John chapter 4
There's a big assumption we make about this woman who met Jesus at the well. We assume that her excitement and belief comes because she's been forgiven.
There's just one problem....
Jesus didn't forgive her.
Did you notice that?
Jesus asked her to go and get her husband, to which she replied “I have no husband”
Jesus says, "Yes that’s the truth, you have had 5 husbands and the one you have now is not your husband."
And we assume that she is some sort of horrible sinner, a loose woman, sorely in need of repentance.
It’s just that opinion that has her at the well in the middle of the day.
Whispers, glances, pointed fingers.
But there’s a lot of reasons a woman could have had 5 husbands that have nothing to do with her sin.
· Divorced – because she was barren, or because her husband preferred someone else, or because she burned supper one too many times
· What ever the reason, I bet no one was in a hurry to be husband #6
· Was the man she was living with her dead husband’s brother?
· Perhaps she had no one, and her only way to survive was with a man, any man who would take her in.
In John's gospel, the only sin is broken relationship with God, which also results in broken relationship with others – the kind of broken relationships that would leave a women ostracized, vulnerable.
What ever the situation, sinner or victim of someone else’s sin or just a victim of circumstances out of her control, she was in need of compassion and kindness.
Which is what she found at the well that noon.
Not condemnation, but ‘I know your deepest darkest pain” “God loves you.”
Living water to refresh her parched and thirsty soul
That changes the conversation.
Often her next question about where to worship is seen as ‘changing the topic’ - trying to steer Jesus away from the subject of her sin and disgrace. Instead, Jesus’ knowledge of her situation – his compassion in talking to her in the first place, even though he knew all about her – reveals to her that here is a prophet.
Here is someone who she can ask the burning questions.
You worship in Jerusalem, we worship in Samaria – which is right?
Jesus – Word made flesh –(cleansed the temple) temple that will be destroyed and rebuilt – God’s presence in the world: soon you will worship in spirit and truth.
Her – I know the messiah is coming.
Samaritan messiah is the one foretold by Moses, the greater prophet coming after him; Jewish messiah is the king in the line of David - Jesus is both.
Jesus – I AM
All those divisions between Jew and Samaritan just came tumbling down. – all are loved by God.
John tells us Jesus HAD to go through Samaria. From a human standpoint he didn’t have to – he could have gone around, like all the other good Jews did. But from God’s standpoint, Jesus had to go there.
Compare and contrast Nicodemus and Woman
· Male vs female
· Pharisee vs nobody
· Named vs unnamed
· Jew vs Samaritan
· Night vs day
Both have question – Nic never gets to ask his. Jesus instead tells him:
- he needs to be born again – a fresh start,
- hat God loves the world – Jew and Samaritan.
God did not send Jesus into the world to condemn,
But to save – liberate, rescue, heal, make whole, preserve, make whole, restore.
Nic doesn’t seem to get it, we don’t get to know if he does, but it appears that he doesn’t – yet.
This woman at the well experiences it.
And it’s such good news - she runs back to town – Come and see
Just like Andrew to Simon Peter, Just like Phillip to Nathanael – Come and see
She says come and see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done – who recognized my pain – who shined light and love into my soul, especially in those corners that haven’t felt either for a very long time.
The people came, and saw.
Jesus stayed teaching for 2 days.
John 4:42 "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world."
Jesus never forgave her- but that doesn't mean she wasn't saved.
She got new birth - a fresh start, new life.
This is the world God loves
Not, condemned but saved
Jesus knew her pain, healed it
Jesus restored her to community
She was known and loved
We continue to ask questions…just like Jesus and the woman did
We have those places that have secret - and not so secret - pain, parched places thirsting for living water...just like the woman at the well.
Whatever we bring to the well in the harsh light of noon, when we meet Jesus there, we are known and loved.