32: Satisfied (John 4:1-15)
“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.” (John 4:1-3)
It’s not clear why Jesus moved. It won’t have been because He was worried about what the Pharisees would do to Him. More likely it was simply a timing issue. He knew that He would end up in their hands at some point, but the time wasn’t right for that yet and so he walked up through Samaria towards the region of 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.” (John 4:4-6)
Sychar could have been a prejudicial put down of a nickname, possibly for the town of Shechem. It means “drunken” and may even have been a direct reference to how the Jews felt about the inhabitants of the town. Jesus came to the “drunken” town to teach them how to drink.
However, Jesus initially was not there because He felt the draw of the Holy Spirit towards a ministry opportunity to a needy town. He was simply tired out from the long walk and needed to sit down. The wonder is not that He was tired, He was flesh of our flesh, but that He quickly engaged in an opportunity to share the good news with a stranger when He was so tired.
“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.)” (John 4:7-9)
The stranger who Jesus talked to already had two strikes against her from a Jews perspective being a Samaritan and a women. Jesus ignores both social faux pas without a thought and asks her for a drink. He doesn’t have prejudice or any hint of chauvinism. He sees everyone as equally in need and He engages with them as equals regardless of who they are and where they come from.
The chances are that this woman was pretty attractive. Five husbands already and living with another man. She had been wooed and brought to marriage by men who obviously wanted her. Jesus is not distracted by any outward beauty or attraction she may have had. That too won’t change the way He talks with her.
Five engagements and weddings, though, led to five divorces and rejections. Unless she was able to break the social norms, those rejections normally came from the men rather than her divorcing them. Also unfaithfulness was almost certainly part of her experience, hers or her husbands, along with the betrayal, guilt and pain that produces.
If she had been cast aside by her husbands, then five different men had wanted her only to find out that she was not what they really wanted after all. That’s a boatload of hurt. Five highs of acceptance and apparent love, followed up by five painful divorces. That’s what Jesus saw, the emptiness inside, not any outward trait of looks, or colour, or gender, or race. He saw the pain and the deep desire for something more than life had given her so far. And she certainly had her fill of living life.
She is hurting and empty, Jesus sees that, but He still asks her for a drink. She has a bucket, He doesn’t. He is thirsty, she has no idea how thirsty she really is. So Jesus is going to help her see that, but gently, so He begins the conversation with His own need. She is caught off guard by the fact a Jewish man talks to her and even more so that He would ask her for help. With her guard down, Jesus moves quickly from His thirst to hers, from His need to hers.
“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.’” (John 4:10)
He had just told Nicodemus that God so loved the world that He gave. Now He identifies Himself as that gift. This gift is able to draw from the well of living water, “zao” (living) water. Remember from John 1 that in Him was life (“Zoe”). He has that well of living water in Himself.
He addresses her deepest needs, her thirst. On the cross He will fully experience the thirst that the dry dust of sin produces in our lives. It never satisfies and leaves us increasingly hungry and empty. Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us on the cross and it is the only time when He expresses a need for food or drink, except here when He asks for water from a desperately thirsty woman.
Here He is thirsty for physical water, probably genuinely so rather than He is just trying to start a conversation. On the cross He will cry out: “I thirst!” Yes, so does every sinner, deeply. He will experience first hand the deep soul destroying emptiness of life outside of relationship with our Father in heaven. He will personally experience our pain and the shocking depth of our loneliness and dissatisfaction. Not because of His sin, because He “knew no sin” but because on the cross He carried our sin for us.
For now, He knows of it (rather than has personally experienced it) and has compassion for her in it. That knowing and compassion is still more than enough to move Him in love towards this woman who needs more than she knows. And the love is pure and holy love, something that this woman has never experienced from a man before.
He gets her thinking about her own thirst and need for life giving water and at the same time He tells her how she can access it. She needs a bucket and some physical strength to draw water from Jacob’s well. But all she needs to do to access the living water that Jesus is offering is to simply ask Him for it.
The power of prayer. “You have not because you ask not” Jesus says elsewhere. “If you are thirsty for living water, ask Me.”
She didn’t get where Jesus was going. She is still thinking about literal water coming out of a literal well. But now her guard is down even more. Not only is this Jewish man talking to her respectfully and kindly, He is offering to serve her rather than her having to serve Him.
We know that her guard is coming down because of the way she now addresses Him. She calls Him “Sir”, “kyrios” in the Greek. It is more than a term of honour and respect. It implies a supremacy of authority, a supreme ruler and can be translated as God, Master and Lord.
