Posted by: lepages | October 13, 2010


Over the past month, following my preach on our ‘Come to Church Sunday’ when I focused in on how Jesus used our need for water as a metaphor for our need for spiritual life I haven’t been able to get away from the theme. I’ve preached it several times, in different ways. Below are the notes from preaching it at an afternoon seniors fellowship meeting at Russell Park Baptist Church – except that I got completely lost in my notes, abandoned them and just spoke out what God was stirring in my heart! But the notes portray something of what God has been stiring in my heart. God bless you as you read!

Bible reading:- John 4:4-29 & 39-42

Video clip of Alistair Brownlee collapsing at end of ITU World Championship in Hyde Park

Watch carefully what happens towards the end! Questions will follow!! 😉

What number was a lady wearing on her back??!! (10!)
What did she do? (Poured water on Alistair)
What did the commentator say they were going to do to Alistair (rehydrate him)

The best thing the lady with the number 10 could have done would have been to get him to drink the water, not pour it on his head!!

Water is wonderful stuff! We can’t exist without it! We are 70% water!!

If we dehydrate by 1% we get thirsty – that’s probably why some of you are thinking
‘I wish he’d hurry up, I could do with a cup of tea!!’ 😉

If we dehydrate by 10% or more we put ourselves in physical danger – as Alistair Brownlee did in that video clip. Remarkable thing was as soon as he was rehydrated he was fit and well again and went on to win the final World Championship event very comfortably just a few weeks later.

In our Bible reading Jesus was on a journey. It was the middle of the day, and out in the heat of the day, he was thirsty and tired from the journey and he sat down at the well. Things weren’t as easy then as they are now for us.

We don’t think twice about a cup of tea do we??!!

In many countries in Africa they still live in much the same situation that the people in our account did. For many African women it would be the norm to have to walk out of the village to a well to obtain water – in fact the average walk to collect water in Africa is around 4 miles!! That’s like going from one side of Bedford to the other!

This is what the woman in our account faced, except that she came out to the well, not at the normal time in the cool of the day, but in the heat of the day – at a time when few others would have been around.

Jesus asks her for a drink.

This is unusual. It was not the socially accepted norm at that time for a man to speak with a woman on her own, and even worse than that, the Samaritan people and the Jewish people held huge prejudices against each other.

So the woman replies to Jesus’ request for a drink “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”

Prejudices between different people groups still sadly exist today. Many conflicts in different countries in Africa have been between different tribal or ethnic groups; we saw it between the Croats, the Serbs and the Bosnians in the former Yugoslavia; I come from Guernsey in the Channel Islands and grew up with a prejudice against people from Jersey, our sister island! I still carry it in part, albeit now at a humorous level!! 😉

A lot of us carry prejudices, whether we realise it or not – people who wear certain types of clothes, have their hair cut in a particular way, or come from a different background or culture to us. I remember someone once saying to me ‘I’m not racist – I just don’t like blacks’ and I remember a black person saying to me very similarly ‘I’m not racist – I just don’t like Pakis’

This was the kind of situation Jesus came into. Equivalent of a member of the British National Party asking an Afghani immigrant for help.

Well, Jesus takes this opportunity of conversation, to take the water, which we all need so much, and use it as a metaphor for something else. He uses water as a metaphor for spiritual life.

Sometimes we know we are thirsty – we’re desperate for a drink!
There are other times though, when we only discover how thirsty we are when we take our first sip.

I’m constantly amazed by how often that happens – I haven’t realised I’m thirsty, but I get a drink, I take my first mouthful and ….. ahhhhh….. that feels so good…. and soon the glass is gone and I’m wanting more!

As human beings, we are not just physical beings, we also have minds that think, emotions that respond to things – and part of our nature as human beings is our spirits.

If one part of our being is deprived, it affects the other parts. If we are emotionally and mentally low it can effect our physical well-being. In the same way if we are physically ill it can effect the way we are emotionally.

Jesus takes the metaphor of water and applies it to spiritual life. Just as we need water for our bodies to function well, so, we need to drink spiritually.

I’m not sure that the woman knew that she was spiritually thirsty when she came to draw water, but as she spoke with Jesus, so she realised that he had something she needed.

