The fourth Message in the RelationSLIPS series.

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Greatest Blessing to Relationships

John 4

Woman at the Well


Today we are wrapping up our series on relationships and I think this might be the message that not only transforms your relationships, I think this might be the message that changes your life.

Today’s passage shows us what is really missing from our relationships is something that is missing from our hearts.

Today’s passage is really lighthearted deals with the easy subjects of racism and divorce so let’s dive right in.

Verses 3 & 4.

I don’t want to turn this into a geography lesson, but to understand where Jesus was headed you need to realize there were two options on getting from Judea to Galilee- an Easter Route and a Western route.

Jews took the Eastern route to keep from having to go through Samaria and deal with Samaritans.

However when Jesus headed for Galilee he took the route through Samaria.

This wording “must needs go through Samaria” is basically saying Jesus “just had to go through Samaria” and I kind of wonder if that’s a quote from one of the disciples who was complaining about taking this route-

I can imagine one of them saying, “Jesus just had to go through Samaria” like I would have complained as a little kid on a trip with my parents…

Now that we rely on GPS navigation and Google Maps to get us places, we’re often taken through parts of town that we wouldn’t have stumbled into on purpose.

Google Maps is good for taking you through an industrial park to get to the restaurant or through a ghetto to get to the tourist attraction. It often takes you through an area you wouldn’t go through on purpose.

Jesus chose to go through Samaria.

Jesus chose to go to the place most Jews avoided.

You Jesus knew that there was a woman that he needed to run into and have a conversation with and Jesus knew that one relationship would bring about change for a whole community.

Jesus knew that.

Relationships are how you change the world.

Jesus changed the world. In fact it would be said in a greek court about the Christians a few years after Jesus’ death and resurrection that these are “those who have turned the world upside down.”

It started with the relationships that Jesus formed with his disciples who in turn built relationships with others and on and on it went.

Let me chase a rabbit here for a second.

Over the next several months we are going to have opportunities to meet several people in our community at different events.

Our purpose is not to merely meet them- that is not the goal. That is the first step.

That’s not the finish line, that’s the starting line.

If it seems to you that there is little worth in just having an event to draw a crowd, you are absolutely correct.

There is no worth in that…unless that’s where we start.

There would have been little worth in Jesus trip if he had just gone out of his way to travel through Samaria, but see that’s only the beginning of the story.

We haven’t gotten to the good part yet, but

You never get to the good part of the story if you don’t start at the beginning.

Jesus headed for Samaria with a purpose…

In this room there are people that your life has been transformed by Jesus, but that’s not where the story starts. It starts with someone walking across a room to introduce themselves. It starts with meeting a new friend or co-worker who ends up inviting you to church or talking to you about how Jesus has changed their life.

The good part of the story is when Jesus changed you, but we never get to the good part if we don’t start at the beginning.


The beginning of this story is Jesus going out of the way to meet someone different from Him. The beginning of this story is Jesus taking a road less travelled.

When you go out of your way to meet someone, that might just be the beginning of an incredible story of God’s grace.

By the way, going through Samaria is only a slight detour when you’ve come from heaven to earth.

Scripture tells us that Jesus left the honor and splendor of heaven to be born as and live as one of us- The journey from heaven to earth was a big one, this jaunt into Samaria is not that much further.

Jesus spanned heaven to earth to come be among us, so I’m willing to go out of my way to introduce him to someone else.

I’m also willing to wear a goofy suit, do a week of Vacation Bible School, or even climb into a T-Rex costume.

We haven’t even gotten to the story yet and I’m already preaching.

This is going to be good!

Important details here that might not stand out to us but would have stood out to anyone hearing this story in 1st century AD Israel or Samaria.

it was about the sixth hour. –  Middle of the day. Noon.

his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.

Jesus is alone when this woman walks up to the well.

Jesus asks her for a drink.

This was taboo for a Jewish man, alone, to ask a Samaritan woman for a drink of water, this was not done.

In that culture, Jesus was expected to go thirsty instead of asking for a drink.

