Confess

John 4:1-52

So Amazing!  Still trying to make sense of it, and yet I know it happened.   Such an incredible conversation!  I lost track of time as we talked, my innermost being connected to this stranger, who I discovered as we conversed, wasn’t a stranger at all.

I almost didn’t answer when he asked me for that drink of water.  Jews and Samaritans don’t talk.  We have a past that makes us distrust one another, makes us expect the worst just because of our heritage, our view of history, and how we worship God.  I couldn’t understand why he would even talk to me, let alone think I would help him.

What was he doing here anyway?  Jews don’t usually travel through Samaria.  They want to avoid us.  Conversation and sharing a drink, even if just water, not something they normally do.

Then there was the scandal of talking to a Jewish male.  Why was he risking ridicule to talk to me?  Jewish men don’t interact with any kind of women in public.  He might talk to his mother, wife, or however many daughters he has, but never to any other women.  If anyone saw us talking, the gossip mill would be up and running at full speed.  It wouldn’t really harm me, they already talk about me, all those men in my life.  I come to the well in the heat of the day to steer clear of those judgmental stares and comments as much as possible.  But what about him, what price would he pay for accepting a drink of water from a Samaritan woman with a questionable past?

So many questions, so many reasons to be about my business and get out of there.

Yet there was a gentleness in his request.  His eyes filled with respect and compassion for me, and somehow I knew I wanted to draw him some water.  There was something different in how he acted, and it eliminated my first impulse to ignore him and go about taking care of myself.  As I pulled up the vessel of water I thought, I’ll be cordial, but keep any conversation on a superficial level.  After all even if he is different, even if I’m drawn to know the answers to the questions surfacing in my mind, I can’t let my guard down.  Can’t let him know about all the messiness of my life, can’t reveal my pain and mistakes.  It is only a request for a drink of water after all.

At least I thought so at the time.

Then the conversation began.  He treated me as if what I had to say mattered, as if I mattered.  He began to dismiss all my preconceptions about why he shouldn’t or wouldn’t interact with me as he talked of God and God’s gift to us.

As first his words about offering me water, which would quench my thirst from that moment on sounded so good.   It would be wonderful to stop these daily trips to the well in the mid-day sun and the struggle to pull up the water from the depths of the well, and then the long walk home with the weight of the pitcher on my head.  But as deep as the source of the water I gave him to drink, was the depth of his words as he spoke of eternal life, worship, God, and the Messiah.

All my plans to keep my private life private blew away as sand in the breeze.  He knew things about me, the number of husbands and non-husbands I had, my understanding of the scripture and differences between Jewish and Samaritan beliefs, my desires for the Messiah to come and explain how we should worship and live.  His intimate understanding  of who I was, how my life’s story had evolved, for that which my soul was thirsty, touched me and changed me.

To me, an invisible woman, unimportant to, if not disdained by most, he revealed his identity.  He is the Messiah, He is the one who explains everything.  He revealed that true worships will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.  “God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Amazing!  Not confined to a particular place or people, not limited to a prescribed style, but set free in our relationships to God and one another, opening our eyes to each person’s stories through the eyes of this caring compassionate man who looks into who we are and offers us what we need to never thirst for love and acceptance ever again.

All that I had learned from the religious leaders over the years became so much clearer, this man at the well was who he said he was.  His words, his actions, his knowledge of who I am revealed truth to my yearning heart.  He is the Messiah and he is interested in talking to me.  Remarkable!

Just as I was trying to make sense of this revelation, his disciples returned.  They didn’t challenge our conversation, but somehow I thought I needed to get back to town, to let people know who was at the well, to give them an opportunity to have truth revealed for their lives.  I am not sure they will believe me, but if they hear my story, the astounding truth that he knows everything about me, they might be curious.  They might take the walk to see him before he leaves, so I better hurry up and tell them.

They need to know that the time has come when what we are called doesn’t matter and where we go to worship doesn’t matter. It is who we are and the way we live that counts before God.  Our worship much engage our spirit in the pursuit of truth.  That is the kind of people God is looking for those who are simply and honestly themselves before God in their worship.  When we come in worship we come before God who knows our every thought and our every hope, our every gift and our every broken place, every single beautiful thing about us, every wonderful story and even the ones that aren’t so wonderful.  We come before God, and God offers us a cool drink of water, and a place to rest, and listens to our stories. [1]

He knows all that I’ve ever done, yet he loves me, and openly reveals his identity to me.  He has so many reasons not to and yet, he does.  He is the One promised, He is the Messiah.  We know we can’t survive without a good steady source of refreshing water.  I know now we can’t really live without the truth He reveals.  Please hurry, come and see for yourself!

(out of character)

So Amazing!  Jesus reveals himself – Confesses who he is – to someone the world has identified as unimportant.  Jesus reveals God’s desire for our lives – Confesses that it is more about what we say and do than where we worship.  The woman is self-aware of her limitations and her needs.  She has taken advantage of the opportunities to learn about God offered in her culture and is not afraid to ask questions that help her grow spiritually.  The barriers in her life do not hold her back from seeking to know more or from recognizing the presence of the Messiah breaking into the routine of her life.

Once experiencing the presence of the promised One, her priorities change, the water jug sits at the well and she hurries to invite others to come see for themselves.  Her passion, her confession that “he knew everything about me,” so compelling that many go to see for themselves and believe.

This morning we look at the question raised at our baptism.  Do you confess Jesus Christ as Your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as Lord, in union with the church Christ opens to people of all ages, nations, and races?  Will you commit yourself, according t the grace given in you, to be faithful members of Christ’s holy church and serve as Christ’s representative in the world?

The woman at the well lived out this confession, trusting what Jesus told her was true and serving as Christ’s representative in the world.

In our baptism we take up the calling of the church to intercede for the world, and to continue to live more deeply into the mind of Christ.  In the lifelong pilgrimage with the church begun in baptism, we discover again and again that our purpose in life is deeply tied up with giving ourselves in service to others. In baptism, we step into the flow of living water, and in it we experience, now, already, a foretaste of heaven.

Jesus told a Samaritan woman he could offer her “living water.” He said, “those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty” (Jn. 4:13). When we receive this living water, says Jesus, our deepest needs are satisfied. More than that, initiated into the flow of living water, we become part of God’s blessing to the world, participants in that “spring of water gushing up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

Becoming a part of that gracious flow satisfies many of our deepest longings, for God created us to “give ourselves for others.” Self-giving is at the heart of the life of the Trinity into which we are baptized. We are at once most deeply human and closest to God when we give ourselves in love. [2]

The woman at the well discovered that the living water offered by Jesus Christ is available to all, regardless of personal history, ethnicity, place of worship, gender, socio-economic status or any value set by this world.

God’s grace is offered to all who will drink of it.

We who have drunk of this living water, we who have come to faith and who claim faith in Jesus Christ, can only testify to what drinking of the living water of Jesus Christ has done for us. We cannot give the living water of faith to others. But we can become part of God’s blessing in the world. We can join in God’s mission by giving ourselves in love. And we can commit ourselves anew, according to the grace given to us, to be representatives of Jesus Christ in the world, and, through our words and self-giving actions, point people to the only one who can give us the living water that we most need.[3]

With all we say and do we can confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, in essence saying to those we encounter to “Come with me. See the person who has told me everything I have done! Mightn’t this be the Christ”

[1] Kathryn Matthews, Sermon Seeds, March 19, 2017

[2] Mark Stamm The Meaning of Baptism in the United Methodist Church (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2017),

[3] Rev. Dr. Dawn Chesser – Living Our Baptismal Calling. Discipleship Ministries UMC – Confess – March 19, 2017

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