He seemed like a handsome fellow. His hair was just like that of her third husband, and there was something about the way he sat that reminded her of the man that currently occupied her bed. It was going to be an interesting time at the well.Water pot in place, she sashayed her hips in his direction, perhaps the seventh time would be a charm.
It did not take long to figure out it would not work that way.
She came closer and realised. He was a…Jew.
That self righteous lot that wanted nothing to do with her people! It was just as well, she did not need a new man anyway.
Admiration turned to defiance.
Pretending like he wasn’t there, she began to fetch some water.
‘I would like some water please.?’
She looked around. He could not have been talking to her, could he?
Perhaps a Jew could speak to a respectable Samaritan man, but a woman like her?
That was unheard of.
‘You’re a Jew right?’
He raised one eyebrow confirming the obvious.
‘You know I’m a Samaritan. Why are you even speaking to me? Everyone knows that your kind does not relate to mine.’
‘Don’t worry about all that. I’m more concerned about you recognizing the gift of God. You don’t really know me, or ‘my type’. If you did, I’m sure you would ask me to give you the living water.’
She had suspected she would have an interesting time at the well, but this was turning out to be something else altogether.
‘You came all the way to the well to draw water but you did not bring a bucket with you?’
He was silent for a second.
‘Perhaps I did not come to fetch water, but to give it.”
She could not decide whether that sounded like a great pick up line or if they were simply the words of a crazy person.
‘How can you give me this your so called ‘living water’ if you came with nothing to fetch it with? Even our ancestor, Jacob who gave us this well, came with something to draw water with when he drank from it, or when he gave his animals to drink from it. His sons also did the same. So what makes you think you can drink from the well magically by simply sitting here? Do you think you are greater than Jacob?’
She seemed amazed that he let her talk for so long without interruption.
He replied calmly.
‘You see this well? Anyone who drinks from it will get thirsty again. In fact, I’m sure you come here almost everyday to get water. But if you drink the water I’m offering, you won’t get thirsty anymore. I could give you the water that would be like a spring bubbling up into eternal life.”
She hoped they were both referring to the same thing. That same thirst that marriage after marriage, man after man, had not been able to quench.
The odds were against her. Samaritan. Woman. Multiple divorcee. No one offered eternal life to her kind.
Interest turned to awe.
‘I want this water please.’
Her voice, barely a whisper. She sounded as desperate as she felt.
‘Where is your husband?’
She had not been anticipating that question.
What did that have to do with this living water?
‘I don’t have one.’
She was usually defensive when she answered this question; bracing herself for the judgment she always knew would follow. But not this time. This time shame, vulnerability clouded her response. This man could see beyond the desperation in her actions to the longing in her heart.
‘You are right.’ He said. Like they were two old friends with a shared secret. ‘You’ve had five of them. The one you’re with now isn’t your husband.’
‘He must be a prophet’ She said to herself. Who would have thought that she of all people would have this kind of access to a Jewish prophet!
I need to ask you a question.
‘Where exactly is the right place to worship God. Growing up, my parents told me that God was on this mountain. But you Jews who brag about knowing God more than any one else say God is only in the temple. Which is it?’
“It doesn’t matter.”
‘What did you say?’
‘You heard me correctly, it doesn’t matter.’
What sought of a prophet was this?
‘God is not human. He can’t be restricted to a place that is made by hands.’
‘He wants people who are sincere about worshiping him in spirit. The time has come for God to dwell in those who desire him, whether they are on the mountain or in the temple, Samaritans or Jew or Gentile.’
‘The Almighty God to dwell in me?’ She could not quite believe it. What did she have to do to accomplish that?
From what this prophet was saying, there was nothing she could do except sincerely desire him. He would do the rest. It sounded very much like the job of the Messiah. She did not know so much about the story. But the Jews were their neighbours and despite their desire to look down on the Samaritans, they had a shared history. Prophecy had it that a messiah would come and save the people from their sins. Not just the Jews, but everyone who believed. This man made it seem like…like…
She would not get ahead of herself.
‘I have heard that the Messiah will come someday. Maybe then, he would explain everything to us.”
She was beautiful. Always had been, so she had received several smiles in a her life.
But none like this. It was a knowing one that seared her soul and warmed her heart at the same time.
‘I am he.’
Three simple words. Yet they lifted the greatest burden from her heart.
Looking into his eyes, she dropped her water pot. She had forgotten that she was holding it all this while.
Laughter bubbled up from within her.
What was it he said about springs of living water? By simply believing him, she experienced it!
She would never have qualified to draw near to God, so He came down to her. He knew her past, her present…But took time out to sit at the well she went to everyday. Waiting just for her…
‘I must tell everyone…’
And she did just that. The whole town heard about him from her.
You have to give it to Jesus. He knows how to communicate. Although I started with the woman when retelling the story, Jesus is the star of this show. He knew the thoughts of this woman’s heart long before she opened her mouth to speak. Yet he considered her top priority…in spite of his thirst and her unwillingness to quench it, her sin and his holiness, his social standing and her lack thereof, he chose her.
Just like he chose you; to lavish his grace on you. He doesn’t need your past to determine your future; he’s already erased your past by dying on the cross for you. It doesn’t matter how many failed relationships or marriages you’ve had, God is interested in building a relationship with you.
It doesn’t matter your reputation; he wants to use you to bring others to him. So come, drink and bring others to the well!