In fact, in verse 27 when the disciples return they say, what are you doing talking to her?

Because this was all out of the ordinary, she replies with surprise in verse 9 and the story gets really good.

When we moved into our new house in December, we had both bathrooms functional but the one had not been remodeled. We knew that could wait until we had moved in and gotten settled.

So we had two bathrooms for 2 months and then I got started on remodeling the master bathroom so we’ve been back to one bathroom for a couple of weeks.

I was spoiled by those two months. I was complaining a few days ago about being back to one bathroom…

No matter how many bathrooms you have, you’re spoiled in a sense because you have running water at your house.

Can you imagine if you had to go and draw all of your water from a well? Some of you would have to make 6 trips to have enough water for the long showers you take…

Can you imagine what it must be like to go and fetch water?

This woman has come to the well to get water and fetching water was hard work, but it was essential to life. You had to have it so you don’t die of thirst.

This morning, most of us can’t identify with having to draw and carry water to our homes, but we can all identify with the struggle to find satisfaction, to quench the longing that we have deep within, and when Jesus talks to this woman, that’s what He gets at, the longing, the thirst that we all have deep down.

He uses the request for water as a way to start the conversation, but what He wants to talk about is the struggle she is in to find satisfaction.

This Samaritan woman had a great spiritual thirst.

This woman had come to the well at the 6th hour, which was not the customary time to come. You didn’t come to the well in the very middle of the day when it was its hottest.

You didn’t come alone.

In article back in 2010 in The Nation Ann Jones wrote of the American Militaries efforts to win over the Afghan population and how it so often failed to understand the culture, especially when it came to the female population.

It was difficult since it was shameful for the woman to speak and interact with the male marines.

They put together FETs (female engagement teams) that were made up of female marines who spoke the language or had a female interpreter.

One of these teams found out that when the US built a well for a village where the people that had to walk an hour round trip each day to draw water, it kept being destroyed- the women were destroying it because the walk to the well was their only opportunity to get away from their husbands and have social interaction.

When this woman shows up at the well by herself, it’s abnormal that she comes to the well in the middle of the day alone.

It’s a way that she isolates herself.

She isolates herself because she has great shame because of her great thirs.

She didn’t view the well as a opportunity to interact with other women, she saw it as chore.

So when Jesus says, if you knew who was asking you for water, you would ask me for the water that will cause you to never be thirsty again.

She isn’t talking about water, Jesus is talking about satisfaction for her soul, Jesus is talking about satisfaction for the deep longing that nothing has satisfied.

She hears about water that quenches thirst forever and she says, give me some so I can avoid having to come here every day.

Jesus give me this water so that I can be further isolated so I can stay more to myself…

She was hoping that Jesus could make her life easier, more convenient, Jesus wanted to change her life…

Jesus wasn’t interested in talking about some trick that would keep her from having to come to the well on a regular basis, Jesus wasn’t interested in giving her some advice that would make this relationship stick.

Instead Jesus was concerned with showing her why she was always searching but never finding what she was really looking for.

So Jesus suddenly asks her to go and get her husband.

She says, I have no husband.

Jesus said, you answered well because you’ve had 5 husbands and the man you are with now is not your husband.

Now Jesus wasn’t trying to shame her.

Jesus sent the disciples away because his intention was to expose her need, not shame her.

Jesus has come to Samaria and waited at this well to run into her on neutral ground with no one else around because he didn’t wish to shame her, but he did wish to expose the need that was deep within her.

John Piper makes a great point about the Word of God in speaking about the gospels. He said,

The gospels reveal God to us and us to us. 

Here in this interaction, Jesus reveals

His identity as the Son of God

AND He exposes her identity as a sinner.

When we are thirsty, we need to find water but we’re not done when we find water. We need to drink it in. To drink it in, we have to open our mouths.

To take in the Living Water which quenches the thirst of our heart, we have to open our hearts.

I worked for a property preservation company during college. Basically we took care of abandoned properties. One of the things we did was mow the grass so that the grass didn’t get so tall as to become a nuisance and get the company fined.

