It was the hottest point of the day, when the Samaritan woman came to draw water from Jacob’s well. Most likely she was trying to avoid the other woman who came to gather water in the coolness of morning. Those women had no use for her. She was immoral and had chosen to live an adulteress life with six men during her life. She knew she’d be cast aside or gossiped over if she had come with the rest of them.
An outcast, an enemy of the Jews by her Samaritan heritage, and a woman of ill repute; she didn’t have much going for herself. She made the lonely trek to fill her water jug for the day. She was used to this. It had been going on for some time, but she wasn’t prepared for what waited for her that day.
Jesus sent His disciples ahead to gather some food for lunch and waited at the well. He knew there’d be an opportunity. As the woman approached, He could read what she had done with her life. He knew that she was despised by her neighbors and family. He recognized all her sinful behavior. He knew the guilt she felt. He knew that she needed to hear His message.
He asked her to draw a cup of water for Him. The woman was taken back by His request. First of all, He was a Jew and she a Samaritan – these people had been divided since the time of Judah. The Jews considered Samaritans mongrel Jews and their adversaries. For Jesus to ask a favor of a Samaritan would have been unheard of.
Secondly, she was a woman. Remember women didn’t have the same regard as men. On top of that, she was a sinner – one who had consistently lived in sin with six different men. With that in mind, she responds with surprise – “How can you ask me for a drink.”
Jesus then offers her living water, which she doesn’t understand either. He is gently leading her from her sinful life to salvation through this litany. This living water would allow her to never go thirsty again.
This may be one of Jesus’ lessons for us on how to share the Word with others. It’s a quiet, non-condemning, thoughtful, overcoming of barricades through kindness. If we were all to evangelize as Jesus did, the world would be full of Christ followers. When Jesus said that He came to save sinners, He wasn’t simply talking about the obvious sinners, like this woman. He was speaking to the entire world – to us.
Jesus did point out the woman’s sin so that He could provide a way out for her. He does this with us as well when we confront our sin and repent. The conversation ended this way. The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
With that announcement, the woman ran back to her town to tell everyone about this man who knew everything she’d done. Surely He must be the Messiah they were waiting for.
And so His work continued – the work of gathering souls for His kingdom.