Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Empty Places

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water (from the well where Jesus was sitting), Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”

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 did not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her. “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am, you would ask Me, and I would give you living water...Whoever drinks this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst. It will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

“Please sir,” the woman said, “give me some of that water so I will never thirst again and I won’t have to come here to draw water.”

“Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.

“I have no husband,” she said.

“You’re right. You don’t have a husband--for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t married to the man you are living with now.” (John 4:7-10, 13-18)

Excuse me, um...cough, cough...That’s being direct, Jesus.

At this point in the story, I can imagine this woman reacting in several ways to His words. She may have simply turned away, taking the water she had drawn and given Him a look that said, ‘You can get your own water, mister.’

Or, she may have turned defensive, trying to make excuses for her lifestyle. At this point her question about why a Jewish man was talking to a Samaritan woman would have come in handy, but she had already asked that, although Jesus hadn’t given her a straight answer, so she could have repeated herself. ‘Um, exactly who are you, and what right do you have to speak to me that way?’

Or, she may have asked what her marital status had to do with receiving this living water He was offering her; but she seemed to have caught on that Jesus was not an ordinary man, and she was intrigued enough to respond accordingly.

“Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

Jesus declared. “Believe me, woman, and time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem...true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”

It’s an interesting conversation, to say the least. And while the woman may have been speaking “off the cuff”, expressing whatever came into her head, I doubt that Jesus was. For Him this wasn’t a random encounter. He didn’t treat it casually. He didn’t just exchange pleasantries and then go on His way. He had some things to say that He knew she needed to hear. His words may seem random, and even offensive, but they’re not. He had a point, and this woman heard Him loud and clear.

Once their conversation ends, she rushes off to tell the whole town about it, and ‘many of the Samaritan’s from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony’; Jesus also stayed with them for two days, and those who may not have listened to the woman initially heard and saw enough for themselves to know He was the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Someone who knew all about them and had something to offer that they were desperate for.

But what was it that Jesus said that was so convincing? Why did this woman believe? How did she figure out how to get this living water that He talked about? I’m not sure I know the answer to that because I wasn’t there, and it wasn’t me. Have you ever had an encounter with Jesus where you knew He was saying something specific to you, and you “got it”, like a light bulb going on? Maybe even in such a way that changed your entire perspective on something, and yet when you tried to explain it to someone else, putting it into words that make sense to them was difficult?

Jesus likes to get personal with us, doesn’t He? He’s a personal God, and we see this very clearly in this story with the woman at the well. First of all, Jesus was associating with someone that a lot of His own people wouldn’t have, but even more than that, He knew her very personally, and He treated her that way. He wants to do the same with me and you.

Getting back to the words that Jesus speaks to her about going to get her husband, however, I wonder why Jesus would have asked her to do something that He knew very well she couldn’t do. “Go and get your husband,” he says, and she is forced to respond, “I have no husband.”

Why did He do that? To humiliate or condemn her? No. He was making a point about her need for this living water. Something that would satisfy her empty, thirsty soul. His love and acceptance. The value and worth she had in His eyes. He was giving her an opportunity for true worship: to believe in His sufficiency.

If Jesus were to do the same thing with you, if He wanted to bring to the surface an empty place in your heart that He could fill, what would it be? What would He tell you to go get, where your only response would be, ‘I have no_________.

Think about that seriously. You may have more than one thing to fill in the blank. Some of them may be the result of how others have failed you, some may be shortcomings you see in yourself, and others may be related to your current circumstances. (I have no husband, no special talents, no job, no security, no peace, etc.) The list of our missing-pieces can go on and on. Say them all, or better yet, write them down; and then let Jesus say to you, ‘Let Me fill that empty place, and that one, and that one.’

Find your satisfaction and completeness in Him. He is enough.