(Jesus) he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
The first thing I notice is when John says that Jesus “had” to go through Samaria. Normally Jewish people would do everything they could to avoid Samaritans. They would travel around Samaria to get to Galilee, not through it. But Jesus HAD to be there.
Why? Because He knew she’d be there. It must have been a habit she’d formed over time. He knew why she came at noon, although it didn’t make sense to anyone else. It was the hottest part of the day. The other women came in the morning or late afternoon as the sun set. And they didn’t come alone. They traveled together in community – with their girlfriends.
But not Sam (let’s call her that while we get to know her). Sam walked alone.
The other women came to the well in the cool of the day to avoid the scorching heat of the sun; to make easier to carry the weight of the water in the jars. I wonder if Sam used to walk with the women from her small town. I imagine them walking together, filling their jars with water for cooking, cleaning, drinking and bathing.
I picture them talking about their day, talking about their husbands and kids. But at some point they started talking about her. Whispers and condescending glances must have come soon after her first divorce. I wonder if whispers turned to outright “mean girl”comments after her second divorce. At what point did she make excuses to stay back while the other women went ahead?
Instead of avoiding the scorching heat of the sun, Sam went to the well during the hottest part of the day to avoid the scorching pain of their rejection and judgment. The weight of the jar in that heat must have been unbearable but the weight of their words was more than she could take.
Imagine her thoughts that day when she looked up and saw a man sitting at the well. A Jewish man. What would he want? Why was He looking at her? Would he condemn her, too. Telling her she was worthless because she was Samaritan.
When she looked into His eyes she saw acceptance not judgment. Love not hate. When He spoke there was gentleness in his voice, even kindness and humility in His request for a drink of water. She felt valuable in His presence, as though she had something to offer. And it wasn’t what all the other men in her life had wanted. No, there was something different about Him. Yet she didn’t understand why He (a Jew) was talking to her (a Samaritan).
He told her that if she only knew Who she was talking to, she wouldn’t even bother with the water in the well. She’d ask Him for the water He had to give and He’d give her life-giving water; so much so that she’d be completely satisfied and would never thirst again.
© 2008, Renee Swope. All rights reserved.