Asking for a Drink of Water

Asking for a Drink of Water
John 4:5-42
Rev. Dexter Kearny
Longview Presbyterian Church
March 12, 2023

So [Jesus] came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common 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 no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 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 have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 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 seeks such as these 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” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “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.”

This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. 

In our gospel reading today, we see Jesus going through Samaria, crossing political, social, and religious boundaries. And it is a hot day. After walking all day, probably for a few days, Jesus sits down and sends his disciples into town to buy some provisions. Jesus is there in the noon day heat, sweating and squinting because of the sun. And here Jesus meets a Samaritan woman and Jesus asks her for a glass of water. 

Wait, isn’t this the Son of God, Jesus the Christ, Savior, Messiah, healer, miracle worker? Isn’t it kind of embarrassing that this powerful person is asking for help? Shouldn’t Jesus show more fortitude, strength, and bootstrap mentality? But instead of keeping up the walls of power and privilege, Jesus lets down his guard and does something incredibly human. He is vulnerable and asks for help. 

This is something that we try to hide in our world. We hide our vulnerabilities, we hide our insecurities, and we hide our failures or weaknesses. We are taught to have a stiff upper lip, to never cry, to not ask for help, to go it alone. We hide all these parts of ourselves from our friends and family, our community, and even ourselves. Instead of looking at Jesus and realizing that perhaps our vulnerabilities are the way it was meant to be. 

We are made to be connected. We are made to be in relationships. It is not good to be alone. We are the body of Christ, many members but one body. Our vulnerability shows us that we inherently need others. We cannot go it alone. We cannot quench our thirst by ourselves. Jesus fully embodies that need that we all have, a need for one another. 

And it is from that first vulnerability from Jesus that this woman at the well is transformed. This woman who we have preached on a few times before has many barriers and stigmas in her life and even in her interpreters. She has so many reasons not to engage with Jesus, not to be vulnerable, not to open up. But I believe that because Jesus started by being vulnerable it created a safe space for her to be vulnerable as well. And we see her ask Jesus for living water, trusting fully that this vulnerable and open sojourner would provide. 

And while the text is not explicit about Jesus giving this living water, I believe that she did receive it. In opening up, in being vulnerable, in dropping her walls, and by sharing it with others. She tasted that living water and began to experience life again. Life as it was meant to be lived, in community, with others. 

If we hide our vulnerabilities, if we hide our weaknesses, if we only show strength, then we will never taste this living water. We will never know the true depths of love and community. If we only ever focus on giving away water, we will never experience the living water. If we only give and never receive, then we have missed Jesus. God has designed this world to be reciprocal and gift giving. We give and we receive. When we cut off half of the equation, we cut off half of ourselves. The question for us this Lent is not who you will give water to, but will you be brave enough to ask for the water that you need?

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