“Jesus said, ‘Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)
In just three more days tens of millions of people across the nation and world will gather around Christmas trees and open presents. While there will perhaps be a few groans of disappointment when something that was really expected doesn’t show up, on the whole, there will be many more squeals of delight. And yet, a few days later, those same millions will be making goals of things they want to accomplish in the new year. That sense of desire will not be satisfied for long by the things under the tree. How can we find satisfaction that lasts longer than a few days? Jesus tells us here in a conversation with a woman who wanted to be satisfied. Let’s listen in together.
The story of Jesus’ conversation with a Samaritan woman at a well near Sychar is one that has fascinated people for centuries. There are so many different things about it to attract our attention too. Exactly which angle a person take says a lot about their cultural or political biases. At the end of the day, though, Jesus revealed Himself in a powerful and clear way to one of the last people anyone would have expected Him to do that. From a cultural standpoint, every single thing about this interaction was wrong. What’s more, both Jesus and the woman knew this. He simply didn’t care, and He was so intriguing to her, she forgot all about the fact that she should have cared and leaned further and further into the conversation.
Still, because the conversation was so uncomfortable for her, she tried more than once to find an exit ramp for it. One of these was to bring up the question of where the well came from in the first place. Jesus had told her that she should be asking Him for “living water.” She didn’t understand this at all. Even when He explained Himself a bit further, she still didn’t get it. But in her lack of understanding, we can gain a better understanding of something really important for our own lives.
When Jesus said He could give the woman a living water that wouldn’t make her thirsty again, she thought He was being literal. She suddenly had visions of this incredible image of being able to get a drink of water that would eliminate the need to go to the well every day. The amount of time she could save herself and everyone else would be incredible. She probably didn’t think in these terms, but today, we would have cartoon-like dollar signs in our eyes as we imagined being able to license something like this and charge people thousands or even millions of dollars to be able to take a drink that would eliminate all thirst. This was going to bring satisfaction to her life in a way few other things she could imagine would.
That is not, of course, what Jesus had in mind at all. The satisfaction He was talking about was not only quite different, but far more satisfying. There is a desire in us that longs to be satisfied. Satisfied with what, you ask? Well…something. Exactly what that something is we can’t ever quite put our finger on precisely. As a result, we look for things that will fulfill it everywhere we go. We try a little of this and a little of that, all the time hoping we’ll find it. When we do find something that seems like it will do the trick, we get very excited and pour ourselves into it as fully as we can. But eventually, as always happens, the satisfaction of this thing wanes over time until we are left with that same desire we always had before.
To get all theological about it, this desire in us is for God. It is for the satisfaction that comes only by being connected back with our source of life. We are all like candles that charge up over time and then slowly run down when not connected to a power source. The lower our charge gets, the more desperate we get for sources of power that will fill us back up again. But there is no power in the world except for our God. Jesus came to make it so we can get plugged in once again.
If you are in a place where you are searching for something, anything, that will satisfy that longing in your soul you just can’t seem to shake, turn to Jesus. He not only can, but will, bring your life satisfaction in a way nothing else will. Just like He offered this water that springs up into eternal life to the Samaritan woman, He offers the same to you. The baby whose birth we celebrate came bringing with Him the water of life. When you drink of this water, you will indeed be satisfied in a way no single present could ever manage to achieve. May you know this satisfaction this season, and in every season, as you turn yourself to the one who will lead you to the life that is truly life.