Of all the things that interest me about the Gospels, the more mundane actions of Jesus rank quite high in my mind. The miracles are amazing and His teaching is timeless, and truly I hope to study the contents of these two things for the rest of my life, but those things that are more subtle often contain some very practical lessons and examples.
I was reading the account of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan women this morning, the woman at the well, and something that I’ve read probably hundreds of times was suddenly new and profound.
So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus,wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
This passage has been repeatedly quoted and used in order to teach about the humanity of Jesus; and rightly so. It does talk about the fully human God who had physical limitations, who grew weary, who sometimes just got worn out. This is a wonderful example of that humanity, but that isn’t all.
It interested me where Jesus sat. He was weary, He had been walking, we know the disciples were going to go get food because they were all hungry, and it isn’t a great leap to see that Jesus was also thirsty. He was thirsty, so where did He take a break? A well.
I cannot emphasize this enough. In antiquity, before bronze oil rubbed faucets that cost $150 were available at the Lowes in Jerusalem, you got water from one of two places: a body of water (like a river or lake), or a well. He was thirsty so He sat at a well. Do you see the subtle genius that is at work in John’s story?
The story goes on to reveal that the Samaritan woman was also thirsty, but not from a dry tongue. She was thirsty from a dry soul. And ironically, she just happened to be standing next to the deepest well of living water that has ever walked the earth.
Let me offer a very simple rule of life: your proximity to the thing that you need has a direct correlation with whether or not you get that thing.
Allow me to be clear. I believe in unfiltered, ever-determined, cross-shaped, chase-you-down grace. I believe in father’s that run down the road to embrace their pig-crap covered lost sons. I believe in last second chances for third strike losers with words like “today you will be with Me in paradise”. I believe in a God that pursues. I believe that the Incarnation is evidence of just how far God goes to smother us with His love. And in the midst of all of that, I also a staunch believer in the doctrine of stupidity.
The doctrine of stupidity is a theological line of thought that says if you are determined to be an idiot then you better hope you’re tough because it’s going to be a rough ride. Jesus asked Paul “why do you kick against the goads”, basically saying, “I’ve been trying to shower you with love and a better life and you’ve been pushing it away…why are you doing that?” It should go without saying, but Jesus was not stupid. When He was thirsty He looked for a well to sit next to.
The longings of our hearts are strong; stronger perhaps as our days grow longer and our nights less restful; stronger I think as we encounter greater stresses and trials; stronger I know as the attacks of the enemy, this world, and our own carnal natures beat us relentlessly. We grow thirsty. I fear that, far too often, we look to relieve our parched souls by going to sand factories and dust bowls. We seem to be committed to finding the drink that we long for in deserts that we love. This is not the case.
It matters where you sit. If you want to be nourished, find a place where there’s food. If you want to drink deeply, find a well that is full. If you want to be satisfied, find the source of all satisfaction. There’s nothing wrong with deserts, dust bowls, and sand factories, unless you are already dry.
Friends, go to the places where you know there is sustenance. I would recommend John 4 as a great place to start.