<< John 4: At Jacob's Well >>
THE Passover was kept in the spring. Perhaps the summer and autumn months had passed while the Lord was teaching in Judaea, and the winter had now come, when the growing grain had yet four months to harvest. The Lord led the disciples again towards Galilee, and they must pass through the middle part of the country called Samaria. If we journey along the way by which they went, as we come near to the mounlains Ebal and Gerizim the path leads into a beautiful broad green meadow. Then it turns westward through the notch between the two mountains and passes Shechem, and then on to the north.
But stop as we begin to turn from the bountiful meadow around the shoulder of Mount Gerizim. It is a charming spot; and remember how much has happened here. Here Abraham camped when he first came into the country; Jacob afterwards lived here and bought this land, and just where we stand he dug a well that he might water his flocks and have no dispute with others who used the neighboring springs. It was a deep well or cistern dug in the rock. My going down a few steps among ruins which surround the place, one can still see the well and the much worn stone which forms its mouth. Jacob gave this beautiful meadow to Joseph. And do you remember how Jacob once sent Joseph to find his brethren as they kept the flocks? This is the field where he wandered looking for them; and here in this same ground the bones of Joseph were buried when the people came from Egypt. But after many years the children of Israel who lived in these valleys were carried captives to countries far away, by the armies of the king of Assyria who lived at Nineveh, and other people were brought to live in this land. They worshipped idols, and when they were troubled by the wild beasts they thought it was because they did not know the worship of the God of the land. One of the old priests was brought back to teach them about the Lord, but they kept their idols and never learned to worship the Lord alone. The Jews would not let these strangers help in rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem after the return from Babylon, and the Samaritans had built a temple of their own on mount Gerizim. The temple on Mount Gerizim was in ruins at the time that the Lord passed through Samaria. but still the Samaritans worshiped there, and they do even now. The Samaritans and the Jews were never friends, and sometimes there was even fighting between them.
The Lord with His disciples was passing through Samaria. He came to this Beautiful meadow. It was probably about noon, and being weary with His journey He rested on the well while the disciples went on into the town to buy food,—perhaps to Shechem or perhaps to Sychar, now called Askar, nearer by, at the foot of Mount Ebal.
Let us read what happened at Jacob's well.
When therefore the LORD knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shallworship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. And many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.---John IV. 1-42.
Author: William L. Worcester 1904
Judea >> Heavenly Affection
Galilee >> Outward thought and life
Samaria (between Judea and galilee) >> Instruction from the Lord
Passing from Judea to Galilee through Samaria >> Passing from Heavenly affection to good life, one must go through the instruction of the Lord
Schechem, Abram's and Jacob's first camp, where Joshua read the Law >> State of instruction in good life from the Lord
Samaritan woman >> Gentile person in simple goodness who desires to be instructed
Water from the well cleanses and refreshes the body >> Divine Truth/Life cleanses and refreshes the soul
Woman who has lost her husband >> A good affection without the understanding of truth which should be its support and guide
" I have no husband..." >> I confess that I am without guiding Truth and I am ready to be instructed by the Lord
The Lord turns the thoughts of the woman from natural water to the water of true instruction >> The turning of the representative (Jewish) Church to the Christian Church
One soweth, and another reapeth >> We are dependent upon the unseen labor of the Lord and His angels
....both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together... >> When we do the Will of the Lord, we rejoice with the Lord and His angels
Pictures: James Tissot ----Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum