Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Speaking Boldly at the Well (John 4:13-15)

“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”” (John 4:13–15, ESV)

Jacob’s well had been there for centuries, and it’s location remains unquestionably known today. While its depth today pales in comparison to its historic depth (likely due to debris and people tossing things into it) and it appears dry, Jacob’s well had provided a constant source of water from which people came to draw generation after generation. No one knows when it was really dug, but the historical record has consistently pointed to this well as being attributed to Jacob, being dug in the land given to Joseph and not far from where Joseph’s bones were eventually buried. This well has had buildings erected over it to mark its special significance and then had them torn down again by conquerors to squelch its significance. This was not just any old well that Jesus was sitting at when He chose to speak to this woman about giving her living water. For those who had come year after year this well had already proven itself to survive their own lives and the lives of those who had come before them. But even for as long as this well had endured, its relief was only temporary to those who drew from it.

It was at this well that Jesus continued to speak to the Samaritan woman. He told her that she could continue to draw from this well as did Jacob for himself and his livestock, but in doing that she would never find true and lasting satisfaction from her thirst. As Jesus spoke the woman remained focused on her physical thirst, but Jesus knew her true need and her real thirst that ran much deeper and was in need of a more perfect solution. The solution He was offering to her was one that would satisfy her soul for all of eternity.

Speaking to Israel, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58:10–11, ESV) The prophet Jeremiah wrote about a coming time when God would restore Israel. “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Once more they shall use these words in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I restore their fortunes: “ ‘The Lord bless you, O habitation of righteousness, O holy hill!’ And Judah and all its cities shall dwell there together, and the farmers and those who wander with their flocks. For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”” (Jeremiah 31:23–25, ESV) And going back to Isaiah we read of that day when the remnant of Israel recognizes Jesus as Lord, “You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me. “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth.” (Isaiah 12:1–5, ESV)

Comparing the wells to which people regularly went for their daily water, the Old Testament is rich with pictures of God providing a well of life that leads to great rejoicing. And as we look to the end of Scripture we read in Revelation 21:6, “And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.” (Revelation 21:6, ESV)

Jesus went on to tell this woman that He was prepared to offer to her the “water of life” and that He was willing to do this without charge—as a free gift. But as we can see from her response she still was focused on her pressing physical need and not the deeper one of her soul. There remained with her a large disconnect, one which Jesus would dig deeper as we continue to read the verses which follow. But for today, let’s consider just how much we ourselves might live momentarily in the thirst of our desires. And as we do this even consider how much more those we are around and who don’t know Him really are living with thirsts that they have no idea how to satisfy. For them their life is a continual pursuit of seeking ways to satisfy those unmet desires, and for many it includes chasing from one disappointment to another. But for those who have been given eternal life through salvation in Jesus Christ, even us, we can sometimes see something looming over us or enticing us apart from what we know to be true. This is the power of temptation. It is when we are tempted by anything to look at the size of our situation and not the size and faithfulness of our God. Sometimes we might even have to endure some things for extremely long periods of time without a clear resolution or tangible relief, but this is never to be confused with God turning His back on us. He has promised that He will never do so, but that He would continue the work that He began in us and that in Him we would be continually refreshed.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24, NASB95) After my favorite verses Proverbs 3:5-6, we go on to read, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” … “It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, 8, NASB95)

Even as we speak to those who do not know the refreshment that we receive from God, we can speak to them even in the midst of our own trials of the hope that we have found. We can share of the relief that God has shown us in times past and encourage them with the hope that compels us in continual daily trust as we look forward to full and eternal satisfaction. Jesus is showing us in these verses how He takes the daily issues of people and turns them toward their looking to and having answered their greater need which is eternal life and a relationship with the living God.

Prior to his concluding remarks to the church in Ephesus and after speaking about the daily spiritual battles in which we engage, the apostle Paul asked his readers to pray. This prayer was not one that he might be steered clear of the battles, but that he might be bold to make the most of the opportunities presented. We read, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:18–20, NASB95)

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