A Woman went to a Well
1.Jesus met a woman at a well. We’ve all met her! She’s the one that was beaten and bruised by her boyfriend. She has a couple of kids and no place to go because she won’t put up with the abuse anymore. Her family had taken her in before, but no more, they said. It’s her fault. It has to be, they say. Anyone who works in an emergency room has met her. Every policeman in almost every community has met her more than once. She calls the police for help one minute and attacks them the next when they threatened to haul her husband or boyfriend off to jail.
She may not have been a victim of abuse—at least any abuse you could treat in an emergency room. Maybe she was just a tough girl from a tough home who was just looking for a good man who would love her. She always seemed to look in the wrong places and find the exact opposite of what she wanted. She just didn’t seem to learn or listen to well intentioned advice.
Jesus met a woman at a well. You could meet her anywhere on the streets, on the job, even in Church. Brokenness, hurt, mistakes, and marriage problems are no stranger at church. The divorce rate among Christians is as high, if not higher, than among the population in general. Anyone who is half a wake knows that marriage problems, domestic violence, and moral failure happens in the lives of people who go to church, too. Probably, in a pew not far from you on any Sunday morning sits a woman who is torn between crying out to somebody, anybody, to help her and hoping no body finds out what she has been going through.
Jesus met her at a well at the sixth hour, probably noon by our clock. It was most likely the heat of the day. Most of the women came early in the morning while it was still cool. In fact, the morning meeting at the well was when most of the women caught up on the latest gossip. Who was engaged . . . who was expecting . . . whose youngster was in trouble . . . or which husband and wife were not getting along?
You‘ve met her. She may live down the street or across town. You have met her in the grocery store. She often comes early or late because she doesn’t want to run into anyone she knows. She’s the one with the big dark sunglasses on at all times. You pass her in the aisle and she looks down or the other way so she won’t make eye contact. Maybe she comes to the store at odd hours to lessen the chance of running into her ex-in-laws or boy friends ex-wife. She just doesn’t want to deal with that. You get the picture! You have met her.
Jesus met her at a well at noon. He did the unthinkable. He talked to her! Respectable men didn’t do that in those days. They often didn’t even acknowledge the presence of a woman except in the home. They would never carry on a conversation in public. Someone one might get the wrong idea. You know how the women at the well talk every morning. Most respectable men especially didn’t talk to her. If word got around that a husband had been talking to her in public, he could expect a word or two when he went home for supper.
In a society where women had virtually no right to divorce or legal recourse against a brutal or even unfaithful husband, she had been married five times. Now there was probably more than one side to the story. But that probably didn’t make much difference at the gossip well. She couldn’t keep a man or rather for some reason a man wouldn’t keep her. She always managed to find another, each situation no better than the last. She probably told herself, “Never again will I allow myself to get messed up with somebody like him.” The first time she even believed it. And maybe the second and third time. But after marriage number four and five, even she knew she was just kidding herself. So this time she didn’t even bother with the formalities of a marriage. She was shacking with a sixth man to whom she wasn’t married.
Why would a woman do such a thing? Why would a woman keep making the same mistake over and over again? Why does she call the police and refuse to press charges? Why does she go from one drug dealer to another? And it is not just “dumb” women, it even happens to college educated women, doctors, and lawyers, and marriage counselors!
You have met her. Maybe someone here is her or You know her, she’s the one that
1. Looks to a man to find herself.
2. Believes that without a man she is nothing or nobody.
3. Has sex too soon or uses sex hoping to win love and affection.
4. Moves in with a man, not out of love, but because she hopes he’ll want her if she does.
5. Has a baby hoping that this will jump start love, personal growth, or commitment.
6. Allows her man to keep hurting her or her children because of an obsessive need for security or a need to be wanted. Once in the mess, she doesn’t know how to get out.
Why five husbands and now she is living with a man who has no legal obligation to her at all? “Love hunger”—a deep need that some people have, to be loved and accepted no matter what. They will even self-destruct in an effort to find someone who truly cares about them or—in some strange way—that they can take care of. They need to feel needed. If not with this man—then maybe the next. Surely, Mr. Right is out there.
Why? A woman normally has a mothering instinct that goes way beyond just bearing children. She will put up with almost anything herself to feed and shelter her young. Men seldom have that same drive to the same depth. Along with that mothering instinct comes a capacity to care and forgive—that sometimes doesn’t make sense. Women then and now sometimes have to put up with social and legal situations that can be unfair and applied with remarkable injustice. A woman can work hard and long, raising children and fashioning a home for those she loves and then be left with little or nothing. Until modern times, and even now not perfectly, she had no financial security at all. In many societies a man is free to take the best years of a woman’s life and then on a whim trade her in on a newer model.
