Are You Satisfied? Our bodies thirst; so do our souls. But our souls need spiritual water. We don’t generally deprive our body of water when we thirst. Why then should we deprive our soul? In John chapter 4 we see that the Jesus loves us and can satisfy our thirsty souls, like he did for the woman at the well.
Jesus Talks to a Woman at the Well
Jesus had to pass through Samaria on his way to Galilee. In Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman and with the Samaritans in Sychar, he revealed that he is the expected Messiah.
(Jesus) had to go through Samaria on the way. 5Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.
The trip made Jesus tired. He had walked from Judea to Sychar—a trip that probably took two days. Jesus’ weariness shows his true humanity. He waited while his disciples, more rested, or hungrier, than he, went to find food. He never seemed to worry that the limitations he took in becoming human might somehow undermine his claims to be the Son of God. Such expressions about Jesus’ humanity help us identify with him. So he sat wearily beside the well at about noontime, the hottest part of the day.
7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” 8 He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. 9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
Where did these prejudices come from? Samaria was a region between Judea and Galilee where Jews of “mixed blood” lived. In Old Testament days, when the northern kingdom of Israel, with its capital at Samaria, fell to the Assyrians, many Jews were deported to Assyria. King Sargon of Assyria repopulated the northern kingdom with captives from other lands to settle the territory and keep the peace (2 Kings 17:24). These captives eventually intermarried with the few Jews who remained in the land to form a mixed race of people who became known as Samaritans. The Jews hated the Samaritans because they were no longer “pure” Jews. The Jews who lived in the southern Kingdom felt these Jews had betrayed their people and nation through intermarriage with foreigners. And the hatred continued down through the years.
- Jesus Loves Me Regardless of My Past
The woman came to the well with shame on her mind. She was avoiding human contact, but the stranger at the well was probably little more than an inconvenience. How often at the supermarket, gas station, or even in church do we pass by people loaded down with guilt. They find themselves having to pursue life’s necessities, hoping to avoid anyone who knows their real needs. Dreading judgment and rejection, they live in fear. And yet, when shown real concern, these same people find great relief in unburdening themselves. When you greet someone with “How are you?” do you stop long enough to show him or her that you really want to know? From Jesus we learn that simple caring is a gift valued infinitely more than it costs to give.
Two facts are unusual about the woman’s actions: (1) she could have gone to a closer well (scholars have identified wells that were closer to Sychar); (2) women generally drew water later in the day, when the temperature was cooler. This woman, whose reputation seems to have been well known in the small town (4:18), probably chose the well farther away from home and came to that well at an unusual hour in order to avoid contact with other women. It was also highly unusual for a man to address a woman, but Jesus said, “Please give me a drink.” Again, this statement reveals Jesus’ true humanity; he was really thirsty. Even though such a request startled her (4:9), it drew her into a conversation with Jesus.
No Prejudices with Jesus
This woman (1) was a Samaritan, a member of the hated mixed race, (2) was known to be living in sin, and (3) was in a public place. No respectable Jewish man would talk to a woman under such circumstances. But Jesus did. or Jesus to ask for a drink of water from a utensil belonging to a Samaritan woman was to go against the accepted prejudices of the time.
Jesus and his love is for every person, no matter what his or her race, social position, religious orientation, or past sins. Jesus crossed all barriers to share the gospel, and we who follow him must do no less—even if misunderstood.
- Jesus Loves to Give Me Something Lasting
10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” 11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this is a very deep well. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, are you greater than our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his cattle enjoyed?”
13 Jesus replied, “People soon become thirsty again after drinking this water.
14 But the water I give them takes away thirst altogether. It becomes a perpetual spring within them, giving them eternal life.” 15 “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me some of that water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to haul water.”
Jesus makes an extraordinary offer to this woman—living water that would quench her thirst forever.
People need water daily because they soon become thirsty again. The water from Jacob’s well would indeed satisfy the woman’s thirst, but only temporarily. So also are all the other “drinks” of life—they never satisfy. Some of them even create more thirst. The human needs for love, food, sex, security, and approval, even when met, do not give complete satisfaction. Attempts to find full satisfaction will lead only to disappointment and despair. But the water Jesus offers takes away thirst altogether. Jesus’ “water” continually satisfies the desire for God’s presence because it becomes a perpetual spring within them, giving them eternal life. The gift that Jesus gives—this perpetual spring—suggests the availability, accessibility, and abundance of the divine life for believers.
The woman’s response reveals that she took Jesus’ words literally. The woman must have been thrilled to think that this man could give her water that really quenches thirst and would not have to be drawn from a well. Obtaining water was hard work—requiring trips to the well twice a day and carrying heavy jars full of water home. If she had some of that water, she would never be thirsty again and wouldn’t have to haul water every day.
