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The Need to Be Known

John 4 – The woman at the well

But before we do, a quick story.

Russia Trip – 19 years old

Russia Trip with Luke. Years ago – I was 19 – I went on a mission trip to russia. “Don’t talk to people on the subway! Or on the street! Or anywhere!” Seeing all these people who have tiny micro interactions, but never really know each other.

In same way: Guarded

And I think about how we as people in each others lives in a strange way, can do the exact same thing.

People come together in the same room, and are nice to each other, but never really have much a sense of connection with each other. Beyond anything more than just a Superficial level

And as a pastor who at least tries to be vulnerable and open and honest, it can be kinda depressing how fearful people are of really letting their real selves show..



Dietrich Bonhoeffer – German pastor – Nazi’s – (updated the language):

“He who is alone with his sin is completely alone. It may be that Christians, even with corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still suffer the agony of loneliness. True fellowship does not occur because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from their fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered in their midst. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. Forgetting the fact is that we are all sinners!”

We have all these different relationships in our lives, we have family, we have friends, we have pastors, coworkers.

We kinda ‘DECIDE’ which us to show.

  • Am I being pastor David right now?
  • Can I talk about church here?
  • Is this a setting where I drink?
  • Are these the kind of people I talk about politics with?

Someone assumes – politics. I wonder if this has ever happened to you, where someone assumes they know what you think politically, and they’re exactly wrong, and just start ranting about someone or something, and you’re just sitting there trying to decide how much of yourself you’re about to show.

Feel this: If certain people in my life had access to certain parts of my personality, I know for a fact, they’d reject me.

So you learn to have different faces with different groups of people. Very few (if any) people, see the really truly real you. Even – spouse.

Very rarely do people have a relationship where they TRULY lay themselves bare.

You can see all the times I’m good, I’m bad. You can see all the times I was the victim. You can see all the times I was the criminal.

So much of our life looks like the russian subway. Where there’s people all around us, but we stay in this shell.

Many of us go through our entire life never having the experience of being truly known, and truly seen.

Many of us have a part in us that say ‘The only reason you really like me, is there’s huge parts of me that I’m holding back.

Which is true often times.

John 4

Now he had to go through Samaria. (John 4:4)

So he came to a town in Samaria called Si-char, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. (John 4:5)

Jacob’s we was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the we . It was about noon. (John 4:6)

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (John 4:7)

Jesus was on a journey. – Things were getting a little heated between him and the pharisees.

Jerusalem – Galilee. – Pass through Samaria.

Ok, so Jesus is traveling, it’s noon, so it’s hot. He’s tired.

Disciples go into the town, he stays on the outside.

Sits down next to Jacobs well. – Noonday sun, it’s hot. He’s thirsty.

There comes a woman from Sychar. – Come to get water.

Running water. What a miracle. – Pipes right into your house. Back in the day, had to go to the well to get water for: drink, cook, bathe.

Here’s a woman with her water pot.

Jesus: “Hey, give me a drink.”


I don’t want the controversy of what’s happening here to be lost on you.

1. Woman

Amazing in jewish culture how invisible in a lot of ways women really were.

In John chapter 4 we read the longest recorded conversation that Jesus has with anybody in the entire bible.

  • Not with other men
  • Not with the disciples.
  • With this simple lady, overlooked by culture.

2. Samaritan

The samaritans were a people who were related to the jews but with a different ethnicity. Their faith had come out of the jewish faith, but then in morphed and kinda changed into something else.

These were people who had a different ethnicity and a different religion.

LOTS of hostility – Jews & Samaritans. Hated each other TBH.

Deep hostility. Possibly similar to Israelis & Palestinians.

3. At the well (Jacobs well)

This is at jacobs well. And what we know about wells in the OT, is that that’s where romance always happens.

  • Isaac meets Rebecca
  • Jacob meets Rachel
  • Moses meets Zipporah

Romance starts at the well. So that’s another reason Jesus is being controversial here.

There is romance happening here but not the way you’d think, because God has always loved these samaritans, the outsiders, outcasts.

Story not about a love affair not between Jesus and this woman, but about a love affair between God and the outcast.

Disciples arrive – Aren’t thinking ‘Hey, what were you doing talking to that samaritan woman at the well? :)’ No, they’re gonna say ‘What the flip were you doing talking to that samaritan woman at the well?!’

Jesus: “Hey, give me a drink.”

She’s suprised that Jesus would stoop to even speak to her.

She carries: hostility towards jews, and towards men probably.

She “Well, how bout that? How is that a jew would even speak to a samarian woman like me?”

Jesus “Well, if you knew who it was that asks for for a drink, you’d ask Him for a drink and he would give you living water.” – And when you’d drink from that water you’d never be thirsty again, but you’d have eternal life.”

Woman: Well give it to me.

BTW: She seems like a perfectly intelligent woman, so I think she understood the metaphor. Not that “Wow, if I drink your magic water I’ll never be thirsty ever again.” No, I think she understood. She’s basically saying “Well this has been my life, coming to this well. So if there’s some new way of life, give it to me.”

Jesus: “Alright, we get your husband and you both come talk to me.”

