I am drawn to the story of the woman at the well told of in the Bible (John 4:1-42). The girl was married five times and was involved with a man who was not her husband when Jesus made a detour through Samaria to offer her a better way to live.
The woman at the well bore the judgement and criticism of her contemporaries and has not done any better with Christians reading the story through the ages. She is seen as a woman of ill-repute because of her many alliances.
I don’t think this woman suffered marriage after marriage on a spree of wild, sexual abandon. She was looking for a safe haven—someone to love and care for her. She was trying to fill her need for security and provision. Those five husbands did not satisfy her need. When one would abandon her, she threw her lot in with another, hoping for a different outcome. Finally, she disgraced herself with a man who was unwilling to give her the protection of marriage—yet she hung on, hoping against hope.
This was the hurting, disillusioned woman that Jesus went out of His way to find and to save. He started the conversation simply enough by asking her for a drink. When she questioned His motives, He told her that if she only knew who He was, she could have asked Him for Living Water—Water so satisfying that she would never seek another source. He said, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks the water that I 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 4:13-14 NKJV).” Jesus is the source of Living Water—love, provision, security, everything she had been seeking by running from man to man. Instead of returning time and again to a dry well, seeking to fill her own need, she could come once for all time to Jesus.
His revelations of her past didn’t fill her with shame, but with hope for the future. No longer would she be subject to the whims and fancies of men to care for her. She had the promise of an unending flow of God’s love. She was set free to pursue the life and purpose God had for her, not shackled to the culture or the fear that she was doomed without a man in her life.
The Bible doesn’t tell us what happened between her and her commitment-shy lover, but you can be sure that situation changed. Not because she was shamed out of it—she had already born much shame looking for a shred of security, for any drip of water a man might offer. Instead, Jesus had shown the woman the fountain of love available to her. With this never-ending flow of Life, she could not—would not—settle for sips offered grudgingly anymore!
We don’t all have the sketchy marital history of the woman at the well, but many of us have put our hopes and trust into things such as jobs, possessions, and social status trying to fill our need for significance, security, and love. Those things always disappoint. They are as fickle and fleeting as our Samaritan woman’s husbands. Only Jesus provides the Living Water that truly satisfies the thirst in our soul.
That Water is free for the asking.
The Lord says,
“Come, everyone who is thirsty—here is water!
Come, you that have no money—buy grain and eat!
Come! Buy wine and milk—it will cost you nothing!
Why spend money on what does not satisfy?
Why spend your wages and still be hungry?
Listen to me and do what I say, and you will enjoy the best food of all.”
Isaiah 55:1-2 (GNT)