Leaving the Waterpot
She looks earnestly into my eyes and says, “Everyone looks at our marriage, at my husband, and says how good of a man he is. They see from the outside and assume he has always been the man they see.” I smile knowingly. “They just don’t know the rollercoaster we’ve been on in our marriage,” she adds.
“That’s true,” I chuckle in agreement. “People don’t realize how much work marriage really takes. I always say that the person you marry has to be the one you want and are willing to ride that rollercoaster of life with until the end. The real work of a marriage happens after you say, ‘I do.'”
We laugh, leaning toward one another, bumping shoulders in shared understanding, before stuffing another forkful of food into our mouths.
“The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, ‘Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?'” (John 4: 28-29, NKJV)
Bible historians have a lot to say about Samaria and the Samaritan woman Jesus meets at the well in John 4. They trace animosity between the Jews and Samaritans back to the Babylonian conquests when they took only the most skilled and desirable Jews into captivity, leaving those assumed to have no value behind. These “undesirables” intermarried with idol worshippers and spiritualists of various religious beliefs who ventured into the desolate land, creating an ethnic group that mixed an assortment of ideologies together with Judaism into a hodgepodge of spiritual thinking and practice. These people and Samaria itself were avoided altogether by devout Jews and passed through quickly by those who preferred a more direct route to wherever they were headed.
Additionally, historians surmise that this particular Samaritan woman is one of ill repute, even among her own people, as evidenced by the fact that she ventures to the well alone at midday, when ordinarily women traveled in groups earlier in the day before the sun was too hot overhead. So Jesus, avoiding the circuitous route, passing through Samaria, requesting a drink from a Samaritan woman, and engaging in a prolonged one-on-one conversation with this woman at the well is breaking all manner of custom and acceptability.
The woman, though, is the one who caught my eye today as I reread this chapter. Usually, we spend time considering Jesus as the “gift of God” and the “living water” (v. 10), but today, I was drawn by the woman, what she left, and what she went to do. Scripture says that she “left her waterpot” (v. 28). I’d like to posit that her waterpot was important. The well is deep, and she had to travel there outside of the city to get water. In fact, her sole reason for coming to the well was to draw water, but she leaves the waterpot. Why would John leave such a negligible detail here?
…because it is significant!
When she encounters Jesus and hears His “never thirst” speech, her response is “Sir, give me this water…” (v. 15). Sure, she may have taken His words literally, believing that He knew the source of the well and could direct her to where she would not have to draw laboriously, but that’s the beauty of Jesus. He takes our curiosity and desire to know more, and helps us grow into spiritual maturity. When she requests the water that Jesus has been talking about, the first thing He does is call her sin into question: “Go, call your husband, and come here.” When she states that she has no husband, and Jesus agrees, laying out her five previous relationships and the current sixth as “not [her] husband,” she is amazed. She tries to deflect, relying on her own understanding, but Jesus corrects her with no derision or scorn. Then she speaks of the Messiah, and Jesus reveals without metaphor, “I who speak to you am He” (v. 26). Soon after, she leaves the waterpot.
Friend, when you see Jesus, hear Him speak to you and your situations, do you leave the waterpot behind? Or do you defend and ignore, too comfortable in sin to leave it? This Samaritan woman abandoned her agenda, her perceived need. What she came for and what she came to get it with is no longer a concern. Instead, she leaves that waterpot. She doesn’t try to bury the dead first (Matthew 8: 22). She doesn’t become sad, believing that what she will give up is more important than what she will gain (Mark 10: 22). She leaves that waterpot to go in obedience. Yes, don’t miss that! Jesus told her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” Sure, she did not have a legitimate husband. Both she and Jesus knew that. But she “went her way into the city and said to the men, ‘Come, see a Man…'” (v. 28, 29). I love that the Bible says this! Honestly, just typing these words makes me smile. Sometimes believers make the Bible out to be some stuffy, high-falutin text, but the Bible is about real people with real issues, and this woman was not a pure and pious woman. She was a promiscuous woman no one wanted to be associated with by day! Yet she did exactly what Jesus told her to do. She went and got her men to come see a Man!
Friend, it doesn’t matter who you have been or who the world says you are. When you know Jesus, you aren’t bound by fear, validation of the world, or even the comforts you used to enjoy. Because in Jesus you will never thirst, you find less and less satisfaction in the sins of old, thinking of old, conventions of old. You leave that waterpot. You go and say to the men, “Come, see a Man.”
Today, I pray that we all find the excitement and joy to leave our waterpots at the well with Jesus! I pray that we are no longer anxious about the fact that life has its ups and downs. I pray that we don’t become consumed with the rollercoaster we are on. Instead, I pray that we look at our Savior in Jesus and know we can tackle every menacing climb and every speedy descent because Jesus has promised to do life with us. We, the church, are his bride, and He chose to sit with us and give us what we need to endure. Let go, Friend, of that which is not truly satisfying, and take hold of Christ!