2. Jesus met a woman. How her life became such a mess we will never know. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that she was a Samaritan and not a Jew. The Jews normally had pretty high standards about such things. The Samaritans were the outcast cousins of the Jews racially. The hatred between the two groups was five hundred years old by Jesus’ time. According to the Jewish line, the Samaritans had bad blood, bad religion, and a bad reputation in every way. What do you expect from a Samaritan? THEY are like that you know!
3. Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a public well at noon—and he spoke to her. She was surprised at that for a lot of reasons, no doubt. But then he took the conversation in an unexpected direction. It was as if he knew something. And he did.
Jesus talked to a woman that most people only talked about. He looked past the racial divide, the religious differences, the social customs and looked into an messed up life and said, “”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.” If you knew—there lies the rub. How our lives would be different—if we knew. If we knew the end from the beginning, if we knew it could be better, if we knew the past could be left there, if we knew we weren’t alone, if we knew God would really listen and care and forgive. If you knew the gift of God . . .
Promises, promises? She had heard that before. More game men always have a line. Jesus spoke of God’s gifts and of living water, water that didn’t run out, water that satisfied, water that really quenched the thirst that went beyond the throat all the way to your heart. Even though she was suspicious of any man, probably with good reason, and even though this one had no canteen or water bucket, he touched a nerve. Oh, how she wished that deep down hunger or thirst could be satisfied!
She had tried everything—even religion. “So you think you can do what nobody else can do?” She thought she had heard it all before. But this dude was something else. “This very well was dug by our Father Jacob—so our teachers say—and I still get thirsty again. Who do you think you are? Living water! Never thirst again! Really!”
“Yes really! I can give you the very thing you have been looking for all your life. What you always wanted when you were growing up and never found? I can fill that hole in your heart that you hoped married love would fill. And it didn’t fill, even though you keep looking and looking and looking. You have never quit looking and you are still thirsty. This thirst will be quenched not from the outside, but on the inside. The life you have always wanted can be yours forever.”
4. A woman met a man at well. She had met a lot of men—the women of the village would be glad to fill you in on the details. But she had never met anyone who seemed to offer her something without expecting something in return. He was different. Had she finally met a man who understood a woman?
And then he said it. He didn’t have to say that. They could have talked all day without bringing that up. “Go get your husband, “ he said. The request seemed to come out of the blue.
“He doesn’t know me, maybe I can get around this.” “I’m not married,” she replied. “That’s right, you’re not. You have had five husbands and now you are shacking with a sixth and he’s married.”
Can you see her, she’s embarrassed. She wanted to tell him it was none of his business. She didn’t have to put up with that from a total stranger. She received enough of that from her mother and sister in laws. But he hadn’t said it with a condemning tone. It was a fact. There was no white-washing it. She hadn’t planned for her life to turn out this way. She was going to college; she was going to be somebody in this society. What happened? She wasn’t proud of her life—she had tried to rationalize it to her family. But the fact was—she was ashamed and embarrassed.
But he hadn’t really condemned her. It was like he was telling the obvious and letting her know that it didn’t have to stay that way. He could have not brought it up. He could have avoided the one fact that told more about her than anything else in life. But Jesus isn’t like that. If you want someone to sugar coat your life and tell you sweet nothings and never saying anything bad—and lie to you. You have the wrong man. Jesus understands a woman—and a man—too well to fall for that. If you are here today and you know your life has some big holes in it, some dark stains, a lot of brokenness and hurts, don’t think that you can do business with Jesus and have him not bring that up. Do you want the doctor to tell you how pretty your eyes look and avoid talking about the cancer? That was the way men had been treating her all her life. One line, one lie after another!
All this time she thought it was economic; she needed a man to take care of her. Or it was psychological; she just needed to forget her past. Or maybe, educational; she just needed to learn how to make smarter choices. In reality she had been looking for a man, a lover, to fill a hole in my heart that only God can fill.“
Sometimes the problem isn’t the problem at all. The real problem is deeper. Some jump from job to job, or church to church, or relationship to relationship, looking for something they never find. Some eat or drink trying to satisfy a hunger or thirst that never gets filled. Sometimes it’s a God-sized hole in the soul.
Jesus met a woman with a deep spiritual thirst. She listened. She believed. She was never the same again. Two surprises follow in the story. The disciples return from an errand to the village and are surprised that Jesus was actually talking to THAT woman. Sometime later the villagers are surprised to find THAT woman inviting them to come meet the one who had changed her life. And many of the people of Samaria believed in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony.
1.Jesus will come to your situation
2. He’s no respecter of persons or gender
3. He’s an on time God
4. You’ve got to have a personal relationship with Christ
A woman went to a well and met what she never expected to find—a man who understood her, inside and out. Today, right here, a woman—or maybe a man, or a teenager—went to church. She may have come expecting one thing or another—to meet some friends, to find a few moments of peace, to just get out of the house, maybe to be inspired, maybe to even be entertained. But she can meet Jesus—a man who understands. A woman went to a well.