Healings for the Spiritual Thirsty: John 4:6-11
When we pour water onto dry soil or hard soil that is tread down, the soil does not accept water, instead it repels the water. In order to soak water into the soil; we must break the dry and hard soil and spend a long time pouring the water little by little. Once the water has been absorbed, it soaks well into the soil like a sponge.
Our souls are like this parched and hardened soil. Our heart (soul) became dry and hard because of difficulties, worry, stress of communication, and obstruction. However, our heart (soul) is too dry and hard so even if water is poured into it, it is repelled. Today, we are going to learn about the healing of our spiritual thirst through the story of the Samaritan woman.
Samaria is between Judah and Galilee. In the Old Testament era, Samaria prospered as a central city of the North Kingdom of Israel. However, the Assyrian Empire occupied it in 722 BC, and the North Kingdom perished. During the occupation, the Assyrians populated Samaria with many foreign people (gentiles). The Israelites there intermarried with them and became an illegitimate, hybrid tribe. Because Israel emphasized the importance of blood lines, they did not accept the Samaritans as Israelites, so they prohibited Samaritans from entering the Temple in Jerusalem.
The Samaritans still followed Judaism, so they supported their own high priest who was exiled from the Temple at Jerusalem, built a new Temple at Mount Gerizim, and established a new religious community there. The situation was a complex problem of nation and religion. The Bible simply says that Jews did not associate with Samaritans (John 4:9). In the current world, there are many religious and racial conflicts, as you know. The Samaritans’ conflict had these same two problems: religion and race.
Well, when Jesus left Judea and returned to Galilee (3), he went through Samaria, which was very unusual for Jews at that time as most Jews would travel far out of their way in order to avoid going through Samaria. The Bible says that when Jesus and his disciples arrived at Sychar and rested at Jacob’s well, it was about the sixth hour (noon by our measure). His disciples had gone into the town to buy food (8). When Jesus sat down by the well to rest, a Samaritan woman came to draw water. Jesus was thirsty and asked her, “Will you give me a drink?” (7).
At that time, it was very rare for a man to talk to a female stranger. Moreover, a Jew did not speak to a Samaritan. Therefore, the woman was surprised and said, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (9). Her reply rejects Jesus, like dry soil repelling water.
Thirst of the Woman
What is the “thirst” that this woman had? At that time, drawing water from a well was woman’s work, done in the early evening. However, this woman had come alone to the well at noon, so she may have wanted to avoid the usual crowds. Jesus will later point out that this woman had had five husbands before and was now with another man in an unauthorized marriage (18). Even if she had some reasons, she must have felt that the eyes of the priests and other Samaritans were always on her, who had been looking for a good husband while leading an unhappy life, and who had found an unauthorized one now. Therefore, she has probably come to draw water at this time to avoid being seen.
She also was probably bitter about her life, holding a grudge. Or probably the question “Why me?” always troubled her heart. Though the Bible does not say anything about the details of her life, we can imagine that she had repeatedly endured unhappy marriages while seeking the stability and love of one man, or freedom from bitter mind or guilt.
This thirst is not unique to her. Rather, everyone has this thirst in their mind. Usually we do not realize it, but when we face a big health problem, when we have relationship trouble with our family or friends, and/or when we have difficulties, this thirst will pop up suddenly in our minds. If we face a situation like these or even if our situation is different from these and we are simply unsatisfied or ask why we have to meet with difficulties like these, our hearts (souls) will thirst by pain and regret without relief.
Gift of Living Water
The Samaritan woman must have been reminded of her miserable life every time she came to the well in this secretive way. Jesus looked into her heart (spiritually thirsty), and said, “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” (10).
Although it may be difficult for us to imagine the concept of living water, for people who lived in the time of Jesus, it was easy to understand. When Israel had escaped from Egypt with Moses, God gave them water and food in the desert, where water was definitely God’s blessing. The woman disputed Jesus, “Sir… 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 flocks and herds?” (11-12).
She still did not understand the meaning of Jesus’ words. Therefore, she asked Jesus, “Are you greater than our father Jacob…” However, the water that Jesus spoke of was different from what she thought. Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (13-14).
“This water” means the water drawn from the well, and it is like all earthly things. Just as water can quench our thirst, the things of the earth can bring us satisfaction, but only for a while. It will not be eternal, but only temporary, so we will thirst again. Even if we get what we want, something else will soon appear that we want as we already know.
Now, what is the water that Jesus gives us? It does not quench our physical thirst, but our spiritual thirst. In addition, Jesus’ water will become in us a spring of water, a spring that can quench the thirst of others, and well up into eternal life. Jesus asked her to take the water that makes her fully live.
Healing Spiritual Thirst
This woman did not understand completely the meaning of Jesus’ words. However, she wanted relief from thirst and release (rescue) from her miserable life. Through a conversation with Jesus Christ, she realized that Jesus had not only seen into her sinful life, but also knew everything about all her pain, sorrow and distress in life.
The water that Jesus wants to give her is Jesus himself. It is the love involving the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that brings her back to a full life. This Samaritan woman, searching for true love, needed to admit her sinfulness and weakness. She needs to admit that she could not solve such problems alone, by her own effort. And she really needed to meet Jesus Christ himself!
We cannot receive God’s salvation by hiding our true selves. The Samaritan woman with the parched spirit did not realize that she needed water. However, when she met Jesus Christ, who knew everything about her, she realized her real needs: to admit her sin, to repent, and to get living water that could heal her spiritual thirst and bring salvation, namely eternal life. It is clear that she believed Jesus and got the living water from verse 39.
The Bible says, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did’” (39). Jesus told her in verse 14, she who got the living water became a spring of water, and quenched the spiritual thirst of other Samaritans (leading them to salvation).
Let us look at and pay attention to verses 40 to 42. The people who heard her testimony led more people to Jesus Christ, and they also believed in him. Then they said, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world. The living water that flowed out from her became a big wave, and its power directly leading people to Jesus Christ. I pray that God will fill us by the living water that Jesus gives, and makes us to walk with joy and in thanksgiving to God.
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