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The Longing for Forgiveness

It is noon. The scorching sun bakes the earth with waves of radiating heat. The Master is tired and weary. His feet are hot, sore, and tired. Jesus sits beside the well rubbing his aching feet. His clothes smell like dust from the Samaritan road. His throat is parched and dry. This is a very human man who slumps beside Jacob’s well. He looks longingly into the deep, cavernous well. He longs for cool water. There is no bucket, so there is no relief.

Jesus had chosen to go through Samaria. His disciples were astonished that Jesus deliberately went through Samaria. The Jews and Samaritans hated each other.

A woman from Samaria comes to the well to draw water. She had once been stunningly beautiful, but after a life of wantonness and reckless living, her radiant and lovely face was lined, aged and hard.

Women would exchange pleasant conversation, idle talk, laugh, and even sing as they walked to the well. Once, she had been one of them, but years ago footsteps hurried from her on the dusty road. It began with one, and then two, and now most of the ladies whispered behind her back of the lustful and lascivious rumors that spread like gangrene around the small town. This is the reason she comes to the well in the heat of the day. She prefers the scorching sun to the smoldering resentment and superior glances of other women.

Jesus asks her for a drink. She sharply replies, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” Jesus ignores the sarcasm and ancient feud that existed between the Jews and Samaritans and says to 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.” Let’s stop here and linger. Do you see what Jesus is saying to her? I know your desire for a fulfilling life. I can give it to you. I can provide for you living water. But you must ask.

The woman replied, “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?” Jesus ignores the scorn. He sees a thirsty soul. Jesus emphatically says, “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.”

Let’s pause for a minute. What is Jesus saying? Jesus declares, the water I have for you will blot out your tainted past. You will be clean. You will be loved, and you will belong.

There is a long silence as the woman takes in Jesus’ life-giving words. Then the words come gushing out, “Sir, give me this water.”

Jesus’ next words stun her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” She nervously responds, “I have no husband.” Jesus bluntly says, “you are right that you don’t have a husband for you have had five husbands and the man you are with now is not your husband.”

Do you see what Jesus is saying? The first step to flourishing life is confession of sin. Jesus calls her to confront her sinful past.

She glances around, relieved that no one heard him. She takes a deep breath as air fills her lungs. Her mind is racing. How does he know? She changes the subject. “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our Fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Which is it? She mentally patted herself on the back. Let’s see how he answers this question.

Jesus responds, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Do you understand Jesus’ answer? Jesus says with penetrating clarity, it’s not about where you worship, or how you worship, but why you worship. True worshipers worship God in spirit and truth.

She was astounded. She had never heard wisdom like this. She nervously said, “when Yeshua comes, he will explain it all.”

Jesus looked at her with deep compassion and said, “I who speak to you am he.” Tears begin to moisten her eyes. Her lips begin to quiver. The shackling chains of sin fall off of her like raindrops from the sky. Years of bitterness toward her father who abandoned her, and mother who neglected her, and women who maliciously gossiped about her, collapse in an endless sea of grace. The staggering weight of guilt and shame has been lifted! The tears start to freely flow as she stares at Jesus. She doesn’t know what to do, so she grabs him and says through parched lips, I BELIEVE! You are the Messiah. The promised one to come.

About this time the disciples nosily draw near to Jesus. They are stunned that Jesus is talking to a Samaritan woman. She grabs Peter, hugs him, and shouts, “I believe! I believe!” She looks at John and says, “I am forgiven! I am going to tell everyone what Jesus has done for me!”

This story moves me so deeply because I have been at that well. So, have you. I have stood before Jesus with a parched soul ridden with guilt, shame, and sin. Jesus says, “come and drink freely from the endless river of grace.” Come to the cross and see the Lamb of God absorbing the wrath of God so that you might become a child of God. See his righteous life imputed to you through faith in him. Your redemption is purchased. Your salvation has been accomplished. Jesus has died in your place. Righteousness given. Sins covered by the blood of Jesus. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Have you been to the well? Have your repented of your sins and placed your complete trust in the finished work of Christ? Have you drunk freely and deeply of God’s endless grace and mercy?

I am reminded from Pilgrims Progress what Christian says at his salvation:

“Thus far did I come laden with my sin, nor could aught ease the grief that I was in, till I came hither. What a place is this! Must here be the beginning of my bliss? Must here the burden fall from off my back? Must here the strings that bound it to me, crack? Blessed cross! Blessed sepulchre! Blessed rather be the Man that there was put to shame for me.”


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