“You are not greater than our father Jacob, are you?” asked the Samaritan woman at the well to the stranger who offered her living water.
By His death and resurrection, Jesus answers that question: He is the true Israel, greater than Jacob.
“Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the sons of the east. He looked, and saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep were lying there beside it, for from that well they watered the flocks. Now the stone on the mouth of the well was large. . . .” (Genesis 29:1-12).
Jacob has tricked his brother Esau out of his birthright and out of his blessing. Esau wants to kill Jacob, so Jacob flees to the east, to the home of his mother’s brother, Laban (cf. Genesis 24:29; 28:2). When he arrives, he finds a well in the field, meets Rachel, and waters her flocks.
Oases grow up around wells, and when we add animals, a man, and a woman, we have an Eden. The Patriarchs are new Adams, travelling an arid land bringing water from the rocky soil.
When he arrives in Paddan-Aram, Jacob opens a well closed up with a “large stone”. With the water from the well, he waters the flock of Laban, and greets Rachel with a kiss.
At the well, the first Israel opens water for flocks and greets a future bride. He opens the well among the “sons of the east”, those who are distant from the presence of God.
Jesus promises living water to the Samaritan woman at the well, a type of the new bride of the Last Adam (John 4:9-15), and later John informs us that the water Jesus offers is the Spirit Himself (John 7:37-39).
When Jesus dies, a soldier pierces His side, and as water and blood flow from Him, He becomes the Rock of the wilderness and the temple of Ezekiel. He promises that everyone who believes in Him will have flow with “rivers of living water” (John 7:38), but Jesus is the first. He becomes the well from which flow waters of cleansing, waters that transform the waste of the world into a garden.
It is supremely in His resurrection that Jesus is the greater Jacob. At His resurrection, the “large stone” is rolled away. Jesus comes out to greet the new bride, Mary, in a garden (John 20:11-18) and to breathe the Spirit, pouring living water on His disciples (John 20:22-23), the sheep and the shepherds of His new flock.