Thirsty | John 4.10-15
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” John 4:10-15 | ESV
Jesus, unfazed, hit the ball right back into her court with a spin: “Well, if you had a clue as to what God is so freely offering you and could get past my Jewish skin to see who it is that is really saying to you, ‘How ‘bout a drink?’ then you would have been the one asking – no, begging! – him for a drink, and he would have obliged, serving you up the ultimate living spring water experience.”
That got her.
The woman says to him dismissively, “Sir, you’ve got no bucket, and that’s one deep well (about 135 feet deep, to be exact). So where are you going to get this living spring water of yours? Who do you think you are, you lone raggedy man? You think you’ve got anything on Jacob, our ancestor, who gave us this well, who drank from it himself all the time along with his sons (all twelve of them) and all his flocks? Please.” But Jesus shoots right back at her, “Anyone who drinks from this well only ends up thirsty again. Whoever drinks from the water I’m offering will never thirst again – EVER. No, you drink the water I’m offering, and you end up with a ceaseless, inner, gushing spring of water – a spring gushing and welling up to life, life and more life!”
Now seeing past his Jewish skin, she’s sold. The woman says to him, “Sir. Please. I’ll take a pint of that! Never to thirst again! Never to come out here again and sweat drawing water that only leaves me thirsty for more. Yes, I’ll take that!” MAV
Not too far from the shores of a poison sea, right in the middle of a dry, barren, desolate wilderness, is a spring. A gushing, refreshing, living spring. For centuries it’s been known as En Gedi – “the eye/spring of the young goat” – because the wild goats flock to it. Everything is dry and dead not seventy-five feet above, but down below, it’s a lush jungle paradise. Some think this was one of David’s strongholds when he was on the run from mad King Saul, and that En Gedi provides the backdrop for such Psalms in which he gushes, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so my soul pants for you, O God! My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” or “God, you are my God, early will I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.” We are a thirsty people. We are a thirsty people living in a dry and barren society, a parched culture “where there is no water.” Too much of what we are offered to drink is designed to only make us thirstier. And so we trudge on in the endless procession from one unsatisfying watering hole to the next, dying a little more with each step. It’s the basic condition of humanity, the very definition of what it means to be human. And though ethnically and religiously they were different, thirst is something Jesus and the unnamed woman at the well both shared. Interesting that though Jesus wasn’t afraid to confess his thirst to this foreign woman, she got hung up on their differences. I like this woman. She is so us. She is quite actually drying, dying in her thirst, but all she can do is call attention to his skin and their disparate origin, to the long lasting feud. Yes, this is you, and this is me. And Jesus doesn’t take our bait. No diving into the past, no exploration of the controversy, no justification of this side or condemnation of that, no faithfully regurgitated party lines. Just a coy teaser that draws her right in. “If you could see beyond my skin and had a clue as to who I really am, oh, the drink I could give you if you’d only ask, Bingetown girl.” She immediately thinks literal well and water, specifically the well he’s sitting on. But Jesus envisions an inner, ceaseless, refreshing spring – something, sadly, still as foreign to us as it was to her, as we, like her, trudge to our religious and secular watering holes, looking for refreshment and relief from the hot sun of life, just as Jews trudged to their temple and Samaritans to theirs, or she to this well. Funny that we often call our churches “Well” or “Oasis” as if it’s still something we have to go to. Still as clueless as the unnamed woman. For the well is within.
What watering holes have you most frequented? Where are you still going to satisfy your thirst? Have you experienced the inner spring “gushing up to eternal life” that Jesus speaks of? How is this found?
God, my soul thirsts for you! What blessed awareness to see my own thirst and how it drives me. Let me feel it, and bring me to the birth and rebirth of the deep, inner spring that Jesus holds before me here. Uncap that well within today, that my life may an En Gedi refreshing the wild goats in this dry, parched world. Yes, make me that, Lord. Through Christ.
For all of this week’s small group resources including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.