Loving and Blessing
John 4:5-42

We’ve just had a huge chunk of scripture read to us, there is so much to take in that you could easily run a six week study series on all that lies within it, yet on any given Sunday we have just a few minutes to dialogue with God’s word and seek its message for us on the day.  I’d love to walk you through this narrative step by step analysing the dynamics, the theology, the fears, the embarrassment, the prophecy, the insight and the grace.  Sadly there just isn’t the time.  So I would like today to focus on the last item I just mentioned, the grace. 

In this story we encounter Jesus and a foreign woman at a well, and as Jesus says, she has had many husbands, not as many as the late Elizabeth Taylor, may she rest in peace, but more than a handful.  Just as we in our time have tended to judge Elizabeth Taylor and her inability to keep a husband long term, we often have the same reaction to the Samaritan woman at the well.  We aren’t told the circumstances behind her rather large tally of husbands, and the one that she has now who isn’t even a husband, just that she has had five and a bit already.  There could be any number of reasons for the fast turnover rate, mortality, divorce, victimisation, we can only speculate.

Jesus knows full well what her circumstances are, he knows all of us too and the plans he has for us, so without question he knows everything about this particular woman.  Does he accuse her; does he give her grief about it?  No he doesn’t he simply tells her plain and simple this is how it is for you.  He doesn’t seem at all upset or challenged by her physical situation, he is more concerned about her spiritual wellbeing.

Throughout their encounter there is a gradual realisation of who it is that this woman is encountering and what it all means, there is a journey that they take together in their discussion that moves her from being concerned with physical things to being concerned about the things of the kingdom of God.

That’s similar to the journey we took with the Faith Stepping Stones course, Raising a Healthy Baby.  We began with an evening of learning and discussion about the physical needs of our newborn children, just as Jesus began with his physical need for a drink of water.  Then the next week we spent time delving into the emotional needs of the newborn and their parents.  We all need to be cared for and loved, the woman at the well obviously had an emotional and perhaps physical need for companionship and to be loved, and a physical need for water, so much so that she came to the well in the middle of the day, the hottest time, to draw water.

Then during our last session of Faith Stepping Stones we spent time looking more deeply into the need for spiritual development of our young ones and us as their parents and even grandparents.  Jesus ultimate goal with this woman was her spiritual wellbeing.  He was teaching her some profound truths, and because of her experience and witness she was then able to go and share that news with others.  They not only got excited about it but came to see and hear for themselves and believed and received salvation.

This is the process that we go through with our children, we are called to share the good news that we have seen and heard and experienced with them, to teach them the creed and the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments and show them a good example. 

The theme text for Faith Stepping Stones was “I have no greater joy than this, but to hear that my children are walking in the truth”.  It truly is a great joy to know that your children, God’s children have heard his truth and are living their lives in that truth.  And perhaps there are few things more worrying to parents than to think that our children may lose that faith or have it challenged to the point that they turn their back on it.  All is not lost, those of you who are familiar with the ebbs and flows of the journey of the people of God throughout the centuries will know that time and time again, the Israelites and their descendents have turned their backs on God, but he never leaves them, he is with them and us to the very end of the age.  His goal is for us all to be reconciled to him.  That’s the whole purpose behind Jesus becoming flesh and dwelling among us.

We have been justified by his blood, while we were enemies and sinners he sent his son so that we might be saved through him.  God will continue to call his people back to him, we will struggle with him, be drawn away by temptations of the flesh, and by the evil one, but he is still there loving us and caring for us and calling us to him.  He knows what we go through, he knows our temptations, our failings and our deliberations, and he loves us anyway.  Jesus didn’t bat an eyelid at the trials and tribulations of the woman at the well, he didn’t bother with worldly protocols or society’s rules, he showed this woman the love that God has for each and every one of us and the way that he can and did bring about salvation for sinners and his enemies.

You have nothing in your past or future that will make God love you any less, don’t turn your back on him, come and drink from the well that quenches your spiritual thirst, come and receive his forgiveness for your sin, be reconciled, share that reconciliation with others and live in the joy and knowledge that you are walking in the truth and that through him all are called to walk in the truth and live in joy and hope. Amen.