In my last post, we saw Jesus making a point to travel through Samaria (even though “good” Jews of the time went to great lengths to avoid doing so). Jesus stopped by a well to get a drink and met a woman who came to the well alone, at the hottest part of the day.
Jesus asked her for a drink of water.
The woman pointed out all of the cultural reasons why he should not be asking her for anything.
We left Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well, we saw that Jesus was going out of his way, going beyond cultural expectations and barriers, because he wanted to know this woman. Because he had a purpose for her.
Notice that Jesus is humbling himself in this situation. He is placing himself in a position of dependence: “Will you give me a drink?” he asks.
She answers by reminding him that he is not supposed to talk to her. He is supposed to be maintaining a distance from her, a Samaritan woman, since he is a Jewish religious teacher.
So Jesus offered to give her living water. He said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
She points out that he had nothing to draw from the well with, and it was deep. She brings up a well-known ethnic argument between their two people groups: Our ancestor, Jacob, built this well–are you greater than he?
He is offering spiritual life, she counters with an earthly reality: deep well, his lack of a bucket . . . and then follows with an ethnic /religious / personal jab.
Jesus persists: If you drink from this well, you will be thirsty again (you will have to keep coming back here, day after day), but I can give you living water–it will become a spring of living water that will well up into eternal life.
She bites: Give me this water so that I won’t have to keep coming here (alone, in the heat of the day) to draw water.
And now that she is beginning to reveal her need, Jesus digs a little deeper: “Go, call your husband and come back.”
The Scripture immediately gives us her reply, “I have no husband.” But I wonder, was there a pause? Did she drop her eyes?
At this point I imagine that Jesus lowers his voice, his goal is not to humiliate the woman, but to bring her to a place of honesty:
“You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you have now is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
And there it is. This is the reason she comes to the well alone. She has had five husbands, and the man she is with now is not her husband. The other women of her community want nothing to do with her. Jesus reveals her truth.
We’ll come back to her story, one last time. But I want you to see that Jesus comes with gentleness and humility–and that his goal is to help her identify her need. In the final section of this story, Jesus will radically transform her life.