"JESUS CONFRONTS A SASSY WOMAN."
JOHN 4:4-26; 4:39-42
By Rev Dr Gordon Moyes
We have seen in the last ten years the rise of an entirely new sub-group of
women in Australia - the sassy woman. In western countries their significance
is growing. It is the natural development of the increasing role of women in
business, the professions and politics. Their role in films has spread their
influence worldwide, largely since the great success of "Titanic".
That developed a whole genre of new films called "Chick flicks". Today
sassy women are declared the most powerful people in Hollywood.
At the same time a whole raft of television sit-coms have arrived on our screens
featuring sassy women. Take any Monday night for example: "Ally McBeal",
"Felicity", "Friends", "Sex In The City", "Seinfeld"
and at least six others featuring sassy women. Every Friday night in the bars
of major international hotels in our largest cities, there is a new phenomenon.
They are crowded with women, in their late twenties and thirties, uniformly
dressed in black. The noise is high-level and energetic. In Melbourne, I stood
on the mezzanine and looked at the crowded bar of about 800. Two thirds were
sassy women encircling similar men. In Sydney there are a dozen similar locations.
A man from the country dressed in open necked shirt, tweed sports jacket and
elastic-sided boots would stick out like a woman in a pink twin set and pearls.
This is a new era. The sassy women are taking over. The banks seek their accounts.
Macquarie Bank advertisements picture one saying, "I used to want to marry
a millionaire. Now I just intend to be one." Money, sexual exploits, business,
power - these are the conversation points of sassy women.
This week in an international gynecological conference here, a professor stated
that one in three of these women will never have children, mostly because they
cannot sustain a relationship before their biological clock runs out. They usually
live in serial partnerships but recognize that a permanent relationship is required
for child rearing. Two out of three will not sustain a married relationship.
The professor also said of the one in three having children, they would average
only one child and there would be more born by caesarian section than by natural
childbirth. These women do not like the idea of long and painful childbirth
and they prefer to know exactly the time of birth so it can be planned into
the electronic diary.
The rise of the sassy woman is new to our country but there have been sassy
women in America for a long time. The word "sassy" is an American
variety of the English word "saucy". But it is also an acronym meaning
Single, Affluent, Stylish, Sexy and Young. Jesus once encountered a sassy woman
in a world in which they were a rarity. The longest conversation recorded in
the New Testament is with her. They met at the mid-city watering hole, the well
at Sychar. The well is still there. It is 75 feet deep and has watered the people
from the city for four thousand years continuously, since Jacob dug it. The
conversation is a classic in how a sassy woman speaks. And the comments from
Jesus are a study in incredible psychological insights that eventually change
the woman's life. Her whole life is cleaned up and changed and she develops
new purpose and a new destiny. It is a remarkable account of conversion and
of the way Jesus can give you deep satisfaction.
1. JESUS ACCEPTS YOU AS YOU REALLY ARE.
So many people wear a mask and hide their real selves. Any Friday night in the
bar of the Hotel Intercontinental, or at the Regent or ANA, you will hear noisy,
successfully women, all under the influence of expensive drinks, telling tall
tales of their conquests and business success. A researcher tells me that a
high percentage of the talk is about sexual experiences or hopes. Women talk
more explicitly than men. Many of those women hide themselves beneath all the
talk. Jesus asked this sassy woman for a drink of water as she brought her bucket
to the well. She started on the issues of race, gender and religion. "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.)" Women at that time never
spoke with men in public. They never, ever discussed matters of religion or
race with men, and certainly not with a stranger. But this woman is forward,
unafraid, very much in control. Jesus accepted her as she came to him. He does
that with each of us - accepts us as we are.
2. JESUS DOES NOT LET YOU HIDE IN PRETENSE.
The place most people hide is within themselves. In the conversation she deflects
what Jesus is saying to her. First she deliberately misunderstands Him. John
4:10-12 "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." "Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the
well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our
father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his
sons and his flocks and herds?"
She is just pretending to misunderstand. She is in control of this conversation
and is flirting with Him. Second she is directing the conversation where she
wants it to go. Jesus treats her with dignity and courtesy. But He directs the
conversation back to spiritual matters: John 4:13-15 "Jesus answered, "Everyone
who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I
give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life." That was His promise - spiritual
blessing a like a spring of living water which would well up within. For just
a moment she thought of what that would be like. Her life, so full of pretense
and guilt, could be washed clean and she would have fresh spiritual resources
within. It seemed so good.
