Jesus was walking through Samaria and sent his disciples to get food. He went to a well outside the village of Sychar located near the ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. The well was Jacob’s well, and likely more than 1900 years old from the time God created Israel.
It was mid-day and Jesus was tired. He sat at the well. A Samaritan woman came to draw water and Jesus asked her for a drink. (John 4) She was shocked by this, because Jews and Samaritans did not associate with each other.
They had an amazing conversation and Jesus told her things about her life that only God would have known. She was completely captivated by his gentle approach to the events of her life.
Excited about the good news He had shared with her, she ran to the village and told everybody about the man she met and his message. That marks the start of Jesus’ public ministry.
Why it matters
The good news that Jesus preached was not exclusively for the Jews. He took in the undesirables, like a tax collector and a Zealot, but his message was for the world. No matter what the circumstance in someone’s life, Jesus showed the way into God’s Kingdom.
The Jews and Samaritans were enemies, so a Jew would not talk to a Samaritan, let alone minister to them. But Jesus chose the woman at the well to bring his message of salvation to the Samaritans.
That same message would later be carried to all nations, all types of people. God cuts through all the insignificant details that separate one person from another, and unifies.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
Why it matters to you
The woman at the well was an outcast. She had five husbands and was living with a man. She was at the well at mid-day when no one else was there because it was so hot. Most of the women would go to the well in the morning, but she was an outcast among her own people. She went alone.
The message Jesus gave her was so liberating and so exciting that she ran back to town and told everybody. There is no social situation that God cannot overcome. In God’s Kingdom, there is no separation, no social strata. She was a part of the community again.
Jesus cuts through the life history of this woman and gives her “living water” that will never cause her to thirst again. It would have been very strange for a Jew to talk with a Samaritan.
Jesus began his conversation with her by asking for a drink of water. He then got her to open up to him and tell of her husbands and of the man she was currently living with.
Throughout this amazing conversation, Jesus never rebuked her, scolded her or judged her. He shared the message of salvation with her, and openly identified Himself as the Messiah, something he had not shared with anyone, publicly, to that point.
What you may not know
Samaritans are Semitic people, like the Jews, only separated by political and social barriers. Samaritans only red the first five books of the Bible and rejected the prophets. Israel had been divided in two. Of the 12 tribes, 10 were in the north and 2 were in the south, the south was called Judah.
Samaria was the capitol of the northern kingdom (1 Kings 12). There was animosity and war. The people of the north would no longer travel to Jerusalem to go to the Temple because Jerusalem was in Judah.
Northern resident had set up their own idols. When the Jews returned from captivity in Babylon, the Samaritans were their adversary in their attempts to rebuild Jerusalem. That was a source of great hatred. Jews called the Samaritans dogs and half-breeds.
This is what makes Jesus’ choice to begin his public ministry with an imperfect woman from Samaria so interesting and meaningful.