The woman at the well in John 4:1-42 is one of my favorite passages of scripture. It never fails to bring tears to my eyes, and the glory of the Word is that each time I read it I’m moved by a different part.
If you are not familiar with the event, then take a moment to read it.
The woman who came at noon to get water at the well met Jesus. He struck up a conversation with her. As the conversation progressed she realized He is the Messiah and He confirmed it. The Disciples returned and watched and listened to the conversation. She ran off back to town, excited, to tell the news. Sounds simple, eh? There are many truths to be plumbed from this passage.
Here is what struck me today:
First, she might have been marginalized because of her promiscuous reputation, but she was not ignorant. She was well aware of the scriptures. She not only knew Jacob as the previous owner of the well, she knew that Jacob was her forefather in the religion. (John 4:12). Soon she understood that Jesus was not just “Sir”, but a prophet. (John 4:19). Immediately she took the opportunity to ask Him a religious question in attempt to gain understanding on a religious debate that had been going around, regarding where the Samaritans should worship. (John 4:20). I know that she used the question as a diversionary tactic to bring the conversation away from her sins, but the fact that she asked it on the heels of her discernment that the man she was peaking with is a prophet shows she understood in His authority enough to ask it in the first place.
By verse 25 she revealed that she knew the scriptures well enough to speak of her faith and hope in the promise of the coming Messiah. (John 4:25). In verse 26 Jesus states that He is the Messiah.
They talk a bit more and then excited, she runs into town to share the Good News, bringing back with her the men of the town to see for themselves. This tells of great faith and clarity in the extraordinary moment she found herself in. I mean, her joy in learning that Messiah had come trumped everything. She ran to town to tell everyone- including her 4 ex-husbands. When was the last time you had enough joy in the Word to share with people who hated you enough to put you out? Including your ex-husband??
Now let’s look at the theological implications. Here was a woman going about her daily business. Walking to the well didn’t take extraordinary strength or talent. Drawing water was humdrum. So her mind was likely on neutral, as mine usually is when I do the dishes or vacuum. As she got to the well she encountered something unusual, a Jew, talking to her, (“for the Jews do not associate with Samaritans.” John 4:9). Rather than shrink from something unusual, she asked questions, open and curious as to what was going on. Compare that to yourself. If you were involved in a mundane task, like at the checkout line at the grocery store, and someone out of the ordinary started talking to you, what would you do? Would you continue on your way, or would you look them in the eyes and converse, curious? Too many people today are wrapped up in the daily mundane, too dulled to notice something unusual, like salvation standing in front of them.
Further, the woman knew her scripture, and applied them to her immediate situation. How many of us do that today?
Last, when the disciples returned, they saw the woman and Jesus talking, but it was expressly stated, “And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?” We should take that to heart as a lesson, as well. When salvation is knocking for your friend or loved one, and the door is opening, be sensitive to the situation. Don’t squash it, or hurry it, or interfere with it.
The woman went to get water, and met with the object of her faith in the flesh! It was a momentous occasion. She had been expecting the Messiah but was sensitive enough to the open door to walk through it: “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9).
If you are saved, then be aware of the people that the Lord puts in your path. They’re there for a reason. If you are not saved, then be sensitive to the knock at the door of your heart. He sends people to us to draw us to Him. Listen. Don’t be in such a rush that you focus on the mundane task to the exclusion of salvation standing in front of you.