20th October

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (John 4:1-26)

We’ve read a lot of novels and watched countless films where a character’s behavior is finally explained by some damage from their past they are trying to make up for. The strange thing is that we often find hard to discern or admit this very phenomena in our own lives.

In John’s gospel we read about the Samaritan woman who came to draw water at the well where Jesus was resting. Much has been said about the timing of her visit to the well. Why do this in the heat of the noon sun instead of the cool of the morning when women tended to go to the well. Of course we all know that she has had 5 husbands and that she was living with a man who was not her husband. We don’t know why she’d been married so often – maybe she was a teen bride widowed and passed along through a line of her elderly husband’s elderly brothers or maybe she was divorced for being infertile. The least likely thing is if she lured men into her trap, killed them after a year of marriage and just kept getting away with it!

So we don’t know quite know why she was there at noon. Perhaps she not only wanted to fill her water jar but also very much wanted to avoid the other women who would have been there at first light. Maybe she just didn’t want to be seen.

But her plan of not being seen clearly didn’t work out that day. She must have been surprised to see this stranger at the well “in the heat of the day.” It was an even stranger for Jesus’ to initiate a conversation with her. This was a cultural “big no-no”! The fact that she’s an ethnic outsider whose had 5 husbands makes it an even “bigger no-no”! And yet this is by far the longest conversation Jesus has with anyone in all of the Gospels.

During the ensuing conversation Jesus offers her living water that gushes up to eternal life. When she says “Give me this water so that I may not thirst” Jesus does something remarkable. He goes straight for her wound i.e, he asks about her husband. He clearly wasn’t about to avoid that uncomfortable subject.

You want to stop trying to quench your thirst with things that will never satisfy?

If you want this eternal life then start with being seen Jesus says to her in effect. Start with the truth – the naked truth of your original wound, your original beauty, every good and bad thing about you.

They say that water finds it’s lowest point. The living water Jesus offered this hurting women found her lowest point. It flowed to her original wound. It found a crack in her defenses and trickled down to her lowest point, her deepest wound, her greatest need and she finally exhaled. In fact, she relaxed so much she totally left her water jar at the well.

In fact that jar is a great metaphor for what we think will quench our thirst, make us whole, hide our wounds, make us loveable. In the end, being known, loved and forgiven as we are by our true God is the only thing that can quench our spiritual thirst in a way that no amount of success or admiration or romantic love or any other thing ever can.

So whatever your lowest point, whatever the deepest wound, the vilest sin, the damaged thing in you is, the living water of Christ’s compassion will find it, can find it, has found it.

You can just leave your jars behind.


(Adapted from NADIA WEBER’s blog)