7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “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.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
(John 4:7-15 NIV)
In yesterday’s post, the Apostle John provided the narrative backdrop for the story that unfolds today – Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.
Jesus and His disciples arrive at the well around noon, and they stop for a break in their travels. John parenthetically notes that Jesus’ disciples had gone to the nearby town to buy something to eat. Jesus was hanging out by the well and was likely tired and thirsty. It was the middle of the day, when the sun was bearing down, and nearly everyone was inside or under a shade or shelter to avoid the intensity of the sun.
Out of nowhere, a Samaritan woman comes to draw water. Jesus asks her for a drink of water – a seemingly reasonable request from a weary traveler on a hot day. The woman’s reply is both short and snarky. The pain of the blatant hatred between Jews and Samaritans, of the typical second-class treatment of women by most men, all came pouring out in her reply. Her defenses were up, and she was guarding against the oncoming ridicule that she sensed was about to take place. Again, John provides a contextual note to help us understand her reply (v. 9).
Jesus does not respond in kind to the woman. Instead, He makes an offer of eternal life to her that she misunderstands as a vague religious reference to gathering water at a spring. She still thinks this conversation is about Jesus asking for a drink of water.
The woman replies, showing a little more respect than before, but still not understanding Jesus’ answer and offer. She reminds Jesus that He possesses no bucket to draw water for Himself, and the well is deep. This well is not a spring where water is bubbling up from the ground; it is a cavernous hole in the ground that someone must go down into to obtain the water. The woman also throws in a religious barb about Jacob being her relative (implying that Jacob was a full relative of the Samaritans, and only a half-relative of the Jews, whereas the Jews considered Samaritans half-breeds and not full relatives and recipients of God’s promises as the Jews were).
Jesus ignores the racist comments and extends the offer of eternal life again. He refers to a spring of living water that is He is making available to her via Himself. She still thinks this conversation is about a better source of water. Once again, Jesus is misunderstood, but the woman is engaged and invested in the conversation. Her defenses are coming down, and she is asking for His help.
How many times do we, like the Samaritan woman, stumble over and misunderstand what Jesus is saying to us? How many times do we return a snarky “thank you, captain obvious!” to the Lord, not realizing that He is talking about something of infinitely more value and worth than what appears on the surface?
May we see with our hearts and hear with our souls what the Lord is saying to us today. May we let our woundedness and defenses down, and Let Him speak to the hurts and needs in our lives as no one else can do. And may His springs of living water wash over us, to heal and restore and refresh us and bring us joy.