Baptised in Whose Name? | James Stevenson
Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman
1 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptising more disciples than John – 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptised, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’
11 ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?’
13 Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’
15 The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’
16 He told her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back.’
17 ‘I have no husband,’ she replied.
Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.’
19 ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.’
21 ‘Woman,’ Jesus replied, ‘believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.’
25 The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah’ (called Christ) ‘is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’
26 Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you – I am he.’
Baptised In Whose Name?
This Sunday one of the congregation was baptized ‘in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’. The God we believe in is 3 in 1, which is not just a historical formula, but more importantly a living reality that can change our life.
In this story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well, we see him as he was then and as he is now and for eternity. In fact, in him we are shown the nature of God. Jesus revealed his identity to the woman, as the long-awaited Messiah, using the words ‘I am’ – which is how God revealed himself in the Old Testament.
Jesus met the woman in all the mess of her life. Drawing water at noon suggests she was avoiding contact with the other women, out of shame because of her reputation for promiscuity. He spent time with her and by the end of their frank and challenging conversation, she was so freed from shame that she went to fetch the whole village to meet him.
All round the world today and here at B&A, there are people who can say that God revealed himself to them in the mess of their lives and set them free from shame. And as Christians we believe that ultimately through his death and resurrection, Jesus also sets us free from sin and death.
Jesus tells the woman that if she had asked, he would have given her living water. The English translation doesn’t convey the full meaning of this, which is ‘eternally living water’. In chapter 7 of John’s Gospel Jesus says ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within them.’ And John says that by this, he meant the Holy Spirit, as they were to discover later.
The Holy Spirit comes to us and reveals Jesus to us. The Holy Spirit is unseen in our lives, but is as much a physical reality as water, filling us and flowing from us to reveal Jesus to others. This is a core part of what it means to be a Christian. For example, John Wesley spoke of having ‘his heart strangely warmed’. We should expect that when the Holy Spirit moves, it won’t be just a nice quiet experience - it will have a physical effect on us.
Has this happened to you? If not, it might be good to ask.
When we receive the Holy Spirit, he leads us into the purposes of the Father, which are to bring heaven to earth and make Jesus king. The woman at the well was so inspired and excited by what she had experienced in Jesus’ presence that she invited a whole community to meet him.
Jesus comes to us time and again, meeting us in our mess. And as we serve him and are filled by his Spirit, we’ll constantly find ourselves being drawn back to the living water. We’ll have that sense of being truly alive and we’ll want to let others know that this can be for them too.
Being baptised in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit can change your life for ever.