Many people who claim to be Christians admit they feel unhappy and dissatisfied over the same problems mentioned by nonbelievers. Feelings of low self-esteem, lack of love, loneliness, and struggles over sex, money, work, and position in life are often as severe with believers as with unbelievers. Are differences between Christians and non-Christians merely on the surface or even imaginary? Did Jesus overstate his claim? Questions like these come from interpreting Jesus’ words as the Samaritan woman did—expecting that physical thirst and all other life-related needs will be satisfied by Jesus’ “living water.” But that is not what Jesus promised. He offered freedom within life, not freedom from life! Later he told his disciples in no uncertain terms: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (16:33 niv). Believers will experience many of the same difficulties encountered by unbelievers, but the presence of Jesus in our lives should make a significant difference in the way we respond. Living water gives us spiritual power to face the challenges of living, not escape from them.
· Jesus Wants Me to See My Emptiness Before I Can be Filled
16 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. 17 “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— 18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now.” 19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet….
Jesus abruptly shifted the subject from his living water to her style of living. The woman perceived her need for living water at one level; Jesus knew that her need was far deeper, so he turned the conversation to reveal his knowledge of her personal life—and her sin of adultery. By asking her to go and get her husband, Jesus wanted to make this woman see her sin and her need for forgiveness and then offer her the living water—salvation. She must have realized that this was not a man who could be fooled, for she answered transparently, “I don’t have a husband.” The woman spoke the truth without any explanation.
Although he confronted the woman’s sinful life, Jesus managed to affirm her truthfulness. He did not accuse or excuse; he simply described her life so that she could draw some clear conclusions about the mess in which she was living. The conclusions we reach without knowing the facts will usually err in one of two directions: We will accuse others and raise their defenses, or we will excuse others and enable their denial. We see in Jesus’ communication with this woman that when faced with an accepting confrontation, people will often respond positively.
The woman acknowledged the truthfulness of Jesus’ remarks about her life. At the same time, she recognized that he must be a prophet who had the power to “see” the hidden past as well as the future. The theme of people “seeing” Jesus appears several times in John. The persons Jesus encountered saw him many different ways, but he consistently directed their attention to recognize him for who he really was—their Savior.
The discussion had reached a point at which the Samaritan voiced her hope that someone would eventually be able to settle all her questions and problems. Sooner or later, in a conversation on life, people will reveal their hope. They will tell us what they rely on when worldly answers fail. At those times, we certainly should reveal our hope. Peter reminds us to “quietly trust yourself to Christ your Lord, and if anybody asks why you believe as you do, be ready to tell him, and do it in a gentle and respectful way” (1 Peter 3:15 tlb). Unlike Jesus, we cannot claim to be the Answer, but if we believe in Jesus, we can claim to know the Answer. When someone says, “Someday I’ll figure it all out,” we ought to respond, “I know someone who has the answers today!”
· My Response to Jesus’ Love is to Tell Others about Him.
25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah will come—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah”!
27 Just then his disciples arrived. They were astonished to find him talking to a woman, but none of them asked him why he was doing it or what they had been discussing. 28 The woman left her water jar beside the well and went back to the village and told everyone, 29 “Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did! Can this be the Messiah?” 30 So the people came streaming from the village to see him.
Beyond displaying the woman’s excited state of mind, her action of leaving her water jar beside the well as she went back to the village has several significant explanations: On the one hand, it speaks of the woman leaving behind her water jar representing her thirst for true life and satisfaction; on the other hand, it also reveals her intention to return. The water jar was a valuable and practical household object. But as useful as it was to get water from the well, it was useless for obtaining the water of life. However, she had just met someone who promised living water and who had displayed intimate knowledge of her life and profound understanding of spiritual truths. We can’t be sure how much she understood of what Jesus had told her, but she was convinced that everyone in town ought to hear what he had to say.
In essence, the Samaritan woman was saying that Jesus could have told her everything about her life, for in telling her about her relationships with various men, he revealed his knowledge about her history. She made no promises about what Jesus might know about everyone else, but she appealed to their curiosity. What was it about this stranger that could make a woman who had every reason to be ashamed of her life now speak publicly about her experience of transparency before him? Yet she said to the townspeople, “Can this be the Messiah?” Her invitation proved irresistible. She probably knew that her reputation preceded her, and any assertion on her part regarding her belief in this man would go unheeded. But her question did serve to stir up curiosity and had the desired effect—the people came streaming from the village to see him.
What To Leave Behind
When we return to the world of family and friends after encountering Jesus, there are two kinds of “water jars” we must leave behind:
- We must leave behind our shame about the past. Because Jesus knows all about us, we can repent and receive his forgiveness. God may use the emptiness of our past life to help us convey to others the wonder of forgiveness. But we must not dwell on or carry guilt about the past.
- We must leave behind some habits and pleasures. Certain pleasures and relationships (not bad in themselves) may hinder our living for Christ and telling others about Him. The water jar would have slowed the woman down. She probably retrieved it later, but was not concerned about it in the light of her discovery.
Even though we know that our old way of living never truly satisfies, the tempter deceives us into believing that there still may be an instant, easy source of happiness in the old empty ways. Have you turned your back on old habits, old treasures, old pleasures in order to seek what only God can give? Leave them behind and satisfy your thirst in Christ.
— Life Application Bible Commentary
— Life Application Concise New Testament Commentary