Summary: Only Christ can fill our inner emptiness.


John 4:4-14 (NIV)

4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

10 Jesus answered her, "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."

11 "Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 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?"

13 Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 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."

This woman had lost something at the bottom of that well. Or, perhaps, it would be better to say, she had lost something, and she thought she might find it at the bottom of that well.

That’s why she brought her water jar. She brought it every day at this time. It was an odd time to come to the well. The other women in the village came every day, too, but they came in the morning, in the cool of the day. By now it was noon.

It was an avoidance tactic, really. The other women judged her. They shunned her. And what little she had left of herself they seemed to want to take away. It was safer at noon, even if it was hot.

You see what you have here. You have a woman who is hiding in broad daylight. She is protecting herself as well as she can. Her world is admittedly very small, but it’s her world. And it is a very dangerous world, but it is the only world in which she can ever hope to dwell. And, because of its hazards, all of her energy is expended in surviving in it.

At the same time, there is this thirst. This woman’s life is dried up, parched. She is enduring a drought of the soul. And so, she comes to the well. She cannot see that what she seeks she will not find in that well.

We would do well not to ridicule her. We do it too. We try to fill up the inner emptiness with outer solutions. No amount of water will ever satisfy the thirst we have, but we show up with our water jars all the same.

Today, however, this woman will meet a stranger, a man whom she has never seen before. And he will not be like any man she has ever known before. Other men have abused her. He will not do that, but he will disabuse her...of her illusions. Others have stripped her of her dignity. He will not, but he will strip away all her self-deception. What she has lost, she will come to learn, is not at the bottom of the well; there is nothing there that can bring lasting satisfaction. What she has lost is actually at the bottom of her heart.

Now, I must tell you, to see this -- to recognize this -- requires a major shift in perception, a shift that is extremely difficult for most of us. It means letting go of what we think secures us in order to find what truly secures us. It means to abandon the outer solutions to fill the inner void. It means to expose yourself to the hazards of your world without your customary defenses.

Before meeting this stranger, this woman’s fabricated defenses were intact. She saw her security at the bottom of the well. When the stranger, whom we know to be Jesus -- when he told her that he could give her “living water,” do you see what she did? She countered by saying, “Sir..., you having 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...?” You see, at this point she’s holding on. She isn’t even aware that there is anything more to life than day-to-day existence. And she’s not about to let go of what she has even for the promise of something better.

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