If the Samaritan woman could have had a theme song, it would have probably been, “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.” To this point in her life, her search for love had not netted her much but a series of exes, a man who wouldn’t commit and such a bad reputation around town that it was easier to come draw her water from the well in the midday heat rather than brave the virtuous women in the morning.

We find the Samaritan woman’s story in John 4 when Jesus and His disciples pass through Samaria on their way from Judea to Galilee. It’s telling that in verse 4 it says, “And He had to pass through Samaria.”

The truth was, no self-respecting Jew wanted to be caught dead in Samaria. Samaritans were half Jewish and half Gentile. The Jews had absolutely no use for these half-breeds, and usually Jewish people went hours out of their way to go around Samaria by crossing the Jordan River and going through Perea. The Jews hated the Samaritans and the feeling was rather mutual.

Jesus not only went through Samaria, but he chose to sit down at the well and rest while his disciples went off to the city to buy food.

Water abstract

The Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water and Jesus does something extraordinary – he talked to her.

This was extraordinary for a couple of reasons. First, men did not just talk to strange women in those days, and second Jews did not talk to Samaritans, either.

Jesus overcame not just a gender barrier but an ethnic barrier, as well. Jesus starts the conversation with a simple request – Give me a drink of water.

I love that this woman doesn’t just draw up some water, but she asks how Jesus, a Jew, can ask her, a Samaritan woman, for anything. It starts a conversation between Jesus and this woman. He tells her if she knew who HE was, she would ask for Him to give her living water.

She looks at this dusty, Jewish man sitting there by the well. He has no bucket or vessal and again, she points out the obvious – How could you? You have nothing to draw water with.

Jesus answers that His water is living water and with it she would never thirst again. She still is not really getting it, and again gets excited about not having to come down to this well every day, a daily reminder of the stigma on her. It sounds blissful not to have to worry about getting water anymore.

So, Jesus asks her to get her husband. The woman gave a rather cagey response – I have no husband – which was technically true. But Jesus calls the half lie. He tells her she is being truthful – she has no husband now, but she’s had five husbands and is living with another man now.

It finally dawns on the woman that this is no ordinary Jew sitting before her. She thinks he is a prophet so decides to ask him a question that had been bothering her – her people worship on the mountain but the Jews say everyone needs to worship at Jerusalem, so who was right.

Jesus’s answer, that things were going to change and that those who worshiped God, would so in spirit and truth and the place wouldn’t matter.

It’s like a light comes on. She answers that she knows the Messiah is coming and He would tell them things they didn’t know. Jesus answers her – I am He.

The woman drops her water bucket and immediately runs off to tell all the men in the city who is sitting at the well – the Messiah! Her proof? “Here is a man who has told me everything I have done!”

The story of the woman at the well or the Samaritan woman is a pretty familiar one. I’ve heard numerous sermons on it in my life, so I was looking at what we can learn from her.

Certainly, we can learn about God’s grace and mercy. We can also learn that God can use anyone to share his Gospel, no matter what their background.

What I was struck by this time around though was that the woman was very focused on her immediate circumstances and problems. When Jesus offers her living water that would make her never thirst again, all she can think is that this is the answer to her immediate and biggest problem. She was sort of mired in the obvious, but Jesus was offering her so much more.

It reminds me of the verse in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.”

While the Samaritan woman IS a great reminder of God’s mercy, grace and love; it is also a good reminder that so many times what we ask God for is small and often unimportant in the bigness of God’s plans. We are worried about the mundane, while God is doing work in our lives that has a more divine purpose.

This verse in Ephesians reminds us that God is capable of doing far more abundantly beyond what we can even think to ask.

The Samaritan woman went to the well that day to meet a simple physical need – water. What she got was something she didn’t even realize she needed – for the thirst of her very soul to be quenched. Jesus met her at the well and He looked at her in all her brokenness and messiness and He offered to meet a need she probably had never even articulated even to herself – for someone to really SEE her and love her anyway.

Jesus is like that. He sees what we really need, in the midst of our prayers for needs that seem big in our small worlds, and He reaches down and He answers those prayers we haven’t even thought to pray yet, to meet those needs we can’t even admit we have. That’s the kind of God we serve – the kind that truly sees the local loose woman, heals her hurts, meets her needs and then sends her back as His messenger.

Blessings, Rosanne


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