Will You Give Me A Drink?
“Will You Give Me a Drink?”
March 12, 2023 -Cobleskill United Methodist Church, Pastor Anna Blinn Cole
Third Sunday in Lent
Cast: Narrator, Jesus, Samaritan Woman, Disciple, People
Narrator: So [Jesus] came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her,
Jesus: "Give me a drink?"
Narrator: (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him,
Samaritan Woman: "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?"
Narrator: (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)
Jesus: "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."
Samaritan Woman: "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?"
Jesus: "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life."
Samaritan Woman: "Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water."
Jesus: "Go, call your husband, and come back."
Samaritan Woman: "I have no husband."
Jesus: "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!"
Samaritan Woman: "Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem."
Jesus: "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."
Samaritan Woman: "I know that Messiah is coming, who is called Christ. When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us."
Jesus: "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."
Narrator: Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, "What do you want?" or, "Why are you speaking with her?" Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people,
Samaritan Woman: "Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?"
Narrator: They left the city and were on their way to him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging him,
Disciple(s): "Rabbi, eat something."
Narrator: But he said to them,
Jesus: "I have food to eat that you do not know about."
Narrator: So the disciples said to one another,
Disciple(s): "Surely no one has brought him something to eat?"
Jesus: "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, 'Four months more, then comes the harvest'? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."
Narrator: Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony,
Samaritan Woman: "He told me everything I have ever done."
Narrator: So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman,
People: "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”
Have you ever been really thirsty? Let me rephrase that. Have you ever been really thirsty and unable to help yourself?
One of the things I’ve learned over the past couple years as I’ve journeyed through various health ups and downs, is that one of the easiest ways to keep my body working as best as it can, is to drink water. Lots of water. Way more water than I ever thought I needed. I credit my physical therapist for drilling new hydration habits into my life. It’s ironic then, that it was at physical therapy one day when I got such a bad frog in my throat, I could barely keep a conversation going. I quickly looked around the room and realized I had brought no water bottle and in that split-second decided there was no hope for this situation and that I would just try to hide my problem as much as possible so as to not draw attention to my need. But there’s only so much you can do when all you want to do is cough and gag because what you really need is water and you’re too embarrassed to ask. Finally, my physical therapist who is trained in reading body behavior asked me…. “Um, do you need some water?” I fought for a moment in my head believing it was an inconvenience for him and that maybe I could will myself past this because. The urge to cough was too strong. I managed to eek out… “do you have any?” “Sure!” He said. “Not a problem. Right in the lobby.” And in 10 seconds he was back with the one thing I needed most. Water. It was as simple as that, yet it had been so hard to just ask.
It can be hard to ask for what we need. We don’t want to trouble anyone else with our problems. Sometimes we don’t think our needs are justified. Sometimes we think there’s no solution, so why bother asking? Other times we just don’t want to appear weak.
The problem is, needs don’t often go away on their own. They will stay needs forever if they never get spoken out loud. I’m not just talking about a scratchy throat here or there that needs a spot of water. I’m talking about needs that go deeper and remain unsaid. The need to be heard when you feel voiceless. The need to be seen when you feel invisible. The need to be respected when you feel cast out. The need to feel enough when you feel worthless. The need for something more that we just can’t articulate.
There was a woman once that was wrapped in these needs when she went to get water from the well in the broad daylight of high noon. She had no social status. She had no privilege. She had no name that we remember. She had only her water jug.
And then along comes Jesus, who needs water but has no jug. And this is what’s so extraordinary about just an ordinary need for water. He was a man who was not supposed to talk to a woman, let alone ask for a drink. He was a Jew in Samaria who was not supposed to talk to a Samaritan, let alone ask for a drink. And he was a person of good social standing who would have known any person drawing water in the heat of the day was only doing so because they had been socially ostracized from the more desirable times of the day. He had no business bringing his needs up at this moment, to this person in this way.
And yet he did.
It’s interesting that the Gospel of John puts this story right after the Nicodemus story from last week. In that moment, a man with privilege approaches Jesus under the cover of night to ask him a question. And in this moment, Jesus approaches a woman in the broad daylight to ask her a question. It’s like Jesus knew that sometimes the script needs to be flipped. Sometimes those in the greatest need don’t have the luxury or courage to start conversations on their own terms. So Jesus approaches her and doesn’t just start talking or demanding, he begins the conversation with a question.
Will you give me a drink?
