In1988 I scheduled my first trip to Israel. A celebration of the state of Israel as a nation for forty years filled the air. I got all turned around that first day I arrived in Jerusalem and decided to sit in the park and catch my breath. I pulled out a map and tried to figure out the best way to my hotel. The nicest gentlemen approached me and helped me. Men in this culture do not even let their eyes fall on a woman let alone talk to one. The same thing happened a week later when I checked out of my hotel room! Being the Sabbath, I didn’t expect the man in the Shabbat elevator with me to even look at me, yet he was kind and courteous to engage in conversation as our cage automatically stopped on every floor as we descended to the parking garage. Upon exiting, he helped me unload my luggage. Unbelievable! These two kind men were not religious Jews, I guess. Refreshing!
I thought about this memory today when I studied the Samaritan Woman in the gospel of John. Some say she went to the well to draw water in the heat of the Noon day so as not to endure the wrath and criticism of the morning shift of women who worked early while it was cool. The Samaritan was a loose lady with a huge wound in her soul. Then she met Jesus. Why would a Jew talk to a Samaritan? They never did that! Surprise, surprise! I know how she feels.
My favorite part comes next when she challenges him after he asks for a drink. How are you going to drink from this fresh spring water well? You don’t even have a bucket. Jesus goes on with clues. “If only you knew what God can give you. You would ask and I would give you living water and you would never thirst again.”
Such a nice way to express “I know that you are not fulfilled in life, but I have a purpose for you.”
She challenges further and she asks him if he thinks he’s greater than their ancestor Jacob who established this well. His reply is the climax of the story.
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But the water that I give is living water like a spring flowing inside of them. It brings eternal life.”
The woman wants this! I want this! Every day.
The story goes on and He asks her to bring her husband and she reveals she is not married. He follows up with the brutal truth knowing she has been married five times and the man she lives with now is not her husband. She’s amazed he knows her inside and out and she guesses he’s a prophet.
I’m not getting that she felt condemned. Somehow he offered her something so unbelievably glorious much like a salesman who knows exactly how to read us and offer us the best. Jesus and the woman talked about worship of God and the expected Messiah and Jesus announces that’s who He is!
The story goes on and I am reeled into her excitement when she leaves her water pot and runs into town and persuades a bunch of people as she shouts "Come look. I just met the awaited Messiah." Pretty soon they all check out for themselves this Messiah she found and they bear witness. They all got saved.
I, too, just want to reach into the pages of my Bible and hug Him. Oh, to be so set free like this woman who used to hide, but now rejoices in the truth, in the middle of the day, no less.
I wish my aunt could have known Jesus apart from religion. Redemption doesn’t come by doing activities, it comes in relationship. She suffered a promiscuous lifestyle, as well, and felt like an outcast. Her shame followed a long life of misery and, eventually, severe mental illness set in and destroyed her mind. She was looking for love in one disposable lover after another, just like the Samaratin woman.
Jesus, the true Messiah, delivers. He saves. He’s the breakthrough of all breakthroughs. He meets the deepest need. In Him, nothing is missing and nothing is broken.