She walked a lonely road, water jug hoisted on her shoulder, that Samaritan woman. During the heat of the day she made the trek, her solitary trek, to the village well. Only when certain the others had returned to their own homes did she venture out. They didn’t welcome her company. No more than she, knowing they despised her, cared for theirs.
“Not a good woman!” they snipped, looking down their supercilious noses at her, if deigning to look her way at all. Even the scorching midday sun was preferable to their clicking tongues and haughty glances. And wiping her sweaty brow, she wished she could as easily wipe her past away too. “But engraved as if in stone,” she thought, “nothing in all the world, could ever undo that. Or take away the shame.”
But all in all, she reflected, life wasn’t too bad. At last she’d found a man who treated her well. Much older than she, but at least he was kind and caring to her and the child. Though she’d rather live alone. Free of the stigma of living with one who was not her husband. Yet without him, sure starvation stared her in the face.
“I KNOW THE MESSIAH IS COMING,” SHE THOUGHT. “COMING TO SET US FREE. MAYBE THAT COULD CHANGE THINGS, EVEN FOR ME.”
And then she saw him, sitting there. No one was ever there at midday. And he wasn’t even from around there, noting his prayer shawl, but a Jew!
“Great,” she thought. “A stranger. And me, a woman alone! What will he think of me coming here alone, and at this hour?” But seeing he paid her no mind, she timidly approached. Hoping to pass unobserved. ”
“Give me a drink,” he said, startling, though not frightening her.
“How can you, a Jew, ask me for a drink?” she asked, knowing full well that Jews never shared a Samaritan’s cup.
And that’s when he spoke the words forever engraved on her mind and soul. And hidden deeply in her heart.
“If you knew who it is that says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
She remembered asking how he could get that life-giving water, seeing he had no jug. And then he answered, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst again; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
A teacher! And there was something special about him. She could learn from him. Maybe he could even tell her about the Messiah!
And then he told her everything she had ever done! He knew she’d had four men, and was even then living out-of-wedlock. Yet he didn’t recoil from her. There was love and acceptance in his eyes and voice, giving her courage to express her longing for the Messiah, the deliverer. The chance to become free.
“I am he. I am the Messiah,” he said. And she knew it was truth. Realized that she had known it, almost from the start.
The Messiah, the long-awaited Messiah!
She must share such news! Of life-giving water that, in love, reached out to even one like her! So she left her water pot, racing to share the new water she’d found. Life-giving water. “Come and see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done,” she told them. “Surely he’s the Messiah!”
“The Messiah has come?” they marveled. “And to one like her? We must go and see!”
“Come and see the man who offers life-giving water! And offers it even to one like her, and you, and me!”
And that offer still stands today:
“Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but 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’,” (John 4:13-14).