Of all of the wonderful stories in the Bible, my very favorite is the one of the woman at the well. Her story resonates with me on so many levels that I hope to one day get to talk with her when I join her in heaven. Until that day, however, I love to read and re-read her story, which is told in John 4:1-42.
The story opens with Jesus and His disciples travelling through Samaria to get from Judea to Galilee. Going through Samaria would have been almost unthinkable in and of itself as Jews considered Samaritans to be half-breeds. Contact with Samaritans was to be avoided at all costs. What makes the story even more scandalous is that Jesus, whom the disciples leave alone near Jacob’s well in the village of Sychar, has a one-on-one interaction there with a Samaritan woman.
In the desert environment in which they lived, the Samaritan women would have gone to the well to draw water early in the day before the heat was overwhelming. They would have gone in groups and it would have been a very social time for them. This woman, however, comes to the well alone in the heat of the day. It is clear that she is an outcast from the other Samaritan villagers, living as an exile among her people.
Jesus greets her by asking for a drink of water from the well. In verse 9b, she responds by stating the obvious differences between herself and Jesus. Undeterred, Jesus proceeds to offer her living water. By verse 12, she is asking Him who He is. In verse 14, He offers her the gift of eternal life. The woman is ready to receive His gift – but she is looking at it through earthly eyes, thinking only of avoiding the toil of going to the well in the middle of the day every day.
He has much more for her than that, though, so he tells her, “Go and get your husband.” In giving this command, He is actually inviting her to get real with Him and to be known in her place of brokenness. The woman responds in verse 17 with a half-truth as she tells Him, “I don’t have a husband.” Jesus lays out the truth of the woman’s condition in verse 16: She has had five husbands and she isn’t married to the man with whom she currently lives. It’s important to understand that Jesus doesn’t say this to humiliate her, to judge her or to make her feel ashamed; He says it so that she can come to the place where she can be authentic with Him and with herself about her need for Him.
She’s not quite ready to be that authentic, however, and she attempts to deflect the truth by turning religious on Him in verses 19 and 20. Jesus is unwilling to let her settle for mere religion, and brings her to a place of relationship in verse 23. In verse 25, she states her belief in the coming Messiah. Finally! She has reached the point of admitting that she doesn’t have all the answers but she knows where to look for them. Now Jesus can reveal Himself fully to her, telling her plainly in verse 26, “I AM the Messiah!”
What happens next is remarkable. In verses 28-30, the woman leaves her jar at the well and runs back to the town, telling everyone about the Man she just met. She has turned from an outcast to an evangelist; from someone who lives in isolation to someone who is known, accepted and loved. The people come to meet Jesus for themselves. In verses 39-42, we learn that many of the Samaritans come to also know and believe in Jesus and recognize Him for who He is. Her life, once hidden, has now been made to shine brightly for Him; her story, once shameful, is used to bring Him glory.
Jesus met me in my own brokenness on October 14, 2001 and brought me to the place where I was ready to acknowledge that I did not have all the answers and needed Him. He came into my heart that day, and my life has been forever changed. Your brokenness doesn’t have to look like that of the woman at the well for Jesus to meet you in the middle of it, and no matter how broken you might feel that you are, you’re not beyond His love’s ability to make you whole again. If you have already accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, won’t you take a moment to reflect on that glorious day and to thank Him for all that He has done in and through you? Won’t you accept Him as your Lord and Savior today if you haven’t already? If you don’t know how, it would be my privilege to lead you through a simple prayer to surrender your life to Him right now, wherever you are. Just message me.