Before I get to my third person, my friend Mark had mentioned that he would like to meet Uriah the Hittite in heaven. Why? Because of his dedication to the king and the troops he commanded. Uriah twice rejected an opportunity for pleasure with his wife and slept on the ground because he was away from this troops. For some reason, the thought occurred to me and I asked Mark if he thinks Uriah has forgiven his adulterous wife and murdering king. He said that if Uriah is indeed in heaven, then, yes, he has forgiven them. Mark’s right; Uriah would have. Now, there’s something new to consider. I have some work to do on my heart before I can say I will be completely elated at the possibility of everyone in heaven. That’s to my shame, but it’s true. May God work on this for me. Soon.
So, we have The Demon-Possessed Man and Nicodemus. Any guess on my third choice for bible characters I look forward to meeting? Well, this is probably my toughest choice because I think I have a tie for third – The Woman at the Well and the Woman Who Loved Much. Don’t recognize that second one? You will. But, first, the Woman at the Well.
Why her? Well, why not? She’s another one who had a radical encounter with Jesus. The encounter is a little long, but worth our time today:
John 4:7-26 There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.” 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.) 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.” 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? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 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.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 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 is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 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.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
Can you imagine that? How intense must that scene have been? I so want to ask her what was going on in her mind as Jesus unfolded that conversation. An Episcopal priest once gave a sermon suggesting the encounter dripped of sexuality. He forgets that God tempts no one. No, this was a raw encounter of God revealing himself to a human. She was “churched” as is really all of the world. She thought she had this God stuff figured out, but she didn’t. What is different about her than most of the world is that she set aside her beliefs to hear truth.
God entered her life with deliberate intention to give her living water. He sought her, and she responded. The Hound of Heaven was set loose on her. The text doesn’t say, but it is likely that this chase began some time before. I have no clue as to what that actually may have been about, but we can reasonably assume it had to do with her sexual life. Perhaps she was undergoing enormous conviction within her spirit about her behavior. Who knows. What we do know is that Jesus delivered her salvation. It wasn’t a choice. Notice what he said, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you…, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” You can say this was a choice, but it isn’t. Jesus revealed this gift and who he was; therefore, she asked. See the distinction?
So, I want to hear her tell me all about this moment – the moment it occurred to her who Jesus was and what he offered. Can we say lightning bolt moment? I bet she will never get tired of reliving that moment and telling people about it! And, I shall never grow tired of her telling it to me.
Folks, I know a lot of you don’t buy into Reformed Theology. Some call it Calvinism, but that really is a label that serves passages like this injustice. Foundational to the teaching of Luther was the realization of what had been demonstrated all along through the pages of scripture. It wasn’t Calvin who finagled this stuff, nor was it Luther before him or Augustus before that. Nor was it Paul or Peter or James. No, it was Jesus himself who shows us the inability of man to be perfect (or to even desire such) which requires a direct intervention of mercy by God himself. This intervention comes through all three of the Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We see this right here with the Woman at the Well.
This gets back to a question from a few months ago, “What about those who have never heard of Jesus?” We see the answer here when Jesus says, “salvation is from the Jews.” There is no other valid religion. American Indian, Islam, Hindu, on and on. All are false. If God make it clear through the pages that Jesus is the only means to salvation, who are we to argue? Seriously.
Let’s wrap this up by sharing what happened AFTER this encounter:
v. 28-30, 39-42 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him….Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 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, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
I want to be just like her!
Oh, there is one more question I have for her. “What is your name?”
Father, what can I say? I want to be like her! Amen!
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers