Scripture: John 4:1-26
Title: “Thirsty?”
Preached: Pioneer/FPC – 03/19/17

Have you ever been truly thirsty?  In seminary, I had a friend name Doug.  Doug interned at our church and worked with Michelle and me with the youth.  Doug was loved the outdoors and particularly hiking. He convinced about six of us to go for what he called a short little hike up in the nearby Angeles Forest.  When we started on the hike, we started at the highpoint therefore we began hiking downhill, which was quite easy.  Unfortunately as we found out later, Doug’s idea of a short hike was much longer than any of us expected. We hiked down about two miles to a little creek.  It was quite picturesque but we still had to hike back uphill.  By the time we finally got back, we were achy, tired, and quite thirsty.  I remember how good the water tasted once we returned back to our vehicles, even though it was only regular tap water.  The six of us never let Doug forget about his “short” little hike.

Water is necessary for life.  While we can last up to four to six weeks without food, the typical human body cannot last a week without water.  Our bodies are around 65% water; water is necessary for much of our bodily functioning. Therefore, it is important to be well hydrated.  When I would take youth to camp, we would constantly be reminding them to drink plenty of water.  Even though they were surrounded by rivers and lakes, with all of the activities of camp and the higher elevation, it was easy for campers to become dehydrated, which doesn’t make for a very nice camp experience.  The symptoms of mild dehydration are dry mouth, a swollen tongue, weakness, dizziness, heart palpitations, confusion, headaches, sluggishness, fainting and an inability to sweat.  If left untreated, it can become very serious.

In our Scripture passage today, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well.  As a kid, we used to subscribe to Highlights which is an activity magazine for kids.  One of the activities was a picture which read “What’s wrong with this picture?” in which you would have to find what item didn’t fit in the picture.  In a similar way, I ask you with today’s passage, “What is wrong with this picture?”

There are three things wrong with this picture of Jesus with the Samaritan woman: First, Jesus addressed a woman with whom he did not know.  This just was not done in Jewish culture.  Secondly, the woman Jesus addressed was a Samaritan and as we all know, Samaritans and Jews did not get along.  Although related to one another through Jacob, there was much animosity between these distant cousins.  The third issue is that this woman was a woman of disrepute.  We know this from the discussion that ensues whereby Jesus relays the special knowledge that this woman has had five husbands and that the current man she was living with was not her husband.  And beyond this special knowledge of Jesus, it was also easily deduced from the fact that the woman appeared at the well during midday, the hottest part of the day.  Women typically would come to the well early in the morning when other women would be around for protection.  This Samaritan woman had come during the hottest time of day, probably in order to avoid the whispers of the other women.

This Samaritan woman, although a woman of disrepute, was not a passive woman.  She was shocked by Jesus asking her for water.   ‘What!’ said the Samaritan woman. ‘You, a Jew, asking for a drink from me, a woman, and a Samaritan at that?’ And when Jesus talks about her receiving Living Water, she replies, “But you have no bucket, and the well is deep, how did you expect to reach this living water?  Are you greater than our Father Jacob, who gave us this well?”  When Jesus confronts her about her promiscuous life, she became defensive, “Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain. And you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.’ We are given the picture of a feisty woman who knew what others were whispering about her behind her back and the defensiveness that came with her pain.

A fellow pastor told me a story about how during college, he had worked at a bar.  This was the sort of bar where the waitresses would wear little skimpy outfits.  During the hours of operation, the lights were turned down. At the end of the day, the lights would be turned up and what you would find were waitresses, in their forties, who had children and families to support.  Women who were doing what they could to survive, women who had lived hard lives.  That is the kind of woman that I imagine this Samaritan woman to have been, a survivor.  She knew what others thought of her.  While she didn’t go looking for a fight, she wasn’t going to back down from one either.

Shunned because of her gender, ethnicity, and promiscuous life, Jesus recognized this woman’s spiritual thirst.  Life had taken a toll on this woman.  This woman was spiritually dehydrated and was in need of living water.  I don’t know if she even realized her need at the time, but Jesus realized it, so he said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks regular water will get thirsty again. But anyone who drinks the water I’ll give them won’t ever be thirsty again. No: the water I’ll give them will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘give me this water! Then I won’t be thirsty any more, and I won’t have to come here to draw from the well.’

Do you thirst for living water?  In your own life, have you ever felt spiritually dehydrated? Have you too experienced the pain of what others think about you?  Have you too ever avoided other groups because you knew that they looked down upon you?  I remember a camp director once telling me that some of the people that had hurt him the most were fellow Christians.  Even in this place that we come for healing, and renewal, we sometimes find judgment and pain. I know that this has been true in my life too.   We are all unfortunately broken people in need of the “living water” of Jesus Christ.  We cannot provide it, but Christ can.

Jesus is the source of ‘living water’ for our lives.  He provides us with ‘a spring of water that wells up to eternal life.’  With a well, you have to work in order to bring the water to the surface.  Either you have to do this by hand or with a pump.  A spring naturally bubbles up from the water pressure down below.  Once we come to the living waters of Jesus Christ, it bubbles up within us to overflowing.  And in Christ, we will never be thirsty again.

If we come to church expecting to be filled by others around us, we will be disappointed.  However, if we come to church to be filled by Christ, we will find an abundance of the water that we need.  And when we taste that water of Christ, it tastes so good.  It quenches our thirst and we are rejuvenated through it.


In fact that is precisely what happened with this Samaritan woman.  After her encounter with Jesus, she rushed back to the village to tell her neighbors about Jesus, ‘He told me everything I had done.’  And because of her testimony, many Samaritans came to believe in Jesus.  I love listening to new Christians.  The excitement they have for Jesus.  Their enthusiasm and love is bursting forth.  It’s like a child holding their thumb over the end of a running hose, and the water sprays and showers all over the place, and the child loves it all the more.

As adults, we are sometimes cautious to get wet and sprayed with water.  Unfortunately, over time, we forget the fun and joy of getting sprayed with living water.  However, the love of Christ is waiting for us just ready to come gushing out in our lives.  This is the good news that Christ offers to us, an abundance of living water when we are thirsty.

Jesus did not promise the woman that she would never be hurt again or wouldn’t be looked down upon by others.  Unfortunately, we must continue in this broken world.  However, he offered her what he offers to each of us, himself; and he promised her just like he promises us that he will be there always to quench our thirst for life.  All praise glory and honor be to Jesus Christ, fount of every blessing.  Amen.