I am a woman from Samaria; my land is east of the Mediterranean and west of the Jordan River. To the north I know there is Galilee and the south I understand is Judea. I do not travel but I have heard from others who have been there. My home is near the city of Sycar which is hot, dusty and dry and centrally located in Samaria.
I am of mixed race; a Jewish sect which accepts the Torah as its scripture and am part of a despised race. The relationship between true Jewish people and Samaritans has been one of hostility for many generations. Being a Samaritan we follow Jewish law and being a woman I keep to my chores and do as I am told. I know we are bound by Jewish law and I do not question, however, my people are outcasts and hated especially by the Jews. Samaria is mostly avoided by travelers and few venture through Samaria. It is safer to detour around.
I have my own demons to deal with so I am especially careful in where I go and what I do. I am currently living with a man who is not my husband. I have had four husbands before him so feel somewhat vulnerable. However, I recently had an experience which gave me hope and a renewed sense of faith. I have learned from a great teacher about God and, as a woman was allowed to drink of the living water. Let me tell you the story.
It was a hot day like most and I needed to draw water, like I do every day. I gathered up my vessel and headed to the well; our ancestor Jacob’s well. It is a deep well and provides for us as it provided for Jacob’s sons and his flocks. We are thankful for this well. It was in the heat of the day, around noon. For most it is an odd time to draw water. No one draws water in the heat of the day, but I like to go at noon as I can be alone. For others, it is a time of siesta.
As I come to the well to draw my water, there is little activity. Few are around, for as I say it was about noon and the sun is hottest. I notice there was a man, all alone, quietly resting, obviously dusty and dry from traveling. Knowing I am not to speak, I keep to myself, my eyes lowered and I began the task of my drawing my water. Carefully without being noticed I look at the man and I can see plainly he is Jewish. I was very surprised to see him there. But I speak not and go about my business.
The man says to me, “Give me a drink.”
I am very surprised he is speaking to me and with some fear I reply, “How is it that you a Jew ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” I plainly and rightly know of our people’s past history. Since he is Jewish I know he should not be speaking to me. We share nothing in common and our history of hostility is known by everyone.
This man answered me saying, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘give me a drink’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” I am not permitted to ask any questions, let alone to ask anything of a Jew.
I looked around and saw he was carrying nothing. He had no means of getting water and no vessel to carry it in. I was puzzled. So I asked him, “you have no bucket and the well is deep, where and how do you get this living water?” Water is a blessing and truly necessary and there is no other place that I know of to get water. I am unsure of what he means by “living water”. So I carefully inquire further.
“Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well?” I asked him with caution as I remember my place but he has engaged me so I feel compelled to continue our conversation. The ease to which he puts me is comforting and grants allowances I would never have taken with any other man.
The man answered, “everyone who drinks of this well will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I give them will never be thirsty again. The water I give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”
He must know of a different well and water of another source. So I asked him to tell me where I can get this water so I will not be thirsty and never have to come back to the well to draw water again. It would be wonderful to never be thirsty and never have to carry heavy water again. I wait for his reply. He instructed me, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” Getting my husband would be one task but to be allowed to come back with him seemed odd. I wondered if I should be frightened. I had to reveal my living arrangements and I say to him, “I have no husband” and I step back and wait for his reply. I was shocked by his next words. He tells me, with certainty, he knows I have no husband and he also tells me that I have had four husbands before this. How could he know? Mixed feelings overcame me as I realized at that moment this man is a prophet.
I ask about worship. Our ancestors worship. We talked about the mountain where we worship and that the Jewish people are telling us to worship elsewhere. Who is right?
This man tells me, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” He goes on to tell me that the Father we will worship will be neither on the mountain or nor in Jerusalem. I have heard teachings from the Torah but nothing like this. I know from the Jewish law and teaching that the Messiah is coming. He who is to be called Christ, and I tell the man so. I feel good I have worshiped and understand some of the teachings and this man makes me want to know more. I tell him with the coming of the Christ, he will proclaim all things to us. And the man said, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” Could this be? Could this be the Messiah?
Before we could talk any further, I was then frightened as some men returned and joined him. They appeared shocked the man was talking to me. Although nothing was said I could see the surprise in their faces. They spoke not a word to me so before anything could come of it I quickly dropped my eyes and left. Leaving behind my precious water vessel but I was too overcome to care. I wanted to share my story with others. I wanted to bring them to hear and see the man. I wanted to share the good news he had shared with me and have them see him for themselves so they would believe me.
I told the villagers, "Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?" And they went out to see for themselves. I told everyone in the city and many came to hear him. When asked to stay, he remained for two days making believers out of many. Many told me they now believed because they had seen and heard his teaching for themselves. Many of my people were committed to him those two days. He brought us faith. Many told me it was not my word they needed any longer but still I was the messenger who brought them to him and it was me who the man spoke to at the well. No man had spoken with me the way this man did, it gives me hope and faith. It was a great day, a great day for a simple Samaritan woman.
John 4:5-42 When you encounter Jesus do you have a conversation? Do you challenge what it is he is offering you? Do you drink from the Living Water? Do you challenge him in order to understand him better? Have a conversation with Jesus today...
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