The woman at the well

John 4

I am always intrigued when I read this story. It seems like such a random encounter, two people meeting at a well, just like if two people struck up a conversation at Starbuck’s. However, I doubt any of Jesus’ encounters were random. This setting was not just “a well”; it was Jacob’s well. These meetings were part of the plan of touching so many individuals in unique ways, with unique circumstances at unique points in time when people needed him most.

When you read this story, you could almost picture the drama involved. A man starts talking to a woman. My first reaction would have been to walk away either out of fear or just being uncomfortable. She did not leave. Jesus spoke to this Samaritan woman at the well, which, as a Jew, was against his customs.

It was said to have been a very hot day. He and the disciples had travelled part way from Jerusalem to Sychar on their way to Galilee. Jesus came to the well for a drink, and in the middle of the day, the Samaritan woman was there drawing water. Why was she there in the middle of the day? Well, we can ascertain that she didn’t’ want to talk to anyone. Given her storied past filled with five husbands, she knew people talked about her and she most likely was not a popular female in town.

When he asked for a drink, she must have been confused for he had not jar or anything to lower down into the well for the water. Was he asking to use her jar? Her unclean jar, thus making Jesus unclean? Confusion! He carried on by not really taking a drink but describing to her “living water”. He was sharing the word and giving her forgiveness so that she too could have eternal life. He shared with her that he knew the story of her husbands. Again, shock. The conversation continues and she speaks about her faith in the Messiah. Jesus answers with “I who speak to you am he.”  I would have been thinking, “Is this really happening? Is this real?”

Three outcomes occur: 1) the Samaritan woman is given forgiveness based on her faith and understands now the living water of eternal life. Jesus saved her through grace. 2) She goes to share the word with others, to be a disciple. 3) Jesus shows that he does not judge. He went against some long standing “rules” to make a difference in this woman’s life and to heal her of her storied past. How amazing and wonderful.

I walk away from this reading with the thought of what a conversation can do to transform someone. Could you and I make a difference in a stranger’s life or even their day? Could we influence an acquaintance who maybe we don’t know that well but if we took the time to chat, we might influence his or her day? I know I need to try harder as I shy away from these types of encounters.

As you read this message today, see if there is a way to make a difference. As you read Psalm 106, please pray:

Save us, O Lord our God,
and gather us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in your praise.

48 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting!
And let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the Lord!