On my drive up to Lake Geneva I was reflecting on the fact that Shechem, where Jacob's well is located, was also the spot where God established the covenant with Abram in Genesis 12. "I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing... and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
When Abram asked God how he could know that this blessing would happen in chapter 15, God tells him to get a heifer and split it in two. Jeremiah 34:18-19 explains the symbolism. Basically, if you break this covenant, this is what will happen to you, you will be torn in half like this heifer. God walked between the two halves of the heifer as a blazing torch symbolizing his commitment to the covenant.
So I was driving and thinking about the significance of the covenant especially in light of the fact that the woman at the well had experienced five broken marital covenants and must have been experiencing incredible pain. So much so that she had given up on covenants and had decided to live with a guy without marriage. She must have come to the well at noon to avoid having to see anyone because of her shame. There she meets Jesus who loves her enough to go out of his way to be there for her.
Just then Iona came on my car CD player with the song "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" by Isaac Watts.
See, from His head, His hands, His feetSuddenly in my mind popped the words of Jesus at the last supper when he took the bread, broke it in half, and said, "Take, eat, this is my body, broken for you."
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Wow! Out of love, Jesus was broken in half like the heifer to free us from the brokenness of our severed covenants!
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all.