Category Archives: Woman at the Well

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups – 580 – Jesus & the Woman at the Well

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

09/28/16 – 580 – Jesus & the Woman at the Well

Once again I find I owe an apology for being sporadic in delivering these devotions to you. I really am trying to get them back to a daily basis. Please bear with me as I work through my obstacles and get things back on track. Thanks. Oh, by the way, a few prayers would be nice too. Anyway…

We left Jesus and the disciples waiting at the well while the Samaritans came from town to see and hear Him, following the woman’s testimony that He was the Messiah. Remember the reason He was alone with the woman in the first place was that His disciples had gone into town to get food.

John 4:31-38

31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

 33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

 (Just like the Samaritan woman, the disciples were still thinking in terms of the physical, not the spiritual.)

 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

This is one of those ‘hard sayings of the Bible’ that people talk about. It’s hard not so much because it’s difficult to understand, but because it’s difficult to accept. At least it is for us, in this contemporary culture of entitlement.

Not only are we taught that we deserve to reap what we worked for, we are also taught that we deserve what we did not work for, and not in a good way as Jesus was saying. Notice He said ‘One sows and another reaps’. Nowadays we don’t want to sow or reap – we just want the benefits handed to us. We certainly don’t want to do the hard work and have someone else ‘get the credit’ for what we have done.

Which is strange when you think about what Jesus is talking about, which is witnessing. We say that we are not the ones who change hearts, only the Holy Spirit can do that. That’s true. Yet we still seem to want ‘credit’ for the number of people that are in heaven because we brought them! So what is Jesus really saying in this passage? That it is all of us, working together as God leads us that will make for a great harvest, which in turn will nourish us! “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” It’s not about you or me.

Verses 39-41

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. NIV

I love the last verse – what it says, and what it does not say. For those two days, they were listening. How often when He preached to the Jews, were they arguing instead?

Let’s make our prayer today a prayer for humility, that we might listen like the Samaritans, and be humble enough to work as God directs – whether reaping or sowing – even if we never see the fruit of our labor until we are with Him in heaven.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups – 579 – Jesus & the Woman at the Well

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

09/26/16 – 579 – Jesus & the Woman at the Well

Why was the woman so easily convinced that Jesus was a prophet? One reason was what He said to her a few verses earlier:

John 4:16-18

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

 17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

 Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” NIV

There is the simple ‘wow’ factor here. How could this complete stranger have known about her past if He were not a prophet or clairvoyant of some kind? But He was talking like a rabbi, not a seer. Does God still work like this in anyone’s life today?

I believe He does – except that when it happens, even we Christians don’t always give Him the credit He deserves. We just say we were ‘convicted’, and/or get mad at the preacher. Unbelievers chalk it up to some kind of parlor trick or even their own guilty conscience. But this woman, not a Jew but a Samaritan, was a believer.

John 4:25-30

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”

 27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

 28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him. NIV

This is one extremely significant passage, especially verse 26. Why? It is the only place in scripture that Jesus directly, in so many words tells us that He is the Messiah. Think about that for a while.

Finally the disciples returned, and were surprised – which is no surprise to us! The only thing that is a little surprising is that for once they kept quiet, choosing not to put feet in mouths.

The fact that the woman left her water jar is important as well. Put yourself in her place for a moment. You live in a desert; your only source of water is the community well. In order to survive, you must be able to carry and keep a supply of water for yourself and your family. Your only vessel with which to do that is a clay jar. The local Pier 1 is still under construction, so it’s not like you can run down there and just buy another one. She would not have left behind something so important unless she

  1. felt it was safe and
  2. was really excited and in a hurry

The excitement of a new believer is often contagious. I can picture her running back to town to tell everyone and get back before this great man has a chance to disappear! She probably made sure that a few key people knew about it and the word was spreading before she turned around and went back to the well herself.

What a powerful lesson she teaches us on witnessing! Why is it that we have such a hard time sharing our faith, especially here in the US? In so many parts of the world, sharing the Christian faith will get you tortured and killed. Here the worst that might happen is that someone might claim to be ‘offended’, or be insulting.

