Thirst No More
May 5, 2022
Recently I had what amounted to a cold. Along with it came some coughing and congestion. My son jokingly reminded me to drink lots of water. He did this because that has always been my “go to” advice when anyone is sick. Drink lots of liquids. What else is a person expected to drink? Soon my wife had similar symptoms. My son followed. He had a late-night coughing spell that did not sound good at all. Yet, he was able to go to work the next day. I inquired if he had access to drinking water at the construction site. He simply answered “no.” Ironically, as he was getting ready for work the night before around 4 a.m., I considered grabbing a few water bottles for him. I wish I had. Neither of us was thinking clearly at that hour. What made his lack of water interesting was the fact that he was working at what is about to become a restaurant. He was so close to a drink, yet so far away.
A famous gospel story finds several people needing a drink. In John 4, Jesus was seeking actual water to quench his physical thirst. The woman he encountered there was also going for water. She went away with something of far greater value – having her thirsty soul satisfied.
Like so many times in the Jesus accounts and encounters, we see a fascinating dynamic taking place. Jesus was among the people and looked like a man since he was one. But, of course, he is also God. So, what most people could not have understood when interacting with our Lord was that he was fully God and fully man. He had a huge advantage over them. Unlike anyone else the woman at the well ever spoke to, Jesus knew her heart completely. And unlike any other men she spoke with, he loved her perfectly despite her sin. Jesus had her best interest in mind.
As usual, we can learn a lot about loving people and sharing our faith through our Master. He was tired from walking and no doubt hot since it was high noon (John 4:6). While most women would have gone to the well in the cool of the day and no doubt socialized, this woman going at midday indicated that she was a social outcast. Jesus knew why. She had several problems, including being a Samaritan. There was a strong prejudice among Jewish people in that day against the Samaritans. To a good Jew, there was no such thing as a good Samaritan. They were a racially mixed people who worshipped according to their own traditions rather than strictly the Old Testament. As we will learn, her issues went beyond her ethnicity. That did not stop Jesus from approaching her with grace and truth (1:14).
It may not have been proper for Jesus to speak to this woman but it was practical and purposeful (9). He simply asks her if she will give him a drink (7). That is a natural question for people who have come together at a well of water. Jesus could have no doubt gotten his own water, though a communal bucket must not have been available (11). He did, after all, turn water into wine. But he already knew that the water topic was a way of engaging with her about the deeper issue of her thirst. The human heart is like a deep well. One most go beyond surface conversations and endeavor to get to the source.
She was no doubt shocked that this man who was obviously Jewish would speak to her, so she questioned his request for a drink from the likes of her (9). He answered in such a way that proclaimed his deity although she missed his point (10-11). In Jeremiah 2:13, the Lord decries disobedient Jews for rejecting him as the “spring of living waters.” Instead, they dug broken cisterns that could not even hold stagnant water. Old Testament prophets spoke of a time when living waters will flow out of Jerusalem (Ezek. 47:9; Zech. 14:8). Water cleanses and satisfies. It is necessary for life. The living water source was at the well speaking to this woman and offering her something that cannot be contained in a bucket. He was and is the gift of God. The gifts of grace and salvation are without cost. Their impact is that of a quenched soul that will not thirst again (14).
The woman did not understand it fully but it certainly sounded like a great opportunity for her. She wisely asked for such water (15). That is where Jesus gets to the heart of the person and her problem. It went beyond 8 cups of water a day for good health. It was her history and current moral health that he brought out to her in an incredible way. Go, call your husband and come here (16). Without being unkind, Jesus exposed the problem that the thirsty woman shared with every human being – sin. Jesus would have been very tuned in to the sin issue, since redemption was his purpose for coming to the earth. Her sin may have been more public and colorful, but she still needed forgiveness like anyone else (17-18).
She was perceptive and responsive as she said that he is a prophet (19). Certainly, he was playing the role of a prophet in calling her lifestyle out. That lifestyle was a result of her sinful heart. People live out their lives in different ways as they thirst for what is missing. Whether in Jerusalem or anywhere else, no one can worship in spirit in and truth without personally knowing God through acknowledging Christ (23-25). I who speak to you am he (26).
Imagine the look on the disciple’s faces when they saw the look on the face of the woman when Jesus proclaimed to be the source of living water, the Messiah (27). They came at just the right time. She heard what she needed to. Come see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ (29)? We can assume she truly believed because she shared her testimony and others believed (39). We know that this is indeed the Savior of the world (42).
Indeed, he is still the Savior of our dark, thirsty world. Not everyone recognizes they are thirsty. Or they may realize it but they keep drinking dirty puddle water. They need to realize they have access to fresh spring water. As Christians, we most boldly proclaim that Jesus will forgive their sins and finally satisfy their thirst.