Tonight I read John 4, which includes Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman at the well and noticed a couple new things as I read. We’ve covered this story quite a few times over the past few weeks in various Bible studies at church, so there’s much to be said about this encounter.
First, let’s point out that Jesus was a Jew and the woman was a Samaritan. Jews and Samaritans had nothing to do with each other; in fact, in the footnotes of my NIV Bible, it states that the Jews wouldn’t even eat out of the same dishes that the Samaritans used! So, immediately, this woman of intrigued by the fact that Jesus is even talking to her.
Second, Jesus offers her living water (which, of course she doesn’t understand). One of the young ladies in my young adult’s Bible study described the woman’s situation this way: “This is a woman who has been doing everything she can to make it on her own. In a land where women held no power, authority, or property, she’s married multiple times in order to be taken care of and have her needs met. And here, Jesus is offering to meet all those needs!” I love this, because that’s exactly what Jesus was doing when He offered her living water! He was offering to satisfy every need and longing of her heart, if she’d just turn to Him–the Messiah.
Third, when Jesus disciples return to Him, after buying food in another town, Jesus tells them to stop worrying about food for the moment and take a look at what’s going on around them. He says, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and looks at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:34-35).
Lastly, the woman went back to her town and testified on His behalf! The book of John says, “many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39).
What have I learned from this encounter? I’ve learned that God offers many opportunities for us to reach the lost. Most often, they’re right in front of us: the lonely student, the despised boss, the struggling single mom, the stripper, or drug addict. As His followers, we’ve already been offered and have accepted that living water; our duty is to pour it into the lives of others. But how often we get distracted by our daily tasks–or worry about what others will think of us because we’re associating ourselves with someone of “unsavory” or questionable character–that we miss out on what God is doing around us and what He wants from us! Jesus reached out to this woman, whom the disciples most likely would have overlooked, because 1) she was a woman and 2) because she was a despised Samaritan, but obviously, God had much more in store for her. And finally, we ought to be doing just what this woman did upon hearing about Christ’s goodness, sharing it with the world; so that others, in turn, will do the same.