Woman at the Starbucks



My name is Pastor John B. Pharisee and I bring to you a very serious warning about Santa Clarita. It should be no surprise to you that the Christian residents of Santa Clarita are not like us sanctified Christians in the San Fernando Valley. Only those of us who live in this valley are those who are blessed and anointed by God. 

As you all know, those Christians who live in the valley dedicated to the memory of Saint Clare are not sanctified (made holy) by God. They are ceremonially unclean from birth and to protect our own spiritual purity, we must avoid them at all costs. Very sadly there have been good Christian men from our own valley who traveled up there and intermixed with the Claritian women. These men have not only talked with these sinners, but some have actually touched these unclean women and for that reason, we have not allowed those men back into the valley of Saint Fernando. I know you all agree with me when I say that is the will of God for our sacred valley. 

Some of these foolish men from our valley have even married these unclean Claritian women and they’ve raised families. They’ve not heeded our warnings and their souls are now condemned to Hell. I think all of you have heard that over a hundred years ago we shared common beliefs with the residents of the valley of Saint Clare for they believed in God, Jesus and the scriptures. But we in the valley of Saint Fernando had unresolved doctrine issues with those people and we told them years ago they must come to our valley and worship in our megachurch. But they stubbornly refused and built their own megachurch on a mountain top which is why we have had hostile relationships with those evil Claritians ever since. 

That’s why I stand with all the other religious leaders in this holy valley of Saint Fernando and declare to you that God will not redeem those people to the north and we must avoid any contact with them. These unclean Claritians defile anything they touch. Wherever they walk and wherever they sit becomes defiled and unclean. Please take my warning today seriously because even talking to one of the residents of the valley of Saint Clare will make you spiritually unclean and you will bring that defilement back into your own families. That’s why we don’t allow them in our holy valley and that’s why as your pastor, I forbid you to travel to theirs. 

Because we must take care to avoid these people at all costs, we must not even travel through that area. We all know the quickest way to go to central and northern California is right up the 5 freeway, but that brings you straight into the valley of evil and straight into the fires of Hell. You must avoid this hotbed of defilement by taking the 5 freeway to the 14 freeway and going east. Stay on the 14 until you get to Mojave then take the 58 highway north. You’ll eventually rejoin the 5 freeway again just south of Bakersfield. That will add about two hours to your trip but if you take the eastern route I’m describing, you will not be risking your soul by traveling up through the impure valley of Saint Clare.

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But at the very moment that Pastor John B. Pharisee was writing this warning in the AMEN Corner, Jesus was traveling on His tour bus with His twelve disciples and was westbound on the 210 freeway. This was early in our Lord’s ministry and He was on a whirlwind tour through Southern California, teaching, healing, and delivering people of unclean spirits. He and the disciples were coming from Orange County where they had gone to celebrate the Passover feast at a megachurch. John 2:13 

There had been an unfortunate incident at this, the largest megachurch in the southland. Jesus had gone there to worship as was His custom and found that this church was focusing not on leading people into a relationship with God, but on making money. Jesus had walked into the lobby and actually kicked over the tables where the pastor’s DVDs and books were being sold. He knocked down the display of the pastoral staff bobble head dolls that were on the clearance shelves. The racks of custom-designed clothing with the church logo went flying everywhere and the coffee vendor later reported some damage to the coffee kiosk. John 2:14-16 Needless to say, that was a little upsetting to the church leaders, but the people cheered Jesus and revival broke out. John 2:23 They’d stayed a little longer in that city because the disciples had been baptizing thousands of people who were now following Jesus. John 3:22

It was now a tired and hungry group of disciples on that bus and they were on the way to Fresno. And as the bus merged onto the northbound 5 from the 210, the driver stayed in the right lanes because as a good Christian, he knew to take the 14 freeway and the eastern route to avoid the valley of defilement. But Jesus shocked everyone on the bus by telling the driver to take the 5 straight into the valley of Saint Clare.

Now sometimes Christians did take the 5 freeway up past the Magician’s Mountain but they never stopped and they prayed all the way that there would be no reason to get off the freeway. Imagine then everyone’s surprise when Jesus told the driver to get off at the Lyons exit because He wanted to stop and rest. The Jesus Tour bus pulled into the shopping center next to the freeway and the hungry disciples hurried into the Vons marketplace to buy food for the next part of the trip. 

So, while the disciples were picking up the groceries and complaining to the meat department manager that there was no fresh goat meat, Jesus went to the nearby Starbucks and sat at an outdoor table alone. It was noontime and a hot day. He was happy to just kick off His sandals and rest in the shade of the green umbrella, but he knew that there was a reason for Him to be there. He needed to be there. He didn’t wait long before he could see her crossing the parking lot. 