Woman: “Well as it turns out I don’t have a husband.”

Jesus: “Ha! That’s right. You’ve told the truth. You’ve had 5 husbands and now you’re just livin with a guy.”

Woman: “Well I can see that you’re a prophet!”

In this culture the woman couldn’t divorce their husbands.

She has not initiated 5 divorces, they weren’t allowed to. So it’s not like she’s some floozy that keep divorcing people.

A few options:

  • She’s has 5 husbands that walked away from her.
  • Been widowed 5 times (probably a combination)
  • The tradition in Jesus’s day where if the husband gets killed, the wife just gets passed on to the brother.

There’s no sense of judgement. No commentary.

The whole point, is that he wants this woman to see that she is seen. That she is known.

However it happened, it was tragic, and painful. And probably not something that she’s show to everybody.

Jesus cuts through : all the fake facade, small talk, to show this woman that he knows the real her.

So she says “I see that you are a prophet.” Tries to switch the conversation to theology.

“You jews say Jerusalam is where you’re supposed to worship. With your big fancy temple and all that. – BUT Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they worshipped on these mountains. So what do you say about that!?!?!?” So He explains it to her.

“But – Time – coming – won’t be about – places, mountains, temples.”

But then he goes on “All this debate about Jerusalam and bla bla, none of that is the point. – A time is coming when it won’t be a places, mountains, temples. – That’s all going away and something new is happening. God is raising up a new people who will worship him in spirit and in truth.”

He’s saying: A day is coming where is doesn’t matter:

Where you’re born – Gender

Financial status – Slave or free

Not: this people vs that people.

All come as equals worship Jesus as savior.

The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” (John 4:25)

Funny you should say that. B/C I am he.

So this woman runs back to town. So excited she leaves her water pot.

Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” (John 4:29)

Skip down to:

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” (John 4:39)

So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. (John 4:40)

And many more believed because of his word. (John 4:41)

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 truly the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42)

Here’s the point

Jesus’s main strategy here is not to debate theology, he doesn’t perform some crazy miracle,

What does he do that changes this woman life?

When she goes back to all her friends and tells then about this encounter, what does she say?

Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done!

He communicates that she’s truly known by him.

All the shame, embarrassment, unworthiness, doesn’t matter to him.

Thought: Everybody thinks they know what kind of God they want.

Make your life perfect.

Squash my enemies

Fix everything

People of Jesus’s time when thinking about the messiah were expecting someone to come that would come on a white horse and immediately go to war with the oppressors and free everybody.

Of course we know that Jesus was an continues to be an amazing warrior, but it through the path of self sacrificial love.

My point: is that Jesus was not the God people were expecting.

Instead he arrives on the scene with this woman, and brings her redemption by cutting through all the layers of facade, and simply communicates that he knows her and accepts her.

Amazing: this woman has one of the most successful ministries in the entire gospels.

Jesus would send out his disciples to some city, and they would come back and they’d have moderate success to really put a positive spin on it. The faith of this woman turned a whole city upside down. And it all started with Jesus coming and communicating that he sees her, he knows her, and he accepts her.

The God that many of you are searching for without even knowing it, is the God who sees you, knows you, and accepts you.


Back to the original analogy – going through life hiding. This feeling of ‘if I showed my real self, they’d reject me.’

Meanwhile, the power of the gospel is found in a God who sees you as you really are, and loves you.

Let that sink in. He’s see’s everything about you, and you are COMPLETELY loved.

He has no lecture to give. He has no commentary.

NOT: “Now that we’ve established that I’m the messiah, let’s talk about what you did wrong in these 5 relationships.”

No, she didn’t need a lecture, she needed to know that God, who sees everything about her (even the dark parts) is still desperately in love with her.

One thing I love: Jesus when he presents this living water, there’s no contingencies, no strings attached, it’s simply : “Do you want this?”

I think that’s the question for us, it’s simply this “Do you want him?” and if the answer is yes, then you can have him.

There’s such a desperate need that we all have to just be seen and known.

The need to be known is what I’ve called this sermon. It’s a need we all share, and it’s a need that can only be found in Jesus.

There’s no one in this world that can ever get close enough to you, to where there’s no distance. There will always be distance between you and other people. No matter how intimate.

It’s such a beautiful idea that God is the only one who sees through every mask you have and still loves you more than you could ever imagine. There’s no replacement for that.

I just feel like there’s lots of you in here that have a desperation that is more profound and more broken than you would even know how to talk about.

Just sitting there, feeling alone. Surrounded by people, but still alone.

Just wishing that there’s someone who could see the real you. Who could know the real you. And accept you, and even love you. That’s found in Jesus.

Most of the time, we don’t really believe that.

We hear a song or listen to a sermon about the love of God and think “That’s nice that Jesus loves those other people.” – Accepts.

But in our own minds we say “But you don’t know my story.” You don’t know where I’ve been.

No matter where you’ve been: If Jesus appeared at your dining room table tonight with knowledge of everything you are and are not, total comprehension of your life story and every skeleton hidden in your closet; if He laid out the real state of your present discipleship with the hidden agenda, the mixed motives, and the dark desires buried in your heart, you would feel His acceptance and forgiveness.