I wonder if she spotted Him from a distance, a man sitting at the well alone—her well that she visited daily to fill the buckets and then haul them home. I wonder if, as she drew closer, she could make out Jesus’ face and recognize His nationality. A man, a Jewish man, sitting at her well?
She gets closer and closer, probably confused. Probably a bit afraid. Then, Jesus speaks to her.
An amazing thing is happening here in John 4. Jesus is breaking through at least three cultural and social barriers of His time:
- He is speaking to a woman, and traditionally, Jewish men were not to be seen conversing with women.
- He is speaking to a Samaritan, and as the scripture says, Jews had no dealings with Samaritans at the time (v.9).
- He is speaking to a woman He knows is an “adulteress”— a woman who has had more than one husband and was now with a man she wasn’t married to.
Yet, Jesus speaks to her. A woman. A Samaritan. A sinner.
Not only does He say hello, but over the course of their brief and profound conversation, He offers her the gift of a lifetime: living water, eternal life. “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (v.14).
And then, my favorite part of the story happens—the part where she just doesn’t get it.
“Sir,” she says, “give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water” (v.15). There she is, standing beside the Messiah in flesh, and she doesn’t fully understand what He is telling her. She takes His offer of living water literally. She doesn’t get it—not yet.
I think I love this part so much because it paints such a real and beautiful picture of grace. You don’t have to fully “get it” to receive it.
That is hard for me, a good church girl, to accept. Unlike the Samaritan woman, I have the knowledge. I know Jesus and His story, I know the right answers, and I know my theology. But what this story says is, the gift of Christ is for anyone who wants to receive it—no matter how little you know, no matter how little you have been taught or understand.
Grace levels the playing field each and every time.
The Samaritan woman wanted what Jesus was offering. She knew this if she knew nothing else. “Give me this water,” she says. And that’s all she has to say.
That is all we have to say, too. From the church girl who is fruitlessly checking her boxes to the woman buried under the weight of past sin and shame, this promise is for all of us. Because we are all thirsty. We are all weary. We are all desperate for our Jesus who stands at the well offering the exact and only thing we need.
Give me water, we say, breathless and tired. And He does. And when He does, we are never thirsty again.