It was the middle of the day, and it looked like she had just gotten out of bed. She was no longer young but looked a lot older than she was. It was apparent that she had once been very beautiful but hard living and bad choices had taken their toll. Her red hair was pulled back and away from her face and she had applied just enough makeup to her puffy eyes and pale cheeks to conceal the lack of sleep and too much wine from the night before. There was just something worn and tired about her as she walked across the plaza and her head was down as if she was afraid to look anyone in the eyes. She was still healthy and strong but she walked with a stiffness to her body, and from her posture to the countenance on her face, it was clear that she was carrying great psychological and emotional burdens. Everything about her conveyed that the pain from her past was weighing upon her like a curse. 

And, on top of her own personal life issues, she carried the burden of all the other Claritian women who had been labeled as spiritually unclean by the religious authorities from the holy and sanctified valley of Saint Fernando to the south. And there was nothing that could bring about the restoration she so desired. There was no hope for her. No second chances. No redemption. There would be no Messiah. No Son of God showing up in her life. Yes she had heard that the Messiah was coming and one day He would appear in the holy valley to the South, but the Messiah was for the sanctified and set-apart people. She had heard it said too many times that the Almighty God would have nothing to do with an unworthy sinner like her. She lived a life of condemnation – cursed by others and cursed by the thoughts in her own mind. 

But now, in the blistering heat of the noonday sun, she craved the iced cappuccino she needed to start another day and feel human again. She hurried to the glass entrance door not looking at anyone. There were times she didn’t even like being in public because she was afraid someone would talk to her or she would have to talk to someone. Her posture and downcast eyes conveyed to everyone, “Leave me alone.” She never saw Jesus sitting by the door to Starbucks under the green umbrella, and as her fingers touched the door handle, she froze and her heart began to pound when He spoke to her. He said “Woman. Go bring Me something to drink.”

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I just told you my contemporary version of the “Woman at the Well” and reading this story in a modern context may provide us with a better understanding of the relationship between the people of Judea and Samaria and help us to see how extraordinary it was that this conversation between Jesus and the woman took place. John 4:3-28 (Jesus) left Judea and departed again to Galilee. 4 But He needed to go through Samaria. 5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

The Apostle John, who was on that road-trip with Jesus, tells us that Jesus needed to go to Samaria. No self-respecting Jew went to Samaria. Even though the route from Jerusalem to Galilee went right through the Samaritan territory, the good Jews would travel many miles out of their way toward the Jordan River and then head north along the river to avoid going through Samaria and being defiled by a Samaritan. But Jesus had to go to Samaria. He had to stop at a well. He had to talk to a woman. He had to reveal His true mission and identity. And it all started with a simple request...

6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

Jesus was tired and thirsty and had no way to draw the water from the well. Jacob’s Well is over 100 feet deep today and may have even been deeper 2000 years ago. It is a large round hole in the ground surrounded by a low wall and it may have been on this low wall that Jesus was sitting. Travelers carried a length of rope tied to a bucket made of an animal skin that was compact and lightweight to pack. They used this to draw water from the wells that they came across during their journeys. The disciples would have had the rope but they were at the marketplace buying food. 

This would be an unremarkable encounter in our modern times, but in the New Testament days, everything about this conversation is astonishing. A good Jew would have died from thirst before talking to a Samaritan woman and for a man with a reputation now as a holy Rabbi – a teacher – this was an unthinkable conversation that was now taking place. 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” 

Jesus is not talking about H2O, Jesus is talking about the living waters that bring salvation but the woman misunderstands: 11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 “Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” 15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”

The woman instantly thirsts for the living waters because no one can come into the presence of Jesus and not be drawn immediately to their Creator, Father God. She craves salvation and restoration, but the reality of sin cannot be ignored. Jesus does not accuse and He does not condemn. But He gently draws the truth from her...

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 “for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.” 19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.

Sometimes during a conversation about faith, you can tell how quickly a person comes under conviction by how fast they change the subject. When the Holy Spirit holds up a mirror to an unredeemed sinner, our reflection is difficult to look at. When Jesus gently showed the woman her past, we then listen to her calm sounding response and can only imagine how her mind must have been racing at that moment to try and figure out where this was all leading to. 

