We can only imagine as we read some of the stories in the Bible how it would have been to actually have seen some of these events with our own eyes. Take for example in the book of John the Samaritan woman at the well. As Jesus and His disciples were traveling from Jerusalem in the south of Galilee to the north, Jesus as would anyone took the quickest route, through Samaria. Tired and thirsty, Jesus decided to set by Jacob’s Well, while his disciples went to the village of Sychar, about a half mile away, to buy food. It was about noon, the hottest part of the day, and a Samaritan woman came to the well at this inconvenient time, to draw water. As you can imagine Jesus was probably covered in sweat, dirty, and probably didn’t look His best, however Jesus spoke to the woman as she came to get water.
In His encounter with the woman at the well, Jesus broke three Jewish customs: first, he spoke to a woman; that was simply not done during that time. Second, she was a Samaritan woman, a group the Jews traditionally despised; and third, he asked her to get him a drink of water, which would have made him ceremonially unclean from using her cup or jar. This shocked the woman at the well. Can you imagine, this woman, knowing He was a Jew first of all speaking to her but then asking for a drink of water. What shock she must have been in, if it were in our day she would have probably been looking for the hidden camera and for someone to say “gotcha.” Then Jesus told the woman he could give her “living water” so that she would never thirst again. This probably confused the lady and at that point probably thought Jesus was nuts. However, Jesus used the words living water to refer to eternal life, the gift that would satisfy her soul’s desire only available through him. At first, the Samaritan woman did not fully understand Jesus’ meaning.
Although they had never met before, Jesus revealed that he knew she had had five husbands and was now living with a man who was not her husband. As you can imagine, Jesus now had her attention! How would you feel if someone came up to you, who shouldn’t be talking to you, dirty as all get out, and knew things about you that no one should know? That would be scary by itself wouldn’t it? Yet the two began to talk about their views on worship, the woman voiced her faith that the Messiah was coming. Jesus answered, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4:26,) As the woman began to grasp the reality of her encounter with Jesus, the disciples returned. They were equally shocked to find him speaking to a woman, this is something in their eyes should have never happened, it was forbidden. The woman leaving her water behind return to the town and began inviting everyone to “Come, see the man who told me all that I ever did.” (John 4:29,) Again can you imagine what the people of the village where thinking, really, this man told you things about yourself that you didn’t tell him? We have got to see this for ourselves. However, you have to know that some where thinking, sure this Jew spoke with you at the well, NOT! And sure He is the Messiah and knows all. They must have thought she had flipped her lid.
While the Samaritan woman was running around telling everyone what Jesus had done, He was telling his disciples the harvest of souls was ready, sown by the prophets, writers of the Old Testament, and John the Baptist. The Samaritans out of curiosity came from Sychar and begged Jesus to stay with them. So Jesus stayed two days, teaching the Samaritan people about the Kingdom of God. When he left, the people told the woman, “… we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42,)
Now can you really imagine this event? What it must have been like for the woman at the well? This man, dirty and probably stinky, talking with her, which He shouldn’t have been, then knowing everything about her. We know but don’t you think there had to be something special about Him? I can imagine some kind of feeling or glow about Him that this would after only speaking to Him for a few minutes, instantly knew who He was. This must have been overwhelming for her, I know I would have been, to actually meet and speak with the Messiah, Savior of the world!
Points of Interest from the Story of the Woman at the Well:
• The Samaritans were a mixed race people, who had intermarried with the Assyrians centuries before. They were hated by the Jews because of this cultural mixing, and because they had their own version of the Bible and their own temple on Mount Gerizim.
• The woman at the well came to draw water at the hottest part of the day, instead of the usual morning or evening times, because she was shunned and rejected by the other women of the area for her immorality. Jesus knew her history but still accepted her and ministered to her.
• By reaching out to the Samaritans, Jesus showed that his mission was to the entire earth, not just the Jews. In the book of Acts, after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, his apostles carried on his work in Samaria and to the Gentile world.
• Ironically, while the High Priest and Sanhedrin rejected Jesus as the Messiah, the outcast Samaritans recognized him and accepted him for who he truly was: the Savior of the world.
Question for Reflection:
Our human tendency is to judge others because of stereotypes, customs or prejudices. Jesus treats people as individuals, accepting them with love and compassion. Do you dismiss certain people as lost causes, or do you see them as valuable in their own right, worthy of knowing about the gospel?