The Well

The Well

Apr 23, 2014

The Well

by Katrina Goodrich


       Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. The water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14 NIV)


The story of the woman at the well is a popular passage. Typically when I’ve heard this elaborated on, or thought about it myself, it is portrayed as an encounter demonstrating the inclusiveness of Christ’s ministry, and a confirmation of his character as the Messiah.

In my limited experience, this story might as well have been titled ‘Jesus at the well’ because his role is key to the story. The woman typically is portrayed as an ignorant prostitute in a conversation beyond her limited understanding. A message I recently heard added a dimension to the story.

This woman was not a follower of Christ, nor was she Jewish. However, assuming her to be ignorant of Jesus’ spiritual part of the conversation does not pass a close scrutiny of her response. Samaritans were Jewish cousins who practiced differently from the Jews but used many of the same texts. When he begins speaking spiritually, she follows. They are at Jacob’s Well, which has great spiritual significance for the Samaritans. The woman knows it and calls Jesus out, asking if he is “greater than our father Jacob.”

Jesus replies that he is greater than Jacob and can offer eternal life. The woman then asks for the water. Many people interpret this as a physical request, but what if it was also spiritual? Their conversation has become spiritual, why diverge now?

It’s at this point we find out she’s been married five times and is now living with a man who is not her husband. Women in this culture at this time were beholden to a male provider. Validation and livelihood came through that person.


Leatherbucket at well


It is possible that this woman was married five times and is now living with a man because her only other choice was homelessness or death. Either way, this woman has probably been coming to draw water from this well for decades, and despite that she is spiritually parched. Jacob’s water cannot satisfy her thirst.

I’d always imagined Jesus reply about her husband in a snarky manner, but knowing Jesus it was delivered in a much gentler tone. He’s not trying to drive her to realization but draw her to one. She’s been drawing water from the wrong well! Whether it was Jacob’s Well or the well of men in her life, she’s not been truly satisfied. Jesus promises to satisfy her need in such a way that she will never be thirsty again.

So why am I thirsty? I think it’s because—like the woman—I’m drawing from the wrong well. I use work, family, friends, myself to validate my life. I act like Jesus is my Savior and that’s the end of it, but that isn’t the way it works. A spring, even one of eternal life, still needs to be fed from somewhere, and that somewhere is Jesus.

Once is not enough. We need prayer, Bible study, the fellowship of believers, and most of all a continuing relationship with Jesus. We also need to stop drawing from other sources (like the opposite gender or occupation) because it is so easy to begin drawing exclusively from those wells that pollute and dry us out.

I get parched because I don’t take myself to Jesus; then I wonder why life seems so difficult. Jesus is the only well of life, and on my journey I’m slowly learning I need to draw life exclusively from him.

Clip to Evernote