Richard Whitaker- Discipleship and Connections Pastor LHBC

John 4:1-26
Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John  (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria.  So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”  (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)  Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”  The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’;  for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.  Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.  You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”  The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.”  Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” (ESV) John 4:1-26

Oh, The Places You’ll Go” (1990) is the title of a popular children’s book by Dr. Seuss.   In the early pages we find this whimsical phrase: “You have brains in your head. You have feet on your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”  Dr. Seuss has a way of warming our hearts and making children smile, but for a disciple of Jesus, this witty line is off by a mile.  How Jesus travels from Judea to Galilee provides the best pattern for how Christ followers can steer themselves toward the goal of establishing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. 

Jesus’ route of travel to Galilee through Samaria was problematic.  Generations earlier, the king of Assyria settled some exiled Jews, Babylonians, and others there (1 Kings 17:24-41).   The Jews intermarried with non-Jewish people and were considered impure ever since. Such was the repulsion of ‘pure’ Jews for Samaritans that even traveling through their land was considered disgraceful.  Jesus was traveling to Galilee, but his destination was not the mission. His mission was loving people like the lone woman who approached the well in the middle of the day. 

Thirsty as he was from traveling, Jesus stops alone at a well to rest and quench his thirst, while the disciples head into town for groceries.  We see Jesus’ humanity in his need for rest and drink, living in a way that allowed him to relate to everyone. As Jesus rests, a Samaritan woman approaches for what would have been a scandalous scene!

For a man to address a woman privately was a no-no in 1st century Palestine, not to mention a Jewish man to a Samaritan woman who is with her fifth man.  Do you see how Jesus relates to her as a person without condemning her for her past? He proceeds to defy protocol by noticing her, asking for water, and engaging in a life changing conversation about her sin and the living water that only Jesus provides.  By openly valuing, validating, and challenging her, Jesus cares more for her soul than his reputation. 

The woman runs off and tells the whole town of her encounter with Jesus.  Many people in the town believed in Jesus through her story. In a brief moment, the obscure outcast became an evangelist.  Her and many in the town are transformed forever. What began as a trip to Galilee became an example of the power of the gospel breaking down all barriers of fellowship with God.

Let’s follow the graceful example of Jesus and determine to cross all barriers of race, gender, ethnicity, culture, and belief for the sake of the gospel and glory of Jesus.  Our city, neighbors, and friends need us to set aside our protocols, politics, and fears. Instead of choosing the path of safety, allow Jesus to steer where you’ll go and watch the Kingdom of God come on earth as it is in heaven.  

Lord Jesus, thank you for breaking through all barriers to find me – a sinner in need of your saving grace and forgiveness.  Make me an ambassador to everyone, especially my neighbors, friends, and coworkers that I see on a regular basis. Teach me how to love them intentionally and relate in ways that bring about gospel conversations, just like you did.  Make me into a disciple that follows you, is being changed by you, and is committed to your mission every day. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Isaiah 41:10
Fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.