The fourth chapter of John’s gospel contains the familiar account many refer to as ‘the woman at the well.’ You can find it in John 4:1-42. (my thoughts can wait, why don’t you grab a bible and go read it, then come on back). Jesus tells this woman that the ‘water’ he is offering quenches an eternal thirst within. I thought I could tie this blog in with the last one I published; Hungry? (If your reading this on Facebook, you can find that entry on WordPress under the title of Knowing Jesus in Confusing Times). Much as we all have a hunger that goes beyond the physical, as was stated last time; we all thirst for something beyond liquids as well. Be it acceptance, comfort, fame or any host of other things, there is a part of us that is driven by a want of something. Ultimately, our deepest thirst can only be fulfilled by faith in Christ.
There are many timeless teachings found in this narrative from John Chapter 4. Jesus has a discussion with a woman who had come to slake her thirst but ends up quenching her spiritual desire because of meeting him. For today, I would like to focus our thoughts on the woman in the story that has this personal encounter with Jesus. Let’s start with a little cultural background that may make the events depicted here more meaningful to you.
We’re told that she went to draw water at the common well in the heat of the day at the town of Sychar, which was in Samaria. Women of good standing in a community of that place and time would draw the water they needed first thing in the morning, when it was much cooler. We find as we read on that she has been married five times and is currently living with a man out of wedlock. The society of that time has judged her unworthy to be seen with the rest of the ‘good’ folks of the town because of her living condition. That this woman drew her water from the well at this time of day reveals that she accepted the judgment they made of her. We don’t know much else about her life or back ground. I dare say that in her time, most of her peers didn’t know the particulars of her life either. They simply saw where she was and judged her to be unworthy of everyday fellowship with them (a problem that still plagues many ‘good folks’ today).
The conversation she has with Jesus reveals so much about the love of God! First, and on another cultural note, any man talking with a woman in public was contrary to the protocol of the day; as was a Jewish person speaking with a Samaritan. The Jews judged Samaritans to be far lower on the social scale than they were. Please don’t miss how Jesus blows away the rules and conditions proposed by man! None of that stuff mattered to Him, He simply engaged her in conversation by meeting her where she was.
Reading on, we find that Jesus offered her ‘living water,’ not actually H2O, but eternal life. The woman didn’t grasp the fullness of Jesus’ offer; she merely asked to have this living water so that she would not get thirsty anymore and have to come to this well to draw water. Like so many of us, she wanted the convenience of the Lord’s offer to alleviate her uncomfortable position without having to make any real changes in her life.
Once again, and as a great encouragement to us still today, Jesus pressed through her self-centered focus to reveal His wonderful and transforming truth. The Lord pressed the conversation by directing her to go tell her husband about this. When she realized that Jesus knew about her past, she didn’t deny it. This is a key point for us all. We may rationalize our behaviors to suit us, but we cannot hide them from God. Hebrews 4:13 says Nothing is all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
I don’t share that particular truth of Scripture to scare you (yet if it does, you might want to ask yourself why), but simply as a reminder that the God of the universe does indeed see all that goes on in His creation. As you begin to come to grips with this fact, you can know the transforming power of the love of God that the woman at the well experienced.
I believe it can be seen at work in her life is several ways. First is in the change in her priorities. Verse 28 of Chapter 4 tells us she left her water jar at the well. Rather than conclude her original task, she left it behind to go back to town to tell what had happened.
The other revealing fact can be seen in who she told this news to; those very same people in that place that had scorned her! To their credit, they took her information as credible and went to see this Jesus for themselves. We then see how God worked powerfully in their lives too as many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him (John 4:39).
Please, if you, as many people I talk to do, feel that you are not worthy of God’s love, consider deeply this woman at the well. She lived under the unpleasant judgment of society, but that did not prevent Jesus from meeting her. He saw her simply as a person. He would have known the ‘rules’ and why she was there at that unusual time of day. His saving love cannot be inhibited by the regulations of man. He will quench your soul’s thirst as no one and no thing else can, right where you are.
One thought on “Thirsty?”
None of us are “worthy” of His love, but by His great mercy, He loves us anyway. And he died for all of us. We simply must accept the grace of His forgiveness like this woman did. Well done – a delightful telling of the story.
LikeLiked by 1 person