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12 - The Woman at the Well

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

Popular culture has given interesting characteristics to superheroes through the years. Quite often has a joke come up at Superman’s expense thanks to the absurd simplicity of his alter ego’s disguise. Place a pair of glasses on Superman’s face and suddenly, he’s unrecognizable. How can people – skilled journalists, no less – not see past a pair of glasses to see Clark Kent is obviously Superman? Various explanations have been given for this by comic book writers over time, but they don’t change the core of the story – those around Clark are having conversations with one of the most powerful heroes in existence without even realizing it.

Yet Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well is particularly interesting for more than just the fact that this unnamed woman is unwittingly having a conversation with the Messiah. To some extent, it appears Jesus is testing this woman. His opening to the conversation is, “Give me a drink,” and yet He makes it clear as the discussion unfolds that, in reality, He is not the one who is truly in need. Although He may benefit in the short term from a drink of water, it is the Samaritan woman who stands to receive the greatest benefit; in speaking with the Messiah, she has a chance to receive far more than she could ask or imagine. She can receive forgiveness, acceptance, healing, wholeness and, perhaps most significantly of all, satisfaction – an end to thirst, a cessation to desire… the answer to the questions she’s been asking all her life.

For each of us, we ask the question of what will satisfy for much of our time. We try to answer that question with sin, and we often find a temporary satisfaction therein. Sexual immorality, drug abuse, accumulated wealth – they will all lead to a momentary gratification. Sin does satisfy for a moment. It’s why we turn back to it over and over. But the problem is, sin will never satisfy forever. In it we find only that which leads us to a temporary answer.

Jesus identifies within the Samaritan woman a pursuit of relationship which has taken the place of a relationship with Him. She returns repeatedly to the same well from which she’s drawn water time after time – spiritually, the well being relationships with different men – and found each time that she left unsatisfied. What she’s able to see is that Jesus is clearly a man of God; this much is confirmed by the knowledge He possesses that is beyond what He ought to be able to gather on reason alone. What she does not realize, however, is that the man of God to whom she speaks is not only the source of truth, but also the source of life. She has spent a lifetime seeking satisfaction in a man, but the only One who can truly end the longing she has displayed all her days is sitting before her at the well’s edge.

Christ alone can satisfy, but if He does, then why do we continue in our pursuit of sin? The issue, it seems, is that we are still awaiting the time of glorification. The glorified believer will no longer desire the things of sin, finding full contentment at last in our Savior. This life then becomes an exercise in preparation, in training, and in learning to cherish Christ as our all in all.

At the edge of the well is an invitation to something deeper. At the edge of the well is the One who provides water which will finally satisfy once and for all.

Jesus, You are the One who gives living water and who takes away our thirst. You provide in seasons where provision seems impossible. You meet our needs where sin never can. You show us Your glorious presence and in You we find the rest our souls crave. Today, help me to let go of that to which I look for satisfaction outside of You. All which I seek out to satisfy my soul, to quench the thirst within me, may I abandon it all so that I may embrace Christ. You alone are worthy of my attention and my affections. May all else pale in comparison to the peace and joy I find in You. May I dwell with You in contentment – finally satisfied.


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