In two short sentences, Jesus not only has this woman’s attention, He has her utmost respect, and she is a Samaritan. In her eyes, Jesus has gone from stranger to “Sir” almost instantly. He has done no signs and miracles, or done anything powerful to warrant such a response. He has simply been kind and respectful to her, asking her for a drink and then offering to give her one instead. She is already disarmed and ready to continue the conversation.
“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.’” (John 4:11-15)
Jesus could have gone with the question about whether He was greater than Jacob, it was a perfect set up. He wasn’t shy to tell people He was greater than Abraham and she obviously thought that He might be. But on this occasion He didn’t go there. She throws out comments that would lead Him in another direction, but He knows where the Holy Spirit wants to go and He sticks to it. He wants to stay with the water theme. He wants to stay with her thirst and his capacity to fully satisfy.
Physical water only quenches thirst for a while. At noon, in a hot country, it will not satisfy for long. You will soon feel your throat dry again and the desire for another drink will return. Jesus offers her a very different type of water. This water is supernatural, not physical and when you drink it, it will satisfy eternally.
Does that mean that one drink and you’ll never be thirsty again? No, that is not what Jesus is saying. Jesus says that the need to drink will return, but that first long drink of the water of life becomes it’s own well. It will continue to spring up throughout the rest of our life here on earth and beyond. We will feel the need to drink again, but the water supply to go on satisfying that need will always be instantly available within us.
How is this possible? It is because when we drink the water that Jesus offers us, it connects us to the river of living water that flows from the throne in heaven.
As I write this, we, as a church, have received our first quote of what it will cost to bring water to the land that we are looking to purchase for the expansion of the church and our christian school. We could bring water in ourselves, by the truckload. But we will always be needing another truck and I’m sure the need will outgrow the supply. We can dig our own well. We would then have an ongoing supply for as long as the well continues to flow but we would have to ensure it was clean and drinkable. Or we can connect to the water supply brought in by the local municipality. It will connect us to a constant supply of clean, healthy water that will fully satisfy not only our current needs but whatever our future needs might be as well.
That is the choice Jesus offers the woman.
When it comes to our church and school, the option of connecting to the main water supply is clearly the best one. But it comes at an up front cost which is not small.
The woman doesn’t know it, but the best option that Jesus is offering her also comes with a cost. A tremendous cost. But He will pay it Himself. She won’t even know.
So He offers her a connection to the mains. The main supply of life, flowing like a river from the throne of heaven through Jesus to whoever would connect to it. Once connected, she no longer has to bring in the water truck with whatever sort of pleasure or desire would satisfy her thirst. That is very temporary and has an ongoing cost that is unsustainable to her emotionally and spiritually (and probably physically as well). She could try and drink from the water that Jesus is offering and dig her own well with it, so that she tries to draw inspiration and life and hope from within herself.
But that is not what Jesus means when He tells her that the water will become in her like a wellspring. He is offering her a connection to the water main of heaven. It has huge up front costs, that she doesn’t know about, because He is offering it to her for free. But that is only because He is going to pay the up front cost for her and for all of us, Himself.
If she connects to the water main of heaven, she would be eternally connected to the source of eternal life. She would be connected to the life of God Himself. She would become ex theos, “of God”. Jesus has life in Himself and if she receives from Jesus then she also will have life in herself, welling up in her too. She would be able to move from having to come to the well of Jacob to draw up water to live, to having the water of life available 24/7 inside of her and moving through her.
Jesus is showing her how to have the miraculous life of God that this gospel promises to all those who receive and believe Him. It can become an inner well connected to the deep and everlasting reservoirs of God. Water that is always available and always clean and pure and healthy.
The water that Jesus gives creates it’s own private water connection within every believer. Jesus remains the continuos supplier of that water but the believer can draw however much they want whenever they want it.
She has been deeply impacted by what Jesus has said to her and by the way in which He has addressed her. He has touched her heart. He has humbled her, but not in a harsh way. He has humbled her with His kindness. She calls Him “Sir” again.
“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.’”
In the end she left the well and her jar behind. She had found the water she was looking for. The life she was living before was not a life at all. In one short conversation with Jesus, she finally believes that she has found the source of a life worth living. She left not just her jar, but her former life behind because she knew she’d found something better.
“So the woman left her water jar and went away into town” (John 4:28)
“Yes Lord, give me to drink of this living water too. And teach me how to daily draw of the heavenly water main that is available inside of me, through You.”Posted on: June 7, 2018Peter Todd