“A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘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.’” – John 4:7-10
Jesus was on his way to Galilee from Judea. He had to pass through Samaria and came to a town in Samaria called Sychar. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, sat down by the well. He was alone as his disciples had gone into the town to buy food. While he sat there, a Samaritan woman came to draw water and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” This woman, well versed in the cultural sensitivities and differences that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans, protested, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” Jesus went to the heart of her ignorance and need: “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.” She argued further about the history of the well, to which Jesus told her he had something superior to give to her that would quench her real thirst, forever. Nay, it would more than meet her need; it would become in her a spring that others could also drink from. He said, “Everyone who drinks this water 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” (John 4:13-14). The woman then asked for this water that permanently quenches thirst and saves from a lifetime of fruitless search. The discussion continued as she displayed her theological knowledge which quite frankly, was of no good since it didn’t meet her need. When she talked about the coming Messiah, Jesus declared to her, “I who speak to you am he” (John 4:26). I consider this woman one of the most fortunate persons in the whole of Scripture. There are several people who asked Jesus questions about who he was but never got direct answers. He revealed himself to her as clear as he could be: “I who speak to you am he.”
THE OFFER OF JESUS
Was Jesus really asking for water from the Samaritan woman? Jesus is no needy beggar. If he were hungry, he wouldn’t tell you, for the world is his and all that is in it. If he were thirsty, he wouldn’t cry to you, for it is he who sends the rains that fill the rivers, seas, and oceans; it was he who destroyed the world in Noah’s day by water. He meets the water needs of all plants and animals everywhere. At face value, his request sounded like the plea of a thirsty man. However, that request opened to the woman a fountain of a bottomless well of the water of life. What Jesus was demanding from her, was what he actually wanted to give her in abundance. It was hers for the asking. “Give me a drink” was actually a call to “Come and drink.” It is interesting to note that the woman left her water jar at the well and went into the town to announce the quenching of her thirst. That she left her jar suggests that Jesus had given to her the very thing he asked from her. Like he had promised, Jesus gave her a spring of water that she could share with the whole town where she lived. The Bible says, “Many Samaritans from the town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39). A ministry door was opened to Jesus in a hitherto closed and unfriendly territory, such that he spent two days sharing the good news “And because of his words many more became believers” (John4:41). All that began with a request from Jesus, “Give me a drink.”
LEND ME YOUR BOAT
“One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.”
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’”
“Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’”
“When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.”
“Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” – Luke 5:1-6; 10b-11
Here Jesus asked Peter to put his boat out a little from the shore. Could the one who walked on water not simply have stood on water and preached to the crowd? But he chose to request for Peter’s boat. Listen, Jesus doesn’t need anything. What he asks from you is actually what he wants to give you. He gave Peter and his companions more fish than they could bear. What if Peter withheld his boat? Remember that there were two boats at the water’s edge, but Jesus asked for that which belonged to Peter. Can I ask you, who was the owner of the other boat? We don’t even know his name because Jesus didn’t ask for or use his. It was a privilege for Peter that Jesus asked to use his boat. Every request he makes of you is for your own benefit; he actually wants to give you more. After the large haul of fish, he told Peter, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” Jesus was in effect saying, “Because you gave me the boat you use to catch fish, I will give you the privilege of catching something greater than fish: men.” Peter went on to become a foundation and pillar of the church and here we are, studying his life, his letters, and bearing his name. But it all started with a simple request to “put out a little from shore.” A little.
GIVE ME YOUR LOAVES AND TWO FISH
“When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.”
“Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, ‘Here is a boy with five barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’”
“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.”
“When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are leftover. Let nothing be wasted.’ So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. – John 6:5-6; 8-9; 11-13.
A little boy left home with a lunch box containing bread and fish. Jesus had it retrieved from the boy and handed over to him, Jesus. Is the lunch of a boy what to be used to feed a multitude of adults? Isn’t that cruel? It was an opportunity for the boy to take part in a miracle. Even the leftover was more than what he surrendered. Jesus can ask of anything from an adult like Peter or a boy. Don’t say you are too young. What may seem cruel to you is an opportunity to be part of something infinitely bigger.
What about you? What has Jesus asked of you? Your life? He owns it twice: first by creation and secondly by paying for it on the cross. Is it your time, your talent, your body, your money, your child, your career? What do you have that you have not been given? Name it, he actually is inviting you to receive and be part of something immeasurably bigger than you could ever imagine. It is ignorance and a lack of faith that makes anyone think that Jesus is going to ruin their lives and fun if they hand them over to him. He said to the Samaritan woman, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” Ignorance. Someone wants to give you living water and you are arguing about water that never quenched any thirst. If it did, she wouldn’t be coming to draw water from that well. Why would you even hold it back when everything belongs to him. “Through him, all things were made.” When on the cross he cried, “I thirst”, he wasn’t longing for wine vinegar; he was thirsty for the souls of men, he was offering them eternal life. The ignorant soldiers missed it. Don’t be like them. Jesus needs nothing, his requests are an opportunity for you to surrender what you have for what is greater. Don’t wait for a grand request. It may be as simple as, “Put out a little from shore” or “Give me a drink.” Give it to him without reservation and see what he will do with it.