt betrayed which resulted in a long-standing prejudice between the people.

However, Jesus did not acknowledge prejudices so he went through Samaria. It was the shortest route, but more importantly, Jesus had a purpose in going to Samaria. he had people to reach and lessons to teach.

Jesus didn’t expect the Samaritans to come to him -- he went to where they were, even though it was a place thought unworthy by most.

2. Jesus Reaches Out No Matter Who You Are

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John 4:6-9 -- “Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”

John 4:16-17 -- ““Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.
Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— 18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”

In Jesus’ time on earth, wells were common just outside the city on the main road. Twice a day women would come to draw water, in the morning and in the evening. However, the woman in this story came at noon (v.6), probably to avoid others who knew of her reputation as a loose woman (v.16-17).

No respectable Jewish male would have acknowledged this woman. She was a Samaritan (a despised mixed race in the eyes of the Jews), known to be living in sin and quite simply, a woman in a public place. But -- Jesus did.

It didn’t matter who she was, what her sex or race was, what her social position was, or what her past sins were. Jesus tore down all barriers because this was a person worth saving -- because we are all worth saving.

The Good News reaches far beyond the prejudices of man -- it is available at any time in any place to anyone -- period.

3. Living Water is Available for the Taking

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John 4:10-15 -- “ Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”

In the Old Testament, God is called the Fountain of Life (Ps 36:9) and the Fountain of Living Water (Jeremiah 17:13) -- this describes thirsting after God as you would thirst after water, replenishing the life of your soul instead of just your body.

This is Jesus proclaiming himself the Messiah. Only he could give the gift to quench the soul’s desire and over eternal life. By accepting a drink of Living Water, we are accepting a life with Christ where we may forever life in peace and joy.

Living Water is available for the taking and it begins the moment you accept the gift from Christ. Jesus says, “those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again (v. 14). We do not have to wait until we reach eternal life to feel the effects of the Living Water, it begins right now! We are living in eternity even while we still walk the earth! We shall never be thirsty again because our soul is quenched and we can live in peace and joy beginning right now!

4. True Worship is in Spirit and Truth

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John 4:19-26 -- “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”
Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”

The “correct” place to worship was a hot topic during the time of Jesus’ ministry. The woman went straight to this controversial topic just after Jesus called her on her sin. Jesus did not rise to her bait -- instead, he continued with another valuable lesson.

Jesus says, “the time is coming -- indeed it’s here now -- when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (v.23). It is not the location of worship that matters it is the attitude.

Jesus knows what his mission on earth is all about. He prepares the way for his sacrifice on the cross. When Christ died as a pure sacrifice for all sin and then resurrects conquering death itself, he paves the way for worship in the Spirit. With a positive attitude that is removed of prejudices, confident in who you are in Christ, and a participant in drinking Living Water we can come to God anywhere and at any time to worship God Almighty.

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These are four very important lessons to learn about how God comes to us, accepts us, reaches out to us and wants to worship with us. However, there are four very important lessons for us to learn towards others and spreading the gospel:
  1. We must go to people, not expecting them to come to us to hear the Good News.
  2. We must accept people as they are, just as God accepts us.
  3. We must give the opportunity for others to drink the Living Water -- if we do not offer the Good News then they will not be able to receive it.
  4. We must be a humble servant reaching out with a good attitude and a thankful heart for our message to be effective.
This is the Good News! Christ is here and is reaching out to us no matter what our story is. In verse 26, Jesus tells the woman at the well -- “I am the Messiah!”

I get chill bumps just thinking of the majesty of the servant, the Lord Jesus Christ declaring that powerful truth.

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Dear Lord,
You are Messiah, you are Living Water and you alone provide Eternal Life. Thank you for your sacrifice and your love. Thank you for coming to me where I am, for accepting me just as I am, for providing Living Water and allowing us to worship in Spirit and Truth! I seek to become Christ-like and to remove my prejudice of others because we are all worthy and to share the Good News with everyone because everyone is worth saving and worth loving.

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