Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman
“Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. 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.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
"Let's get in this line. I want you to meet someone."
Conforming to his wishes, I piloted the buggy into the checkout lane like a race horse at the starting gate. We had a mini-cart full of odds and ends, leading one to believe exiting the grocery store would be a cinch. Jimmy was eager to introduce me to his most recent photo client, the checker of that line, while Dani eyed the tantalizing potpourri of sweets surrounding us on either side. Glancing ahead at the checker, I recognized her even though we'd never before met. As with many of his clients, I hold the advantage of getting acquainted with them as he edits their images on our oversized monitor at home. She was cute as a bug's ear and I couldn't wait to tell her how pretty her photos turned out, if only our dog gone line would get a move on.
I'm generally impatient with slow lines but hadn't given our wait a second thought until the lady customer ahead of us sheepishly mouthed, "Sorry, this is going to take a while." A glimpse closer revealed that her daughter was paying with food stamps, a far cry from a fast swipe of a credit card. I smiled back at her with an it's ok smile to put both our minds at ease. My heart went out to them both as a warm wave of sympathy pulsed through my veins. At least her daughter had family to help her, I theorized in effort to comfort myself. About that time I saw an infant in the cart, melting my heart all the more.
As I pondered the situation of the crew in front of us, unbeknownst to me, Dani was striking up a conversation with a lady to our rear. Zeroing in on a cheery young blond, sweeter than the candy on our periphery, Dani was attempting to communicate. Since Jimmy and I translate for her, we soon boarded the merry-go-round conversation only to discover her son had Autism too. We talked about everything from soup to nuts in the world of Autism and ended up leaving her at the counter as her precious boy underwent a melt down over his torn chip bag.
By the time the automatic doors ushered our exit I was frazzled. Having been bordered, even for a short time, by the poverty and pain, I was perplexed as to the the meaning of it all. The Lord exposed great need in both families, yet the opportunity to help was snuffed out on each account, leaving me to wonder why were we ever there in the first place.
At one point I was about to mention to the blond lady my book Freedom until she specifically mentioned she didn't like to delve too deep into Autism. A little here, a littler there was all she could handle. We had a great conversation, she was a wonderful mother and I told her so, but I never shared my book out of respect for her wishes. I wonder now if I missed a prime opportunity. Then, in the parking lot Jimmy informed me he noticed the mother and daughter ahead of us had to put food back because they didn't have enough money. By this point I was offended. I can't tell you how many times I've asked God for opportunities to help others, and I do but in very small ways, but never in such perfect circumstances as this day. I would have been thrilled to help pay the ladies groceries and delighted to offer my book to this young struggling mother, but for some reason circumstances didn't allow.
Our passage today in verse 4 states Jesus had to go through Samaria. In a day where Jews went out of their way to avoid Samaria and what they felt were its filthy inhabitants, one has to wonder why Jesus had to go through this region. It wasn't conventional and certainly no one's first choice, yet He chose this route to fulfill a mission. Meeting a woman at the well who was a societal outcast, He shared the good news that He was the long awaited Messiah, summoned her to turn from her sin, and accepted her in a pure and loving way. As a result, her transforming testimony brought many Samaritans to believe, making this subtle encounter with humanity's lowest rank one that steered salvation in a direction no one could ever imagine.
As the little Autistic boy at the checkout counter ramped up into a full blown fit, our checker, Jimmy's client, appeared an equal mix of peeved and perplexed. To her credit, she was a young teen with little exposure to disabilities, so Jimmy lovingly campaigned for the child and mother by mouthing over the counter, "it's Autism." Like a cool breeze from the sea, this whit of insight reshaped her demeanor as a glint of acceptance and understanding bedazzled her smile.
In retrospect, now that I think about it, maybe the moral of the story is even though we did not help pay for groceries or offer a book at the grocery store, perhaps this young teen gained greater awareness into the rougher edge of society. Maybe she noticed our patience as we stood in line while the food stamps were being processed, which is out of character for me, or our compassion for the little boy struggling with Autism. Could it be the experience was not in vain but God desiring to show His love through us as He did the woman at the well, with understanding and compassion. No money, no product, no conditions, just genuine loving kindness.
Whether it's at a desert water well or suburban grocery store, you can be sure God is always at work. Sometimes it's tangible and profound, while other times more subtle and unseen. If given a choice I'd rather witness the kind of work He does that blows my hair back and takes my breath away. These scenes are rare as hen's teeth unfortunately and I think it's because to trust in His muted more subdued work, is to challenge and ignite greater faith. Stretching us to live each day, no matter how spectacularly mundane, as if He is working a supernatural miracle. We may find ourselves simply standing in line at a checkout counter, but He is at work and others are watching. That thought alone messes up my hair.
When was the last time you felt God did not use you as you thought He should have? Have you ever taken the time to reevaluate the situation to see if He indeed used you but in a subtle more powerful way?
How do you view and respond to "women at the well" of our society today? Do you turn away, keep them at arms length, or reach out to them?
Take a moment to ask God how He can use you to touch someone today. After you've done this, ask Him to open your eyes to the subtle more artful ways your work will be extended to those around you. Then, sit back and trust you are a beautiful thread in this tapestry of life.