Short Meditations in John 4: 6. Physical weariness
Jn 4:6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
I am aware that focusing on one verse at a time may appear a very slow way to work through Scripture and often requires a lot of repetition, but it does mean we ponder on every word and every sentence and consider its relevance without missing anything.
John has just mentioned that they stopped just outside Sychar which is near Shechem where Jacob had bought land and passed it on to Joseph and now he adds that it was also the place of Jacob’s well. Now nowhere else in scripture is this well mentioned but in Genesis in Abraham’s days wells often featured as the Patriarchs dugs these rare sources of water. Abraham has trouble with Abimelech over a well he had previously dug (Gen 21:25). Indeed Abraham’s servants obviously dug a number of wells which Isaac had to reclaim: “So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.” (Gen 26:15) Isaac then had his servants dig more wells (Gen 26:19-24) but both Abraham’s and Isaac’s wells were in the south beyond Jerusalem while this one is in the middle of the country. Jacob had come through this part of the country on his return from Haran with all his flocks which is when he bought the plot of land.
The well is significant in this story as we shall see as it develops. It is midday (the sixth hour being twelve, counted on from their start of the day, 6am.) and they have been traveling a number of hours obviously and Jesus is tired, so he sits down in the vicinity of the well. It is quite possible that there were stones there for sitting while shepherds brought their flocks to be watered and so it is a natural place to rest. Now again, whether Jesus knew the woman we are about to meet was coming (a word of knowledge) or whether he was simply tired and wanted to rest, we are not told. We are told he was tired and so me must accept that at face value.
The fact is that Jesus, the Son of Man, experienced all that we experience as a human being and that includes getting tired when energy has been expended. Tiredness is a factor in Jesus’ life although we rarely hear about it, simply because although he is the Son of God, he is also a human being. We only hear about it on this occasion because it is his tiredness that leads him to stop here and remain alone (as we’ll soon see) so that he is available to speak to this woman who is about to arrive. In the providence of God, He does use the ordinary things of our lives to bring about the affairs of the kingdom, and that does include, as on this occasion, physical tiredness.