“Give me a drink”
“Give me a drink” he says. But Jews don't talk to Samaritans. Men don't talk to strange women. And especially not alone. But here at the well, Jesus has something to give this woman, even as he begins by asking.
“Give me a drink”. It was an historical watering hole, this well. Jacob, forefather of Jew and Samaritan alike, bought this land, and this well after he reconciled with his brother Esau. Now comes the one who would reconcile the world to God, a Jew to save a Samaritan, a man on whom all of history would turn. But these grand ideas begin with a simple request, “Give me a drink”.
There is so much to learn here at Jacob's well, as we listen in on the conversation. We can, perhaps, identify with the woman. She was a sinner, caught off guard by her encounter with the Lord. She was going about her business, when Jesus came on the scene. But Jesus knew all along where this conversation would lead...
Notice, she did not give Jesus what he asked. Instead, she started to pick a fight. It's a fight she probably had many times – Samaritans vs. Jews. Just as you know the arguments you have had time and again, perhaps even with the Lord. But this argument we can never win. Jesus didn't come here to fight anyway. He comes to offer a gift.
“If you knew the gift of God... and who it is that is saying to you, 'give me a drink' you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” But she doesn't know who it is that asks. And she doesn't know what he's come to offer. At least not yet.
There was another time when Jesus asked for a drink. To fulfill scripture, but also surely from a very real thirst in his human nature, Jesus asked for a drink at the cross. “I thirst” he said. There, he would sacrifice his life for ours. There he would give us the gift of God – his very self, even his own life.
And then there is the drink he gives to the woman, and to us all. Living Water. You might think he's talking here about baptism, but really it's much more. Living Water entails all the gifts he gives that quench the spiritual thirst. Living Water is the water that gives true spiritual life. Living Water, really, is Jesus Christ himself, and all the blessings he brings. Like the Rock in the desert which brought forth life-giving water for God's people, Jesus is the source and font of all our blessings as God's children. The water he gives is free, it is abundant, and it gives life.
Sure, he gives it in the waters of baptism. There the water cleanses the stain of original sin, and anoints the child of God with faith and the very Spirit of God.
He gives living water in the bread and wine of his sacrament – his own body and blood – given and shed to forgive but also to sustain our life.
He gives living water in the proclamation of his word, where sins are declared forgiven and the sinner, that's you, is declared righteous.
All these blessings must sound good to her. “Give me this living water” she says. But first Jesus deals with her sin.
Jacob himself met his wife at a well. His romance with Rachel began as he, a weary traveller, met her at the well in Paddan-Aram. And here too, now, with Jesus, marriage is the subject matter. For this woman's sin revolves around marriage – her 5 previous husbands and current live-in might make a modern hollywood celebrity look stable. But Jesus condones neither divorce, nor living as husband and wife without marriage. He calls her on her sin. He has her dead to rights.
All our sin is a form of adultery against the Lord. And how many more than 5 times are we unfaithful to the bridegroom, Christ? And aren't we just as uneasy when our sin is dragged into the light of day?
There are, of course, many ways we try to squirm and squiggle out. We can rationalize. We can blame. We can look for excuses. We can live in denial. Or perhaps we just try to change the subject.
Perhaps her next question is raised from a need to change the subject. Maybe after the uncomforable spotlight on her sin, she would rather get back to arguing religion. But perhaps, her frank acceptance of Jesus' accusation, and her realization that he is a prophet means she is willing to hone up to her sin. Perhaps she asks this question to genuinely know. Where's the true place to worship?
See the Jews are always saying it's the temple, and the Samaritans say it's at Mt. Gerizim. But this woman had a need to find the true worship, and the true God. Jesus had awakened this yearning in her. By speaking of this Living Water, by reminding her of her sin, he brings her to an openness to hear one more astounding reality.
“The time is coming when it won't matter where you worship, but how. The true worshippers will worship in Spirit and Truth”.
“That sounds good, too, but it's all so confusing” she seems to say, “I just wish that the Messiah would come and sort it all out.”
And then the shocker.... “I who speak to you am he.”
And she is right. The Messiah did come and “tell us all things”. No, he doesn't give the answer to every question, but he certainly does to the ones that matter.
Not where do we, but who and how do we worship? How do we get this living water? What about my sins? All of these find answer in Jesus. All these have the same answer - Jesus!
We're not told for sure, but it seems the woman came to faith in Christ. John tells us she spread the news of their conversation, and many Samaritans did come to believe. Perhaps they too were confronted with their sins, and surely they found living waters in Jesus.
And so it is for us. Jesus comes to us, not at a well, but in a church. He isn't here so much to receive but to give his gifts. And since we know who he is, we ask for the living waters – when we confess our sin, when we kneel at his altar – we receive gratefully what he gives graciously. And by his grace, we too are made alive forevermore. “Give me something to drink” becomes our request to a Lord who has only the best to offer.
Whatever your sin today, whether its 5 husbands plus, a betrayal of trust, or a lie you've convinced yourself is true. Perhaps worry or fear, or doubt, or all three. Perhaps actions or words you wish you could take back. Perhaps a way of thinking you struggle to escape. Whatever your sin, don't try to hide it from the Lord or change the subject. He cannot be fooled.
Instead, confess it, and receive from him the living waters, that blessed flood in Jesus Christ. For the Messiah has come to you, to give you something to drink. Receive it in faith! Amen.