But do you know what? Those people need to know Jesus too. They at least need the chance to see His love at work – in you. So many persecutors have been saved because the people they were persecuting simply acted like Christ as best they could, then allowed Him to work through them.

I’d say that’s a good prayer for today, wouldn’t you? Wherever you are at in conflict with another, whether at work, home, or church, become Christ to them. Forgive them. Treat them like the lost children that they are. Do everything you can to bring them home. If you cannot, let the Holy Spirit work through you. How, you ask? Simply surrender.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups – 578 – Jesus & the Woman at the Well

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

09/24/16 – 577 – Jesus & the Woman at the Well

This is where we left Jesus and his new student yesterday:

John 4:23-24

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Even after she heard Jesus talk about the living water that took away thirst forever, the Samaritan woman was thinking in material terms. She took the word ‘water’ to mean the liquid that she had to draw from the community well every day. Jesus’ response was to steer her thinking toward the spiritual.

The current way of the culture was for the Jews to look down on the Samaritans as somehow being a lesser people – a people of mixed (and therefore contaminated) blood. The only proper place to worship Yahweh was at the temple in Jerusalem. This was not just a tradition, it came straight from Moses:

Deuteronomy 12:11-14

Then to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name—there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the Lord. 12 And there rejoice before the Lord your God—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites from your towns who have no allotment or inheritance of their own. 13 Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please. 14 Offer them only at the place the Lord will choose in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you.

 The problem was that the temple was off limits to Samaritans. Probably for that reason, the Samaritans came to believe that they should worship on what was probably Mount Gerizem, the mountain where it was believed that Abraham went to sacrifice his son Isaac.

I wonder what she thought when Jesus basically told her ‘pretty soon it won’t matter’. In fact – the time has already come! “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”

Before she has a chance to ask, He gave the answer to the big question – why? “God is spirit.”

 Why is it that when we think of ourselves as being created in the image of God, we so often think (again) of a physical image, as though God were a physical humanoid being with 2 arms, 2 legs, a torso and a head? If God is a spirit, wouldn’t it make more sense that we are created in His spiritual image rather than a physical one? And if that is true, doesn’t it also follow that our spirit would be the part of our being that is truly important?

What Jesus was saying is that it’s time to stop focusing on the physical, the material world and start fixing our gaze on the spiritual realms – the kingdom of God. And the ‘truth’ part? Simple.

There is just no way to fake it. We cannot sneak into heaven, or get in on a technicality. We cannot simply pay lip service to a God who knows our heart, and expect Him to be satisfied. Either we truly love Him, or we don’t. Either we mean what we say and do in worship of Him, or we don’t.

Let’s pray today that when God examines our hearts, He will find it pleasing and pure, and our love for Him true.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups – 577 – Jesus & the Woman at the Well

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

09/23/16 – 577 – Jesus & the Woman at the Well

So Jesus offered the Samaritan woman something she had never heard of – a kind of water that quenched one’s thirst forever! Maybe it was the way He was dressed, or the way His Spirit came through, but she seemed to have no trouble accepting His word that such a thing was possible. Yesterday we said that maybe her acceptance of Him came so easily because of the way He accepted her. There’s some food for thought, isn’t it? Especially if we put it in the context of reaching out to someone who doesn’t know Christ.

Still, she had a rather simplistic interpretation of what the Lord was saying. She was obviously not thinking yet in spiritual terms, but material.

John 4:15

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus was a great teacher. He would show her, but in a way that she would never forget.

Verses 16-20

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

 17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

 Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

 19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

So much happened in such a short exchange! First, Jesus gave her a chance to walk away. She could easily have said ‘Sure, I’ll get him and be right back’, and just never returned. Had she done that, she would have been no different from many of those we know today. You know, the ones we invite to church and always promise to come, but always seem to have a last-minute excuse? I know that none of us would ever…

To her credit, she did nothing like that. She faced the truth squarely, and used the opportunity to ask this prophet what was to her a very important question. Or maybe, as some commentators have said, she just wanted to change the subject! Still, Jesus used her question to teach us all a great lesson.

