I wonder what advice you'd give to someone who asked you how they could 'get the best out of life?' You might be surprised to know that it's actually one of the most common questions people type in to internet search pages. You'd probably be less surprised to discover that there are many thousands of responses - in fact there's actually over a million suggestions! But, if I was to summarise the most popular answers, from the sites I glanced at, it would be something like this: •
Live according to your passion - be the best you can be
Don't be afraid, take risks!
Value everything especially friends and family
What do you think, do they sound reasonable - I wonder what you'd say? It's a tough question isn't it? Of course, this isn't a question people have only just started asking. In fact, it was this very question that John wrote his gospel to answer. In John 20:31. he says this: "This is written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." You see, what John wanted people to understand, was that to get the best out of life, you need to know Jesus, the Son of God. Page 1 of 9
That's the good news of the Christian gospel - faith in Jesus is THE way to know real life. Life that's not only eternal but life that's real, purposeful and meaningful. The Gospel then, is all about experiencing a new sort of life. It's odd, isn't it, that the worlds view of Christianity is so different to that. It sees Christianity as something that limits life - holds us back, tells us what we can't do! Whereas, to live the way of the world, is supposed to bring freedom, liberation, fulfilment - a chance to do everything, regret nothing - a chance to do what you want, when you want, how you want, with whoever you want.. The woman at the well is just like that, in a repressive age, she's an independent thinker, sexually liberated - she's had six love affairs only five of which were even in marriage. She pretty brazen about it too, she not bothered if the whole town knows how she lives. She lived as she likes - she's progressive, modern, living the life... Ok, but for all of that, where's it got her? Here's the scene, she's alone at the well in the heat of the day -shunned by a disapproving community. There's no one to help her, no one even to talk to. And In fact, despite all her male encounters, not one of her relationships results in any kind of practical support.
Page 2 of 9
So, here's the honest assessment - living life for self-fulfilment can feel great, but let's understand, what you get from it is just that 'self.' There's no real purpose, no real relationships, nothing other than self And in the final assessment, that's not a life! Well says John, there's a better way to experience life and it's all about the true life that's found in Jesus. But how, how can we get this life and what difference does it actually make? Well, that's exactly what this incident at the well focuses on how a woman trapped in the choices of her life, finds forgiveness, purpose and fulfilment through the real and eternal life that Jesus gives. So, let's take a look at what Jesus offers the woman at the well? First we see 'life in Jesus' comes without prejudice I wonder what you think of when you think of Samaritans - is it the story of the good Samaritan? Maybe you think of the counselling service or shoeboxes - personally, I can't help remembering that silly joke - who's the fattest woman in the Bible? Yes, you got it... the woman of some-area! But, for Jew's, Samarians represented the lowest of the low. They were the northern kingdom, Jews who'd intermarried, allowed foreign gods to corrupt their culture - they were a half-breed race who'd distorted Page 3 of 9
their faith, denied much of the Bible and even desecrated the temple in Jerusalem. (get the picture?) So, when Jesus sat down by that well, tired in the heat of the day, to talk to a Samaritan was unheard of, unthinkable! Even worse, this was a woman - for a single man to talk to a woman without escort was equally unthinkable. But even worse, as we'll see, Jesus clearly knows she's a women with a dodgy reputation! Yet despite all this, Jesus is unconcerned, he ignores all normal prejudices. Instead, he simply accepts the woman as the unique individual she is, a person, known and loved by God. Actually, he goes even further - despite who he is, his power and status, he reaches out to her to help him by asking her to get him a drink. Jesus acceptance then is unconditional, it goes beyond the barriers of convention and sees our true value to God. You know, life 'in Jesus' means living without prejudice, that's why Christians are called by Jesus to make the mark of discipleship love for one another, Christians, should be characterized by our willingness to treat people as Jesus does - not prejudging, not by social standing, not by reputation or race.