So we were mowing the lawn at places that no one had really taken care of and the grass was tall so you would often run over junk in the yard.

I ran over some wire that was left in the yard and the blade of the mower sheered off a little piece of wire and threw it at my leg and it lodged in my knee.

I had to go to the emergency room and a surgeon used a local anesthetic on my leg and I watched him cut my leg open down to the place where the metal had lodged.

It was a surreal experience to watch my leg be opened up and then to see that nasty, rusty piece of metal which had been invisible become visible.

When God exposes the sin in our lives, it is uncomfortable, it’s painful, but scripture reveals Jesus to us and us to us because when who Jesus really is comes in contact with who we really are, it’s life changing.

This woman had a great longing in her heart and her 5 failed marriages and her latest relationship in which she hadn’t even bothered with the wedding – all of those relationships were testament to the fact that she had a desperation.

You and I might argue about which came first, the marriages or the desperation, but I’m sure that we can both agree that you don’t end up with 5 divorces because your life is going to plan.

I think we can both agree that 5 divorces is not a path to joy and happiness. But these relationships are not the point.

When she changes the subject away from her failed marriages in verse 19, Jesus doesn’t change it back because to Jesus that was never the subject, her need was the subject.

She starts off on a tangent about where the Jews worship and where the Samaritans worship and the disagreement that had arose between the people.

She was bringing up a politically charged subject to deflect from her problems. People hate talking about politics but they’d much rather talk about politics than about what’s wrong with their hearts…

Jesus doesn’t say, hey wait a minute let’s keep talking about your divorces. Jesus doesn’t try to get more info about what happened in those relationships.

Jesus doesn’t even bring them up again, because that wasn’t the point. Jesus’ point was the deep need she had.

Jesus’ point was the desperation she was struggling with and he wanted to make her whole.

Some of you, you’ve gone from relationship to relationship looking for what is missing in your life.

Some of you, you can’t even wait to give your last partner’s stuff back before you’re head over hills in love with someone new…

In fact, you’re so in need of a relationship that you don’t leave one until you’ve got another prospect lined up…

Some of you, you’re in the opposite situation- you’re in a relationship that you know is unhealthy- he won’t marry you or she wont be faithful but you’re so terrified of being alone you stay in this dismal relationship.

But that’s not the point. The point is that you need Jesus.

You will never find what you’re looking for in relationships- except in a relationship with Jesus…

U2 released Joshua Tree 20 years ago today

I have climbed the highest mountains

I have run through the fields

Only to be with you

I have run, I have crawled

I have scaled these city walls

These city walls

Only to be with you.

But I still haven’t found

What I’m looking for.

I have kissed honey lips

Felt the healing in her finger tips

It burned like fire

I have spoke with the tongue of angels

I have held the hand of a devil

But I still haven’t found

What I’m looking for.

I believe in the Kingdom Come

Then all the colors will bleed into one

I’m still running…

You broke the bonds

And you loosed the chains

Carried the cross of my shame

Oh my shame, you know I believe it.

When that doctor took that piece of metal out of my leg, he dropped it in a tray and you know what he did next, he went back to work on my leg. He wasn’t worried about that piece of junk, he was worried about my leg.

I was sitting there staring at that piece of metal in that had just come out of me and before I knew it, he had me stitched back up…

Jesus’ purpose in meeting this woman was not to straighten out her messed up relationships. Jesus’ purpose in meeting her was healing her heart.

Jesus calls out the junk in our lives, but that’s not his focus.

His focus is on our hearts.

Jesus wants you to have a great marriage.

Jesus wants you to have great relationships.

But he wants to start with your heart.

He wants to start with your desperation and need.

The transformation that happens in this woman’s life is pretty incredible because the woman who was coming to the well in the middle of the day to avoid the people runs back to the village and tells the people, I’ve met the messiah and he has told me everything that I ever did…

She had been avoiding people because of her shame but she run to people and brings up her past without shame because she has met Jesus. Relationships are how we change the world- it’s how this woman was changed and it’s how her village was changed.