A looooong post today, brace yourselves!
John 4 isn’t an unfamiliar chapter at all, is it? It gives us one of our Sunday School story staples – the story of the Samaritan woman and Jesus by the well. This passage is so familiar that I prayed as I read it over and over that God would open my eyes to see something different about it this time around. And, of course, the Holy Spirit never disappoints.
Let’s look at what exactly happens in this passage, shall we? Time for my paraphrased version…
Jesus was aware that the Pharisees had caught wind of His baptism gig by the spring called ‘Aenon’ and He decided to leave Judea and return to Galilee with His disciples. The route He chose to take was through Samaria — a route that most Jews would painstakingly avoid because of their long-standing animosity for the Samaritans. Jesus was, of course, here to break norm and challenge the status quo. So, that’s exactly what He did. I can imagine the look of bewilderment on His disciples’ faces when He announced that He wasn’t going around Samaria but through it. The Google Maps route He picked wasn’t the fastest one, it was the oddest one. This was new for them. They were conditioned to avoid Samaria and here was a revolutionary Jewish leader who was taking them through it.
While passing through Samaria, they reached a town called Sychar that housed Jacob’s well. Jesus, weary from His journey, parked Himself by the well to rest while His disciples took off to go get food.
Being Human isn’t just a brand by Salman Khan. It is something that Jesus was getting used to at His new abode, Earth. Weariness, fatigue and hunger were human experiences that the Almighty, All-Powerful and Omnipotent One was getting to experience personally.
Whilst He was resting by the well, a Samaritan woman came there to draw water. Jesus requested her to give Him a drink of water. This alarmed the woman who wasn’t used to Jews interacting with her or any of her town folk. Her reaction was, “Erm, what?! How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for water?”
What ensues is a conversation that is riddled with revelation about who Jesus is. His exact words to her are: “If you knew the gift of God and who is asking you for a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
She is stumped at this statement, just like Nicodemus was when Jesus talked about being ‘born again’. I can understand her confusion. This Man just asked her for a drink and now claims to have water that she doesn’t have access to? What on earth was going on?
She expresses her confusion to Jesus and He responds to her with this infamous line: “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.”
That sounded like an offer she couldn’t refuse. “Water that will ensure I’m never thirsty again? Sign me up, Jesus!”
Jesus then asks her to call her “husband and come back” to which she admits she doesn’t have a husband. He confirms that this in fact is true and recounts her entire colorful past to her. She had had five husbands thus far and the one she was with now she wasn’t married to. After five unhappy marriages, she had decided to go slow with this current love interest. Jesus knew about her past and it didn’t bother Him. He wanted her to know that He knew.
Sam (let’s call this Samaritan woman that for now) is astonished that this Man by the well could tell her something about her life that was personal, and that she wasn’t proud of. This weary Man by the well was aware of her weariness, too. He was physically weary from His journey that day but she was emotionally and mentally weary from her life’s journey. Her weariness wasn’t something that could go away with a drink of water. It was something that was deeper that only a love like Christ’s could quench. Hardly did she know that she was now in the Presence of a Man who would change her life forever. Her thirst for attention, love and longing would be satisfied. Her deep desire for something more (that none of the men she had been with could offer her) was now going to be fulfilled.
I’m not going to go into the rest of the story. Jesus basically tells Sam quite explicitly that He is the Messiah everyone’s been waiting for. He also reveals to her a deep truth about His deity — that God is a Spirit and all who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
We learn a little further down in the chapter that Sam went on to become the first Samaritan evangelist, who shared her testimony of her encounter at the well to many in her town and many were saved through the word of her testimony. A lot of people came to believe in Christ through her.
Such an encouraging story, no?
Here are some things that stood out to me afresh from this passage:
1. Jesus chose to take a path less traveled or rather highly avoided by the Jews. This tells me He wasn’t afraid of being exposed to people He was conditioned to avoid.
Note to Self: Who are some people I’ve been conditioned as a Christian to avoid or look past? What can I do to intentionally reach out to them? There’s two ways to journey through life — one road is easy, familiar and comfortable; the other looks weary, exhausting and unconventional. How often do I choose the latter?
2. Jesus was weary from His travel and needed to stay hydrated. The Creator of water was experiencing human thirst and something about that is extremely humbling and yet breathtaking to me.
Note to Self: Do I realize the magnitude of what Christ did when He came down to live a human existence for me? Do I understand how mind-blowing that is in itself? That the One who said in Genesis “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water” was now saying “Give me a drink” or “I thirst”? It’s something I can’t unsee.
3. Jesus chose to reveal Himself to Sam. He declares to her that He is the Messiah, just like He declared not too long ago to Nicodemus that He was God’s son sent to earth.
Note to Self: Jesus actively sought to reveal Himself to the likes of people I wouldn’t mind avoiding — a hoity toity high priest, a woman of questionable repute, etc. Why then do I circumvent reaching out to people who I assume might not want to hear about Christ? Somehow my evangelism has been tainted by my small-mindedness and I’ve chosen, more often than not, to ignore those that Christ would never look past! I go for the easy catch, those in obvious need and have somehow labeled certain people as ‘lost causes’’. Not so with my God though. He actively seeks the lost cause — that one stray sheep, that one unstable atom, that odd one out!
4. The disciples missed this Messiah moment with Sam because they had gone grocery shopping.
Note to Self: Am I getting so caught up in my day-to-day busyness that I miss out on God moments that are important? Am I pausing and resting by the well enough? Am I just resting enough to notice others in need, or am I so self-involved that I’m busy buying my bread?
5. Sam’s lifetime quest for ‘something more’ only ended when she met Jesus that day by the well.
Note to Self: Nothing you desire or want in this life is going to satisfy you the way Jesus will. That deep longing in your heart can’t be satisfied by your gorgeous husband, Becky. It can’t be fulfilled by any number of beautiful children you will have. It can’t be satiated with the work that you do and the ministry that you build. It can ONLY be satisfied by Christ. There’s a God-shaped hole in you and nothing else will fit in it.
6. Lastly, we might still identify Sam as the Samartian woman by the well who had five husbands. But her past isn’t her eternal legacy anymore. She went on to bring many to Christ. Her ‘post-well’ life ought to be referred to and remembered more by us when we talk about her. Don’t you think?
Note to Self: Becky, please stop identifying people by their past. Look past their past and look at their encounter with Jesus and the legacy they are capable of bringing forth. Look at people beyond the gossip you hear about them. Look at their deep desires and their need for Christ. Look at them like Christ would.
I feel deeply encouraged and challenged today. I feel the Word is alive and, if we choose to, it can speak to us anew each time we read it.
What do you see when you read this story about the Weary Christ, a Well and a Woman?
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