Hunger and Thirst – John 4:1-26


Jesus and his disciples were headed back to Galilee through Samaria. This route carried with it the risk of robbers and the inherent tension of being in Samaria, a nation of people considered by the Jews to be illegitimate sons of Abraham. To the Jews, Samaritans were disgusting imposters. When they stopped in Sychar, Jesus was left alone near Jacob’s well. In this unlikely setting we will learn much about our God.

Jesus is the biggest deal in Israel at the time (for more reasons than anyone even knew). Jewish culture would have inherently seen him as the holiest and purest man in their nation, a prophet, keeping the law, adhering to the traditions with perfection. A Jew of this caliber, intent on maintaining his purity, would have been on religious-DEFON 3  (an increase in readiness above that of normal). What is about to happen to Jesus is a holy man’s worst nightmare – an isolated encounter with a soiled Samaritan woman. In his interaction with her, Jesus overturns all Jewish notions of holiness. That this scene takes place at a well is no coincidence. Wells hold that which quench human thirst. 

Rather than retreating in an effort to maintain his purity, Jesus instead humbles himself, asking her for a drink. The woman is floored …

             How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?!

Jesus, as he did throughout his life, unapologetically spoke truth from heaven which is incomprehensible on earth. Jesus knows he has addled this poor woman’s mind.

If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.

 She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?” 

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

As the woman is letting the bucket down into Jacob’s well, Jesus is letting his bucket deeper and deeper into hers. To probe her depths, Jesus uses words that make no sense (at least on the surface). Jesus’ prophetic insight into this woman’s morality drops the bucket about 50 feet, splashing into her pool.

He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’;  for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.”

She does what every one in sin does when the truth hits too close to home – she changes the subject. She tries to divert the conversation from the facts of her life to religious generalities.

 Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

Jesus is the master fisherman. Since this one is already on the line, he uses the opportunity to go ahead and overturn the traditional notions of worship.

Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in 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 an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Jesus might as well still be in the temple overturning tables. He is crashing through all Jewish thinking about gender, geography, race and even morality. These are no longer barriers to enter into worship; they are themselves points-of-entry. Salvation is for everyone!

I suspect, at just the right time and place, the Spirit reminded her of what she had heard and the puzzle pieces slipped together and this woman realized just what Jesus meant, when he said …

                                                           I who speak to you am He.

In the blink of an eye, when her heart said “Yes” to Him; “I believe you are the son of God and I believe you are risen from the grave to give me that living water.” In that moment the well in this women’s heart was transformed. The stagnant waters were replaced with water originating in heaven. Jesus became to her living water and her life was ruined for this world but her thirst, nevertheless, was quenched. She was just the sort of person…

                                                     the Father seeks to be His worshiper. 

We must each let God probe our depths, allowing his Word and Spirit into the dark and hidden places deep within us. And we must not despise the prophetic word or the probing question, which may cause the bucket to drop 50 feet into our own dark pool. If we respond rightly, our water will be exchanged for living water. Our thirst will  be quenched and we will understand when Jesus says …

                 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

Father, as you did with this compromised woman, let Truth find His way into the compromised  places we hide. Liberate us that we may become those whom you seek to be your worshippers and those who run to tell others of what you have just done. Crash through our barriers and addle our minds if need be. Do not lot our flesh prevail. Amen.

A suggestion: If we are not hearing God speak, we should back up to those words that addled our brains, those words that offended our traditional views. Instead of redoubling our defenses on these points, protecting the stagnant waters of our own status quo religious experience, we must invite God to speak. He is an excellent communicator. We must slow down that we may hear.

















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