Greater Than Jacob in The Generosity of His Gifts (John 4:12).
The fascinating incident recorded in John’s Gospel, chapter 4, stirs the heart of the believer with wonder and admiration as the unique conversation between the Lord Jesus Christ and the woman of Samaria is carefully perused.
This passage of Holy Writ is perhaps one of the most familiar portions in Scripture, but a reference to the salient features by way of remembrance will enable the reader to appreciate the perfect blend of grace and truth as manifested throughout the conversation by our adorable Lord.
Christ was on His way to Galilee and just here there is a divine imperative emphasized, “He must needs go through Samaria” (verse 4). The long journey was tiring, and Jesus being wearied with the journey sat on Jacob’s well at the city of Sychar. The Lord was left there alone, His disciples had gone into the city to purchase provisions. Presently a woman of Samaria came with her empty water pot to furnish the needed supply for the household requirements.
The Lord’s approach was gracious as He incorporated in His introduction one simple request, “Give Me to drink.” Rather bewildered, the woman sought to emphasize the fact that there was a tribal feud between the Jews and the Samaritans. This was the opportune moment for Christ to declare the fulness of His reserve, saying, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again, but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (verses 13-14).
Just at this juncture in the conversation our Lord Jesus Christ blends truth with the grace He so wondrously manifested, saying, “Go call thy husband, and come hither.” The hidden secrets of the human heart are now brought to light and her confession is made. Obviously this woman received a draught of living water; for she left her empty water pot on the well, and made her way into the city with a well springing up into everlasting life, and through her testimony much blessing came to Samaria.
Part of the discussion that day related to the well on which the Christ of God had seated Himself. It had been bequeathed to the district by the Patriarch Jacob who had found its waters good because he drank from it himself, and so also did his children and his cattle.
The contrast between Jacob and our Lord is very marked indeed. The history of the Patriarch Jacob may be summed up in three words — seizure, deceit, and faith. Before he was born, God reminds us by the pen of Hosea (12:3), “He took his brother by the heel in the womb.” This process of annexation continued throughout his whole career: by strategy he seized the birthright, and by cunning craftiness annexed the first-born’s blessing. Time would fail to tell of his actions with his uncle Laban, who played him at his own game; and of the gift he sent to appease his brother Esau whom he had wronged. It is only at the close of such a chequered history that we learn about his faith — and this is recorded for us in Hebrews 11:21: “By faith Jacob, when he was a dying blessed both the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.” There is nothing really commendable till the close of this man’s history. In contrast to this, the life of our Lord Jesus Christ was one of giving. He went about doing good. He said, “I give unto them eternal life:” and again, “The water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water.”
While the well was a gift from Jacob, “Thirst again” is written large over it. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.” He is not only the well; He is the fountainhead.
The gifts which Christ bestows are innumerable and by far exceed any human endowments. He bestows life to the dead soul: “The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” “I give unto them eternal life” (John 5:25, 10:28).
He bestows the gift of light on the darkened soul: “I am the Light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Christ bestows the gift of love on the malevolent soul. “They hated Me without a cause” (John 15:25): yet despite this fact, we find the word “dorean,” translated “without a cause,” used by the Lord in Revelation 22:17 in His final appeal of Scripture: “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” The word “freely” is the same as “without a cause.”
He bestows the gift of liberty on the bound soul: “The Spirit of the Lord hath anointed Me … .to preach deliverance to the captives” (Luke 4:18). “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
When we have dealings with the Lord Jesus Christ, we find Him a munificent benefactor. He does not extort from us, nor does He ask us to hand over the products of a vineyard as God had required of Israel, and which the Lord illustrated in the parable of the vineyard and the rejection of the heir — the Son, (Matt. 21:33-46). Israel had declined any portion to God; they had even sent back Jehovah’s servants, virtually saying — “Go back to your master and tell him we are determined to give him nothing!” This was the attitude of Israel despite the tender care divinely exercised over that nation. The parable which opens chapter 22 of Matthew’s Gospel presents to us almost two thousand years of prospective outline: and instead of God requiring fruit from the vineyard, He is virtually saying “I desire nothing from you; let Me give you something!” The gifts which are bestowed cannot be tabulated. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye, through His poverty. might be rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). With delight we exclaim with the Apostle Paul, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God” (Rom. 11:33)!
The question asked by the woman of Samaria is easily answered. She asked, “Art Thou greater than our father Jacob?” We reply, the gifts which our Lord bestows make the well at Sychar donated by Jacob to pale into insignificance. Christ has gifted to the believer eternal life: and we have experienced what Christ meant when He said, “It shall be in you a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” In His wondrous kindness He has given the Holy Spirit to those who love Him. In His beneficence He daily loadeth us with benefits, so that we may say, “Bless the Lord O my soul, and forget not all His benefits (Psalm 103:2). While it is impossible to enumerate all the benefits which He delights to lavish upon us, His people, may we not forget them all!
“He richly feeds our souls
With blessings from above:
And leads us where the river rolls
Of everlasting love.”