Who is Thirsty?
Gracious Lord, match my dedication with my deeds, and lead me to a new understanding of trust in You.
Read JOHN 4:1–26
Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
One great and glorious truth about the Gospel is its universal scope. It is for all peoples. Previously, Jesus had met with Nicodemus, a cultured man from the upper strata of Jewish life. Here, Jesus meets with a Samaritan woman who was a social outcast. Jesus bridges barriers!
Jesus meets the Samaritan woman under different circumstances and in a different culture, but he knows what approach to take. During the conversation, Jesus moves quickly from an earthly level (the request for physical water) to a spiritual level (the offer of life-giving water or eternal life). He explains that to “drink” of this “living water” (10)—that is to believe in him—would result in the quenching of one’s thirst for spiritual matters. In addition, the one who accepts Jesus in turn becomes an auxiliary source of living water (see tomorrow’s note). Like Nicodemus, the woman does not understand Jesus and keeps thinking “from below.”
Jesus realizes this and changes tactics. The overall purpose of this encounter is that the woman will come to belief by recognizing who Jesus is and by accepting his offer of life-giving water. When the woman fails to grasp what Jesus is offering, he shifts his focus to who he is, hoping that when she recognizes the latter she will also recognize the former. Having introduced both topics—the gift and the giver—in verse 10, Jesus simply moves to the second topic. This proves to be successful.
The reader may wonder why John includes so many details in verses 4–7a. I suggest that, by mentioning the patriarchs, a well and a woman, John seeks to evoke an Old Testament betrothal-type scene, such as those found in Genesis 24 (Abraham’s servant [on behalf of Isaac] and Rebekah), Genesis 29 (Jacob and Rachel) and Exodus 2 (Moses and Zipporah). We know what happens in each instance. Similarly, the woman in John 4 functions as a bride—but surprisingly not a Jewish one! John’s overarching story is about the spiritual marriage between Jesus and those who believe in him.
Who do you know who is thirsty? What can you learn from how Jesus handles this encounter that will help you in your faith-sharing?
Lord Jesus, I thank You for satisfying my spiritual thirst. I long to tell others that You are the thirst-quencher they need. Guide me and grant me wisdom in my endeavors.
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