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Well

February 25th, 2013 by Anthony Bosman

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Woman_of_Samaria_at_the_Well_(La_Samaritaine_à_la_fontaine)_-_James_Tissot_-_overall

The story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman is one of my favorites. Yet the story is also quite profound, in perhaps a subtle way. Let’s discover this together.

First, reread John 4:1-43, the story of Jesus and this woman at the well.

Notice, the woman mentions that the well dates back to Jacob. This motivates us to read one more passage. Check out Genesis 29:1-14, it’s the story of Jacob at a well.

Now, I want you to do something. Stop reading this blog post and carefully compare these two stories. Make a list of all the parallels you find. There are many.

Seriously, it’s thrilling to dig into the Scriptures for yourself. Go do it.

Good, so you’ve made your list. It’s probably similar to mine:

  • Jacob/Jesus travels and stops at a well. (Gen 29:1-2, Jn 4:5-6)
  • Around noon (“high day”/”the sixth hour”), he encounters a woman there. (Gen 29:6-7, Jn 4:6)
  • He gives her (well/living) water. (Gen 29:10, Jn 4:10)
  • He reveals his identity to her. (Gen 29:12, Jn 4:26
  • She runs to tell her family/city about the encounter. (Gen 29:12, Jn 4:28)
  • They come out to meet him. (Gen 29:13, Jn 4:30)
  • He stays with them for a time. (Gen 29:14, Jn 4:40)

Wow! While some details are different, it’s clear that Jesus is walking in the footsteps of Jacob.

This gives new perspective to the woman’s question, “Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself?”

Of course, the answer is an outstanding “Yes!” Jacob gave well water, Jesus gives living water. “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.” (Jn 4:13-14)

But I want to suggest a further implication of this parallel. Recall Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, and from his family came the tribes of the nation of Israel.

In John, we see Jesus echoing the life of Jacob. Yet rather than a dozen sons, He has a dozen disciples. Jesus, the greater than Jacob, is the head of a new nation.

But this nation is quite special.

For it is open to all.

Both Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman.

Both male and female.

Both Jew and non-Jew.

Both rich and poor.

Both religious and promiscuous.

Both ruler and outcast.

Both educated and uneducated.

Both named and unnamed.

To all.

John has given us a glimpse of two people that Jesus invited to join His new nation, but the truth is Jesus encounters everyone with the invitation. “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (Jn 12:32).

Here’s the radical thought: what if He’s wanting to use you to do it? Just like He used the woman at the well to reach her whole community.

So I want you to make one more list. This time of people, such as friends, family, coworkers, and classmates. Write down a handful that you think God is calling you to reach out to.

Go do it.

Good, so you’ve made your list. It’s probably nothing like mine. But let’s both start praying for those people everyday. We’ll pray that Jesus draws them to Himself. And as we pray, we’ll watch for ways in which we can reflect the love of Christ. Perhaps through simple one-on-one conversations, like the one that happened at that well.

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