“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.” (John 4:10)
The exchange between Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John 4 have provided an ongoing intrigue for me. There are many fascinating intricacies to this part of Scripture, such, that it would be impossible to summarize all of them in this brief blog. Could I share a few of the insights into God’s heart that I see from this story?
First, there was incredible hatred between the Jewish people and the Samaritan people. The Samaritans were mongrel Jews, or a mixed breed of Jews, and viewed as “less than” by the Jewish people. The Samaritans were exiled by the King of Assyria to Samaria. Jews did not associate with Samaritans, and certainly Jewish men did not talk with Samaritan women, especially those with a reputation. So, when Jesus, a Jew, passed through Samaria on his way to Galilee, he crossed both religious and cultural boundaries. The scripture says that he “needs go through Samaria.” It is obvious from this portion of Scripture that the “need” Jesus had was to reach out to the Samaritan woman. When we desire to let the Lord live through us, to bring living water to the thirsty, we will sometimes cross boundaries that upset both cultural and religious tradition. And, that will be “needed” at times.
Second, I have been captured by God’s heart towards the Samaritan woman. While my life of sin does not mirror her’s, I see myself in her, in so many ways. She likely came to the well to draw water at a time when she would not have been seen by her fellow townspeople, because she was ashamed of her reputation. And yet, she felt powerless to make the changes necessary to be viewed as a person of integrity. She must have felt quite alone and without hope. She was desperate for change! Jesus knew her life fully and yet, in that complete knowledge of her, offered her understanding, acceptance, confrontation surrounding her sin, grace, and I believe, hope. After her exchange with Jesus, Scripture tells us in John 4:28, “Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” See, her physical need for water, the reason she came to the well in the first place, was overshadowed by the nourishing she received in her heart, from her conversation with Jesus. The Samaritan woman was so freed from the love that Jesus offered her that she left her water jar and went to the very people who likely would have shunned her, to share what Jesus did for her. As a result, many in that town believed in Him!
In a recent situation in my life, this passage challenged me to love in a way that I was not loving a friend. I realized that when we have knowledge of a person’s life that either isn’t pretty, or hurts us, we can free that person to be who God created them to be, by offering them understanding, acceptance, and grace. Sometimes, but not very often, we may even feel a leading to confront them. I know that I too quickly jump to confrontation, before giving grace, acceptance and understanding an opportunity to bring about the love of God in people, in their places of need. Jesus saw that the Samaritan woman was needy and it was this need for God’s love that caused her to search in all the wrong places for fulfillment. I find it fascinating that her need was met at a well, like Rachel, Rebekah and Jethro’s daughter who all were provided for at wells. I love the completeness of God, the full circle He draws as he fulfills His plans for our lives, and His plans throughout all the ages.
Finally, after the Samaritan woman encountered Jesus and the love He offered her, she naturally went out to tell the townspeople about Him. As our needs are met and we are captured by the ways He loves us, He desires that we share that love with others. In 2 Corinthians 1:4, we are encouraged to take the comfort we receive and share it with others. “Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” How awesome that we are not just receptacles of His indescribable love, rather we receive and then He opens opportunities for us to lavish His grace, acceptance and understanding onto other people. The satisfaction that we experience when we can comfort others with the comfort we have received from God, is truly a gift to us and to those He comforts through us.
Oh, may the thirst you have from the needs that today presents, be quenched by His love, grace, understanding and acceptance of you. May you be in awe of His presence with you today, as you remember that He cares for every aspect of your life. And, as a result of your encounter with Jesus, may you be aware of people in your life who need the encouragement you have received from Him.
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)