We were talking about The Woman at the Well last week, in the women’s book group at church (we’ve been reading Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs). One of the ladies in the group suggested that this meeting in John 4 between Christ and the woman at the well might be symbolically connected with Isaac, Jacob, and Moses all meeting their wives at a well. Does the woman here symbolize the Bride of Christ, and His invitation for us to drink from the well of eternal life?
The Living Water
On Jesus’ journey from Judea to Galilee in John 4, He stops to rest at Jacob’s well. A woman comes to the well and the Lord asks her for a drink. She wonders at this, since men did not normally talk to women and Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. A Jewish man certainly didn’t ask a Samaritan woman for a drink.
Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says 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 with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:10-14)
This comparison between the Lord and a fountain or well of living water is not confined to this passage in John’s gospel. (Ps. 36:9; Jer. 2:12-13, 17:13; John 6:35).
Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation. Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Is. 12:2-3)
In Genesis 24, Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for Isaac. When the servant reaches his destination, he stops at a well and asks God to show him a sign.
Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’—let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master.” (Gen. 24:13-14
God answered this prayer, and Rebekah not only drew water for this servant and his camels, but agreed to follow him into a different country and marry a man she had never met. Like Abraham’s servant, Jesus Christ is a messenger sent by a father who is seeking to add someone to His family. Abraham’s servant and Christ both ask the woman for a drink, and end up offering her something even more valuable than water in a desert.
For Jacob’s meeting with Rachel and Moses’s meeting with Zipporah, the woman is a shepherdess who comes to the well to draw water but is prevented by an obstacle. This obstacle is removed by the man, who then waters her flock.
Now while he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. (Gen. 29:9-10)
Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters. And they came and drew water, and they filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. Then the shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. When they came to Reuel their father, he said, “How is it that you have come so soon today?” And they said, “An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and he also drew enough water for us and watered the flock.” (Ex. 2:16-19)
Like Jacob and Moses met their wives at a well and provided water for her flock of sheep, so does the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ meet His church and offer her living water (John 10:11-16). He is a Bridegroom seeking His bride, and as a new believer this woman at the well became part of that group.
Becoming A Fountain
We have been given the same offer as the woman at the well. Come to the source of eternal life and drink freely of the living water. Become the Lamb’s bride.
For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. (2 Cor. 11:2)
This incredible offer is blessing enough, but on top of that we are offered the chance to share this living water with others. “But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). He wants us to become fountains as well (Song 4:12-15).
I don’t often listen to contemporary Christian music, but of late I’ve become quite attached to Casting Crowns’ music. This song, from their CD “Come To The Well” seems an appropriate way to end this post.