John 4: 5-42 Whether you’re an insider or outsider, saved or sinner, the Samaritan woman gives us all hope. She is one of us! Jesus brought to her the love, mercy, grace and I think especially, forgiveness that tells us that no matter what our personal circumstances are or have been, Jesus meets us right where we stand, and offers us love, hope, mercy, grace, forgiveness and new life in the deep well of Living Water that is God. For we who thirst for spiritual God-presence, Jesus offers us the water that only He can offer; the water that wells up to eternal life. We see that spiritual and emotional thirst are as real as physical thirst. With the Samaritan woman, Jesus comes to her, an outsider, the “have-not,” the person who is at the bottom of the barrel in her town and society. Jesus speaks to her in a way that causes her to engage Him in a life changing conversation. Jews looked down on Samaritans, because the Jews thought that Samaritans were ceremonially unclean. And, of course, a woman, and in fact all women of that day, had no status in the patriarchal society of Jesus’ time. So, the well, symbolically, is a place where things come together, and we see Jesus coming to a well in the heat of the day, and meeting a Samaritan woman, a despised person with absolutely no status, and asks her for a drink, and then engages her in a life-saving conversation.
Water is also a biblical symbol for spirit and the gift of wisdom, which we see in Jesus as He answers, "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." This goes back to the Book of Jeremiah, where Jeremiah refers to God as “Living Water.” Here in John’s Gospel, Jesus refers to living water as eternal life. So, Jesus comes to this woman, and looks into her heart of hearts to find out who she is, and in fact, find out if she even knows who she is.
The Samaritan woman at the well is no angel. She’s gotten herself mixed up with the wrong crowd, and has, in fact, quite a reputation. She has been married five times and is living in sin with a man who isn't her husband. Her spirit has been broken and abused by the life she has lived. But, in Psalm 51, we read, “a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” I believe that she is a woman of integrity; a broken, but honest woman who has a big hole in her heart from all the men in her life who have abused her. Nevertheless, we know that she wants to be loved, because she has sought out love through the five failed marriages that she’s had. She has wanted to be loved so badly, that she has risked being married to five different abusive men! She’s put her faith in the wrong place. Yet, though the Samaritan woman has been married five times and is now living with another who she is not married to, Jesus doesn’t judge her, except to say that, “what you have just said is quite true.”
Jesus speaks about the well of living water, which gives eternal life, divine grace, and God-life within the soul. That well is deep, and the woman craves this type of water, because she, like us, wants to have eternal life, and in fact, a better life of ANY kind. I’m sure she also craves the love that this life suggests; and that is a love that can’t be found in the abusive marriages that she has been through. Sound familiar? Jesus makes her understand that she needs to confess her sins and change her life before she can obtain this life-giving water: living water which comes by grace. Jesus shows her that he already knows she is living with a man who is not her husband, yet; Jesus implies to her his forgiveness by offering to her living water, and eternal life. Jesus also calls us to the Living Water and the deep well of new life that God has prepared for us. So, if you’re thirsty for what is important in life, I would say today, open your heart and let Jesus give to you the living water that wells up to eternal life. Are you thirsty?