One of my favorite passages in the Bible is the encounter that Jesus has with the Samaritan Woman at the well in John, chapter 4. There are so many reasons why I love this passage. The crux being the interaction between Jesus and the Woman, however there are many little tasty, little nuggets in the chapter, aside from that. I believe it acts as a microcosm of Jesus’ mission and ministry and as a result, it should inform how we approach our lives as it pertains to ministry.
The passage starts with a validation of the fact that Jesus couldn’t care less what the religious folks thought of him and would go and do as He was led by the Father. “He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria.” Samaria is seen as a picture of Israel’s sin and compromise. As Israel was subjected to and endured their captivity with Assyria, the men of the promise took wives from the Assyrians against God’s explicit instruction. The descendants of these illegal unions were the Samaritans of the New Testament. Any “good” Jew wouldn’t be caught dead traveling through Samaria and would, instead, travel far to the East from Jerusalem and up past Samaria to get to Galilee. Jesus defied the religious leaders by traveling through the much maligned area instead of taking the usual route around it.
The way in which Jesus lived his life is so encouraging to me, in that he shed his divinity to put on our humanity and walked this earth as a human being, experiencing the same thoughts and feelings we experience today, down to the nth detail. When he was born he experienced for the first time the pangs of hunger and the need for sleep, as the Savior of the world nursed from his mother and fell asleep in her arms. In John 4:6-7 it says, “(6) Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. (7) There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.” We can note in these verses that Jesus felt the all too familiar feeling of weariness and thirst. Another thought along this line. The Bible mentions later on in the passage that Jesus had no access to a bucket or other means of getting the water himself. He was at the mercy of or dependent on whoever would approach the well. How frustrating that must have felt for the Word who created all things.
I have heard my Pastor tell many times how she felt when she ate with Brother Daniel Ekechukwu, who was raised from the dead. How she would watch the fork move from his plate to his mouth and watch him chew, and marvel. I find myself feeling the same way when the word includes such seemingly unimportant details as this. Jesus, the word who was in the beginning with God got hungry, weary, and thirsty. And just like us, those seemingly menial things can lead to a divine encounter that will change the lives of those around us.
Can you picture Jesus leaning against a raised wall at Jacob’s well, looking at the wristwatch of eternity and saying to Himself, ‘She should be coming any moment now?’ God the Son had an appointment with a woman of the world. She had a blind date with destiny and didn’t even know about it.Tommy Tenney
I love reading Tommy Tenney. He has such a beautiful way of describing these “coincidental” encounters. In a different message he talks about Jesus’ interaction with Zacchaeus. He talks about the tree that Zacchaeus climbed — how long it had to grow for him to be able to climb it. That angels had been dispatched to guard and watch over that tree, to protect it from being trampled as a sapling, or chopped down when it became larger. What a beautiful testimony of the plan of God!
I know the purposes and intentions that I have skillfully prepared and planned out, utters the Lord, declaring prophetically, purposes and intentions for prosperity and not for evil, to personally hand you a latter period, a future of hope.Jeremiah 29:11
God has a carefully thought out plan for each of us, as this passage further brings to light and affirms. There is a fairly popular song out right now that I absolutely…well I hesitate to use the word hate…no, if it applies, let’s use it. I hate it. There, I said it! I normally appreciate the music Cory Asbury puts out but whenever this particular song comes on I turn the radio off. To be frank, it makes me mad — “Reckless Love.” In no way, could God ever even remotely be considered anything close to the realm of being reckless. Rash, thoughtless, careless, irresponsible, fool-hardy, unwise, ill-considered. These are all synonyms of reckless whose literal meaning is: without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action. Does that sound like the God that orchestrated this meeting at the well? Yeah, I don’t think so either.
I wonder often about the Samaritan woman. Why was she drawing water at noon, in the full heat of the day when the other woman drew water in the evening? Was she trying to avoid the prying eyes and wagging tongues that would surely assail her? She had had 5 husbands, that can’t have been an easy burden to bear. How did she feel as she walked up to the well — coming to draw her water as she did daily? Seeing a Jewish man, a rabbi there and knowing there was no way to avoid him. Did she dread those final steps to the well? Did she think of turning back rather than continuing on? Surely the man would despise her, a Samaritan. To her credit, she pressed on. Then, he speaks. In John 4:7b, “Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.” I find it funny that Jesus spoke with her and didn’t give heed to the fact that she was a woman and he a man, or she was a Samaritan and he a Jew, yet she is the one to express surprise at his request. “Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” She knew her place as a woman and a Samaritan, it was Jesus that needed reminding, however he did not care. Not even one iota. He saw her as a person for whom he would soon die. Someone who needed the grace and mercy only he could supply.
”Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” An interesting tidbit in this verse is that he doesn’t offer her this Living Water, carte blanche. She has to be a willing participant in the process and ask. Salvation, healing, forgiveness, everything that God has offered, while free, requires one thing from us and it is found in this next verse, “For everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Our will must submit to his. This free gift of God requires our full participation.
In verse 16, after she expresses her desire for this Living Water, Jesus gives her a command. “Go, call thy husband and come hither.” She could have gone and called for the man she was living with at the time but she opted for complete honesty and answers simply, “I have no husband.” She is rewarded with a prophetic confirmation from Jesus. I often wonder what would have happened if she had lied. Would she have ended up like the rich, young ruler — who walked away sorrowfully? Would this story have instead been a cautionary tale of the importance of being truthful? We will never know because she humbled herself before him and gave him the painful truth about her life.
As Jesus laid before her the marvelous certainty of who he was, the disciples returned from acquiring their food. Isn’t it interesting how different people’s priorities can be? Jesus was expressing to this woman the importance of the Living Water vs physical water and the disciples were more concerned with their stomachs! As they approached, even they were caught off guard at the peculiar sight of their Master conversing with this woman, this Samaritan. The scripture goes so far as to say they marveled at it! However, they recognized the holiness of the moment and, to their credit, kept their mouths shut. Sometimes our Pastors or leaders may do things we don’t understand. Those are the times where we, like the disciples, need to keep our mouths shut and trust that they are being led by the Father.
When flying with children you get told over and over, one simple thing. “In the event of an emergency and the oxygen masks deploy, please secure your own mask before assisting your children.” If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard a thousand times! (Well, that’s not entirely true since I haven’t flown a thousand times, but you get my meaning. lol) This woman, receiving her spiritual oxygen mask (so to speak) ran to assist the rest of her city. She had received the words of truth from the lips of Jesus and recognizing their veracity, did not hesitate in spreading the good news. We can do nothing to help this lost and dying world without first humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God. And we certainly can’t help others if we live in constant fear, concerned of what others will think of us. When we have our life in line with the commands and instruction of God, then —and only then — can we help those around us.
I find it interesting that this is the longest recorded conversation that Jesus has in the Gospels. A conversation that, if the religious leaders had their way, he never would have had. As I stated at the beginning, this passage acts as a microcosm of Jesus’ life and ministry. And as such, it deserves careful consideration in the life of every believer. It stands out as an example of how we are to live our everyday lives. As Jesus did, we ought to live in constant search of people who need to hear the good news of the Gospel. We ought to live every day looking for our own “Woman at the Well.” Just as we must follow the example of Jesus we ought to strive to live with the transparency of this Samaritan Woman. Who, with no hint of self preservation or thoughts of safeguarding her pride, she opened her life to the view of the Master and in return she received her salvation and those of her city.