What the World’s Been Waiting For

John 4:5-26 5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." 11 The woman said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 "Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?" 13 Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." 15 The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw." 16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." 17 The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have well said, 'I have no husband,' 18 "for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly." 19 The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship." 21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." 25 The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things." 26 Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."

All of us are familiar with the experience of thirst. Some of us may have more of that experience than others if we work outside or push ourselves in physical efforts as athletes. We know how refreshing a glass of water can be. In this text Jesus tells us about another kind of thirst – a thirst of the soul. This is the longing we have for peace, true friendship, and satisfaction with life. Jesus came to quench the spiritual thirst of the soul.

When Jesus met with the woman at the well, He provided us with a beautiful opportunity to see how He truly provides what the world needs – what the world’s been waiting for.

The Conversation (John 4.5-15)

Follow along with me if you can in this text. Jesus comes to the well of Jacob to rest. While his disciples have gone to buy food, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman who comes to draw water. The first thing we notice is the surprise of the woman that Jesus would even speak to her.

The Samaritans and the Jews did not get along with one another. The Samaritans were people who had been Jews, but a long time ago they had been conquered by foreigners. They were a racial mix and their worship was a mixture of Biblical and pagan ideas. The Jews considered them impure and unclean. Not only that, but this woman was very immoral. She had had five husbands and now was living with a man who was not her husband.

Now compare this woman to the person Jesus met with in John chapter three. That would be Nicodemus. Nicodemus was everything a Jewish person could aspire to. He was a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews. Jesus even referred to him as the teacher of Israel. Yet Jesus takes the time and opportunity to talk to both of them, and he leads them both in the same direction. Regardless of Nicodemus’ moral achievements or the immorality of the woman at the well, they both need what Jesus alone can offer.

Jesus told the woman at the well that He could provide her with living water. In verse eleven she asks, "Where do You get that living water?" I think it is good to see that, although she is still confused, at least we have to commend her for her interest in "that living water." I’m afraid that too many people today would have casually dismissed Jesus’ statement. Many would have responded by saying, "You have living water?" "Well I have living water too. I can get it here in this religion or in that religion. We have all the living water – it’s whatever you want to believe." But the woman knows that there must be such a thing as living water, and she’s interested in finding the true living water.

Here we see that God’s grace is universal. It is intended for all – for people of every race, every age, and of every sinful condition. I think it is good for us to pause here for a moment and thank God for the people He used to bring this living water into our lives. I can think of my parents, teachers, Sunday School teachers and friends – all who did something to bring the living water of God’s grace into my life. I thank God for them, and I pray that He would use me to bring the living water to others.

The Confrontation (John 4.16-18)

One of the hardest things in life that anyone has to face in the confrontation God must have with us because of our sins. The Bible says in Ecclesiasties 7.20 "For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin." If you follow Jesus in His ministry, one of the things you will notice is that He never lets people off the hook. He never gives people a pass because of their sin. In John 2.24-25 we also see this way in which Jesus deals with people, "But Jesus on His part did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all people… He Himself knew what was in man." This is what St. John says about Jesus after Jesus had cleared the Temple of the moneychangers. This is one of the few times we see Jesus angry. He has no tolerance for sin.

This is why he said to Nicodemus "that which is flesh is flesh and that which is spirit is spirit," and "you must be born again." The flesh is sinful. No matter how much we cover it up with a good life outwardly, it is still full of sin. The woman at the well also hoped to conceal her life from Jesus, but she could not. The first move that Jesus always makes is to expose the sinful condition of all people. "Go call your husband to come here…" Jesus could say something similar to each us. We could lie and hide, or like the woman at the well, we can be honest. That’s what God is looking for when He confronts us with the demands of the Law.

The Conversion (John 4.19-26)

"Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet." Here is another indication that her heart is turning to God in faith. She continues to be willing to listen to Jesus as He provides the living water of salvation. She remains a little confused, and so the conversation goes into some specifics about the God’s past dealings and His promises. Should we look for this living water in Jerusalem or on "this mountain"? By "this mountain" she probably meant the traditions of worship carried on by the Samaritans. Jesus dismisses both. Then He goes on to explain the real meaning of God’s past promises. What God promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was always intended by God to culminate in the coming of the Messiah – the Savior from sin.

Think about it in this way. When we bring the Gospel to remote places of the world, we often have to build a landing strip. The trees are cleared, the low spots are filled, and the high places are leveled. Finally it is possible to bring in an airplane with a missionary and the Gospel. Israel is the "landing strip" that God set up to bring His Son into this world. Many of the Jews and Samaritans had completely lost sight of that. They saw their country as an end in itself. But in Genesis 12, which we read a little earlier in this service, we heard that God’s purpose was to bring a blessing to all nations through Abraham. Jesus is that blessing. "I who speak to you am He."

To Nicodemus Jesus said, "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life." Jesus promises the woman at the well, "whoever drinks the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever." We know that in a short time Jesus would be lifted up on the cross. There again for a second time in Scripture we would hear that Jesus thirsts. He would experience all the weight of sin and the thirst of man for relief from the punishment upon sin. Jesus would bear it all so that that we could have the "water welling up to eternal life."

This is what the world’s been waiting for. Amen.

Pastor Michael P. Walther
Second Sunday in Lent, February 20, 2005
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 1300 Belt Line Road, Collinsville, Illinois, 62234
618-344-3151 / fax 618-344-3378

Michael P. Walther, Copyright, 2005