In John 4, a very unique event takes place in Jesus’ ministry. While passing through Samaria to go to Galilee, the Apostles go into town to get food. What follows is as powerful a story of the life, bread, water, blood, and ministry of Jesus that is recorded in the gospels.
I remember some years ago seeing a modern-day drama depicting this woman’s encounter with Christ, and it was powerful to say the least. The thing is, ya gotta read between the lines to get the whole story. Beginning in verse 15, the woman bites the hook Jesus puts out there in front of her. “Sir, give me this water (living water) so I will not be thirsty or come all the way here to draw.”
So the response by Jesus? “go get your husband, and come here.” What? Has this guy been a fly on my wall or something? There’s no telling what she might have thought. You have to pause here… I wonder what the time span was before she answered him with, “I don’t have a husband.” Even in the Samaritan standards, this woman had apparently lived an extremely immoral lifestyle. She’s had 5 husbands? I wonder how immoral she was – having disappointed 5 men enough to be divorced. And now – the man she’s with is not her husband either. We’re not told about it… but I would guess that this woman had not ONLY had 6 men in her life.
How did the people look at her in town? How would she have been regarded by her peers? When she walked up to a store window (indulge me here), and a family of 4 was there looking at the goods window-shopping, how might the family have treated her? My mind’s eye imagines a father wrapping his arms around his children and his wife by the shoulder and quickly scurrying off so as not to be seen with such a woman. But Jesus… offers her living water. LIVING WATER! What in the world would that be…
This is NOT about marriage, divorce, and re-marriage. This is about a woman at the end of her rope, in need of something she can’t get anywhere else. Immoral? Absolutely… but she has faith to some level. And she declares, “I know Messiah is coming…” Why would she just randomly bring that up? Had this man shown her that he could be the one? Jesus offers her enough evidence in his speech (and he plainly states that he IS) to convince her that He IS Messiah.
In verse 39, the text clearly says, “many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman…” While we could finish the story and talk about the belief of others here, the greatest point to me is that this woman had apparently changed! How else would “many of the Samaritans” believe because of her? Jesus brought living water to this woman, and she changed. How could she not? After spending time with the Master, experiencing his boldness, kindness, his very existence – she would undoubtedly have no choice but to quit the awful life she had chosen to live. That is what encounters with the Christ are about! May God bless us with encounters with Christ ourselves, and give others simple reasons to believe in Him!