She smiles and says: "Sir, give me this water…. (but just as quickly
she reverts to her pretense)… so that I won't get thirsty and have to
keep coming here to draw water." She is back in control and hiding. She
wants to change the subject away from herself and her need. Like a hundred sassy
women in Sydney bars, she has worked her way to success and affluence and she
is not going to allow a man to speak of her inner needs. She puts on a pretense
3. JESUS TOUCHES YOU AT THE POINT OF SHAME.
In a manner typical of those modern psychiatrists who know how to make you confront
the thing you are hiding, Jesus asks her to do a simple deed: "Go, call
your husband and come back." The woman looked at the ground. She knew He
knew. John 4:17-18"I have no husband," she replied." Like sassy
Sydney women, she had no normal marriage relationships.
He had said "husband". She wanted to reply "partner". He
pressed on: "You are right when you say you have no husband. 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." Six men and no satisfaction! She had
started flirting with Him, but He seemed to know all about her. She came laughing,
wanting to talk with him and show she was not confined by social taboos; that
she was well-dressed, ready to party, saucy. But now, this conversation had
just become too personal! She wanted out! He knew and He had said so. Quickly
she took control of herself. For a moment she had lost it. But not now.
She took control of the conversation once more: John 4:19-20 "Sir,"
the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped
on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is
in Jerusalem." She was re-directing the conversation. She was saying: "Get
off my moral failings. If you can know this about me, you must be a Prophet
of God, So let's talk prophet talk. Where is the correct place to worship?"
Like some modern sassy woman who says, "Don't you think the Pope is interfering
in people's private behaviour?" The inexperienced counselor will fall for
the trap and go off talking about the Pope instead of her behaviour. Jesus is
too wise. He answers her question in a way that reminds her, that God is here
and knows all about her. John 4:21-24 "Believe me, woman, a time is coming
when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for
salvation is from the Jews.
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship
the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father
seeks. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
His answer was polite, true and in a manner she could answer. She does so with
true humility. She is not pretending now: John 4:25-26 "The woman said,
"I know that Messiah, called Christ, is coming. When He comes, He will
explain everything to us." Then Jesus declared, "I, who speak to you,
am He." No tricky responses now. Just deep thought. The One standing before
her - the Christ? Her intelligence and sauciness always had her in control,
but now? Could it be that He was the anticipated Messiah?
4. JESUS CHANGES YOU TO A NEW PERSON.
The scene is interrupted by a dozen men who come to the well. The disciples
had bought supplies in the shops. John 4:27-30 "Just then his disciples
returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked,
"What do you want?" or "Why are you talking with her?" Then,
leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,
"Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?"
They came out of the town and made their way toward Him." The water pot,
her antipathy towards the other women - all forgotten! A smart, sassy woman,
who had lived in relationships with half a dozen men, is not popular with other
women in the town. That is why she was out in the heat of the day on her own,
getting water. In villages, the women came to draw water together, in a social
way, in the cool of sundown. She had previously wanted to avoid the other women.
But not now.
Now she ran back intro the town and told every one of a new man in her life.
John 4:39-42 "Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Jesus because
of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." So when
the Samaritans came to Him, they urged Him to stay with them, and He stayed
two days. And because of His words many more became believers. They said to
the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we
have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of
So the sassy woman ended up bringing other people to faith. She had become
the first evangelist of the Christian church. Once alienated from other women,
she was now leading them to faith. Once lonely in spite of her partnerships
with many men, she was now friend of many. Once empty with a huge thirst inside,
she was now satisfied with living water. Once guilty and shameful, she was now
What a change from a chance encounter at the city watering hole. How we long
for that experience for every sassy woman: to come to know the changes that
Jesus can bring. Her real need was for love, real love. Now she had acceptance,
friendship, respectability, forgiveness and love! Sometimes we need that living
water. Come to Jesus and ask: "Sir, give me a drink." His promise
to you is simply: "Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst
again. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling
up to eternal life." That is the greatest promise of all. Satisfaction
- eternally! Provided you accept Him as Lord, and Christ, the Messiah.
Rev Dr Gordon Moyes