In the bible, when a man and woman meet at a well, it usually leads to a great love affair; the story of the Samaritan woman is no exception.
John 4:5-29, 39
New Revised Standard Version translation
Jesus came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “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.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?”
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!”
The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.”
Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?”
Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.”
inspired by the Gospel of John, Chapter 4, verses 5-29 and 39
He was like a vision, a dream come to life sitting beside the well; his hair flowing over his shoulders like a gleaming river, his eyes as deep as the night, his smile inviting.
I stopped when I saw this stranger who had stopped to rest on his journey; it reminded me of the story of our ancestor Jacob meeting Rachel at a well: something deep and divinely destined. Or at least that’s how it seems, now.
He wasn’t really handsome, but profoundly attractive; the kind of man you would have noticed, even if he hadn’t been sitting there, all alone. The other women kept a ladylike distance, clustered together in groups of two or three, whispering and casting doe-eyes in his direction.
It was midday, and the sun was brightly shining, not a cloud in the sky — and I was thirsty. It was too warm to waste time gazing at this otherworldly apparition. I walked up to the well and began to lower the bucket.
“Would you give me a drink of water?” the man asked.
I was so surprised that I let go of the rope and heard the bucket splash down into the water below. His voice was soft and pleasant, but from his accent it was clear that he came from the province of Galilee.
“Excuse me?” I said, “Why would you, a Jew, ask me — a Samaritan woman — for a drink?” Everybody knows that those holier-than-thou purists look down their noses at us Samaritans — and a woman? come on, they think we’re the lowest of the low.
The man smiled — a genuine smile, not a sneer, “Ah,” he looked up at the sky and leaned back, “If you knew what God has on offer, and who it is that is asking you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you fresh water.”
“Oh yeah? How’s that going to work?” I glanced down into the well as I began to pull the bucket up, “I don’t see you carrying any water jars. Where will you get that fresh-flowing water? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who provided us with this well — who even drank from it himself, whose family drank from this well, who watered his flocks here?”
I admit it; I got a bit carried away in defending our tradition; but it just makes me so angry that those people look down on us as if they’re so superior. We’re every bit as good as they are! Besides, we’re all from the same family, originally.
“Here’s the thing,” the man said, nodding toward the bucket that I had filled and set down on the stone beside him, “Everyone who drinks water from this well will be thirsty again, but those who drink the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up into endless life.”
I ran my tongue across my dry lips, tasting dust. Now that would be something: never being thirsty again, and never having to schlep this water jug back and forth again. In the distance I heard my man calling my name.
Making a small curtsey I held out my water jar, “That sounds wonderful, sir. Please give me this water, so that I will never be thirsty again.”
“Go get your husband and then come back.” The man had also heard Caleb’s voice, and seen my reaction.
Oh God, not that again. I set my jaw firmly and looked straight into the man’s face, “I don’t have a husband.”
The man nodded, “That’s very true. You don’t have a husband: you’ve had five men; and the one you’re with now isn’t your husband.”
“Ah,” I said, “I get it: you’re a traveling soothsayer.” This guy was just another scam artist: purporting to read your mind and tell you about your past. Next he’d offer to predict my future and provide a few drops of that magical elixir he was talking about — for a fee, of course.
I sighed and brushed the hair away from my face; the wind had come up, swirling around us. Torn between disappointment and annoyance, I decided to challenge this charlatan.
“So,” I gestured toward Mount Gerizim, “Our ancestors believed that mountain to be where God should be worshipped, yet you people say that it is Jerusalem. What is the ‘truth’ of that?”
The man leaned forward with a sudden intensity, his eyes shining, “Lady, I’m telling you: the time is coming when God won’t be worshipped on that mountain or in Jerusalem. You worship blindly, we worship what we have witnessed: for salvation comes from us Jews. But any minute — even now — the faithful will worship the Father fully, freely, honestly, openly; just as He desires. God cannot be contained or limited, but is with us, even now, right where we are — and those who love him will worship Him accordingly.”
“I know, I know: ‘Some day the Messiah will come.’” I raised my arms to the heavens in mock piety, “And — when he does, all will be revealed.” I looked back at the man and shrugged my shoulders.
Jesus — for it was he — said, “It’s me. The one right in front of you.”
He said more — much more. He told me everything I had ever done: every pain I had endured, every mistake I had made, every evil, every fear, every burden I had carried, every secret I had kept. And he spoke words of compassion and understanding, words of comfort and assurance, words that to this day fill my heart and lift my soul as if carried upon an ever-flowing stream.
I have no idea how long I was there. It was as if time stopped, as if the sun stood still — as if all the earth stood still, as if it were only we two, alone, together. And I felt, rising within me, a joy unlike any I had ever known. And I wept! How I wept — with relief and gratitude, washing the Lord’s feet with my tears.
His disciples arrived, bearing food and frowns; but Jesus smiled at me and gently shook his head, “They do not understand what you already know.”
I ran from that place, rushing to the village to share the good news with everyone I met: “Can it be that the Messiah has come? This man told me everything I have ever done. Everything.” And everything — absolutely everything and everyone — is infused with God’s loving grace.
Now I am telling you what I have heard and seen and felt and touched: the Word of Life. This life — this glorious, eternal life — was revealed to me: I’m telling you truly. I want you to know, to experience it, to join with me in fellowship with God and the radiant, redeeming Lord Jesus Christ so that my joy may be complete.
Christ’s peace be with you and within you,
The Apostle to the Samaritans ♰
Allow yourself to feel the glorious joy of God’s love filling your heart and lifting your spirit as if carried upon an ever-flowing stream.
Virtual hugs and real-time blessings,