She wasn’t looking for a man. Not this girl. Hadn’t she already made five trips down the aisle? And didn’t she have a new man in her life and in her bed?
On that hot afternoon in Samaria, all she wanted was a drink, drawn by her own hand.
But God had another plan.
Chapter 4: Dying for a Drink
That was what Jesus wanted too: a lukewarm gulp of water from Jacob’s well. A moment of relief during the heat of the day.
He was tired from his journey, and so he “sat down by the well” (John 4:6). He sat. The Son of God, the Savior of the world, was limited by his humanness, just as we are. Comforting, in a way.
This is a Savior who says, “I’ve been there. I get it. I’m with you.” He understands exhaustion, stress, muscle aches. He knows what it means to feel weary, thirsty, hungry.
The wells in that era were low to the ground, encircled with just enough packed earth to keep livestock from stumbling in. A good place to rest. A fine place to wait.
Then our Bad Girl appeared, right on time. If she’d hoped to collect her water and get out of Dodge, that wasn’t happening.
A man was there. A stranger.
When he asked her for a drink, she knew what that meant. In their world, giving and receiving water was an open invitation. Let’s converse. Let’s become friends.
She pushed back, reminding him of their differences. “How can a Jewish man like you ask a Samaritan woman like me for a drink of water?” (John 4:9 GW).
He can because he is God. He isn’t concerned with issues of race or gender. From his point of view, “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
All one. Utter equality. We aren’t there yet. But Jesus is.
Right from the start he began to woo our woman at the well. “If you only knew the free gift of God” (John 4:10 EXB), he said. Did that make her nervous? She’d no doubt had men offer her presents. The kind with long strings attached.
The gift Jesus brings isn’t like that. Salvation is free for the taking. Free. Paid for in full by every nail that pierced his body
“If you knew the gift of God…”
Do you know about this gift, beloved? Have you claimed it for your own?
She’d come for well water, yet this stranger promised her “living water” (John 4:10). Naturally she was skeptical. Who wouldn’t be? “You have nothing to draw with” (John 4:11), she reminded him. “You don’t even have a bucket” (CEV).
Despite her doubts, Jesus didn’t give up on the Samaritan woman. Didn’t walk away or call her foolish. Didn’t stop seeking to meet her deepest need.
He surely gestured toward the well when he told her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again” (John 4:13). Nothing on this earth truly satisfies. Not even good things—not fresh water or warm sunshine or healthy food or the love of a godly person—can quench our spiritual longing.
If we settle for the kind of water this world offers, we will soon be parched. Guaranteed.
Now comes our key verse, the one we’ll unpack this week.
“But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14
She was willing to settle for less. Jesus wanted to give her more. While she was happy with temporal satisfaction—a drink of tepid water from a well in the desert, a man in Sychar who could dump her tomorrow—Jesus longed for her to experience eternal joy.
The truth? We must let go of one to embrace the other. If we are constantly seeking to satisfy our bodies, our spiritual selves will languish. “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
My head knows this, even my heart knows this. The time has come to hold out both hands and receive all that Jesus has to offer.
“But whoever drinks the water I give him…” John 4:14
Being near the water doesn’t count. Going to church, carrying a Bible around, listening to Christian music are all well and good, but they’re not the same as drinking the water.
“Those who drink” (NLT) are the ones who admit they’re thirsty, and know only God has the water they need. The people who open their mouths and partake. They don’t just read the Word; they do what it says (feeling deep conviction as I type this).
The person whose thirst is quenched is not the one who merely studies the pitcher of water. Rather, it’s “whosoever drinketh” (KJV).
“…will never thirst.” John 4:14
Imagine a life without wanting and wishing and striving and stressing. Feeling refreshed instead of depleted. Feeling full rather than empty. The kind of life where you “shall never, no never, be thirsty any more” (AMP).
Too good to be true? Not with God. He stands ready to quench your thirst. The prophet Isaiah promised, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3).
“Indeed, the water I give him…” John 4:14
Another reminder that this water doesn’t come from a hole in the ground or a tap on the sink. This is “my gift” (PHILLIPS), the Lord declares. No person or thing can supply the water of life. Only God.
Why do we keep looking elsewhere?
“…will become in him a spring of water…” John 4:14
Bottled water comes in two varieties: still and sparkling. The kind God serves is definitely sparkling. It’s a “fountain” (DRA) of “life-giving water” (GNT), “flowing” (AMP) and “gushing” (EXB), a “fresh, bubbling spring” (NLT).
There is nothing still about life in the Spirit.
Though she is often called “the Samaritan woman,” I think “the woman at the well” suits her perfectly. Not only did Jesus meet her at a well; he also offered her “a well of water” (YLT).
And it’s an inside job: “a wellspring within you” (VOICE). Jesus didn’t come to wash her clean on the outside; he came to wash her clean on the inside.
“…welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14
The end result isn’t an end at all. It’s the beginning of an “endless life” (MSG), drawing power and strength from “a well of life that lasts forever” (NLV).
Though I’ve been quiet about this online, the fact is, I lost someone very dear to me this month. My only consolation in the midst of my sorrow is knowing my beloved brother Tom has merely continued life in another place. Though his body has been reduced to ashes, his spirit is alive and well. Very well.
It’s easy to see why our Former Bad Girl left her water jar behind when she “went back to the town” (John 4:28). Her thirst was quenched. Her future was secure. All she could think about was sharing this living water with others.
“Come, all you who are thirsty” (Isaiah 55:1). Yes, yes, yes.
Here’s the Discussion Question
Does the omission of the Samaritan woman’s name make her story more believable or less so? More powerful or less so? She came looking for water but instead found Jesus. Was the meeting at Jacob’s well a coincidence or a God incident? What leads you to this conclusion?
There are so many details included in her story—the lengthy conversation, the five husbands, the discarded water jar—her name is hardly necessary. We smell the dust in her hair and the sweat on her body as she approaches the well. We hear her vibrant personality in the words she speaks and the way she says them. We envision the toll all those marriages must have taken on her body, and feel the longing in her soul as she anticipates the coming Messiah.
She’s real, all right, and her encounter with the Christ is one of the most powerful in Scripture. Without her given name, we are free to step into her story even more fully, and scribble our own names in the margin. Susan. Kathy. Elizabeth.
As for her meeting with Jesus, the word “coincidence” is not in the Bible. Clearly this scene was ordained by God. His Word describes the process like this: “Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass” (Isaiah 37:26). And David wrote, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16).
So, no surprises here. Jesus knew she would come to the well, even as he knew she would hurry back to town with her water jar empty and her heart overflowing with the Good News.
Now it’s your turn
My question for you is a bit different than the one I answered: If not at a well, where did Jesus find you? And what was your initial response to his offer of eternal life? Kindly share you story under Post a Comment at the bottom.
Check out the Woman at the Well’s aqua-colored Pinterest board. I think you’ll find it refreshing!
Next week, we’ll start snipping away with Delilah, one of our Bad to the Bone Girls, who has much to teach us about valuing our relationships. Until then, I do hope we’ll connect online or across the page. You are a treasure to me.
Your sister, Liz