For this Lenten Journey, I want us to look at the most profound statement ever made by Jesus while He was here in our human form. Throughout Lent we are going to be in John’s Gospel looking some of the “I-Am” sayings of Jesus—those moments and situations where He identifies Himself in a very specific way.
Let’s lay the groundwork for today’s passage before I read it to you. Moses had this unbelievable encounter with God. We call it “The Burning Bush” story. God tells Moses to go back to Egypt and inform them that God has appointed him to lead them to the Promised Land. But before Moses agrees, he wants to know who it is that is sending him. They will want to know who has sent him, so Moses poses the question: “Who shall I tell them sent me?” And in that moment God reveals His true Name: I Am Who I Am! In Hebrew, the word is Yahweh! And God goes further with this statement:
This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.
Why am I telling you all this? Because without this knowledge, nothing that we look at this season will make any sense. We are going to journey through Lent by looking at certain moments when Jesus says, “I Am”. The first one we need to look at is from John 4:4-26 (N.L.T.).
He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.” “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband—for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem.
You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”
We need be begin our journey with boldest statement ever made by a human being. Jesus tells her: I AM! For what I am about to say, some would want to tar and feather me and run me out of town, but I’m going to say it. Jesus did not say “I Am”. Now, you look confused. “Preacher, you just read that Jesus said I Am.” But Jesus did NOT say I Am—because He did not speak English. Jesus would have been able to speak in both Aramaic and Hebrew. So when He identifies himself to her, the word He used is Yahweh!
The Name That God Told Moses Would Be His Eternal Name, The Name That People Would Identify As None Other Than The God Of Abraham, Isaac And Jacob.
Can you imagine the shock on this woman’s face when Jesus identified Himself as Yahweh? It was a name so sacred that Law prohibited its use in public. No human being since Moses was allowed to use that name. And no one dare named their child Yahweh! Yet this is the name Jesus calls Himself. What were the first thoughts running through her mind?
“Is he crazy? Has he been out in the sun too long? Is he playing mind games with me? Is he mocking me because I’m a Samaritan?” Whatever her first thoughts might have been, they didn’t stay long. Somehow she knows His words ring true, so she runs back into Sychar with the news, telling everyone she can find: “I’ve found Him! I’ve found Him!” And the people may have laughed, “Who, husband number 6?” She catches her breath, “No, no, I think I’ve found Messiah! I just know He must be Messiah!” I know it says she asked a question: “Could He be the Messiah?”, but it’s not a question of doubt. Hers is the question of hope. And here’s the one thing you need to remember today:
The Deepest Longing Of Every Human Heart Is To Be Near To God!
Hers may have been a tarnished hope, or it may have been a secret hope that no one could see in her life. But somehow, deep down in her heart, there must have been that hope that God would come near to her to satisfy the deepest longings of her heart.
As we make our Lenten Journey, we need to know that we are going to find that same longing in our heart—to see and experience the nearness of the One, True and Living God. And we can count on Jesus being that just for us, as He was for her! And it is all because of The Name: Yahweh! Jesus is Yahweh and here’s why:
1. He Is Yahweh Because He Looks For Us
Jacob’s Well was the place ordained by God for this woman. He Has A Place Ordained For You, To Meet Him Face To Face, For You To Surrender Your Life To Him. And Jesus planned it out for that moment when she would be coming to draw water. As Jesus and his entourage arrives at Jacob’s Well, Jesus announces, “Guys, I need to stop and rest; besides it lunch time. Tell you what, go into town to McDavid’s and get you something to eat, and bring me back a #7 combo. I’ll just wait right here. Now, go on guys.” Have you ever wondered why Jesus sent them ahead while He stayed behind? Well, I have and I’ve come to this conclusion. If there had been several of them with Jesus, that woman probably would have stayed away. But just one man there, it’s not as threatening to her. Jesus wanted this moment with her.
He had been looking for her and the time was right. And He looks for us. There are God-ordained moments where He is looking for us. He is looking for us to have this special relationship with Him. God wants us to have more than a mental knowledge about Him. He longs for us to give Him our hearts. But God-ordained moments go further than for us to become a Christian. There are God-ordained moments to comfort us, encourage us, strengthen us, and to take us deeper into this relationship with Him. And you never know when they will appear. This woman came in the middle of the day; not the usual time to draw water. And God may surprise you with ordained moments because He is always looking for us.
2. He Is Yahweh Because He Knows Us
Everyone in Sychar must have known this woman. 5 divorces and shacking up with another man? She must have been the talk at all the hair salons. They looked at her and saw someone who couldn’t keep commitments. They saw someone who had no morals. They saw someone whose only contribution to the community was to keep the gossip lines hot. They saw her as dirtied and all messed up.
The women of Sychar always went to the well early in the morning, but she would not have been welcomed then. They saw everything that was wrong with her. They thought they knew her. But there was so much about her they could not see because they had made up their minds about her. But Jesus knew there was more to her than what was on the surface.
Only God, Only The One Whose Eternal Name Is YAHWEH Can See Into The Deepest Recesses Of The Human Heart.
He sees the secret sins we hide from others. He knows the dark secrets we keep pushed down deep. But He knows more, much more. He knew what she was truly longing for, and He knows what we are longing for. Because He knows us, He knows what it will take to bring that hope alive in us. This woman wasn’t ignorant of God’s promises. She knew one day Messiah would come. And though it may have been a weak hope, there was the hope that Messiah would come to save her. Listen to your heart; your heart knows it wants to be known deeply and loved intimately by God. Yes, He knows our flaws and sins, but He also knows the real you—the one waiting to be born, waiting to be released upon this world and into God’s Kingdom.
3. He Is Yahweh Because He Offers Us Life
At Jacob’s Well this God-Ordained moment was for one single purpose: To Bring Real Life To This Dirty, Broken Woman! Nothing Can Give Us The Life We Long For, Only Jesus.
Some people settle for a life of thrills, but there are never enough thrills. Some settle for a life of wealth, but there’s never enough wealth to hold off the fear of losing it all. And some settle for a life of respectability—but they are hollow and empty inside. This woman was looking for life through one relationship after another. But none of them satisfied the cravings of her heart.
Nothing in this world can give you real, abundant, lasting, eternal life. This is something only God has—Jesus is Yahweh because only HE has the life that we hunger for. Only He has the life that will survive the ups and downs of life here on earth. Only He has the life that can hold up under the fiercest storms. Only Yahweh can offer us this kind of life—and He offers it as The Gift.
He and only He paid the price necessary to take away the dead things of our life, and put in their place Life. It’s not just any ordinary life, but the most extraordinary life of all—His Very Own Life. In this Lenten Journey, in your life journey, remember that There Is A Name For All Generations To Remember.
It is His Eternal Name, Yahweh and He is looking, looking for you because He knows you. He knows you need more than an ordinary life—but the most extraordinary life of all. Paul nails it when he describes this life in Galatians 1:27
And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.
Only Yahweh, only The Great I Am can put real and abundant life in you—That life is Him In You!
- Has anything robbed you of hope? The news? This controversy going on in our Tribe? Guilt? Some fear, named or unnamed? Crushing grief that you keep holding on to, that you never completely give over to Jesus? Feelings of inadequacy? Or, how about despair, that you’ve given up on something, something very important?
- Give whatever that is up. Give it up to Jesus. Make it your offering to Him. He’s not looking for only the good things to offer Him, He wants the pain, the burdens that you carry to be given over to Him. You don’t have to keep carrying them because He carried that weight, while on that Cross!
- If you have given Jesus your heart, then declare this truth every day, all day long: Christ Lives In Me. When you doubt, say it: Christ Lives In Me. When you are afraid, say it: Christ Lives In Me. When that thing you gave up that was robbing you of hope starts to weigh on you again, say it: Christ Lives In Me.