Devotional

The Woman at the Well (20 October)

A Samaritan woman came to draw some water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink of water." (His disciples had gone into town to buy food.) . . . Jesus answered, "If you only knew what God gives and who it is that is asking you for a drink, you would ask him, and he would give you life-giving water." . . . Jesus answered, "Those who drink this water will get thirsty again, but those who drink the water that I will give them will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give them will become in them a spring which will provide them with life-giving water and give them eternal life."
John 4:7-8, 10, 13-14

This story shows two aspects of the human dilemma, the need to satisfy the needs of the body, and the internal craving of the soul for some sort of spirituality. These co-existing realities, which are often in conflict, are connoted by the words hunger and thirst. Hunger in this story implies the need for gratification of a physical need, in this case food; thirst here implies the craving of the soul either for knowledge or for some kind of spiritual significance.

While Jesus was on a spiritual mission, the disciples were concerned about satisfying their physical needs. Their physical hunger took precedence over their spiritual thirst, and they went away. They missed a great opportunity to hear the message of Jesus to the woman, to witness his revealing himself as the Messiah. I have missed so many opportunities of spiritual awakening or blessing, because my constraint to care for my physical needs came first. When thirst is greater than hunger, the soul's need for fulfillment will only be met in God.

The Samaritan woman had spent her life in fulfilling her physical desires, possibly searching for something that would fill that empty void in her soul. So many believers are caught in the same trap. The hunger for popularity, for financial security, for the gadgets and amusements of the world often detracts from the thirst for the true significance of life, which can only be found in God. We are often more concerned for our material and physical needs than we are for our spiritual wellbeing. Jesus exhorts his disciples to "seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you." (Luke 12:31).

When the Samaritan woman met Jesus, it took her a while to comprehend the essence of his message. She was so far out of touch with her spiritual being, that she could not grasp the significance of Jesus' comparison between the water in the well and the water that he was offering her.

However, Jesus put the emphasis on the spirit, when he said, "But the time is coming and is already here, when by the power of God's Spirit people will worship the Father as he really is, offering him the true worship that he wants. God is Spirit, and only by the power of his Spirit can people worship him as he really is." (John 4:23-24).

- 20 OCTOBER -

© 2012 United Bible Societies - Palestinian Bible Society, Bible Society in Israel, and Arab Israeli Bible Society. All rights reserved.