It is too hot to go to the well.
Day after day as I walk my memories haunt me.
I remember happy times when I joined the other women collecting water in the cool of the day.
Now I avoid them, and they avoid me. I see them looking sometimes when I have to go to the market; looking through me, or staring with distain, and some who want to smile but fear the consequences of mixing with a fallen woman..
The days were happy, my husband a young man not much older than me, well loved by all. Some of those who eye me with distain now were jealous then. His death was catastrophic, a widow before I was 30 and no hope of re-marrying. I had nothing and no one to help me.
I came from another place and could not go back. The people of Sychar thought that I had brought a curse on my husband; I had given him no son and he had died in the prime of life. To them I was to blame and must be shunned.
I did what I could, I was still young and attractive, I found a lover who gave me enough to keep body and soul together. When he left there were others…… Every day I hate myself for what I have become, but what else could I do?
There is a man at the well, this stops me in my tracks. Why is there a man at Jacob’s well at the 6th hour? As I draw nearer I am even more shocked, he is a stranger, a Jew.
Seeing me there alone in the heat of the day he must know that I am a disgraced woman but he speaks to me:
“Give Me a drink.”
“How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” ( I have never heard of a Jew speaking to a Samaritan)
“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.”
I am so confused, maybe he has been in the sun for too long, so I ask “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?”
“Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
Either he is mad or a great prophet, I ask “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.”
“Go, call your husband and come here.”
For a moment I just stare at him. His eyes seem to look into my soul, I see mixture of judgement and mercy. He cannot be much older than me, but his face tells of experience and wisdom far beyond his years. Quickly dropping my gaze, I noticed his hands, they are not the soft hands of a Rabbi, they are hands that have worked. I am trying to understand what this means. The words “I have no husband” Spill out of my mouth and I am lost, the Jews always stone adulterers…..
He is speaking again “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.”
How does he know? And if he knows, why did he even speak to me? Emboldened I say “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”
The prophet continues “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
I am filled with awe, who IS this man? “I know that Messiah is coming; when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.”
His answer stuns me “I who speak to you am He.”
A group of men are walking towards us, carrying food. They have come from the town – a Jewish prophet who sends his disciples into a Samaritan town? They are a rag tag bunch, most look more like they should be working the land or fishing, rather than following a prophet, but then I think He too was a working man. They are surprised to see him talking to me but none of them questioned me, one or two even smiled.
My waterpot forgotten, not even thinking of what will happen to me I go as quickly as I can to the city. The men are shocked to see me but before they can say a word I tell them, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” Curious they follow me back to the well. When we get there his disciples are urging Him to eat. But he seems to be waiting for us. I hear the disciples speaking amongst themselves, pointing at us as we near the well. They don’t look surprised, one of them is saying that Jesus always draws those who are thirsty for truth.
Jesus and His disciples are being invited to stayed in Sychar. The whole town will hear him and will believe. The men are saying to me, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Saviour of the world.”
Walking back to the town behind the men, I am met by the women who used to be my friends; the men do not stop them. They have heard the news, they ply me with questions. These women whom I love and thought I would never speak with again are holding my hands, tears of joy are falling from my eyes as I tell them all that Jesus said to me.
I know that from this time forward my life will be different. I have met the Messiah, my sins have been forgiven, my life renewed.
A story based on John 4:4-42 (quoted text from NASB)