John 4, from October 25, 2012

Last week we talked about Nicodemus. Here was a well-respected Pharisee sneaking under cover of darkness to check out Jesus and get the 411. We saw that he didn’t seem to get it – and it appears that it took a while before it really sunk in.

This week we spent time with a woman who couldn’t be more opposite that Nicodemus. He was a man, she was a woman. He was Jewish – one of God’s chosen people. She was Samaritan – tainted and unclean. Where he was respected in his community – in hers she was despised.
How do we know she was despised? This interchange between the woman and Jesus was taking place around noon – in the heat of the day. Wells back then were not like the ones we have seen today with the stone wall surrounding the hole with a bucket and a handle to crank. Drawing water from these wells is hard work. Plus, this well was not in the center of town, it was out a ways – so you’d have to trek all the way back home with your full water jars.

Getting water was women’s work back then, and they would go get their water for the day in the morning or evening when it was cooler. There’d be a lot of them going at the same time. And let’s be honest, you get a group of ladies standing around waiting their turn – and talking will ensue, right? Many of them are probably related too. Think of it as a modern day water cooler! This particular woman would probably be very unwelcome at that time of day because of her succession of marriages and current immoral relationship. So, to avoid the stares, comments, and discomfort, she has to come to the well at this very hot time of day.

Nicodemus was a teacher of the Law, she obviously does not pay attention to the Law except for when it suits her. Even the locations of the interviews are drastically different. Nicodemus meets with Jesus in Jerusalem – the home of the Temple. Jesus meets this woman in Samaria – a place most Jews will go far out of their way to avoid.
These two people and their interviews with Jesus are literally Night and Day. So are their responses to him.
On the one hand, we have Nicodemus who should have gotten it. He knew the scriptures. Instead, he had begun to rely on his tradition and his heritage for security – and it was making him blind (at least for a while) to the change Jesus was bringing.

On the other hand, we have the woman at the well with 5 husbands, a boyfriend, and nothing at all to recommend her to anyone – not even to her own people. However, she also had nothing to block her view of her Savior. She meets him, sees him for who he is, and she believes. She not only believes – she runs to tell everyone else! All those people who had despised her before.

See that! Not only did she believe, but the Lord used her. He used her to draw the others to him – so they could hear and see and believe for themselves.

What I want us to see is that we are like Nicodemus. Nothing we are, nothing we have or can do can save us from the consequences of our sin. But we are also like this outcast woman. Nothing we have done, nothing we are will keep God from freely giving the gift of grace to us if we will put our faith in Christ.

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