Encounter At The Well

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’ ” John 4:10

The first half of John chapter four is the beautiful account of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well.

While his disciples had gone into the Samaritan city of Sychar to purchase food Jesus had rested outside the city by the well. While he was waiting for the disciples to return a woman came out to draw water. The account says that it was the sixth hour of the day which would make it about noon, the hottest part of the day. The fact that the woman is fetching water at this time of day, instead of early morning or late evening when it’s much cooler tells us that this woman is avoiding the other women of the village. She’s an outcast from respectable society.

But Jesus isn’t put off by anything that would have caused other Jewish men to shun her. That she’s Samaritan doesn’t offend him and the fact that she has some moral failure causing other Samaritans to shun her doesn’t offend him either.

His goal is to offer her salvation but he begins by showing her the acceptance she yearns for. He asks her for water.

What follows this request is short conversation that quickly shifts from asking for water, to questions about social prejudice, to an offer of eternal life through the gift of living water, to questions over his ability to deliver on such an offer, to a request that she call her husband and the revelation that Jesus knows all about her dysfunctional personal life, to her avoiding the topic by discussing the merits of Jewish and Samaritan worship, to Jesus telling her that he’s the Messiah.

This outcast woman from a nation cast out from the Jewish people is the first person the gospels record Jesus personally telling that he was the Christ. With everyone else he avoids the topic but with this woman, over burdened by guilt, hungering for acceptance, and yearning to be made spiritually whole again Jesus makes it wonderfully clear that God has not rejected her and pushed her away. He still seeks her out, he loves her, he’s come to save her.

The disciples return to the well with food and interrupt their conversation. But the woman isn’t ready to end her time with Jesus. For just a little while she leaves the well but soon she returns and with her comes a good number of the people of the village. She’s urged them to come and see this man who’s been able to tell her everything she’s ever done. She’s invited them to come and meet the Messiah.

It doesn’t matter what secrets you have that you’d like to keep hidden, Jesus knows all about them and they don’t make him love or desire you any less. It costs nothing to to come to Jesus. You can come to him however you are right now. He’ll accept you and give you the water of life and with those gifts he’ll make you new.

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