It began with a request for a drink of water. Jesus was resting by Jacob’s well in the Samaritan village of Sychar, tired from the journey he was taking from Judea to Galilee. His disciples had left him to go in search of food and Jesus was alone in the noonday heat – alone until an unnamed woman from Samaria approached the well.
You may be familiar with the details of the story found in John 4 – the Samaritans were descendants of the northern kingdom of Israel, and the Jews were descendants of the southern kingdom of Judah. In Biblical times the Samaritan people were hated by the Jews and thought of as impure because the Assyrians and Jews had intermarried. By Jesus’ time the hatred ran so deeply that most Jews would rather not travel through Samaria at all, preferring to travel around Samaria instead. But on that day John writes that Jesus had to go through Samaria.
And so Jesus sits down by a well and asks a woman for a drink of water. But to ask this woman for a drink of water was no casual request.
Culture and religion would dictate that Jesus stay far away from this woman – she had been married five times already and the man with whom she now lived was not her husband. Most women drew water in the cool of the morning and evening, but this woman came to the well under the noonday sun.
While the other women enjoyed sisterhood, this woman endured solitude.
But on this day, she is not alone; she comes to the well and meets Jesus. He tells her of her own misdeeds, but doesn’t stop at recounting her life, he offers a way out. Jesus tells her about living water, eternal and life giving, able to quench her thirst completely and wash away the vilest stain. And when he is finished, Jesus reveals to her that He is the Messiah, the promised One of Israel.
Scholars have their theories as to why Jesus chose this time, this place and this woman to announce His deity, but only the work of the Holy Spirit can explain what happens next. The woman drops her water jug, runs to town, and calls the people, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" (v. 29).
Humanly speaking, I have a feeling that the townspeople also could recite all that she ever did, for I'm sure she wore her past like a scarlet letter. But even though she had been a pariah and an outcast, the people listened to her and they came.
She who had been a mess was instantly transformed into a messenger.
John 4:39– 42 goes on to says, “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony…and many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.’”
The Samaritans first believed in Jesus because they witnessed the woman's transformation, but then believed because they experienced it for themselves.
I don’t know about you, but most days I feel more like a mess than a messenger. I may not have had five husbands or been shunned by my community, but I have experienced the consequences of my sin many times over. Yet when I stay in God’s Word and listen to His voice, I know I am being transformed into the likeness of His Son. And maybe, just maybe, those in my life will witness my transformation and be drawn in to experience God’s power for themselves.
Administration at Calvary Burlington