Beside the Well with Jesus

"Woman at the Well" by Carl Heinrich Bloch
“Woman at the Well” by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890)

An excerpt from “Jesus the Bridegroom” by Brant Pitre:

“I’d like to go back for a moment to the story of Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4:1-42). As we have already seen, the Samaritan woman was not what some would call ‘marriage material’ – at least, not for any ordinary bridegroom. She was a woman with a past, with all the baggage and wounds and shame that go with sin. She wasn’t from a great race of people, or the elite sectors of society, and her religious ideas were a mix of truth and error. She apparently wasn’t well accepted by her own people, and she had to carry out the daily task of drawing water alone.

“Yet Jesus was waiting for her at the well. He, the divine Bridegroom come in person, he through whom the world was made, sat there, waiting to ask her for a drink and wanting her to ask him for a gift: the gift of the ‘living water’ that would cleanse her from sins, quench her deepest thirst, and unite her to him as her Messiah.

“As soon as we see Jesus this way, we realize: the Samaritan woman is every one of us. She is every human being who has sinned and betrayed the God who loved us and made us, by chasing after other gods, trying desperately to get creatures to give us what only the Creator can give. She is every human being who has ever made a complete mess of their lives with choices from which they just can’t seem to break loose. She is every human person who has a sinful and broken past that they’d just rather not talk about.

“But none of this stops Jesus from pursuing her. Nor does it stop him from pursuing us. After all these centuries, he is still waiting at the well. He is waiting for us to ask him for the gift of living water, and, even more, for the gift of himself. In order to receive the gift, however, like the Samaritan woman, we’ve got to come clean about our past. We have to own up to our sin, to be truthful about who we are, and tell him how many gods we’ve chased. It’s no use pulling her evasive maneuver and trying to switch the subject; he already knows “everything we’ve ever done” (cf. John 4:29). And he is waiting by the well anyway

“That is the last mystery of the Christian life that is lit up by the reality of Jesus the Bridegroom: the mystery of… personal encounter with the living God known as prayer. Jesus not only wants to wash his bride, and to feed her, and to be with her when the marriage supper of the Lamb finally comes; he also wants to talk to her, alone, away from the crowd, at the well of living water.

“For if Jesus really is the divine Bridegroom and the Church really is his bride, then he is always there, waiting beside the well from all eternity, waiting for us to bring him our brokenness and ask him to give us the gift of his Spirit. And if we do this every day, until the very end of our lives, he will bring us to the land that is called ‘Married’ (Beulah) (Isaiah 62:4), where the dead will be raised, and there will be no more ‘marrying or giving in marriage’ (cf. Mark 12:25), for the ‘marriage of the Lamb’ will have finally come and the Bride will have ‘made herself ready’ (Revelation 19:7). On that day, the new Jerusalem will descend from heaven in all her glory, as ‘a bride adorned for her husband’ (Revelation 21:2). Then, when the old world passes away and a new one comes, in which there is no more crying or pain anymore, because all things have been made new, then we shall finally see the One who loved us and gave himself for us. Then we shall behold him with whom we have sat and talked beside the well, no longer through a mirror dimly, but as he is, ‘face to face’ (1 Corinthians 13:12). And on that day, perhaps we shall even hear the angels sing what was once said to John: ‘Come, let us show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb’ (Revelation 22:9).”

(CG’s Note: Pitre is a Roman Catholic scholar and writer with extensive knowledge on the Jewish teachings that formed Christian belief and practice. There may be points of interpretation on which you differ from him, but I think you’ll find his insights to be well worth contemplating.)

“Jesus the Bridegroom:
The Greatest Love Story Ever Told”
by Brant Pitre


Beside the Well with Jesus
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