TRADITION NOT ABLE TO SATISFY MAN’S THIRST
What does the well of Jacob in John 4 signify? It signifies that tradition cannot satisfy man’s thirst. We all know that water is necessary for human life. Water is even more important than food, for thirst is more serious than hunger. You may go without food for several days and still live, but you cannot go nearly as long without water. In the Old Testament there are a number of stories that point out how crucial water is for human life (Gen. 21:15, 19; Exo. 15:23-24, 27; 17:6; Num. 20:8). In the Bible the record of man’s need of water to quench his thirst is found again and again. The well in the land of Jacob is a sign that traditional things cannot quench the thirst in human life. No matter how genuine or typical a tradition may be, as long as it is a tradition, it cannot satisfy man’s thirst. This is the significance of the sign of Jacob’s well in John 4.
OUR NEED FOR A LIVING PERSON
The sign of Jacob’s well should lead us to realize our need of something other than tradition, and this is our need for a living Person, the Son of God. In John 4:10 the Lord Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that says to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” This gift is the Son of God Himself. Isaiah 9:6 says that a Son has been given to us, and John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that every one who believes into Him may have eternal life. In this God-given gift is eternal life.
We cannot separate eternal life from the gift of God. God’s gift to us includes both His Son and His divine life. These two are one gift, for the divine life is in the Son, and the Son actually is the divine life (John 14:6). Therefore, 1 John 5:11 and 12 say, “God gave to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” The thirst in human life cannot be satisfied by tradition. Our thirst can be quenched only by a living Person, the One who has been given to us to be our eternal life.
The Samaritans had fallen into the error of trusting in traditions. The Samaritan woman in John 4 was trying to get water for her living from that traditional well, and she spoke to the Lord Jesus about worship on that traditional mountain. Her trust was altogether in these two traditions, in the well for human living and in the mountain for the worship of God.
Many Christians also put their trust in traditions. Much of their theology, doctrines, and teachings is traditional. Their rituals, regulations, formalities, and holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, also are traditional. There is an interest among some Christians in returning to the so-called historic church, that is, in returning to traditional things.
Christians, however, should not care for traditions. Instead, we need to be renewed and refreshed by a living Person with the divine life. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is never traditional. He is always new, renewing, and refreshing. If we experience Him daily throughout our Christian life, we shall find that He is always new.
Our well is not Jacob’s well, a traditional well; our well is the Son of God. We have received Him, and He has become a spring of water welling up within us into eternal life. As He wells up within us, we are brought into eternal life. This welling up of the Lord within us quenches our thirst. I can testify that He wells up within me again and again. Whenever He wells up in me, I am brought into eternal life, and my thirst is satisfied.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)