The midday sun scorched the back of her neck as she bent to her task. She worked alone. It had been her fate for years and she accepted it. Even preferred it that way. Anything to avoid the disdainful glares from the others.
The woman was wary as she watched the man approach.
She tugged up the heavy clay pitcher and dumped the water into the vessel at her feet, her eyes darting his way as he settled on a nearby boulder, quietly observing her. His wrinkled tunic and dusty sandals revealed that he spent a great deal of time traveling and was most likely here to rest before moving on.
He probably expects me to draw water for him.
When he finally asked, she was ready. And her reply was bitter.
“How is it that you, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman? For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” *
But Jesus was ready with an answer, too. One that she had not expected. An answer that was destined to change her life.
“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.” *
In the ensuing moments, Jesus hacked away at every wall of defense and every established tradition that a Jew had no dealings with a Samaritan. Every question the woman challenged him with, Jesus had a response for.
The vessel grew heavy in her hands and the woman lowered it to the ground. A tiny ember flickered within her, but she was quick to extinguish it. She perceived that this man was a prophet, but she’d seen her share of prophets and was skeptical. Her answer was dismissive.
“The Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will tell us all things.” *
But Jesus would not be dismissed. “I am He,” he told her. *
She was stunned to silence, her eyes fixed on him, hardly noticing the small cluster of men that had approached and now lingered near. She feared that she would blink and this moment would become a mirage.
But this meeting was no happenstance. It was divinely orchestrated by Jesus in order to bring a word of hope to the Samaritan people. And his chosen messenger would be this fierce little woman. An outcast in her community to the point that she came to draw water alone at midday because she no longer felt welcome among her own.
We imagine Jesus smiling to himself and thinking, One of the most unqualified in the eyes of her people to deliver a message of hope and forgiveness. Yes, this is the one that I have chosen.
Jesus often commissioned the outcast, the rejected, and the isolated. And this woman met all the requirements for the calling.
Time stood still, yet--at the same time--came rushing at her like a tidal wave threatening to drown her with the enormity of her past sins.
I am He... What does this mean? Who is this man, really?
Everyone in her village knew all the dirty laundry of her history and every tarnish on the Samaritan woman’s character. But there was no way this passing Jewish traveler could have known.
Unless he was the Messiah sent from God...or that he was God.
The realization struck her like a wall of ice water. The hope that had been dormant and buried beneath a mountain of guilt and shame nudged its way to the surface and would not be restrained. Her vessel forgotten, the Samaritan woman ran to share the news with her people.
“Come, see a man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” *
Jesus had known she would be the perfect witness. With her history, this woman would stir the people more effectively than he ever could.
It was only a matter of a short time before she would lead her people back to him. They would come full of questions. They would be eager and curious about him. And--hopefully--receptive.
Jesus was ready.
That’s why he had come after all.
“Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.”(John 4:30, KJV)
"And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” (John 4:39, NKJV)
*Scripture references/paraphrases are taken from John 4:7-39.
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