The religious teachers were already scrutinizing Jesus’ every move – it can be assumed that His notoriety had reached the ears of the head mucky mucks of the Jewish hierarchy. The controversy forced Him to leave the area He’d become immensely popular in, because as John often says in his gospel, it wasn’t His time.
In verse 6, John exposes a human aspect of Jesus: while the Lord demonstrates His deity through wisdom and miracles during His ministry stint, He is also thirsty, hungry, and naturally, “tired…from the journey.” Being the middle of the day, the desert sun is certainly taking a toll on His body, and He seeks a drink of water. If the Father had decided to make Jesus Christ a figure without natural needs on this earth, the following memorable episode never would have taken place.
Jesus repeats the pattern in the Nicodemus scene (cryptic statement, confused audience, clarification through illustration) when encountering a Samaritan woman and remarks that “whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.” The woman is curious, asking where to get this water. She is looking for a solution for her temporal body – which she has abused during this time on earth (verses 17-18) – while Jesus is offering an eternal thirst-quenching.
How many times have we, in the midst of gorging our own flesh, heard the call to draw from the well of Christ and instead begged for an indulgence to meet our selfish needs? In Numbers 11, the Israelites also whined for something more – they were granted their wish, but then struck with a plague (bird flu?) as a punishment for their rampant discontentment. Should we let it get to this point? Are we listening for the voice of the Shepherd, to simply draw near and allow the living water to flow out (Zechariah 14:8).
Jesus takes the opportunity while she is still confused to expose her sin. It is against traditional views to believe that Jesus would actually make us “feel bad” about ourselves and our behavior, that He would unveil our sin for what it is and force us to confront it. What shall our response be? Will we remain stubborn in our convictions and never budge, or will respond according to how this woman did?: she makes her way back to town and confesses that Christ is Lord, urging others to believe using her story of repentance as a testimony (verse 41).
The disciples are bothered with Jesus’ association with this non-Jewish woman (verse 27) but are too concerned with preserving their dignity to comment on the matter. Clearly Jesus was not ashamed – He risked public ridicule several times in His ministry, this being no exception, associating with the adulterous and the unclean. Many Christians would prefer to retain their religiosity and self-righteousness and avoid making contact with those outside the realm of their church repertoire, arguing for a pursuit to maintain a holy lifestyle. Indeed, we should strive to imitate the character of Christ, a sinless man, but not at the expense of love. Love must supersede faith and hope, along with everything else.
The woman’s compelling testimony draws many more of the Samaritans to Christ, and in fact, this wave of belief draws Christ Himself nearer to them. We forget that God has feet as well; we approach Him, but there is no shame in begging Him to come hither, that He might stay with us.
How many believers today only stand for God when a “sign or wonder” (verse 48) is present, yet refuse true worship when the Spirit is not “overflowing” or knocking people around like the line of scrimmage in a football game? A Word of Faith movement, officials call it, has prevailed over the past handful of decades of this composition, touting the “true anointing” through the power of words. Yet, would this group even lift their eyes to Christ in the midst of suffering, when the presence isn’t “felt” or “heard”? “Unless you people,” the Lord says, “see miraculous signs and wonders…you will never believe.” What is this generation waiting for? Are we too proud to seek Him out rather than waiting for the tide to come back in? When the miraculous occurs, rejoice!, but when trouble broods over your days, still rejoice. Amen.