9. Jesus and the woman at the well
AFTER these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judea. John was baptizing in Enon near to Salim. For John was not yet cast into prison.
¶There arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews. They came unto John, saying, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.
John said, Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.
¶When Jesus knew how the Pharisees had heard that he made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples), he left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria.
Then cometh he to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus being wearied with his journey, sat on the well.
There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her,
Give me to drink.
The woman saith, How is it that thou, being a Jew, asketh drink of me, a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samarians. Jesus answered,
If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
The woman saith, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus said,
Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
The woman answered, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith,
Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
The woman answered, I have no husband. Jesus said,
Thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.
The woman saith, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith,
Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews.
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
The woman saith, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith,
I that speak unto thee am he.
The woman went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
¶In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said,
I have meat to eat that ye know not of.
Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him aught to eat? Jesus saith unto them,
My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.
I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor: other men labored, and ye are entered into their labor.
¶Many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
So they besought Jesus that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
Scripture: John 3:22-30
Meditation 1 of 3:
When the associates of John the Baptist complain that all are now going to Jesus, John in his characteristic humility exclaimed that he was not the Messiah but only the messenger sent to prepare his way. John describes the Messiah as the Bridegroom and himself as the friend of the Bridegroom. The image of marriage and the wedding feast is used throughout the scriptures to describe God’s joy in his people, who are regarded as his bride. As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you (Isaiah 62:5). John acted as the best man in arranging the marriage and in making preparations for the marriage feast. John and his disciples rejoice that the Bridegroom has come to make his bride, the church, ready for the marriage feast. We see this fulfilled in the New Jerusalem in the marriage feast of the Lamb and his Bride (see Revelations 21-22). Do you look with joyful anticipation to the consummation of God’s plan for his people at the end of the ages?
“Lord, help me to fix my eyes on your kingdom and to pray with eager longing and with joyful hope for the day when your people will be fully united with you in the heavenly marriage feast. May there be no nothing in my life which might hinder me from giving you my all, you who are my joy and life”.
Scripture: John 3:31-36
Meditation 2 of 3:
The Jews understood that God gave a certain portion of his Spirit to his prophets. When Elijah was about to depart for heaven, his servant Elisha asked for a double portion of the Spirit (2 Kings 2:9). Jesus tells his disciples that they can believe the words he speaks because God the Father has poured his Spirit on him in full measure, without keeping anything back. The function of the Holy Spirit is to reveal God’s truth to us. When we receive the Holy Spirit he enables us to recognize and understand God’s truth. Jesus is the Word of God and he gives us his Holy Spirit so that we can recognize his truth and live according to it. God’s truth has consequences and he gives us the freedom to choose how we will respond. The choice he gives us has eternal consequences — everlasting life or everlasting death. God challenged his people in the Old Covenant: See I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. …I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20). And he issues the same challenge to the people of the New Covenant today. Do you weigh the consequences of your choices? Do they lead you towards life or towards death? If you choose to obey God’s voice and to do his will, then you will know and experience that life which comes from God himself. If you choose to follow your own way apart from God and his will, then you choose for death — a spiritual death which poisons and then kills the soul until there is nothing left but an empty person devoid of love, truth, goodness, purity, peace, and joy. Do your choices lead you towards God or away from God?
“Lord Jesus Christ, let your Holy Spirit fill me and transform my heart and mind that I may choose life — abundant life in you and with you. And give me the courage and strength to always discern good from evil and to reject everything that is false and contrary to your holy will.”
Scripture: John 4:1-42
Meditation 3 of 3
Do you allow any barriers to distance yourself from the Lord and his will for your life? Jesus overcame the barriers of prejudice, sin, and misunderstanding with the truth of God’s word and the power of the Holy Spirit. The Jews and Samaritans had been divided for centuries. They had no dealings with one another, avoiding all social contact, even trade, and inter-marriage. If their paths crossed it would not be unusual for hostility to break out. When Jesus passed through Samaria he did the unthinkable. He conversed with a Samaritan, thus risking ritual impurity and scorn from his fellow Jews. He also did something no strict Rabbi would dare to do in public without loss to his reputation. He greeted a woman and spoke openly with her. Not only was she a woman, but a notorious adulteress. No decent Jew would even think of being seen with such a woman, let alone exchanging a word with her!
Why did Jesus meet alone with this Samaritan woman? Women normally gathered at the town well in the early hours of the morning while it was still cool. This would be a customary time for social contact and exchange of news. The fact that this notorious woman chose the midday hour to go out in public when the heat is greatest, shows her estrangement from her own community. Jesus broke through the barriers of nationality and orthodox Jewish custom. He showed the universality of the gospel. No one is barred from the love of God and the good news of salvation. There is only one thing that can keep us from God and his redeeming love — our stubborn pride and wilful rebellion.
What is the point of Jesus’ exchange with the woman about water? Water in the arid land was scarce. Jacob’s well was located in a strategic fork of the road between Samaria and Galilee. One can live without food for several days, but not without water. Water is a source of life and growth for all living things. When rain came to the desert, the water transformed the wasteland into a fertile field. The kind of water which Jesus spoke about was living, running water. Fresh water from a cool running stream was always preferred to the still water one might find in a pond or well. Living water was also a symbol for the Jew of thirst of the soul for God. The water which Jesus spoke of symbolized the Holy Spirit and his work of recreating us in God’s image and sustaining in us the new life which comes from God. The life which the Holy Spirit produces in us makes us a new creation in Jesus Christ. Do you thirst for God and for the life of the Holy Spirit within you?
Hippolytus, a second century Christian writer, explains the significance of the Holy Spirit’s work in us: “This is the water of the Spirit: It refreshes paradise, enriches the earth, gives life to living things. It is the water of Christ’s baptism; it is our life. If you go with faith to this renewing fountain, you renounce Satan your enemy and confess Christ your God. You cease to be a slave and become an adopted son; you come forth radiant as the sun and brilliant with justice; you come forth a son of God and fellow-heir with Christ.” (From a sermon, On the Epiphany)
Basil the Great (c. 330-379) speaks in a similar manner: “The Spirit restores paradise to us and the way to heaven and adoption as children of God; he instills confidence that we may call God truly Father and grants us the grace of Christ to be children of the light and to enjoy eternal glory. In a word, he bestows the fullness of blessings in this world and the next; for we may contemplate now in the mirror of faith the promised things we shall someday enjoy. If this is the foretaste, what must the reality be? If these are the first fruits, what must be the harvest?” (From the treatise, The Holy Spirit)
“Lord, my soul thirsts for you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may always find joy in your presence and take delight in doing your will.”