Arguably one of the more famous passages of scripture is the “woman at the well” story found in chapter 4 of the book of John. It’s a wonderful story of love and compassion how Jesus, being a Jew, shared a drink with a Samaritan woman (despised by Jewish people).
In the end, Jesus’ compassion for her led her to believe and countless others – as she went back to her village and told of this “prophet” who gave her “living water.”
If you don’t know the story – please take time and read it. This is a powerful passage.
I noticed something in reading this story over again today that I’ve not really paid much attention to before. Look at the following exerpt:
16 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. 17 “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. 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.” 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?”
Earlier in this story, Jesus first got her attention by asking her for a drink. He told her of the living water He could give her and she wanted it. Then, in these verses, He reveals His power to her. She gets it. She acknowledges it right away: “Sir, you must be a prophet.”
Then, look at the very first words out of her mouth when she realizes who He is: “So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist…”
Do you see the hurt? Her phrase “you Jews” speaks volumes. Obviously this woman knew first hand of the hypocricy of the “chosen of God” in how Jewish people refused to associate with, talk with or even look at “her kind.” At last she has the opportunity to have an audience with a Jewish person (a powerful, somehow different Jewish person) and she takes full advantage of it. The questions in her mind burst forth like water from a firehose.
I get the sense that she, too, wanted to be part of “the chosen.” But, for some reason, through no fault of her own, she was born in a different country. She was born of parents who were somehow inferior. Because of her heritage, she grew up thinking she would never know the creator of all she sees. How hopeless is that? It’s no surprise to me that her choices in life reflect hopelessness and dispair. It’s no wonder she ended up going from relationship to relationship and had been married 5 times.
How wonderfuly freeing are Jesus’ words back to her:
21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father here or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know so 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 and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah will come the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!”
The father is looking for anyone, Samaritan or Jew, American or Iraqi, black or white, old or young, male or female, Republican or Democrat, who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.
The Messiah has come and hopelessness has ended. We’re no longer bound by tradition or ritual, prejudice or law. Christ has come so that EVERYONE who believes can be saved.
This was good news to the Samaritan woman. Look at her response:
28 The woman left her water jar beside the well and went back to the village and told everyone, 29 “Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did! Can this be the Messiah?” 30 So the people came streaming from the village to see him.
And as a result, look what else happened:
39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!”
Jesus came for the broken and poor in spirit. This woman had much to gain for knowing the Messiah. She was excited to tell everyone – and the Samaritans were drawn in. Oh, for that kind of excitement in today’s church?
Send revival, Lord! Renew the joy of our salvation!