Broken Cisterns

Dr. Phil Fernandes
Pastor of Trinity Bible Fellowship
President of the Institute of Biblical Defense

2,000 years ago, in a middle-eastern city named Sychar, a Samaritan woman walked towards a well to draw water. It was noon—the hottest hour of the day. She went alone, for she was an outcast among her people. Her immoral lifestyle was the subject of gossip in her town. To avoid the stares and the insults, she did not draw water with the other ladies of the city during the cooler part of the day.

When the Samaritan woman approached the well, she noticed a young Jewish man sitting nearby. Though most Jews of that day refused to associate with Samaritans, this young Jewish man not only spoke with her, but He offered her living water, the spiritual cleansing water of eternal life.

This Jewish man was and is the Son of God and the Savior of the World. He loved the Samaritan woman enough to save her in the midst of her sinfulness, but He also loved her too much to leave her in her sin. He would transform her life after saving her. The Samaritan woman accepted the living water. She left her waterpot, returned to the city, and led many of her neighbors to Jesus.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote that many people reject the Savior, the fountain of living water, and turn to broken cisterns which can hold no water (Jeremiah 2:13). A cistern is a man-made container, chipped out of rocky ground, designed for collecting rain water for drinking. If the cistern was not broken, its water would be polluted by dirt and insects. But, if the cistern had cracks, its water would seep into the ground and be lost.

Too often we, like the Samaritan woman, turn to broken cisterns to try to meet our deepest needs and find meaning in life. Her broken cistern was sexual immorality. For us, our broken cisterns might include alcohol, drugs, a career, a family, violence, sports, false religion, or any number of things. The lesson we must learn is this: broken cisterns will never quench our deepest thirst.

Blaise Pascal, a seventeenth-century Christian thinker, referred to broken cisterns as diversions. He argued that all of us know that we will someday die and that we cannot conquer death on our own. However, according to Pascal, instead of seeking a Savior, most people choose to divert their attention by focusing on the things of this world, things that can only give temporary gratification. However, more than temporary gratification is needed. We need an eternal solution. We need a Savior. We need living water.

All of us have a thirst for God that only Jesus can satisfy (John 4:14). Like the Samaritan woman, we should leave behind our broken cisterns and turn to Jesus. He alone is the fountain of living water, and those who believe in Him shall never thirst (John 6:35).