She looked out on the street and could feel the heat of the early afternoon sun as it poured through the window. It was time to go get water. The other women were back from the well. She felt comfortable making the trip, in spite of the heat.
She didn’t mind the other women, really. She didn’t dislike any of them. It was just the comments since the last divorce. Most of the comments were meant well…
“Oh, its a shame things went so badly for you, dear.”
“You know, if you had just made better choices…”
Then there were those that cut a little deeper…
“How many more men before you settle down.”
“What man would want a woman like that?”
Enough was enough. It was better to endure the heat of the day, rather than put up with all the comments, whether direct or indirect. Sometimes, there were looks, too. She felt bad enough over her situation without the comments, even if some were meant with good intentions.
Off she went, jars ready to be filled. It was about a mile, or so, up to the well her family had drawn from for generations. As she walked, her mind wandered from one thought to another, as happens with any of us as we walk alone. She pondered her life, she thought of the good friends she had, she wondered if God really cared for her and even wondered if those old jars would last just one more trip.
When she got to the well, she set down her jars, removed the cover and lowered the pail to dip for her first load of water. As she raised the pail, she noticed someone walking in her direction. At first, she didn’t think much of it…probably just another man coming to demand water. But, as the man drew closer, she noticed something different.
He dressed differently. “Oh, no! He’s a rabbi! A Jew! I have to hurry up and get out of here. They hate Samaritans.”, she anxiously thought.
She began to hastily lower the pail to get the next scoop of water. “He’s getting closer. I’d better hurry.” But, no sooner could she formulate that thought, he was even closer. He was close enough to talk to her…
“May I have some water, too?”, he asked.
He asked? She thought. Usually, if a Jew lowers himself enough to say anything to a Samaritan, much less a woman, he snaps an order as if he were talking to a dog. The fact that this rabbi is even in Samaria is unusual in itself.
With a suspicious tone while folding her arms in a guarded fashion, she answered him. “You are a Jew. I am Samaritan. We have nothing to do with each other. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
He smiled, a warm, friendly smile. It was the kind of smile a father would have looking at his beloved children. She had no idea what to think of this guy.
He answered her, “You don’t know what God wants to give you, and you don’t know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would ask me for the water that gives life.”
She looked at him with suspicious, squinting eyes. But, she had a reply. “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. Where are you going to get this life-giving water? Our ancestor Jacob dug this well for us, and his family and animals got water from it. Are you greater than Jacob?”
She had no idea if this man was for real or just another mean-spirited Jewish leader about to give her a hard time. Was he setting her up for a big put down? He had more to say.
“Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again. But no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give is like a flowing fountain that gives eternal life.”
Eternal life? This intrigued her. She used her sleeve to wipe some sweat from her face as she pondered her next statement. She brightened up a bit and told Him, ““Sir, please give me a drink of that water! Then I won’t get thirsty and have to come to this well again.”
The man smiled a warm, understanding smile. He looked at her and gently asked her to go get her husband.
This was a topic that did not sit well with her. She hated explaining her situation. She especially hated the derisive remarks and judgmental statements. So, rather than admit anything, she simply said, “I don’t have a husband.”
She figured she dodged that one. No giving excuses. No explaining the previous marriages. But, this man was special…he seemed to know things. He told her something a stranger would not know.
“You’re telling the truth. You don’t have a husband. You have already been married five times, and the man you are now living with isn’t your husband.”
Her mind went racing. How did he know that? Did someone tell him about me? But, he seems to know. Let’s see if he is the real deal.
She stood straight up and spoke confidently. “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. My ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say Jerusalem is the only place to worship.”
She figured he would just give another pat answer about Jerusalem, as she would expect a rabbi to give. His answer was not what she expected.
“A time is coming, and it is already here! Even now the true worshipers are being led by the Spirit to worship the Father according to the truth. These are the ones the Father is seeking to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship God must be led by the Spirit to worship him according to the truth.”
She was impressed, to say the least. But, a little discouraged at the same time. Like so many, she desired to see a savior. She wanted to know the Messiah, because she knew the Messiah would have all the answers. Then, she told the man, “When Messiah comes, He will let us know all things.”
He looked her directly in the eye and told her something that turned her life upside down.
“I am that one, and I am speaking to you now.”
At first, she couldn’t formulate any words. She just stared at him for a few moments. Then, her eyes got wide and she began to get excited.
“Wait…what? You? Really? Well, yes! Yes, I think it is you! Who else would know know what you know? It’s you! It’s really you! I gotta tell somebody! I gotta tell everybody! You’re Him! He’s you! Stay here…I’ll be back. Don’t move! They have to meet you. They all have to meet you! Let me grab my water jars…oh, heck…they’ll wait. I will be right back!”
Off she ran, back to the village to gather as many people as she could. She told everyone she could, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! Could he be the Messiah?”
Yes, dear woman. He is. As a matter of fact, you don’t know this, but He told His disciples that He had to go to Samaria. Apparently, He had an appointment…with you. He had an appointment with your people, too. You just saw love in a Person.
Love in a Person.
As His followers, we should show that same love. The story of the Woman at the Well is one of the prime examples of how to treat a stranger, a sinner and a woman. Jesus did not go to her with any more agenda than to introduce Himself to her and her people.