When Jacob came to the land of the eastern peoples in Genesis 29:1-3, he saw a well with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. There was also a stone over the mouth of the well, and the stone was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.
It is interesting to note that there were three flocks of sheep, especially if you recall what Jesus said in John 10:16, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” So who are the three flocks of sheep? In my view, one of the flocks is referring to the great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) prior to the crucification of Jesus. These are people who were commended for their faith (Hebrews 11:39-40), but did not received what had been promised back then. If they are living today, we could probably addressed them as followers of the Way. The other two flocks would be the messianic Jews and messianic Gentiles, post-crucification. Together, they are actually one flock with one Shepherd, but separated by time and ethnicity.
Another interesting description to note is the watering of sheep from the well. This parallels John 4:5-13, where Jesus asked a Samaritan woman for a drink, offered her and offers us the spring of water welling up to eternal life. And if you haven’t noticed, it is by Jacob’s well that John 4 unfolds.
So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Jacob, a type of Messiah, when he saw Rachel and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep (Genesis 29:9-10). This is a striking foreshadow to the rolling away of stone to the tomb of Jesus. The only difference: Jacob rolled the stone away and had to put it back, but the stone to the tomb of Jesus was rolled away forever. Jesus doesn’t need to put it back into place, and the living water will continue welling up for eternity, for all who will believe (three flocks).
Matthew 28:1-2 - After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
Mark 16:2-4 - Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.
Luke 24:1-3 - On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
John 20:1 - Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.
So even as you are busy making preparations for your parties and celebrations this Christmas season, have you received the spring of water welling up to eternal life? We all need water to survive and at some point in time, our thirst will be greater felt for different things at different stages of our lives. But while we may be thirsty for various things in life such as career, acceptance, romance etc, and indeed they may satisfy us for some time being, none of these things that we chase after will be able to satisfy us forever. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can truly satisfy you and offer you water that you will never thirst. He rolled the stone away forever, so that you could partake the living water. As you come to Jacob’s well today, do you desire this living water?