She Left Her Jar
Updated: Apr 28, 2020
It wasn't supposed to happen. A Jewish man had no business talking to a Samaritan woman. Didn't Jesus know that? Evidently, he didn't. Or at least he didn't care. He went out of his way to make sure this encounter happened.
The pages of the Bible are filled with stories of broken people. The woman in John 4 is one of them. Filled with shame and broken by sin, she once again finds herself alone at the well in the blistering heat of the noonday sun.
She is at the right well to gather water. She has her jar and is ready to once again fill it and carry it home. But Jesus has other plans. See, although she is at the right well to gather water, she has been going to the wrong "wells" to fill her soul. Drinking from the well of sin doesn't satisfy. It has made her soul dry and parched.
We, like this woman, often drink from the wrong wells hoping that they will satisfy our souls. We go to the wells of lust, pleasure, success, selfishness, material wealth, and countless others. Wells that promise fulfillment but never seem to deliver it.
Jesus loves broken people. He cares about people who find themselves empty as a result of going to the wrong wells to fill their souls. He cares about this woman and he cares about us. Not only does he care, he can do something about it! Jesus offers himself as the well. He offers living water for our thirsty souls. He beckons us away from wells that destroy while calling us towards his love.
Once the woman has had a taste of the living water Jesus offers her, she is eager to go tell everyone. How strange. One encounter with Jesus and she is ready to stand face-to-face with the very people she avoided and hid from.
But there is a detail in John 4 that has always stood out to me. She leaves her water jar at the well. John records this in his gospel (verse 28). She could have very well forgotten about it in the midst of her great excitement. Perhaps she was going to run and didn't feel like carrying a large object. Both could be true. But I think the Holy Spirit is very subtly letting us in on something. See, when we encounter Jesus, and drink the living water he offers, we can forget about searching for fulfillment at all the other wells we have been drinking from. We don't need to go to the wells of jealousy, always being right, immorality, and material gain. Whatever wells we have drinking from to find joy, peace, meaning, and purpose, can be left in the past.
We don't need those to be fulfilled. What once were priorities, now are simply distractions that could keep us from seeing and savoring more of Jesus.
It might be a stretch, but I think the water jar was left as a testament to a new life. She may not have been meaning to convey all that with the gesture, but I believe John is inspired by the Holy Spirit to record this rather trivial detail. It represented a change in priorities and a newly found hope. Her search was over. She didn't need a revolving parade of men and sexual encounters to bring her joy—she had found it in Jesus. What she once relied on to make it through the day, now didn't even compare to what she had just been given by Jesus.
Finding Your Well
How can we know if we are going to the wrong wells? Here are a couple quick questions that may help you find your "wells.”
When you are sad, overwhelmed, or heading towards despair, what do you do in order to feel better?
What, if it got taken away, would cause you to doubt God's goodness and your ability to continue serving him?
What makes you feel safe and comforted?
Is there anything you must have or do in order to enjoy life? And, without it, you seem to be a more negative or depressed individual?
What do you think makes your life important and gives it value?
What do you want others to know about you and think about you?
If, through the Holy Spirit's leading and direction, you realize you have been going to the wrong wells for satisfaction, meaning, and fulfillment, do yourself a favor—leave your water jar. Drop it, forget about it, and drink the living water Jesus has for you. Drink it like your dying from thirst. You won't regret it.