I have had only a glimpse of the way people live in other countries, but never have I been to a country where its people have to travel many miles just to get water from a well. I have known folks who have given of their time and finances to travel to these poor regions to dig these wells. That was their mission. The gospel would be sprinkled in there, of course, but the hard labor was the drilling. The wells in Haiti, for example, can be as shallow as 20ft and require only hand-drilling, but wells in Africa that can reach depths of 900ft require a drilling rig. It doesn’t appear to be deep when looking down into it, like in the picture above. But make no mistake; whether it’s 20ft or 900ft, that well is deep.
The woman at the well in John chapter 4 of the Bible describes just how deep a well can be. First of all, we know she was a Samaritan woman and probably an outcast even among her own people. Why? Because typically, women would gather together and head to the well to get water in the morning, sort of a girl’s trip. She, however, traveled alone at midday to get hers, I’m assuming to avoid the glares and gossip of the other women; we learn about her living arrangements when we read what Jesus said to her,
“You’ve had 5 husbands, and the man you’re currently living with is not your husband.”
Socially and culturally speaking, Jesus, a Jew, shouldn’t have been in close enough proximity to even see this Samaritan woman, let alone, to ask her for a drink of water. When I read this story, I get the idea she had many scars from the life she led. She seems calloused and hard, strong and unafraid, characteristics which enable her to ask Jesus the hard questions. As she approaches the well, she sees him sitting there and doesn’t speak but simply begins the process of ladling the day’s water. I can’t imagine what she’s thinking at this point. She’s drawing the water and he’s watching her. She might be thinking what I might be thinking,
What are you looking at, Sir?
Not expecting him to speak, she is shocked when instead of just a simple hello, He asks her for a drink of water. Imagine a male Jew asking a naughty Samaritan woman for a drink. Punishable by what, I have no idea, but it wasn’t considered acceptable behavior at all. We know this by her answer, which was in the form of a question:
“How can you, a Jew, ask me for a drink?”
“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…”
That didn’t satisfy her but only brought up more questions. She said,
“Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep.”
Then she asked,
“Where can you get this living water?”
Before He could answer her, she asked another question,
“Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
This woman’s emotional and spiritual well was deep. She seems impenetrable. I imagine that she has had so much hurt from so many that she doesn’t trust anybody. Not even this guy who says he can give her living water. Never thirst again? Come on. Jesus says to her,
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
She indeed wants the spiritual water Jesus offers but only so she doesn’t get so thirsty as to have to come back to the well and draw water everyday. They go back and forth speaking about traditions and such, then Jesus says something that turns the whole encounter around.
“Go, call your husband and come back.”
Their full conversation is written in John 4:7-26. It’s fascinating.
I want to focus on one of her responses, Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. In other words, how can you fix me and my deep well when you don’t even know me? Do we think of Jesus the way she did? How could Jesus really know me, my deepest hurts and anxieties, my raw sins, my bitterness, and my angst? And even if He could, how could He ever fix me? How could I ever be whole? Accepted? This woman had to believe that this Man was different than all the other ones. She had to trust Him. Trust that He was the Messiah she was looking for. She had to abandon all she had known and follow Him. Like her, we must abandon what we know and trust that He is the Almighty God; able to do ANYTHING.
What happened to this woman at the well? John 4:29 says that many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony,
“He told me everything I ever did.” (emphasis mine)
We all have our own well. If yours is filled with sin and disobedience like this woman’s was, then you probably haven’t experienced Jesus. Call on Him. I’m fairly certain that your well isn’t any deeper. And even if it is, He can handle it.