The woman of Samaria, in her conversation with the Lord Jesus, made the remark, “the well is deep”, John 4. 11. She was referring, of course, to the well at which they had met: but the words are worthy of note.
For our present purpose we shall apply these words in a spiritual sense, linking them rather with that well to which the Lord referred when He said, “The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life”, v. 14.
That God Himself is this well is evident. In Jeremiah 2. 13 God says of His people Israel, “they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters”, while the Lord Jesus said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink”, John 7. 37. As to the words that followed that appeal, “out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”, John comments, “this spake he of the Spirit” vv. 38-39. Further proof of this is seen if we connect the Lord’s words, “a well of water springing up into everlasting life”, 4. 14, with what he said to the Father, “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent”, 17. 3. So that the ones who have this well within, this eternal life, are those who have an experimental knowledge of God.
Now, thinking of the words “The well is deep”, let us consider three ways in which this can be appreciated.
First, a well being deep means that there is a considerable distance that one has to go down to get the water. This would remind us of the depths to which Christ had to go in order to bring the water to us. He came from the heights of glory down to the lowest depths, Eph. 4. 9.
Think of the depths of poverty to which He came. Paul says, “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor”, 2 Cor. 8. 9. There was His birth in a stable, the fact that His mother was able to afford just two doves for her cleansing, Luke 2. 7, 24, and later His own words, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head”, 9. 58.
There were also the depths of humiliation which He suffered. He gave His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; He hid not His face from shame and spitting, Isa. 50. 6. Men gave Him a mock crown of thorns and a mock sceptre, Matt. 27. 29. He was a reproach of men, and despised of the people, Psa. 22. 6.
Then there were the depths of sorrow which He knew. The cry of Jerusalem in the lamentations of Jeremiah, Lam. 1. 12, can be applied to Him, “behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow”. In the shadow of the cross He told His disciples, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death”, Matt. 26. 38. What deep sorrow He must have felt as He uttered the orphan cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”, 27. 46. Like the psalmist He could say, “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, 0 Lord”, Psa. 130. 1.
He experienced the awful depths of suffering. In Gethsemane, such was the agony that He suffered, that He sweat as it were great drops of blood. With a cruel scourge, the smiters made long their furrows upon His back, Psa. 129. 3. He suffered the cruel thorns being pressed onto His head, the nails piercing His hands and feet. On the cross there was the intense pain of every bone being out of joint, and the thirst which caused His tongue to cleave to His jaws. Then the sufferings under divine judgment—and here the idea of the depths of suffering is particularly seen. In Psalm 69. 2 He says, “I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me”. The words of Jonah are also relevant in this connection if we apply them to our Saviour’s experience, “For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me … The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains”, Jon. 2. 3-6. Such were the depths to which He went that He might bring the water to us.
Secondly, if the well is deep, this suggests that there is an abundance of water therein. How blessedly true this is!, for the supply is infinite, and therefore inexhaustible. Think of the many who have drunk at this well, and of the many who shall yet drink at it: a “multitude which no man could number”, Rev. 7. 9. How right that woman of Samaria was—though she meant it in another way—when she said of Jacob that he “drank thereof himself”, John 4. 12. So also did his father and grandfather, and many of his illustrious posterity, such as Moses, David and Daniel. Indeed, time would fail to mention all those named and unnamed witnesses of Hebrews chapter eleven, and others beside. Then there are multitudes since that last great day of the feast who have heard and heeded the call, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink”, John 7. 37. Indeed these latter have known the depth of the well more than the former, having a fuller revelation of the riches of divine grace, having been blessed with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ, called to a more privileged position as members of Christ’s body, as His bride, as an habitation of God through the Spirit, having the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, and not just being upon them.
Furthermore, neither time nor eternity will ever see an end to this infinite supply. Men have been drinking of it now for six thousand years; yet it remains as full as ever: and after the church age has ended, after the tribulation period, and after the millennial reign of Christ, and when heaven and earth have passed away, and the new ushered in, countless myriads shall still “take the water of life freely”, Rev. 22. 17.
Thirdly, the well is deep because it is the experience of “the inner man”, Eph. 3. 16. The Lord said, “the water … shall be in him a well of water”, John 4. 14. Compare also His words in John 7. 38, “out of his belly (inwards) shall flow rivers of living water”. This is not surface experience: it is that which is known in the depths of one’s being, in the spiritual realm. Neither is it mere emotion, the product of an environment. It is not affected by circumstances: indeed, often the most adverse circumstances bring out even more the reality of it. In times of sorrow, it produces an inward joy, Acts 16. 25; in times of anxiety, an inward peace, Phil. 4. 6-7; in times of disappointment, an inward hope, John 11. 22; in times of danger, an inward courage, Acts 7. 54-56; in times of incredibility, an inward conviction, Rom. 4. 20; in times of bewilderment, an inward trust, Job 13. 15; and in times of affliction, an inward thankfulness, Psa. 119. 75.
The man of the world knows nothing of this; he cannot understand those that have this well within them, and cannot see how they can be happy without the pleasures of the world which to him are so necessary. Neither can he rob the believer of this precious possession. It is beyond the reach of the world. Indeed nothing at all, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature”, Rom. 8. 38-39, can deprive the child of God of this unspeakable gift. The well is deep.