Jesus opens a moment with this woman by offering her the greatest gift he can muster. His own vulnerability. The one thing he needs is the one thing she can offer and he doesn’t try to hide it.
In her book, Daring Greatly, Brené Brown describes vulnerability as "uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure." It's an unstable feeling we get when we step out of our comfort zone or do something that forces us to loosen control. She goes on to say, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity."
Jesus knew that asking this Samaritan woman for a drink of water was a risky, exposed thing to do. But he also needed water and she was at the well with a jug. So he did the hard, risky thing. And perhaps he also knew that the power of modeling his own vulnerability would be the only thing that could set the stage for her to name her own needs.
He and the woman almost immediately dive into deeper waters. He tells her about a different kind of water, a living water. A water that never dries up or leaves you thirsty. It’s a kind of water that fills you with the fullness of life. She then asks him if she can have some of this water.
And then the conversation takes another, unexpected turn. Jesus asks her a question, but this time it’s a question that he already knows the answer to. “Come back with your husband?” She has no husband, though. “You are right, Jesus says. You have no husband, you have had 5 though, and the one you are with now is not your husband.”
It's clear the woman has received an inordinate amount of judgment and condemnation because of these facts about her marital status. It’s clear because not only is she forced to draw water in the hottest part of the day when no one else is around, but it’s also clear because in the thousands of years of reading and interpreting this scripture many have extrapolated from her situation that she is impure, sexually immoral, flighty and flippant, unable to stay with one man for any length of time. A more likely scenario is that her marital status was at the mercy of her husbands, who for some unknown reason kept casting her off. A likely reason for this in the 1st century AD was a woman’s infertility, a painful reality that made her marriage unproductive by common standards of the day. A painful reality that prevented her from having any real, meaningful relationships.
Jesus sees this. He sees the area where she is at her most vulnerable and tender. And he speaks to her about it in a way that assures her that he already knows. His approach sends the message "your situation does not define you." He names her situation but he doesn’t dwell on it. Jesus crosses every boundary of race, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexuality without condemnation or judgment. He knows every hope and fear. He sees into her soul and still finds her to be of sacred worth
Jesus finds himself at this well in a place that traditionally Jewish people would not set foot. He is vulnerable as he rests there.
In his conversation with her, he makes himself even more vulnerable. As she recognizes that he is a prophet and contemplates the coming of the Messiah out loud, he reveals to her what he, at this point, has not revealed to anyone else yet.
He says, "I am [the Messiah], the one who is speaking to you." He is the Messiah!
He reveals his truest self to her.
It’s his coming out story.
He has not said this out loud yet -
Not to his mom
Not to his disciples
But instead to this outsider -
a beloved Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well he says
“I am he.”
All of us are the Samaritan woman in some way. We all want to know how to be real, how to be seen, how to be known. We thirst for needs that we aren’t able to articulate. We hide our authentic selves in a world that feels unsafe to show them.
And then we meet Jesus. And he strips us bare of our pretenses and stereotypes and he sees us for who we are in all of the beauty and all of the pain. Jesus tells us that our pain doesn’t define us, that we are persons of sacred worth regardless of what weighs us down.
And not only does Jesus see the real us, Jesus offers us the real him. He offers us a new hope. That we can live a life that is full and eternal. That we can stand up through our painful pasts and claim a future in which God tells us we are enough. All of this Jesus does by offering us living water. Water that sustains and recreates. Water that doesn’t just quench a scratchy throat, but that gives rebirth and new beginnings.
(Standing next to the baptismal font). This isn’t literally Jacob’s well. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s a font of water, a well of ordinary water. Yet Jesus took ordinary water, like this, and gave it new meaning. It becomes an outward symbol of an inward grace. It becomes a sacrament, something ordinary that is made holy by the grace of God. The living waters Jesus revealed to the Samaritan woman are the waters that flow through our baptismal fonts today. They are the invitation to a new beginning. They are the reminder that we are not defined by our pain and our past, but by God’s grace that tells us we are enough. This is the living water, the priceless gift that offers us everything that will make us whole again.
A Prayer Poem by Rev. Sarah Speed
anything and everything
I’d give you a drink,
a warm cup of tea with lemon and mint,
a confetti cannon, roses from the garden,
my favorite sweatshirt, a bed to lay in,
homemade bread, a hand to hold.
I’d give you my full attention.
I’d give you my phone,
and say, put your number in.
I’d give you the melody line,
a standing ovation,
a sense of security.
I’d give you anything and everything
if it made you believe
that you were enough
Grace and Peace,