 Verses 21-24

21 Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” NIV

This lesson deserves more space and time than we have room for today, so we’ll pick up here tomorrow. In the meantime, Let’s pray for the Spirit to help us to open our minds and hearts to a complete understanding of what it means to worship Him “in spirit and in truth.”

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups – 576 – Jesus & the Woman at the Well

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

09/21/16 – 576 – Jesus & the Woman at the Well

Yesterday we read about Jesus breaking the ice (and along with it a couple of strong social taboos) by asking a <gasp> Samaritan woman for a drink of water! Let’s pick up by re-reading the last few verses:

John 4:7-9

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) NIV

You’d think we’d learn, wouldn’t you? After all, Jesus gave us this and so many other examples. To me, the saddest thing is not even that people thought like that before Jesus came to earth, but that by and large we have never changed.

I would daresay that if we picked about any culture at any time in the last 2000 years, we would find a culture, or at least a group of people within it, that looked with prejudice upon another. I’m not sure why this is, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was related to the very source of our sin nature – that same self-centeredness that caused Adam and Eve to feel that they were justified in their desire to be like the God Who created them.

It seems to me that if we want to feel better about ourselves, we have 2 basic choices. We can

  1. Become better people or
  2. Do our best to keep other people down, so we look like we’re better without actually having to do the hard work

Unfortunately, all too often we seem to pick option 2. Too bad it doesn’t work. If anything, it just succeeds in keeping everyone from becoming the people that we were meant to be.

Then Jesus really goes beyond the boundaries of accepted behavior. He actually has an entire conversation with her – and offers her a chance at eternal life!

Verses 10-15

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”

 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” NIV

Isn’t it amazing how this simple Samaritan woman was so willing to accept Jesus’ word? She couldn’t have been completely ignorant, as she knew enough about her heritage to ask about Jacob. Yet she believed Him when so many of His fellow Jews refused to – even when faced with undeniable evidence (like miracles). Hmmm. I wonder if her acceptance of Him could have had anything to do with His acceptance of her.

Let’s pray today that the Holy Spirit would convict us – give us that tap on the shoulder when our thoughts or speech turn toward the condescending, or prejudice against others simply because they are different. Ask Him to help us to become the person that we were created to be – the image of God Himself. The image of love.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups – 575 – Jesus & the Woman at the Well

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

09/20/16 – 575 – Jesus & the Woman at the Well

Once again I find I owe you all an apology for missing the last couple of days. I have no excuses that I can share here, other than to say that life just got kind of overwhelming again, to the point where when I woke early to write as I normally do, I was simply too tired to stay awake or finish a thought, let alone an entire article. But God is working, so I’m giving it my best. I would appreciate your prayers, though. Anyway…

Have you ever thought about which Bible stories are your favorites? Do you prefer stories from the Old Testament or the New? Stories about Jesus or the old ‘heroes of the faith’ like Abraham and Moses? Mysteries or love stories? Do you like stories of Jesus’ miracles more, or maybe prophesies?

I find I like the ones that hold the surprises, especially where Jesus is concerned. And He had plenty. But my absolute favorites are the ones that had the Jews standing on their heads – so to speak. Why? Because we Christians can be so much like them. We so often get to thinking that we’re the only ones going to heaven – that we Nazarenes (or Baptists or Catholics or Lutherans or whatever) have found the ‘secret’, and we’re the only ones that are going to get in.

But then along came Jesus, doing unheard-of things. Crazy stuff, like talking to a Samaritan woman at a well, and telling her she could actually be saved. Then preaching the same thing to a crowd of her friends! He’d do other wild stuff too, like sending His disciples to preach and minister to the gentiles while at the same time telling some of the Jews that they were NOT going to be saved. This was not what He was supposed to say! What was He thinkin’?

John 4:1-9

The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

 4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) NIV

Samaritans were a mixed bag. They were the progeny those Jewish men who had disobeyed God and married outsiders. Because they were considered to be ‘children of sin’, most self-respecting Jews would have nothing to do with them.

But like I said, Jesus was different. He simply didn’t go along with the crowd – unless they were right, And that wasn’t very often. Let’s pray today for that same softened spirit of discernment, wisdom and love when it comes to our dealings with other people – people who are not like us.