Stay thirsty my friends…
It wasn’t until I started to delve deeper into understanding the context of many of the Bible’s stories that I started to have a better appreciation of the significance of what I was reading… and John 4 is at the top of the list. On the surface, the woman at the well was someone, different than most in some respects, who encountered Jesus while traveling, but very similar to most of us in her insatiable desire for fulfillment. She is advised by Jesus to change the course of her life after the woman demonstrated honor to Jesus for His kindness and love.
When I first read this story, I knew that this woman was a Samaritan… a group that Jews did not associate with. I later learned that the Samaritans professed to believe in the God of Israel, but they only accepted the first five books of the Law and rejected the rest of the Old Testament Scriptures. Whenever they found it necessary to justify their religion and their play of worship, they modified the Law. The result was a strained relationship between themselves and the Jews.
With this background, it is more understandable why Jesus, a Jew, interacting with a Samaritan woman, appeared to those observing the encounter, odd… strange, particularly to the Pharisees. Why the Pharisees? Because they had a very simple system for being holy… they kept their physical distance from sinners as they believed that sin was contagious and that one could ‘catch’ sin merely being close to sinners. This is one reason they were so distressed when they could see Jesus having such close contact with sinners.
In Luke 5:27-32, while Jesus was engaged with Levi, the tax collector, He is question by the Pharisees, being asked “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus replied “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
I must admit that after reading this passage, I have come to view the “woman at the well” differently than I once did… feeling more compassion toward her, just as Jesus did. In John 4 and again in chapter 8, with the woman caught in the act of adultery, we see that the Jews were inclined to look down upon these two women as “loose”, which they were. However, they were certainly no more guilty than the men with whom they committed sexual immorality with. But, the double standard during this time had the woman bearing more responsibility for such acts than men. Additionally, Jews were inclined to hold a very demeaning view of women. The disciples seem to embrace similar views, and consequently, could not fathom why Jesus would be wasting His time talking to a woman!
As the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman continued, it was hard not to see how the woman felt drawn to hearing about the living water that Jesus was offering. John 7:37 has Jesus speaking “If anyone is thirsty, let them come to Me and drink.” And just like the Samaritan woman, in order to quench spiritual thirst, we must desire God’s water… if anyone wants God, they can have it. If anyone wants spiritual living; spiritual water, they can obtain it. If anyone seeks God, they can find Him. Yet, notice that the foundational principle here is that we must be thirsty for God. Unfortunately, many are not thirsty for God… instead, they are thirsty for things of the world.
There is a beer commercial on television which ends with ‘the most interesting man of the world”, surrounded by a group of women, stating “stay thirsty my friends.” The unfortunately reality of this world is that Satan and much of the world understands that humans seek fulfillment, and they thirst! The question is where will we satisfy our deep thirst… the world or with God? Countless stories in the Bible reinforce that we will never have a close relationship with God until we thirst after Him. Matthew 5:6 has Jesus sharing the promise “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” In order to gain spiritual thirst, we must draw from the right well… God’s well! And in order to quench our deep spiritual thirst, we must not only desire it, but we must also come to Jesus to obtain it! And Jesus’ promise? “Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty.”
Feeling spiritually dry? Come to the well! There is only one requirement…
Stay thirsty my friends…
Greg Stefanelli (gstefanelli)