The soul is the deepest and the most vital part of the person as a whole. Our soul is like an inner stream of water, which gives strength, direction, and harmony to every other element of our life. When that stream is as it should be, we are constantly refreshed and exuberant in all we do, because our soul itself is then profusely rooted in the vastness of God and his kingdom, including nature; and all else within us will enlivened and directed by that stream. Therefore we are in harmony with God, reality, and the rest of human nature and nature at large.
Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart
“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.”
Jesus, The Gospel of John
Have you ever been so thirsty that your throat begins to dry and tears began to well up in your eyes? You desperately look for something to drink and the moment that the ice water touches your lips, you feel liberated and replenished. Did you know that as much as your body thirsts, your soul thirsts as well? King David says, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2). Later he writes, “My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD. For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere” (Psalm 84:1; 10).
As much as our bodies thirst, our soul thirsts as well. But here is the problem: because of sin and the broken world we live in, we fill our thirsts with things that do not quench our thirst. If anything, it makes us more thirsty. Have you ever accidentally (or purposely) drunk ocean water? What does it do? Yes, it may have had an immediate quench, but it will eventually intensify your thirst and, if continued, you would die from dehydration. What’s the point? Our souls must be filled with God. King David makes clear that his soul thirsts for one thing: God. My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD (Psalm 84:1). Let us now dive into today’s passage.
We find ourselves in John 4, Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan women. In order to understand the context, let me zoom in on the dialogue between the two.
Narrator: A woman from Samaria comes to draw water. Jesus says to her:
Jesus: “Give me a drink.”
Samaritan Woman: “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?
Narrator: Jews and Samaritans did not interact with one another during this time. They had a history of hate and violence towards one another.
Jesus: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
Samaritan Woman: “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and live livestock.”
Jesus: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Samaritan Woman: “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
Jesus: “Go call your husband, and come here…” (John 4:7-16)
What a beautiful and profound interaction between the two. A woman who comes to quench her physical thirst does not yet know how badly her soul thirsts. The Samaritan woman looks to a well, but Jesus makes it clear that she needs to look to Him.
What is really going on in this passage? The Samaritan woman’s soul is broken, and she fills herself with a water that never satisfies: men. Jesus exposes and digs the well out of her heart. “Go, call your husband… for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband” (John 4:16-18). Her soul was broken and unsatisfied.
Have you ever felt that way? You have a thirst and craving and it seems that, no matter what you fill your life with, it just leaves you feeling emptier? There was a time I tried quenching my thirst with relationships, friendships, status, money, success and even religious activities. It felt like I was drinking ocean water. It satisfied my immediate craving, but it left me emptier and lonelier than before. Why? Because our souls were created and designed to be in constant communion with God.
But the question now arises, how do I drink from the Living Water? How do I satisfy my soul in the Lord?
Drink from the Fountain of Grace
Notice how Jesus interacts with the Samaritan Woman. He exposes her sins. Why? To condemn her? No. To guilt-trip her? No. To make her feel miserable? No.
He exposes her in order to forgive her. To love her. To cleanse her. To overwhelm her with His grace. Grace only works for the sinner, not for the righteous. Instead of always trying to bring our perfect lives before the Lord, we have to bring our brokenness to Him. Jesus only works for the sinner. This woman was a sinner who needed to drink from the fountain of grace. We, also, must drink from the fountain of grace.
As Christians, we know that we are saved by grace but often times forget we also live by grace. Grace is always available to us because it is an attribute of God that never changes. It is the channel and pipeline in which we receive everything that we have from God. Drink from the fountain of grace.
Drink from the Fountain of Truth
Our culture and society wants to tell us who we are. For many, we have labeled ourselves in comparison to who we see around us. We allow voices other than God to dictate our value, worth, and identity. We envy what others have and covet where they are in life. Why? Because we don’t know our identity. We put our value and worth in what the world says instead of what God says! We allow the world and our own opinions about ourselves to fill our souls more than the Word of God. This is why we wake up anxious. We get anxious because we feel like we are not where others are. Anxiety comes from looking at people around us, but peace comes from looking at Jesus and believing who He says we are.
The Bible says, “It was about the sixth hour” (John 4:6). This is modernly translated as, “It was about noon.” Why does John mention this detail? It is because no one goes to the well during the day because of the scorching hot sun. Everyone who went to get water from the well went early in the morning or late into the night. Why does the Samaritan Woman go during the day? To avoid people. She has been labeled. She has been judged. She is an adulterer. She is a sinner. She probably believed what others said about herself rather than measuring her value and worth in God’s eyes. She had 5 ex-husbands and one present boyfriend! Why did she have so many husbands? She didn’t know her worth. She let men and others tell her who she was rather than letting God tell her who she was.
We do the same thing everyday. We labels ourselves with our past sins and failures. We allow others’ opinions about us to dictate our value. We must stop drinking from the fountain of this world. We must drink from the fountain of truth. You are a beloved child of the Lord in whom He has great plans for (Eph 1:3-14).
This Christmas season, remember what it is truly about. It is about God giving us His only Son, Jesus Christ, to satisfy our souls. Let us come to the fountain. Come to the Lord. Come to Jesus and let Him fill our hearts. He is the only one who can truly satisfy.
So the women left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” – John 4:29
Photo above by Desktopaper.
William Chung is the Jr. High Pastor at Thanksgiving Korean Church in Buena Park, CA. He is finishing his last semester of MDiv at Talbot School of Theology. He loves Jesus, watching a good movie, and good food.