How many times have you been in a conversation with someone about their eternal destiny and they kept asking you to explain complex theological issues? It’s always more comfortable to talk about religion than to talk about the barriers we have to accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. And, since human behavior has not changed much at all in the past few thousand years, watch how the woman at the well deftly changed the subject and shifted the focus from her sins to a theological question. 

She now says to Jesus: 20 “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

We have to stop right here. This is huge. This is a pivotal moment in our world’s history. This was the single most direct and explicit messianic claim that Jesus had ever made. Never before had He directly stated who He really was. Another translation says it like this: "Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah.” John 4 26 NLT It was not until His trial three years later that He would make that claim again. We read in Mark 14:61-62 that: “Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus said, “I Am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

But the first time that Jesus revealed His true divinity it was not to the religious leaders. Not to the crowds following Him. Not even to His own disciples. Jesus first revealed His true identity to a sinful and defiled Samaritan woman. A woman with a past. A woman struggling in the quicksand of bad relationships. A woman who had made bad choices. A woman who the church had cast off. A woman shunned by being spiritually unclean. The rabbis of that time taught that for a man to talk too much to any woman, even to one’s own wife was just a waste of time. But Jesus was a different kind of Rabbi who was more concerned about a relationship with God than about following religious rules. It was no coincidence that He came across the woman at the well. Verse 4 told us that “He needed to go through Samaria.” This was no accident of circumstance that it was first to a “lowly” woman that He revealed His divine nature. Women were unimportant in those days and valued primarily for their ability to procreate children and provide labor in the house and fields. Jesus was to change that. It was God’s plan that after Jesus started His ministry to the world it would be first to a woman that Jesus would reveal the truth of His divinity and offer His living waters. 

In the proceeding chapter of this Gospel we read that Jesus told one of the religious leaders in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” Jesus was showing His disciples in Samaria that it was all the world God loved. And gender, race, social-status and culture did not matter. The promise of the Gospel message is available for all people and when you believe in Jesus you are then united as one into one family and will have eternal life. In an instant, the woman at the well believed!

And as you continue to read about the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, John 4:28-42 you’ll find that the woman at the well is filled with the living waters and runs off to tell the men in her city that she had found the One who they had been looking for all their lives. She had found the Messiah – the Son of God. This woman, struggling with a life-time of self-worth issues, was found so worthy by God that she was chosen by Jesus to hear the truth and be an evangelist of the Good News and lead her entire city to Jesus.

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I now speak to the women readers of the AMEN Corners. I don’t know where you met Jesus for the first time. Maybe at Sunday School. Maybe at your Grandmother’s house. Maybe at a church service or outreach event. Maybe at a youth camp. Or maybe even at a Starbucks. Wherever and whenever you met Jesus and accepted Him into your life as Lord and Savior, you drank of the living water that only Jesus can offer. 

But, some of you may be feeling a little parched at this time in your life. Maybe even feeling that the living water you once had flowing through you has become more of a stagnant pond. You’re a little older now. A little more tired now. And your feet hurt. But God is not finished with you here on earth. There will be a point in time when God calls you to Heaven and then you can spend the rest of eternity relaxing and worshiping God. But if you’re breathing, God ain’t done with you yet and your spirit is still alive with living water. Jesus said, “But the water that I shall give becomes a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14 The Greek words translated into “fountain of water” describe a robust and continuous flow of water as if coming forth from a deep water spring.

When the Samaritan woman was filled with the living water, she was filled with the energy of new life in Jesus and she raced off to tell her entire city about Him. If you have Jesus in your life, that fountain of water is still flowing and today the Holy Spirit wants to refill you and refresh you with the powerful living water of Jesus. All you need to do is to say, “Yes, Lord!"

Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus I come before you with the boldness and confidence that comes not from my flesh but from the Holy Spirit who dwells within me. 
I pray for my personal revival today believing that You will refill me, refresh me, rejuvenate me, restore me and renew my soul that Your living waters would flow freely to me and through me. 
You have cleansed my heart through Your Word and revived me though Your mercy and grace. Lord, You are at work in me and through the power of the Holy Spirit I am energized with the power and the will and the desire to do Your good works according to Your plans and purposes for my life. 
I thank You Lord that it is Your joy within me that will overflow to others and I praise You for what You are doing in my life today. 
Christ is in me and I am in Christ and the power of His living waters flowing through me can do far more than anything I could ask for or even possibly imagine. 
To You Lord God goes all the glory!  Amen!!

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The AMEN Corner is a weekly devotional for the family and friends of New Hope Family Church. It is intended for this devotional to be strengthening, encouraging or comforting and your comments too should be for the glory of God and reflect the intended purpose of these posts.

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