To Know Jesus is to Drink from Him
‘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, ESV)
I have always loved the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. I feel like it’s one of those stories from the Bible that always gives you something new every time you study it. Mostly, it’s because the conversation is so deep and multi-faceted.
The first thing to understanding this story is to know the cultural context. In Jesus’ time, the Samaritans and the Jews did not get along. The reason being is this: When the Babylonians conquered Israel, they took most of the Jews captive and brought them back to Babylon to assimilate them to their culture. There were, however, a few Jews left behind that were
considered “undesirable” in the eyes of the Babylonians.
These Jews that were left behind ended up marrying and procreating with the non-Jewish tribes around them– something that the Jews really frowned upon. As a result, these interfaith couples raised a generation of children that believed this weird, hybrid version of Judaism that was mixed up with the religions of the surrounding tribes. This religion that was part Judaism, part everything else became the religion that the Samaritans believed in. This, combined with the fact that the Samaritans were sort of half-breed Jewish people, meant that devout Jews tended to see the Samaritans as inferior, even to the point where some believed that it would be better off if the Samaritans were never born at all because they were less deserving of the Lord.
So when Jesus, who happened to be traveling through Samaria, runs into this Samaritan woman and asks her for a drink, she hesitates. She asks Him how He could ask her, a Samaritan woman, for a drink of water– and His answer is astounding. He says, in summary, “If you really knew me, you would be asking me for a drink, because I have access to living water.”
Most of the time, when we focus on these verses, people dive into Jesus’ mention of living water– a spiritual term that is a metaphor for more of Jesus Himself. Living water represents the sweet opportunity we have to know more of Jesus, enjoy Him and His salvation, and the promise of eternal life in heaven. Living water is the by-product of being with Jesus in prayer, worship, study, and communion.
But what I was more interested in this time is the part that comes just before the living water bit– the part where Jesus looks the Samaritan woman straight in the eyes and says. “If you really knew me…”
When I realized what I was reading, I became convicted. How many times do we slough off on opportunities to spend time with Jesus or to understand more about Him? I’m probably more guilty than others. My prayer life is weaker than where I’ve been in the past. I’m so busy that I can only really worship in the car, which never goes as deep as when I can just be still. And sure, I read, but it’s not consistent.
But it goes deeper than just being busy because I’m sure if I thought hard enough, I could find pockets of time and be disciplined enough to want Jesus more than another episode of my latest Netflix binge or Facebook scrolling. So the deeper issue I’m being convicted of is this: My simple acts of not acting on opportunities to ask Jesus for more living water only means I must not know Him.
If we only knew Him, we would ask for living water. If we only knew Him, we’d pray more. If we only knew Him, it would be our delight to worship Him as a lifestyle. If we only knew Him, we would rush to study His word and ask Him to reveal Himself. Because the simple truth is, even knowing Jesus a little will compel us to want to know Him more. A sip of living water will create a desire for you to drink again and again.
So if we’re not drinking, then we don’t truly know Him. No matter how much head-knowledge you have, no matter how many degrees you hold in theology, no matter what position you hold, if you don’t desire to be in His presence daily, then you don’t really know Him.
And I don’t know about you, but that convicts the socks off of me. Because it makes me realize that I do so want to know Him, and not the Jesus that religion might teach, or the Jesus that my pastor tells me about, but the actual Jesus. I want to know Him deeply and instinctively. I want to know His nuances and His heart. I have a desire to drink of His living water, but if I don’t want it enough to act on it, then I don’t really know who my Savior is. Add that, on top of the fact that this Samaritan woman should have been the last person to be invited to draw near to God. She was a Samaritan, a woman, and a sinner. Jesus shouldn't have been talking to her, much less extending her the opportunity to know Him. But luckily, that's not the God we serve. Instead, our Savior takes the least of the least and treats them as friends. He takes the outsider and makes them the center of His attention.
So here’s today’s encouragement: If you really want to know Jesus, then don’t just ask Him to drink from His living water. Actually, drink it. His hand is always extended with the desire to pour out His presence on us, but if we don’t take the action of drawing near and drinking Him in, we will never know Him. Even if it’s little by little each day, the more you get to know your Savior, the deeper you will drink.
Daily devotion is important, friends. Drawing nearer and nearer means we want to really know Him. Even if you feel like Jesus shouldn’t want you, like the Samaritan woman must have felt at first. Even if every other instinct in your heart believes that Jesus wouldn’t want to draw near to you. I know it’s the desire of my heart to know Him, so if that’s your desire too, then you need to ask Him for His living water and drink it when He offers it.