Best of David: The Two Wells

September 2, 2008, 1:00 pm; posted by
Filed under Articles, David, Featured  | No Comments

Originally published on June 28, 2007.

As long as I’ve been a Christian, I’ve always loved the balance between the Old and New Testament, and I’ve always found a fullness in reading both on a regular basis. One of the best examples of what comes from this dual exposure is found in the stories of Genesis 24 and John 4.

Genesis 24 recounts the story of Isaac and Rebekah. I have heard it preached as the ultimate love story between God and His beloved — father Abraham (God) sending his servant to bring a bride for his only son Isaac (Jesus). The criteria are set and the woman must pass the test. She must, at Abraham’s request, be pure, of the right lineage and race. She must, to fulfill Eliezer’s prayer, be kind and have the heart of a servant, to not only give him water when asked, but also offer it for all his camels. She must be a virgin and fair to look upon.

It’s a lot to ask, but God leads Eliezer to the perfect choice, and she returns with him. Isaac is meditating out in the field and when he sees her, he takes her as his wife. Moreover, we are told that he loves her. It is truly a beautiful story.

If you’re like me, though, your story was a little different. Perhaps it’s a bit more like John 4, in the New Testament. In this love story, everything has gone wrong. God the Father has sent His servants repeatedly to draw His beloved, but they have been stoned, sawn asunder, persecuted and killed. At last He sends His only Son.

He finds the woman at the well, but she is not pure at all. She is not even Jewish. She’s a Samaritan, of mixed race and idolatrous religion, despised by the Jews. But Jesus uses the same test of character anyway, asking her for a drink. She answers with sarcasm and smart remarks, questioning His motives and arguing about religion. And not only is she not a virgin, she’s had five husbands and is currently living in sin with yet another man. There is no mention of physical beauty.

But she is the one — and He loves her! She receives the fullness of all He has reserved for His beloved. Jesus told the Pharisees, when they questioned His penchant for hanging around publicans and sinners: “I have not come for the whole, but for the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

This is the true love story. The Old Testament story was the way God wanted it to be. The New Testament story is the way it is. For all of us.

How can pride exist under such circumstances? Not one of us can meet the criteria of the Rebekah story. And how can any of us deny the love of a God who sees us as we are, chooses to love us, and then makes us worthy of that love?


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