Today we continue with day two in our series on Soul Thirst: drawing from the well of eternal satisfaction. If you would like a free copy of the series in a printable, shareable eBooklet or if you’d like to receive new posts directly to your inbox, please enter your email where it says “Sign up here” at the top of the sidebar to your right.
Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria (John 4:1-4).
Jesus is going from Judea to Galilee. He can choose from three different routes, but the one through Samaria is the most direct. On the face, it is perfectly reasonable that He take the most direct route, right? What is the big deal?
The big deal is the fact that it is Samaria, a place where pure Jews and Assyrians intermingled and intermarried into a mixed race, a big no-no for Jews. Samaritans were considered unclean to Jews, and neither wanted anything to do with the other. Because of its history, Samaria was a place of deep-seated historical, racial and religious tension, and this is where Jesus chooses to go. He ventures into controversial, unclean and undesirable territory.
I find it interesting, too, that Samaria is the place where God first appeared to Abraham after entering Canaan. It was a city of refuge under God’s law. It is located between Mount Ebal, the mount of cursing and Mount Gerizim, the mount of blessing. And it was in this exact place that Joshua read the blessings and curses of the Mosaic law and spoke some of the most familiar words in scripture:
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).”
So this place where Jesus goes is at once a place of arrival and calling, a place of division and decision, and a place of controversy and refuge. It is the exact place Jesus will often meet us.
Jesus does not need to go through Samaria only because it is the quickest, most direct route; it is also the route that will put Him at an exact place at an exact time to encounter the woman at the well.
It is the exact route Jesus takes to Jacob’s well.
So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food (John 4:5-8).
At this time, Jacob’s well would have been a main source of water and a gathering place for women, shepherds and travelers. It was deep and established by her patriarch father Jacob, who drank from the well himself – he, his sons and his livestock (verses 11-12).
Jesus rests at this exact place at an exact time: the sixth hour. Most likely this means noon, because as far as we can see, the Samaritan woman is alone and not with a gathering of women, which would have been common in the cooler evening hours. We also see that Jesus is alone.
It is not crowded at the well.
What about our well? Is there a crowd at the well we draw from to satisfy our souls? Is it crowded because everyone else is doing the same thing? Is it common? Accepted? Maybe even expected? As He does with this woman, Jesus might come to us at an exact time to get us alone at the exact place we come to satisfy our needs.
Jesus is exact!
Jesus meets us at our exact point of need to reveal Himself as exactly what we need!
So He rests at the well and says to the woman: “Give me a drink.”
This must have caught her completely off guard!
This Jesus…He is completely unconventional! He does what “people just do not do!” Men of this day did not talk to women. John MacArthur in his MacArthur Study Bible Notes (ESV) explains the situation this way:
For a Jewish man to talk to a woman in public – let alone to ask from her, a Samaritan, a drink – was a definite breach of rigid social custom as well as a marked departure from the social animosity that existed between the two groups. Further, a “rabbi” and religious leader did not hold conversations with women of ill repute.
There are all kinds of reasons Jesus “shouldn’t” be anywhere near this woman much less engaging her in conversation or implying He would drink from her unclean waterpot! Yet, it is exactly where He is!
Many times, this passage is used to stress the importance that we be like Jesus, willing to go where it is unacceptable to go and willing to talk with people whose beliefs are unacceptable to us or people who are living unacceptable lifestyles. And we should! As followers of Christ, we should do as Christ did!
But what I want us to see today is that WE ARE the woman at the well and Jesus will do for us what He does for her! He will do what is countercultural and will work in ways that are unacceptable according to society’s defined rules because Jesus is not bound by culture’s rules. He is countercultural!
And He is counter-religious too! He will challenge man’s religious rules. Historically, Samaritans withdrew from worship at Jerusalem and worshiped at Mount Gerizim instead, and they only considered the first five books of the Bible to be authoritative. This is one of the reasons Jews did not intermingle with Samaritans.
And yet, Jesus takes an exact route to an exact place at an exact time to encounter the Samaritan woman and defy her traditions and ways of thinking – racial, societal, cultural and religious. When He does the same with us, will we react as she does? What will we say? How will we react?
Tomorrow, we’ll slide our feet into the Samaritan woman’s sandals and consider, “How Me?”
For other posts in this series see: