Put Down Your Water Jar!

If you know anything of the Samaritan woman Jesus encountered at the well, you know she wasn't someone you would normally consider a trailblazer. If anything she had spent most of her life on the wrong path. But by the end of the story in John 4, she'd made a detour that led to abundance and salvation.

The Story in a Nutshell

Jesus and His disciples are on the road from Judea to Galilee and they have to pass through Samaria, a region disdained by most Jews. But they stop outside a city called Sychar near what was known as Jacob's well in order to rest for a spell. The disciples go into town to fetch something to eat while Jesus alone remains at the well.

There at the well, around the dinner hour when few people would normally be going to the well to get water, Jesus encounters a woman who has brought her water jar to draw water. Jesus asks the woman to give Him a drink.

The Samaritan woman is surprised that Jesus has spoken to her on several accounts. First of all, she is a woman. Second, she is a Samaritan. And third, she carries a secret shame that probably has caused her to be shunned by most everyone in her own town.

Jesus, seeing beyond her pain to the parched and hollow places in her life, tells the woman that if she understood the grace of God and knew who He was who was talking to her she would have asked Him for water and He would have given her living water.

Living water? What's living water, the woman wonders aloud. She responded that Jesus had nothing to draw water with and the well (Jacob's well) was deep. And besides, where would He possibly get this "living water?"

Jesus goes on to tell her a little more about this living water.  "Everyone who drinks of this water {well water} shall thirst again," said Jesus, "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."

At this point the Samaritan woman decides she wants this water. It sounds good. In fact, it sounds just like what she's been looking for. You see, Jesus is no longer talking with the woman about something to drink and I think she knows it. I think her lips may have been parched earlier and her mouth may have been dry, but now the nagging thirst that she's been experiencing in her soul for all these years has just been awakened.

But before Jesus will give her this living water that will quench the aching thirst of her soul, He gives her a condition, a prerequisite, an ultimatum.

"Go, call your husband, and come here."

Uh oh. The woman doesn't have a husband, but she's had five of them and is currently living with a man who isn't even her husband. And to top it all off, she doesn't disclose this information to Jesus. He discloses it to her. She's been found out.

The woman, undoubtedly feeling uncomfortable with the direction the conversation has now taken, detours off the route Jesus has established and remarks that Jesus must be a prophet, dickers with Him over religious mumbo jumbo, and asserts her own knowledge about all things spiritual in nature. (You might want to notice some similarities here between this woman's sudden interest in the religious and our normal reaction to gut piercing conviction...but then maybe you've never tried to talk circles around the Lord when He's poked you in your conscience like I have.)

In the long run, after she has exhausted her attempts to run from Jesus' supernatural gaze into her heart, the Samaritan woman leaves her waterpot at the well and runs back to her city declaring, "Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?" But in her heart she knows He is.

The Lesson

This is the subject of my new Bible study Satisfied...at Last! The study's not just about how God can satisfy our soul hungers and thirsts, though He certainly can and does. But it's about how He created us with these aching soul desires so that they would drive us to Him. It's also about how most of us, dare I say all of us at some point or another, have missed the mark and attempted to have our soul hungers satisfied through some other means instead.

Just like the Samaritan woman at the well who had apparently gone from one unhealthy relationship to another with her parching desire to be loved, we turn to things, relationships, and experiences for that elusive something to satisfy our soul needs.  If we're not living with full tanks filled by God alone, our emptiness can drive us to great lengths.

The search for soul-filling satisfaction may not have led you to sleep with six different men as it did the Samaritan woman (or it may have), but my bet is that those gnawing soul hungers have driven you somewhere unhealthy at some point in your life. If that statement brings to mind one or two relationships, substances, or experiences that now bring you shame, don't let your head hang low for long. Jesus didn't condemn the Samaritan woman at the well, and He doesn't condemn you today either.

Jesus told the woman to go get her husband because He simply wanted her to "deal with her stuff.." He wanted her to acknowledge where she'd been going to try to fill her soul so that she could stop those bad habits, put down those useless water buckets, and hold her thirsty soul out to Him instead. Him alone. If she wanted the living water He offered, the water that would spring up in her life a like a living well, then she'd have to agree to quit seeking satisfaction from other sources and start drinking from His well alone.

The woman chose, from what I can tell, to do just that. The Bible tells us that many Samaritans were saved because of this woman's testimony. I can only assume that she was included in that number.

But my bet is that she wasn't just saved from hell and damnation. I think this woman finally got it right. I think she was saved from her unhealthy patterns, her addictions, her co-dependency and her never-ending search for satisfaction. I think she got that well springing up in her and lived as a contented woman from that point on.

And so that's why I've chosen the woman at the well as our trailblazer for this Tuesday. She didn't just meet the Savior and sign on the dotted line with Him. She drank His water and she thirsted no more. She was satisfied...at last.

You and I can be too.

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