Page 4 of 9
You know, in the quest for self-fulfilment, appearances and reputations are everything; but in God's eternal world they're meaningless. Why? Because before God's standards we're all equally lost - living lives that are no lives at all - It's God who makes the first move - that's the very nature of His unconditional love! Second, 'life in Jesus' is life without limit Initially, Jesus asks for water, but in v13, he says to the woman You know, you should have asked for 'living water', a water that will satisfy her real thirst, and more than that, satisfy it forever. "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." Now, it's not surprising the woman's first response is - wow, this sounds fantastic - it'll save me coming over to the well everyday! Remember, this is a women whose thirst for men isn't far behind her thirst for water and her response is skin deep! But, of course, Jesus isn't talking about water, it's that inner thirst Jesus knows she needs to satisfy. That's the cause of her insatiable desires in life.
Page 5 of 9
No, Jesus is talking about the source of eternal living - what he gives will be the source of endless satisfaction. And what is it that he gives without limit? Well, John 3:34 tells us - it's the Holy Spirit. What Jesus is saying is this: For those who ask him, the life Jesus gives is forever living in the presence of God - it's life built upon a relationship with God through his Spirit - God living in us! And that's what Jesus was saying to the woman- my life, eternal life, means being filled with God's presence and love forever. No fear of rejection, if God is with us; no fear of failure, because he loves us. The question is: do we actually want God with us, do we really want what Jesus offers? And it's this question that causes Jesus to turn His conversation so suddenly. Having asked Jesus for some of this living water, this eternal living; Jesus confronts her head-on with a question about relationships. Because, He wants her to understand what it means to have a living relationship with God. Third then we see that 'life in Jesus' is life under Christ's authority Jesus confronts the woman with her past. He does it because he wants her to know... actually just that -he wants her to know that he knows! So, Jesus confronts her with the truth.
Page 6 of 9
You see, everlasting life in Jesus means there is no hiding from Him. Instead we need to acknowledge that our whole life, is lived in his gaze! The woman could have lied, could have pretended. But quite frankly, what would have been the point? To have 'life in Jesus' requires that we admit the truth to God - to recognise our rebellion. Honesty is necessary in any relationship, how much more in one that lasts forever. See, God desperately wants to put our lives right but that requires us to first recognise that we've done wrong, admit to it and apologise for lives that have been selfish, that have ignored Him, that are self-seeking! And, it is painful when Christ illuminates those dark corners of our lives. That's why we do just what this woman did - we make excuses... "OK", she says, "I recognise who you are," she says, "but - well religion is so confusing - I don't even know where to worship - if the Jews are right and it's in Jerusalem... well hey, I'm not even allowed to go there to worship: How can I have this eternal life in Jesus if I'm left out of God's presence?" Well, finally, we discover 'life in Jesus' means a life of worship:
Page 7 of 9
v.23 "A time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit & truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks." Worship is about honouring the presence of God And, since eternal life in Jesus is all about being continually filled with God, by his Spirit, then the fact is this: we should seek to honour God in everything we do every thought, every word, every action because it all takes place in God's presence - the whole of our life for Jesus then is worship. So often we don't live like that do we.. we think of worship as a church activity! Of course, not all worship is true worship and that's Jesus' point. the way we live can honour God or dishonour Him, it can be conscious of him or ignoring him - regardless of that fact, it matters to him! That's why Jesus explicitly says (V24) that what God's looking for are worshippers who will worship in Spirit and truth - that is, conscious of God's presence and dependent on him - in Spirit; and obedient to God's word, seeking to please him - in truth. So, I wonder, are we living new lives like that? There's a simple way to tell... You see, the impact of Jesus life on the Samaritan women was that she simply couldn't hold back from telling others about Jesus.
Page 8 of 9
"Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers." 'Life in Jesus' then means letting the Spirit of God equip us to serve him with no limits - there's no place for prejudice, no limits on how long it lasts, no limits on his authority, no limits to worship and no limits in speaking of him -
Page 9 of 9
Getting the best out of life is not always about living as the world suggests