Charles F. (Charles Force) Deems.

Who was Jesus? online

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She had met a Jew who was no ordinary Jew, But one who had
the gift of life. lie probably used the phrase "living water"
in its double sense. He was dealing with one who was to be led.
The woman's mind would seize the material suggestion, and thus
be led to the spiritual truth. Her reply shows that this is what
she did. "Running water" was in her mind. As Stier finely
says, " Her words are incomparably picturesque in their echo of
his." She says, still banteringly, " Sir, thou hast no bucket, and
the well is deep: pray whence then have you this live water of
which you speak? Surely you do not pretend to be greater than
our father Jacob, who gave us this well, and drank of it himself,
with his children, and his cattle." Here spoke out her national
pride and prejudice. She claimed Jacob as her ancestor, proba-
bly with no right or title to such a descent. She thinks that any
man may be content with what Jacob used, and no Jew could be
greater than the patriarch.

Jesus waives the comparison, but presses home the great spirit-
ual truth he had in hand, exciting her desire by a strange prom-
ise. He says: "This water satisfies only the
s rangeprom- j . £ j bodv, and that for only a brief

ise. i '

space: no water from any earthly spring or well

can slake the thirst of the inner man : but I can open such a
fountain in the soul of man that no life, no immortality, shall be
long enough to exhaust it." "Give me this water, sir, that I
thirst no more, nor come to this well to draw," is her sudden ex-
clamation. "We must enter into this woman's character and his-
tory to comprehend the strange mingling of naive simplicity with
gross carnality. She might have seen that Jesus had in his words
a moral that covered her life. At many broken cisterns of lust
she had endeavored to find happiness. She begins partly to dis-
cern that something great and noble is offered her by this stran-



FROM JT7D.EA TO SAMARIA. 155

ger, and expresses a half willingness to accept, but mingles a little
* jocularity with this expression that she may not too seriously com
mit herself. " Sir, give me this water, that I never thirst again
nor come to this well to draw."

And now Jesus thoroughly rouses her by probing her heart,
and showing that he knew all her history, although they had
never met before. The delicacy and gentleness with which
Jesus touched the wound in this woman's soul is marvellously
beautiful. " Go, call your husband, and return." It flashed her
whole bad life before her e}*es in an instant. "I have no hus-
band," is her half-true, half-false, and very mournful reply. Je-
sus did not upbraid her for her licentiousness and falsehood, but
putting the very best face on her answer, replied with perfect
politeness, " "Well spoken ! You have had live husbands. You
have a lover now, but he is not your husband : that word is true."
She saw that this was a man who searched hearts. She knew
that by death or divorce, probably for her own faults, she had
been separated from the five men to whom successively she had
been married, and now was openly or secretly licentious. Her
sense of guilt was roused by even this most delicate handling
of her case. Astounded by the disclosure, she acknowledged to
Jesus that she believed him to be a prophet.

But she did what is usually done under similar circumstances.
She endeavored to engage Jesus in a theological discussion, and
thus, !))• womanly tact, divert the conversation

r -, , j. . ... t j She tries to

rr< mi an unpleasant personal disquisition. Instead

1 l m 1 open a contro-

of ingenuously acknowledging her case and seek- ver ™
ing instruction and help from this wise and gentle
teacher, she turns from the practically useful question of hoto
to pray, to the speculative and comparatively useless where. It
was simply and swiftly dono. "Sir, our fathers worshipped in
this mountain: you Jews insist upon Jerusalem as the place
where men ought to worship." Geii/.ini was in full view. Abra-
ham and Jacob had lived and worshipped here. Here had been
the temple built by Manasseh, and here tin' altar remained after
John Hyrcanus had destroyed the Bchismatical temple.
rounded by these sacred associations, she covertly propounds the
question to Jesus whether sin 1 is t.> abandon her ancestral faith or
reject his. It was the old " vexed question ,J which had Kept hail
bl



Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Force) DeemsWho was Jesus? → online text (page 16 of 77)