The Woman at the Well

Greetings dear family of our beloved Saviour, Jesus Christ. Let us come together to petition Jesus, with longing hearts and eager spirits, that we may drink of the “Waters of Life”. And having been rejuvenated, let us ask the Lord that we may take away with us, a jar of those “Living Waters,” that we may satiate the thirst of others.

Our Father in heaven calls to us, “Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat… Let him return to the Lord, that He may have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isa 55:1&7). This is the divine invitation, and it is open to all who will receive it in faith. In the Old Testament water was a symbol of God’s Spirit and the prophets would write of their thirst for God’s love: “As the deer longs for flowing steams, so longs my soul for thee O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1). We all know that water is an absolute necessity for maintaining the physical life; similarly, the grace of Christ is essential for maintaining the supernatural life. The water which can truly quench the thirst of our hearts comes from the Fount of Life, Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

One of my favourite episodes from the New Testament is when Jesus sits by the well with the woman of Samaria. St. John relates this story, putting in the tiny details, so that we can make a meditation of it. He tells us that Jesus was going from Judea to Galilee, and had to pass through Samaria. There were two routes for going from Judea to Galilee. The shortest way was through Samaria, the other followed the Jordan around Samaria. Because the Jews did not like the Samaritans, they usually took the long route. Jesus, however, took the short route – maybe looking to gather more souls.

St. John then tells us that Jesus sat down by Jacob’s well and there came a woman of Samaria to draw water. To the first century Christians reading this story many of them would be drawn to think of a marriage because of the association in the Old Testament of many prophets finding their wives at the meeting place of a well. Isaac’s servant found him a wife there, also Moses and Jacob find themselves perspective wives when they sit down by a well. Now Jesus of course is the Bridegroom, looking for his Bride, and the first thing that Jesus says to the woman of Samaria is, “Give me a drink.” (John 4:7). Jesus, like on the cross, thirsts for souls, and He is asking this woman to quench His thirst by recognising Him in faith.

Next, St. John tells us that the woman asks Jesus, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (v 9) Jesus answer’s 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 then asks Jesus how He could provide this water when He has no bucket and the well is deep, she also asks where He gets that living water and if He is a prophet greater than their father Jacob who built the well. Jesus then says to her, “Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again” Jesus is telling her here that she is drinking of earthly water, the waters of concupiscence, of earthly passions and worldly desires – this is the well to which she is drawing from. Jesus comes to break these desires and to impart to her the divine life. “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (v 14)

The woman then asks “Sir, give me this water that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” (v 15). She is open to the call of Jesus, but before she can become “the Bride of Christ,” Jesus must make certain of her fidelity: Jesus says to her, “Go call your husband and come here.” (v 17) In the time of Jesus, the husband was the one who ruled over the wife. She replies to Jesus, “I have no husband,” symbolising that she has no rule. Jesus said to her “you are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly” (v18) The woman had had five husbands, she had been searching all over the place, for a rule to govern her life. The woman then says to Jesus, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” (v 20) The woman now recognises that Jesus is a prophet and begins to question where the correct place of worship is. Jesus tells her that it is neither of these places, but that the heart of a person will be the temple of God in which we will worship Him: 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 now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth”. (v 22-25)
Next the woman talks to Jesus about the coming of the Messiah, and Jesus reveals to her that it is He. Finally, we see in verse 28, that the woman “left her jar” and went away into the city. The woman left her jar to drink no more from the well of concupiscence, she now seeks the divine life, and in the Gospel of St. John, she is the first evangelist as she runs to her people telling them, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (v 29). St. John tells us that many people in the city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony and that Jesus stayed with them for two days.
What a beautiful story this is. O that our world would recognise Jesus as the Fount of Living Waters and turn to Him as the woman at the well did. Sadly, I think our Father would repeat to us at this time His complaint to Jeremiah: “Be appalled, O heavens, at this, be shocked, be utterly desolate, says the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)
Our Father complains that His people have “Hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” How true this is of our world today, and the problem is that to receive those living waters once more, the people must stop drawing from the wells of this world and have the faith to ask Jesus for those Living Waters. But the devil keeps making the earthly wells sweeter and more alluring, keeping our world occupied with many distractions. If only our brothers and sisters in the world could see Jesus as the woman of Samaria saw Him, if only they could sit with Him and listen to His Word, then they would see how beautiful are the Waters of Grace in comparison to the wells of iniquity.
Let us continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in the world that they may hear our Father call once more,

“Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat…Let him return to the Lord, that He may have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”(Isa 55:1&7).

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