John 4

The Women at the Well: Satisfied, 22 May 2011

Big Idea: Jesus is the only thing that will fill the emptiness in your life.

Are you truly satisfied? Have you ever felt like something is missing?

What are some things that people seek for satisfaction?

Most of us know the “right” answer is “God.” If we’re honest, though, we often find ourselves craving the same things that the Rolling Stones found unsatisfying—money, sex, and power.

In John 4, we encounter a woman who is seeking satisfaction. First some background on the story.

Jesus is on His world tour and travels from Judea to Galilee. So what, right? Well, to get there, He had to travel through Samaria—or He could do what many Pharisees did—He could double His trip and go around Samaria.

The Samaritans were hated by the Jews who saw them as the offspring of Assyrians who intermarried with Jews and destroyed their heritage.

Can you imagine avoiding an entire region on your journey because of despising its residents? It’s not like this was just a little detour. It must have added hours to their trip, even if they had a fast camel!

Jesus arrives at Jacob’s well around noon (though it could have been 6 PM depending upon the clock system) and sits down by the well. Normally people drew water at the end of the day rather than midway so he may not have expected to see anyone.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
- John 4:7-8

Notice the contrast between Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus—a moral, respected Jew who pursued Jesus in the previous chapter that we examined a few weeks ago—and this despised, immoral Samaritan woman.

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.) - John 4:9

She knew Jesus wasn’t a local!

Public conversations between men and women were prohibited in the culture.

In addition, Jews viewed Samaritans as “unclean” so a Jew would become ceremonially unclean if he even used a cup handled by a Samaritan. A Rabbinic law of A.D. 66 said that Samaritan women were considered to be continually menstruating and, therefore, always unclean.

Many of the Samaritans early embraced the gospel (John 4:5-42; Acts 8:25; 9:31; 15:3). Of these Samaritans, there still remains a small population of about one hundred and sixty, who all reside in Shechem, where they carefully observe the religious customs of their fathers. They are the smallest and oldest sect in the World.” - Easton’s Bible Dictionary

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.”
- John 4:10

In John’s Gospel, the word “gift” in the Greek is only used here. It emphasizes God’s grace through Christ. Jesus’ grace is a freely-given gift that must be received to be experienced. It refers to eternal life. It also refers to the Holy Spirit (Jer. 2:13; Zech. 14:8; John 7:38-39)

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 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?” - John 4:11-12

The well was over 100 feet deep and Jesus forgot to buy a rope and bucket! This was Jacob’s well and the woman knew about its history.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 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.”
- John 4:13-14

If you know anything about Jesus’ teachings, you know that He often spoke in parables and cryptic language that wasn’t always easy to understand. Here’s this woman in the desert, she came to draw water—a vital task reserved for women in the day—and this Jew tells her of a different kind of water, water that wells up or literally leaps up, the vigorous abundant life that He alone can give (see John 10:10).

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.” - John 4:15

What would you expect Jesus to say? You would expect Him to say something about water, but instead, He throws her a curveball.

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
- John 4:16

Huh? We’d expect Him to at least tell her to pray or obey God or something, right? He brings up her husband, to which she replies...

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 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.”
- John 4:17-18

I love Jesus’ assessment of the situation. He does not condemn her, but rather He affirms her.

Jesus obviously knows her story and how she has struggled with satisfaction. Five husbands is not an accident! Clearly she was looking for love in all of the wrong places! She was masking her thirst with something that actually made her more thirsty rather than quenched.

What’s the best thing to drink when you’re thirsty? It’s water.

Some people—especially kids—think that pop will quench their thirst, but actually it makes you more thirsty. The pop companies actually add sodium which causes dehydration and makes you more thirsty! What a great way to sell beverages!

If you want to quench your thirst for satisfaction, you need to recognize that things like money, sex and power will never satisfy. In fact, they’ll actually make you crave more. Billionaire Ted Turner was once asked how much money was enough and he said, “Just a little bit more.” The things in this life simply don’t satisfy. Sure, they will bring some happiness, but it’s temporary.

Remember all of those things you wanted so badly for Christmas? I wonder how many of them will end up on eBay or in a garage sale soon. We use external things to quench our internal thirst, and the Samaritan woman did the same thing.

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. - John 4:19

This woman is sharp! A stranger told her about her multiple partners. She had an encounter with Jesus, the Messiah that she was waiting for (verse 25).

Just as Jesus knew the heart of Zacchaeus, He knew her heart...and He knows ours.

Like everyone that encounters Jesus, she was transformed. She met the Giver of life.

Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” -Revelation 7:16-17

I don’t know about you, but when I’m thirsty, I often crave pop or juice. Water seems boring and unexciting, yet it’s what I need. Water is the most valuable and essential thing on our planet. We are filled with it. We will die without it.

In the same way Jesus provides living water to each of us—but only if we are thirsty.

Where do you go for your satisfaction? I guarantee that no food, drug, drink, bank account, Facebook account, techno gadget, car, or even person can truly satisfy—only Jesus.

Later, the woman throws out a red herring and talks about an ancient dispute. However, the story concludes...

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

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” - John 4:39-42

My prayer is that many in our community would believe in Jesus because of our story...and experience true satisfaction.

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