I wonder, are you like me and enjoy an intriguing drama series on television? The tension builds when the writer slips in a seemingly irrelevant or easily missed detail which actually turns out to be key to the whole story!
Well, we find this near the beginning of today’s Scripture, as John tells us what may seem at face value to be a pretty insignificant detail, “But he had to pass through Samaria” (John 4:4).
This isn’t simply a piece of geographical information on Jesus’ travel because Jews traditionally would have taken a longer route to avoid the area altogether because they lived in enmity with the Samaritans! Rather, John is setting the scene for a remarkable encounter that came about because Jesus had a divine appointment in Samaria that would lead to a live-giving offer and astounding revelation!
Jesus stopped off at Jacob’s well in the Samaritan town of Sychar because “he was tired from the journey” (John 4:6). John points out Jesus’ humanity here: fully God yet fully human. We will see Jesus’ divinity in the conversation He has with the Samaritan woman.
Let’s note a few things about this dear woman whose name we are not told. She came to the well at noon. It was customary to draw water early in the morning or at dusk, not in the heat of the midday sun. This seems to show she was a social outcast, marginalized even within her own community.
Let’s not miss how radical it was that Jesus struck up a conversation with her.
Jesus reached out and cut across all racial, cultural, gender, and moral divides.
In asking for some water to drink, Jesus opened up an exchange centered around two things; her need and Jesus’ identity.
Don’t you love how Jesus spoke right into her situation, knowing that only He could quench the deepest spiritual thirst, and offered her life-giving water that would spring up into eternal life? He gently exposes her sin—there’s no condemnation, no name-calling, guilt or shame (for that, my friends, is the tactic of the enemy). Jesus was living out the very truth He declared in John 3:17:
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world would be saved through him.”
With compassion and conviction, revealing His omniscience, Jesus showed that He knew every detail of this woman’s life. Then He revealed to her that He is the Messiah! He is the very One she needed in the mess of all her relationships, mistakes, loneliness, and heartache! As her eyes were opened and she suddenly recognized who Jesus is, she left her water jar and ran off to tell others to come and see the Messiah!
It’s interesting to note at this point, the woman didn’t take a moment to stop and think, “Oh I can’t tell others about Jesus, they’ll never listen to me because of my past; I’m not even accepted among my own people, they won’t believe me.” No, she was not held back by shame or fear but instead, the sheer joy of this life-changing encounter and surprising revelation compelled her to share this amazing news!
John recorded that many Samaritans came to Jesus because of this woman’s testimony and they, too, believed, receiving the living water that leads to eternal life, recognizing that Jesus “really is the Savior of the world” (John 4:42).
Jesus came for all who would receive Him! Perhaps this remarkable event was in John’s mind when he later wrote, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14).
Let’s take a moment to reflect upon the leading lady in our drama today. Perhaps, initially, few of us could find many or any similarities between ourselves and her life and circumstances. But let’s look a bit deeper into our own hearts for a moment.
The Samaritan woman had a soul thirst and had been searching for satisfaction.
Do we ever find ourselves striving for satisfaction, contentment, acceptance in….
- Financial security?
- Material possessions?
- Outward appearance?
Of course, none of these things are bad in and of themselves. We know that our good Father gives us richly all things to enjoy; but when the temporary, earthly things become the people, places, and situations we yearn for as sources of our satisfaction, that’s when it becomes an issue. We end up spiritually dehydrated, longing for more.
We take heart when we read the lament of the Psalmist who, far from home, struggling with depression, feeling overwhelmed and oppressed, in Psalm 42 cried out, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”
Only Jesus can satisfy completely and eternally, despite our current circumstances. He gives us Himself and in no small measure. It is not a trickle of water Jesus offers, but a fountain, a spring, life overflowing with abundance. He wants us to live well.
Our Father has made us for Himself and His Kingdom and so, only in Him can we find acceptance, forgiveness, true blessing, fulfillment, and security for all eternity.
Surely then, our response has to be that of the Samaritan woman. We set down our ‘water jar’—our source of temporary satisfaction through which we seek to fulfill our own desires in anything other than Jesus Himself. And with fresh realization, gratitude, amazement, and joy at who Jesus is and all He has done for us, we reach out with overflowing hearts to a thirsty world—to those we love, live, and work among, compelling them to “come and see” the Savior of the world and find the eternal life that only He can give.
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