Here we go again. As we begin John 4, the Pharisees are keeping score again. Counting the other guys total numbers against their own. They posted that Jesus was ahead, pitting Jesus against John (the Baptist) as rivals. The Pharisees sure didn't understand the team player concept. Instead of raising tensions, Jesus decided to head towards Galilee. The quickest route was through Samaria, but that meant contact with 'Samaritians'. Most Jews traveled to avoid contact with them. It was similar to a 'Hatfield's and McCoy's' conflict that bleed into religious differences and the two sides were miles and miles apart at this point in time. Then Jesus walked into town and everything changes. (Yes, I'm singing the song 'When You Walk into the Room' right now too)
The group enters into Sychar and head directly to Jacob's well (Genesis 33:19). Jesus, tired and thirsty sits down at the well. The time is noon. The sun is hot and high in the sky. The disciples have all gone off together to find food as Jesus rests. He is sitting along the edge of Jacob's well. A Samaritan woman approaches the well, and He asks her for a drink of water.
John 4:9 MSG
"The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)"
It noon. It's hot. Most people are seeking shelter from the heat of the day, yet here comes this woman. In an attempt to avoid the hecklers and disdainful glances, the woman seeks her water when there aren't any other people around. She is aware that she is well known around town as a woman with a bad reputation. Disrupted and besmirched, she avoids the crowds as much as possible, yet here's this guy asking her for water.
John 4:10 MSG
Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”
Jesus, a stranger to her, and someone who is obviously a Jew, asks her for help and then gives her this confounding answer. She comes back with a quick rebuff, probably anticipating a rude response from the stranger. 'Where's your bucket? You don't even have a bucket, yet here you are saying that you'll give me water.' Can you imagine the thoughts in her head. 'This guy is nuts. What kind of trick is trying to pull on me? I just need to finish up and get outta here. That's all I have to do. Get my water and go.'
John 4:13-14 MSG
"Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again (Jesus motions to the the well). Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever (motioning to himself). The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”
Picture the scene in your mind. The town well. There's a wall wide enough to hold your bucket and your backside. It's in the heat of the day, a stranger and a woman expecting trouble. Hands on her hips she says "Fine. Give me some of this water, then I'll never have to come back here again." Jesus smiles. Sincerely and without any condemnation, He says "OK. Go get your husband and come back.' ' Ah,' She says to herself, 'here it comes'. She answers quickly "I have no husband." Jesus smiles again and says without any ridicule, "No husband. You've had five husbands and you're not married to the man you're living with now.'" She's ready for him. 'Yeah well, you Jews think you know everything. Our ancestors worshipped God at this mountain'. With hands flying, she points out the mountain and continues. 'So why do you Jews think Jerusalem is the only place to worship God.' 'Ha! I've got him now' she thinks to herself. Jesus is waiting and watching for her pause. "Believe me when I tell you that the time is coming that it won't matter if your at this mountain or in Jerusalem. Even whether you're a Jew or a Samaritan will not matter. When what you’re called will not matter, and where you go to worship will not matter."
John 4:23-24 MSG
“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
The woman is amazed and astounded. "I don't know about that, but I do know that when The Messiah comes we will understand. When He comes, we will get the whole story." Jesus tells her the truth that sets her free. "I am He. You don't have to wait any longer or look any further." Her heart skips a beat as she realizes what He is saying. It's who you are and how you live that count berfore God. Engage in true worship with your whole heart. Be yourself before God. Be your true self and worship with adoration. She begins to smile and it quickly turns to a grin that reaches her eyes. As she looks at Jesus, His words begin to clarify and sink into her spirit.
Just then the disciples returned with their lunch. Their disdained glances quickly sent her scurrying for home. Yet, once there she wasn't quiet or hiding like usual. She began to encourage everyone she encountered to go meet Jesus. 'I think He is the Messiah we have been waiting for.' I expect that her forgotten water bucket gave her the added bonus of a reason to return, this time with a huge crowd at her back.
John 4:28-30 MSG
"Back in the village she told the people, “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?” And they went out to see for themselves."
Imagine then that. Jesus reaches out to a Samaritan. Not just any Samaritan either. A Samaritian woman, and one of ill repute to boot, who leads a crowd to meet Jesus. 'He knows me inside and out and He didn't reject me. He knew everything and still He offered me Living Water.' Isn't that the way we all feel when we first meet Jesus? Loved even though He knows me inside and out. The best part is that Jesus continues to love us, connect with us, teach us and guide us, all the days of our lives. Through the good times and the bad time. That's extraordinary love. That's true Living Water from the deepest well kind of love.