The woman at the well is a very popular story told all over church congregations and in Christian circles world wide. We have all heard it preached or touched on.
Jesus is at the well in Samaria resting while the disciples head into town to find food. Now, it’s the middle of the day in the desert, the sixth hour, that means it’s HOT! I’m not talking it’s a little hot… It’s the desert. I personally have never been to the desert, but I can imagine that it’s not very pleasant. It’s the kind of hot and dry that keeps us indoors in the summer. The kind of HOT that melts ice cream in a moment and leaves you sticky and unsatisfied.
So, it’s the sixth hour and Jesus is hanging out at this well. The women of the town have collected their water in the early morning when it’s not yet this hot. Smart women! Who wants to go carry heavy water in the desert when it gets warmer during the day? Not this girl! So along comes a woman, in the middle of the day, to collect her water.
Why is she coming in the heat of the day to get her water?
Because all of the other women have left at this point and won’t be there. She has no desire to be around them. To be around the women that would judge her; that would talk about her behind her back (or in front of her, for that matter). Have you ever walked into a room or conversation and all of the chatter comes to sudden halt? And you just feel icky, and know that the conversation might have been about you? That’s how I imagine this woman feeling when she goes to the well in the morning with all the other women. She feels alone, judged, misunderstood, and out of place.
Can you relate? I can.
You see, this woman has now had 5 husbands and the man she’s living with now is not her husband. In that time this was NOT OK. You didn’t live with men unless they were your husband or a family member. You also didn’t typically get married more than once. Also, women were not really spoken to by men. So imagine her surprise when Jesus starts speaking to her and asking her for a drink.
I could imagine her turning and looking around to make sure he was really talking to her, and not someone else. Like when you think someone is waving at you, and you wave back, and then realize they are waving at someone behind you, and it gets real weird for all parties involved…!
And then Jesus does the unthinkable by asking her for a drink of water. He asks a Samaritan (who the Jews did not speak to) woman (who the men did not speak to) for a drink. The crazy thing is that He knows all of her sins. He knows exactly who she is. He is God, He is all knowing! She doesn’t understand, and asks Him why he has nothing to draw water with himself? Jesus goes on to to say to her “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.”
The woman stands there dumbfounded! Not only does Jesus have nothing to draw water from the well with, but what “living water” is he talking about? She asks him if he is greater than Jacob, the man who built the well. Until this point, Jacob has been the one to look to. Jesus explains to her that “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
“SIR, GIVE ME THIS WATER, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE THIRSTY OR HAVE TO COME HERE TO DRAW WATER.”
This request is simple. She still has no idea that she is talking to Christ, but the idea of never being humanly thirsty again and never having to come to this well in the middle of the day again sounds so sweet to her that she asks for it right then and there. It’s then that Jesus tells her that he knows all her sins. About her many husbands and the man she lives with now. She thinks he may be a prophet. She knows that the Messiah is coming. She tells him this. She has a full understanding of what she has heard up until this point. That Christ will come and “He will tell us all things.” That’s what she says to Jesus.
John 4:25- The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.”
I can’t imagine what she must be trying to process in this moment. This guy knows everything about me and he says he has living water, that I will never be thirsty again??? Who is this man?
He then says (probably very cool-ly) “I who speak to you am he.”
This sweet woman then drops her water jar! Can you see it falling to her dirty and dry feet as she realizes who she is speaking to? The water splashing all over the ground and her taking off towards town? The NLT version of the bible says that she “ran back to the village, telling everyone.”
She RAN, in the heat of the day because she was welling over with living water. She RAN back to the town where she has been mocked, left alone, pushed away, disgraced, and unaccepted, to tell these people about Jesus! The very people who she made a point to steer clear of by gathering her water in the heat of the day. She couldn’t contain herself. And they all listened. They all went and believed.
This woman was a sinner and Jesus chose her to RUN and tell everyone about him. He could have picked anyone from that town. He could have gotten there in the early morning and sat with all the other women who would have been there filling their water jars. But he waited for that sinner. That lost woman, needing a friend, a savior, and living water, so that she would never be thirsty again.
I love that Jesus uses the stories of the sinners to speak to this world. He wants your mess because he is BIGGER than it. He covers it and the moment you grasp that you will have no choice but to well over with that living water and splash it on everyone else. Oh my gosh, LORD give me that water! I don’t want to contain it! I want to drop my jar of problems at my feet, at your feet, in the heat of the day and RUN to the people who despise me, to tell them about you! I want to cast aside all my fear of judgment because you are the ultimate judge. Lord let my life well over with your living water.