John 4:1-26 (ESV)
1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “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.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
We like the familiar. I have a habit of listening to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 from the 80’s. I started this when I was growing up in the 80’s and then later in life thanks to streaming apps and websites I was able to find radio stations around the US who played a remastered version of a particular week in a particular year each week-end. So every Saturday morning I would listen to American Top 40 while doing something around the house. My kids now love 80’s music. That might not be a good thing. It is familiar. It is comforting. It is safe.
It has been a little bit in our lives for something to feel familiar. It has even been difficult to find the replays of Top 40 that play during the 13 hours difference in time from Indiana that I am now living. That was until a few days ago when I found an American Top 40 70’s and 80’s edition station on “IHeart Radio”. (Please don’t take that as an endorsement of the app). They play a countdown from the 70’s then the 80’s then the 70’s then the 80’s; you get the picture. It is familiar. It is safe. I know them. I know the voice and I know the songs.
When Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman she is looking for anything familiar. His first request for water puts her in an unknown and unfamiliar situation. “You do know that I am a Samaritan, right?” Jesus presses in, “If you knew…” She rebuts with the familiar. “You don’t have the right tools, you don’t know my well. Who do you think you are? This well has a long good history.” Jesus provides a little more Truth. “…will never be thirsty again.”
Her familiar is painful but it is her familiar. She has grown accustom to the whispers. She has learned to not mind going to the well by herself. It was easier than the stares and possible confrontation. But if I don’t have to do it again; if I cannot be thirsty again it might be worth the risk to step into discomfort. “Give me this water.”
Then Jesus opens her heart. “Go tell your husband…Your right you don’t have a husband right now but you have had 5 and the one you are with is not one of them.” She quickly retreats to the familiar. She recalls the lessons of her youth. She probably hasn’t thought about worship for a while. She has been busy in other areas. But when you are being undone by the Savior you should not be surprised by what you might run to as familiar. Jesus’ response to her old familiar question about worship and where pushes her to consider the unthinkable. Could it be that nothing will stay familiar but be better than it ever had been. Could it be that the messiah is here? “I know that Messiah is coming….”
Jesus says, “I who speak to you am he.” Earth shattered. The familiar is torn away. Hope breaks into the humdrum, bleak and desperate world. “I ..am he”
Father, break us free from our familiar. Let us see you as the one who interrupts and brings us to the true beginning of our lives. Jesus, thank you for your mercy and kindness; you come to save and not condemn. You speak the Truth and it rattles us, challenges us and changes us. You know our stories and where we are even more than we do, but still seek after us. Still pursue us will mercy and grace. You bring us to you Truth and allow it to transform our true. You judge us through your own righteousness. Spirit, when we get comfortable and to relaxed in our familiar, rouse us with your call to the Truth and God’s destroying comfort that transforms us into His children. Amen
Where are you too familiar? Where have you grown comfortable? I am not saying you need to move across the world but it sure might seem like that type of move. God is disruptive in His love for you. Pray that He will reveal those areas that have become too familiar and have become a safe place for your sin to hide. Is it pride that you are doing so well following God? Is it shame for past sins you think God can’t forgive? Whatever is comfort that is not Jesus; it is not true comfort. Share this place of familiar with someone you trust and ask them to pray with you that God will disrupt and move you deeper into the knowledge of His love for you.