John 4:1-14: Futility.(please click for todays passage)

Wilfred Owen wrote a beautiful little war poem, full of pathos, and called it ‘futility’. It’s one of his shorter works, but it says so much. Reading Jesus’ words in (13), I call to mind the Old Testament book of ‘Ecclesiastes’. It too speaks of ‘futility’: the ‘vanity’, the emptiness, of everything we pursue in this life (‘under the sun’) in order to find meaning. King Solomon had everything you could want in this world. He had money, sex (oodles of it!!) and power. He found by personal experience that apart from God it was all ‘meaningless’. F.B. Meyer has said that you could write the words of verse 13 over all worldly amusements: ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again’ (13).

Jesus did not ‘have’ to go through Samaria as a geographical necessity. He could have taken another route. But there was a divine necessity about this trip. The Father had scheduled an appointment with a deeply ‘thirsty’ woman. She had found that this world does not satisfy, and she was ready to ‘drink’ what Jesus offered her.

Notice the simple relevance of Jesus’ approach. It starts with a shared understanding and need for water (7). But skilfully, carefully, Jesus went gradually deeper in the conversation, arousing her curiosity, drawing her in, whetting her appetite. Michael Green once said that in personal evangelism we have to row our gospel boat around the island of a person’s life, and determine which is the best place to ‘put in’. When you read the gospels you see that Jesus had no pre-packaged, pre-programmed approach. He was led by the Father.

By the way, can you see the irony in (12)? We know the answer, even if she doesn’t – yet!!

Prayer: Father God, please organise my schedule for today – and every other day. And help me to never make tiredness an excuse for avoiding people, and failure to serve.