“Jesus answered, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink’, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.'”
One of my favorite things about Jesus is that He constantly did things that no one expected.
When John and the other guys first left their fishing boats to follow this guy named Jesus, I’m sure they expected Him to be a normal teacher. In fact, it’s pretty clear that they expected Him to be normal, because the Bible says over and over that they are baffled by what He does. Jaws on the floor. “Who is this guy??”
This story today is one of my absolute favorites, because the main character is a woman with a past she wants to hide.
(…can anyone relate?)
Jesus and John and the guys were having a travel day, making their way from Judea to Galilee (both regions in ancient Israel), when it was noon and they were tired. Jesus was exhausted, and so He sat down at a well that was there. Now, I don’t know much about the culture back then, but I do know that no one in their right mind went to draw water in the middle of the day because it was hot. Everyone would go in the morning, I’m sure, before the sun came out in full force. The women would grab their water jugs in the morning and head over, chatting about the day and the gossip of the town.
But no one would go midday.
And yet, there was one other person at the well when Jesus arrived, and it was a woman. We don’t know much about her, but the very fact that she was drawing water at noon tells us that she didn’t belong. The scorching heat of the day was the perfect cover to make certain that no one else would be there and she could get her water in peace.
And yet Jesus was there.
“Give me a drink.” Jesus walked up her and sat down.
The woman was baffled, not only because men never spoke to women like this back then, but also because Jesus was a Jew and she was a Samaritan, and there was bad blood. Jews never spoke to Samaritans. And a Jewish man specifically would never, ever talk to a Samaritan woman. Ever.
But Jesus loved breaking every social rule, and so He struck up a conversation.
“If you knew the gift of God, and who I am, then you would ask me for living water and I would give it to you.”
“Sir, you didn’t bring anything to draw water with,” she said, observing His belongings, “how do you get living water?”
Jesus, possibly looking into the well or gesturing to her water jug, replied, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give them will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman was probably thrown off, as I would be, but she implored, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water anymore.”
And this is my favorite part, because Jesus wasn’t there to talk about drawing water from a well. He knew this woman – He knew her past, the hidden parts she tried to keep secret, her regrets and fears. He knew that she had gone through 5 husbands, and that she was currently living with a guy who wasn’t her husband. He knew that she drew water at noon out of shame. He knew.
“Go, call your husband, and come back.”
She looked down, diverted her eyes, mumbled, “I have no husband.”
“I know you have no husband.” Jesus replied. “I know that you have had five husbands, and that the man you’re living with is not your husband.”
I’m sure her head snapped up and that she searched the face of this guy who met her at the well. How could he know that? The most shameful parts of her life, probably the reason she was a social outcast, the very thing the intended to hide from everybody she met was just thrown into the open. And she sat there, exposed, in front of this man she had never met.
The story goes on to say how Jesus told her that He was God, the Savior of the world. His disciples came back, confused that He was talking to a woman. And the woman left her water jar at the well, ran into the town, and told everyone about this guy she had met at the well, how He knew everything about her. Could this be God Himself?
She believed in Jesus that day, and a lot of other people did too. The people of that town begged Jesus to stay with them, and John tells us that they stayed there for two days.
There are so many things I love about this story. I love that Jesus, God Himself, could have spent His days on earth rounding up as many people as possible and performing the flashiest of miracles. He could have been loud and boisterous and in-your-face. But He didn’t.
I love the fact that He spent an entire afternoon talking with one social outcast woman at a well. I love that Jesus knew her, not for the Instagram-worthy version of herself she gave everyone else, but for the real her. He knew every shameful part of her life, and yet He met her there. And He didn’t run away. He just offered her living water, speaking of her failed marriages as simply something in her life, not something that defined her life.
And that’s the love of God. It’s the kind of love that will cross every social barrier to meet you where you are and offer you living water. It will look into the dirtiest parts of your life and cover them up. Jesus, in how He lived His life, showed us just how much God loves us.
And just like He met the woman at the well, He wants to meet you.
(scripture taken from John chapter 4)