Advent: December 4

John 4:4-14

Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 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.)

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.’

 ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 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?’

Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 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.’

Another encounter with Jesus. This time it’s the woman at the well.

(Did Jesus know she was coming to the well? I don’t think so. Jesus may be divine, but he is living in our human form. It’s tempting to think that Jesus knew everything. He didn’t. Do we?! God set up the encounter, and brought Jesus together with the woman. Yes, it was a time of day when she might come, because she was living in shame and avoiding others, but that could be a wide window of time. Father God knows everything.)

There’s a bit of a spat at first. The woman is perhaps indignant that a Jewish man should dare to ask her for water. That’s both arrogant of him, and disrespectful to her, she thought. It does not take long for Jesus to spin the argument round, just as he did with Nicodemus, to matters of life and eternity. It takes her a little while before she begins to realise that Jesus is not talking about the water in this well when he talks about living water.

Jesus speaks to the context he finds himself in, and uses the symbol of an abundant spring of water to describe the gift he offers, which is eternal life. It was the Holy Spirit’s prompting that allowed Jesus to refer to her marital status, and that convinced her that the man standing before her was more than just a passing stranger.

Did she get him the water he asked for?!

Do we need food and drink in eternity?

Father God, this beautiful promise of water, fresh and overflowing, refreshing and reviving, is what I want to see in my life and in the lives of those I love and care about. Fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.

I freely give the living water