Image from Children's Chapel.
The re-telling of this well know Bible story here is a part of a book/writing and discussion group that meets every Thursday and lunch at First Lutheran Church. There is also an online venue to join in the conversation if you like at Holy Conversations on Facebook.This week's question is: Tell your favorite Jesus story (and why it is your favorite)...
The Samaritan woman at the well is one that shows what it is like to not belong to the larger social group. She went to the well in the hottest time of the day, while all the other town folk would come to get their water before it got too hot in their desert environment.
Jesus was traveling with the disciples, and instead of walking the long way around Samaria like most Jewish people would, he went right into the land of what was perceived as the enemy. At that place and time in history, the Jewish community and the Samaritan communities did not interact due to long standing differences.
Jesus was waiting for the disciples to return with food, when the woman came up to the well to draw her water. I imagine that there must have been some surprise on behalf of Jesus and the woman as they came within eyesight of each other. Jesus asks the woman (when by social rules this would be inappropriate too.) for a drink.
She was shocked that this Jewish man would talk to her - a Samaritan, and was shocked he would begin a conversation with her just because she was a woman. Was he trying to trick her? Was he trying to hit on her? Who was this man that refused to obey the rules?
All her questions eventually traveled from her mind to her mouth so she asked, " Why are you - a man and a Jew - speaking to me - a Samaritan woman? Why are you asking me to help you get a drink?"
Jesus reply's, "You don't know me, but I can get living water and give it to you."
She was shocked again and said, "You don't have any way to get water from that well...are you greater than the founder of this village? How can you do better than him, when you have nothing to draw water with?"
"The well water is good, but you always have to come back for more. The water I speak of quenches thirst forever and will make you live forever too!" said Jesus.
The woman was tired of drawing water every day. She could really use some of the living water he spoke of. "Will you give me the living water?"
"I will, but go get your husband first.", he requested. "But, I don't have a husband." she said.
He agreed with her and continued, "Yes, the truth is you've had five husbands and the man you are with now isn't even one of them.
"You say things that only a prophet could know, since you are a prophet - where should we worship God - where the Samaritans say or where the Jews say?"
Jesus said, "Someday it won't matter where you worship. Someday worshiping God will be about worshiping in spirit and in truth - not about the location or where you worship."
"I've heard that there is a chosen one coming to explain everything to us, are you the one?"
"I am the one!", Jesus said just as the disciples arrived with lunch. They were astounded to see Jesus and the woman in conversation, but none dared ask Jesus why he was speaking to her.
The woman took off running and left her water jar behind. She ran into the village and told everyone she saw about the One who she had met. He knew who she was, what she had done and he was the One! He had talked to her and wanted to give her living water! Surely the villagers would want that too.
Because she told what happened when she met Jesus, many people from the village believed as well. they came to greet him and ask him to stay with them. Jesus stayed for a few days to tell them about the living water he was willing to share with them. The people believed because they saw and learned directly from Jesus, but they never would have met him is she had not told her story.
Because of Jesus, this woman was restored within her community and drawn back into relationship with God. Now, she was filled with the living water she had desired for so long.
I love this story because it demonstrates how God's love can change even the most impossible of circumstances. This story reminds me that I can ask God questions, I can really say what I feel to God, and that restoration is possible - with Jesus. The Samaritan woman in this story is the underdog. She had no hopes or prospects and is lonely. Jesus enters her world, gives her hope and she becomes the truth teller to the people of her village. In this story, Jesus is willing to cross challenges, and push the envelope on social mores because love was the motivation. Love was Jesus motivation, it became the Samaritan woman's focus and it needs to be mine as well. Love is the story.