It may be that for some of us we’ve never thought of ourselves as being spiritually thirsty, but maybe just being here has stimulated that thirst and we want to drink some more.

This Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well had a powerful encounter with him that changed her life. She might not have got all her theology right, she obviously thought that Jesus might have been the Christ, the Messiah that the Jewish people had been waiting for – but she didn’t say that, she said in v29 “Could this be the Christ? The Messiah?”

We don’t have to get all our theology right to become followers of Jesus Christ, we just have to give our lives to him and let him by his Spirit cause those springs of living water to well up inside us.

She had gone out to the well in the midst of the heat of the day, at a time when others would not have been around, and here she is now rushing back into the town, and saying to the people she was previously avoiding, perhaps because of her past life and her reputation, that she’d met a man who’d told her everything she’d ever done – remarkable that she’d do that! It’s the last thing you’d expect someone to do! You’ve got a bad reputation, you’d think the last thing you’d ever do would be to rejoice in someone telling you all about it – but she is doing just that!!

Now I don’t know you, but I guess if one of you had a dodgy background you probably wouldn’t want to have someone tell you all about it, and you probably wouldn’t then want to go and tell everyone else that you’d just met someone who’d told you all about your life!

Her sharing that had an impact on those around her, because they came out of the town to meet this man Jesus who had so profoundly affected this woman’s life.

Jesus is still profoundly affecting and transforming lives for the better today.

When a person becomes a Christian, when they yield their lives to Jesus, he becomes Lord of their lives – and he gives them a gift of new life, a new spiritual life by placing his Holy Spirit in their lives. The Holy Spirit is that spring of water welling up to eternal life that Jesus speaks of in v13 of our reading.

That’s something that happened in my life around 30 years ago when as a teenager I came to see that Jesus was the only way in which I could truly get to know God for myself, rather than just knowing about him at a distance. That well of spiritual life continues to grow in my life and I’m so grateful to God for it.

I’ve had the privilege of watching as God transforms lives – transforming good lives and making them better; transforming bad lives and making them good as people have drunk from the spiritual wells of life that Jesus wants to give.

I remember some years ago someone who had recently become a Christian, a follower of Jesus, sharing how they’d gone into the supermarket with their child in a buggy, they’d used a basket but it had got full, so they’d put stuff in the tray of the buggy. At the checkout, they forgot about the goods in the tray and it was only when they got home that they discovered them. They went straight back to the store to pay their dues, but said if it had happened just a few weeks earlier they’d have thought ‘Oh, that was a bit of luck – some free goods!’

I wonder whether you’re thirsty this afternoon – if physically, I’m sure we can get you a glass of water, if spiritually, then you need to come and drink from Jesus.

You may be a Christian, who has forgotten to drink regularly from the Lord.

As we pray in a few minutes, open your life to him and let his Spirit well up within you afresh.

You may know very little about the Christian faith, but recognise that you’re thirsty for something in life. If that’s you, come to Jesus, and let him fill you with that spring of living water.

You might be like this Samaritan woman and ready to do so straight away. On the other hand you might be like some of the people from her town who needed to hear more before they would believe. If that’s you, then I think the church here is starting an Alpha course – we’re running a Y-course – come on it and like the people from the town where the Samaritan woman lived, explore what Jesus has to say.

Water is essential to life. Spiritual water is essential for spiritual life.
We need to take good care of our bodies by drinking well and keeping hydrated correctly – we need to do the same with our spiritual side – recognising that one part of our life has a bearing on the other.

Perhaps you’re one who has had your spiritual thirst stimulated this afternoon and you are ready to drink from this spring of water that wells up to eternal life which Jesus speaks of? If that’s you, I’d like to lead you in a prayer in which you thank Jesus for making it possible for you to come and drink, you ask him to come into your life by his Spirit and in which you ask him to transform your life for the better as he did the Samaritan woman’s, and as he continues to do in many lives across our world today.

Maybe you’re not ready to go there, then think about an Alpha course, or a Y-course.

I’ll lead us in prayer and then we’ll sing our final hymn.


Hymn:- I will sing the wondrous story


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