The Woman at the Well

John 4

 4 He had to go through Samaria on the way. 5 Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. 7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” 8 He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.

It was probably just an ordinary day for this woman.  Each day she would come to this well to draw water.  She didn’t do it in her own town because of her shame.  She was an outcast.  I believe she must have had a constant heavy heart, probably on the verge of tears most of the time.  She probably felt very alone, and unwanted.

 9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans.She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”

I’m sure that just the fact that this man spoke to her was enough to shock her.  I imagine that she probably felt rather invisible, and the last thing she expected was for this Jewish man to speak to her, let alone ask her for a drink.  Maybe her response was a bit of a defense mechanism, more than actual confusion.  I suspect she had many walls put up to protect her already damaged heart.

 10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

Jesus got right to the point here.  He knew exactly where her heart was.  He knew that she felt worthless.  Having had five husbands, she was obviously looking for something to fill the gaping hole in her heart, and had not yet found it.  She was ever thirsty, and he had just what she needed.

 11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”

I think of this response as another try at protecting herself.  I suspect the sound of “living water” sprang up a small burst of hope inside of her that she quickly squashed with her usual cynicism and belief that nothing good could ever come her way.  It would be silly for her to think this man she just met could help her broken heart, so she fires back quickly with a “who do you think you are” statement.

 13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

Once again, Jesus does not beat around the bush, but cuts right through to the meat of the matter.  He could see that she was desperately trying to hide the pain in her soul, and she did not want him to see that he had sparked a little bit of hope in her.  So, he went ahead and answered the question she had not asked out loud – “Can you save me?”  His answer was – “Yes, I can fill that hole in your heart – permanently!”

 15 “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”

Perhaps her hope had not been in vain!  What he says sounds so good that she drops her wall and cries out “Please give this to me!!”  She allows the hope she was holding back to explode inside of her.  Perhaps if he can fill her hole, she won’t be ashamed anymore and won’t have to come here to avoid the mean looks anymore!

 16 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.

Jesus knew that despite her welling hope and desperate desire to believe, that one thing more must be dealt with first – so he popped her balloon, but only momentarily.

 17 “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.

I’m sure this statement must have quickly deflated that bubble of hope she just had, as Jesus reminded her of her source of shame.  Immediately, she felt foolish for trusting him and began regretting allowing herself to be so vulnerable again.  Certainly this man would not understand, much less accept her sordid past.  So, with saddened heart, all she could do was tell the current truth.

   Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband—18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”

Again, Jesus cuts right to the point.  But in doing this, He is not condemning her for her poor choices, but rather saying “Look, I already know all about you, but I want to save you anyway”

 19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. 20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim,  where our ancestors worshiped?”

Certainly this struck a chord with her, but she was not ready to be made a fool again so quickly, so she squashes the hope and asks another defensive/accusatory question of this would-be prophet.  “So, you can tell me about myself, you must be a prophet.  So answer this one…why do you Jews want to keep God all to yourself?”

 21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Jesus kindly explains that it doesn’t matter WHERE you worship God.  You, dear woman, can worship me where you stand.  It’s your heart I am after.

 25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Not yet understanding what this means, still trying not to expose herself again, but with hope once again growing until it is bursting the seems – she tries to end the conversation by casually shrugging off what he said with a “I can’t understand this, I guess I’ll just have to wait for the Messiah to explain it to me.”  I don’t think she, or anyone else of that day, REALLY thought the Messiah would come NOW.  It’s like believing that I will die some day.  I know it is true, but I don’t expect it to happen NOW.  I think she was being a bit facetious here.

 26 Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”

Knowing that she was trying to blow him off at this point, he drops all questions and gives her no escape.  She tried to dismiss the conversation and go back to her sorry life.  She just wanted him to leave her alone and stop leading her on, but he would not let up.  He knew her heart was perfectly positioned at this point to accept what he was about to say – so he squashed the doubt and fulfilled the hope with this one statement.

 27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?” 28 The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” 30 So the people came streaming from the village to see him.

The doubt was gone.  He had punched right through all of her walls and grabbed that hope and made it complete.  He had told her everything she ever did.  He had spoken to this wretched woman.  He had revealed who He was to HER!!  Her heart was no longer broken.  Her soul would never thirst again and she had to tell everyone about it.  No shame.  No hiding.  Her life was immediately transformed!!

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