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The Story of the Samaritan Woman

This essay is a follow up to the Extraordinary Women of the Bible study. We recommend first completing your lesson and discussing it with your group before reading this post.

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Where do you meet Jesus?
By: Amanda Hickernell

Where is a good place to meet God? We often think the location needs to be grand in order to match the majesty of our king. After all, God met his people on high mountaintops, in the vast wilderness, and the holy temple. But God also met his people in an ordinary tent, from a nearby bush, and on the dusty road. The location doesn’t matter. God graciously draws near to us everywhere.

In John 4, we see a weary Jesus choosing to rest at a well in Samaria while his disciples find food. He was waiting for someone: a Samaritan woman. He was waiting at an everyday place: a well. He was waiting at the time she would be there: high noon.

As the Samaritan woman approached the well, she was likely surprised to see someone else there at the hottest part of the day. Not only was that someone a man, but he was a Jewish man. A Samaritan was considered unclean, so she knew the Jewish man would not speak to her or barely even look at her. And yet, Jesus did speak to her. “Give me a drink,” Jesus said. As a 21st century, Texas-born mom of preschoolers, my response is: Jesus, where are your manners? Shouldn’t you say “hello” first, or at least use the word “please”? But to a Samaritan woman, at that time, his words said “I see you. I’m not repulsed by you. I value you.” By asking for a drink, Jesus would have to touch the cup or ladle that she had in her hand. This would transfer her uncleanliness to him, which was a big no-no to the Jews. But that didn’t seem to bother Jesus.

As their conversation progresses, Jesus continues to show his patient love for the woman. Two times Jesus talks about living water, and both times her response reveals that she can only think about physical needs rather than spiritual ones. She wonders how Jesus can draw water without a pail, and then desires the living water just so she won’t have to keep trudging to the well everyday.

So Jesus pivots the conversation to her husband. He tells her that he knows she has had 5 husbands already and is living with another man. She must have been stunned for several reasons. First, Jesus’ statement reveals that he knew everything about her. Jesus is omniscient, or all-knowing; a characteristic belonging only to God. Second, his statement reveals that she needs a savior. Clearly life on earth hasn’t been easy for her and she certainly doesn’t feel loved or cherished by the men in her life. Third, the statement reveals that Jesus loves her dearly. Jesus knew that she was an unclean Samaritan woman with a dark past and yet he STILL asked her for a drink of water. Wow.

As the conversation continues, the Samaritan woman begins to think spiritually and Jesus ends by telling her that he is the Messiah. She returns to her town and testifies to all that she met the Messiah! Even without a clear understanding of living water and eternal life, she proclaims to all what she knows: this man told her “everything she ever did”. That was enough for her and for her town to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the promised savior of the world.  

Jesus met the Samaritan Woman at a well. Not at the temple and not on a mountaintop. He met her in her everyday life. Jesus is waiting for you, too. He is waiting at your kitchen sink, your laundry room and in your car. Jesus is waiting in the mundane, in the mess and up on that mountain too. Jesus graciously meets us everywhere.

Remembering that Jesus meets us everywhere is the first step, but the second step is to actually listen to him! When I am about to read my Bible, I start with a simple prayer as I make my coffee: “Good morning Lord. I am here. I want to hear from you. Quiet my mind and show me what you want to say.”  Or when I am about to clean the house, I sing a hymn and put on a podcast. Jesus graciously meets me here. He has been patiently waiting for my attention. And this is where he lovingly corrects my thinking and changes my heart.

Where is Jesus waiting for you today? How will you get the conversation started?

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