Why Our Flesh Wants (And Drinks From) Jacob’s Well

In the Gospel of John, Jesus met a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well during the hottest part of the day (John 4:1-6).  He promised what He could provide was greater than the water from Jacob’s well.  “Everyone who drinks this water [from Jacob’s well] will be thirsty again, 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.” 

There are two wells, you see: one that doesn’t satisfy, and one that does; one that doesn’t end thirst, and one that does; one that doesn’t bring newness of life, and one that does. 

Jacob’s well represents every promise of the world that is impermanent and misleading.  Jacob’s well is the pursuit of more money, the glitz and glammer of a life in the spotlight, the prestige and power from social position, and the chasing after pleasure in all its various wind-like forms.  Our flesh likes Jacob’s well.  Why?  Two main reasons, I think. 

First of all, Jacob’s well offers water of convenience.  Indeed, the woman desired convenience from the water Jesus proposed.  “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water” (4:15).  The woman was not seeking new life; she was seeking what was convenient for her.  She wanted water that was at her service, at her whim.  The woman could go to Jacob’s well whenever she wanted, how often she wanted, and take how much water she wanted.  But Jesus’ living water is not so managable.  Jesus’ water is not for your convenience.  It’s not about you. 

Second of all, Jacob’s well doesn’t demand personal, moral transformation.  The woman had five husbands in her past, and presently lived with a man who was not her husband (4:17-18).  She could come everyday at noon to get water from Jacob’s well, and still live in her immorality.  But not so with Jesus’ living water.  Such water brings renewal, cleansing, transformation. 

Jacob’s well says: “Serve the god you want, at no cost to yourself.” 

Jesus’ well says: “Be a True Worshiper of the Father, take up your cross, and follow me.”

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