Beads of sweat drip onto the wisps of hair that have long fallen out of her bun. Hot. Tired. So sick of the long and lonely daily walk. But she would take that any day over the jeers and looks she would surely get coming earlier or later when the noon sun wasn’t set high in the sky. Besides, there is something peaceful about the quiet walk alone. Lord knows, things aren’t peaceful back at home. How had she gotten herself into this situation again? Why does she continue to go back to what didn’t work any time before? But what choice does she have? She feels unworthy; unloveable. She regularly replays the highlight reel of her mistakes on this daily walk. And just as often she pushes the thoughts away. What good does it do to dwell on them? She reminds herself she made her bed, now she must lie in it. This is her lot. The recurring conversation in her head is as exhausting as the recurring walk to the well.
Beads of sweat pool on His hairline. Hot. Tired. Weary from the journey. But He is excited; expectant. He HAD to come. A divine appointment ordained thousands of years ago. Something beautiful is happening today, He mutters under his breath as the well comes into view. The disciples long gone to get food for the evening, He sits. Right on time…He sees her. His heart is full. He silently prays to His Father.
Looking up she sees someone at the well. Oh boy. Why can’t I just do this in peace she thinks? She braces for the insults she knows will be coming. From His attire, she can tell He is Jewish, and a rabbi no less. Let’s just get this over with…her attempt at a pep talk.
“Give me a drink,” He says.
Surprise – no shock – flood through her body. What is he thinking? No Jewish man is permitted to talk to her. A woman AND a Samaritan. Much less ask for a drink. Is this a trick? Has he a sinister plan, she wonders. Her thoughts morph into words as she asks what he is doing talking to her.
“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water,” He answers.
He doesn’t even have a bucket to draw water, she reasons, still processing his presence and request. Unable to look beyond the circumstances she can see. Did he just say IF I knew the gift of God? And living water? Who does he think he is? Better than Jacob who dug this well? Her emotions are floating between anger, confusion, and intrigue.
“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” He says. He is on a mission with His words. He isn’t interested in winning an argument about a well; He is after a soul today.
Never thirst again, she thinks. Never walk to this blasted well again. Never carry the heavy jug miles back home. She is in. She doesn’t know what he is talking about, but the sound of never thirsting again is awfully appealing.
“Go, call your husband, and come here,” He says to her after she expresses interest in the water He offers. But He knows she needs more than physical water. He knows she needs to acknowledge her need for the spiritual water He offers. No time to mince words, He gets right to the heart of the matter.
"I have no husband," she quickly responds. Why? Why do we have to go here, she asks herself. The truth is, she had five previous husbands, and the man she is with now is not her husband. It’s part of her shameful past and shameful present. This is her life. Almost in sync with her reflection, he speaks it all out loud. He knows. He knows of the husbands. He knows of her current living situation. He knows she is a Samaritan, a woman, a sinner and he is still speaking to her. And the kindness with which he speaks…she has never experienced anything like it. Ever. It is all too much to take in. Change the subject she thinks. Yes, that is what she needs to do. Think, think. Ahhh, a long-debated religious disagreement between our people… “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship,” she says.
He isn’t distracted or diverted though. He explains that the time is coming – now; here even – when the Father will be worshiped in spirit and truth. He is looking for such people to worship.
This is feeling too personal; too close to home, she can’t stop herself from swaying side to side. “I know the Messiah is coming…He will tell us all things.” She can’t understand, but she knows who can.
“I who speak to you am he,” Jesus replies.
She hears noises as the disciples return. Her heart is pounding. She sees now. The Messiah. Here. Speaking to her; loving her. A Savior for even her; especially her. She drops all pretense, prejudice, push-back, preconceived notions, pride. She drops the water jar and runs as fast as she can back home. “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”
Jesus wants to offer us living water too. Do we see a Messiah or a match for religious debate? Do we see a Savior or no bucket, focusing on circumstances our limited eyes can see? Come, see...
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