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Read |John 4: 7-38|
The story, "The Samaritan Woman", is probably one of the most famed of Jesus' encounters (John 4: 7 - 38). In it, I am struck by Jesus' willingness to be made of no reputation in order to make the offer of a lifetime to a woman belonging to a rival people. He dismisses the possible detractors born of cultural tradition, and patiently engages her to the point of His revelation as the Messiah--as the One who offers living water, overflowing into eternal life.
I imagine that she woke up that morning, considering all she stood in need of and all she had to offer. I imagine, that as she contemplated her needs and strengths, that she resolved in her mind to do what she could. She had need for many things, but she had strength for only one of those things. I see her picking up her water jar and her countenance, and heading to Jacob's well to fetch some water. I feel, along with her, the stress of only being able to satisfy the bare minimum of her needs. I feel, along with her, the sorrow of an eternal longing unspoken and unmet. I know, along with her, the shame of trying to secure what is beyond your means to secure--this is a desperate place. Husband after husband, with not one of them being yours, is a desperate place.
Then Jesus interrupts her plans with a request for water (John 4:7). I sense her confusion. He is breaking so many customs. He doesn't even seem prepared. After all, He didn't even have a bucket (John 4: 11). But soon after, Jesus makes clear He is not looking for her to offer anything when He says, "If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would ask him, and he would give you living water.” (John 4:10, CSB). He continues, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.” (John 4;13 - 14, CSB). I hear her heart panting, "give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and come here to draw water.” She reveals her thirst and He reveals her hidden issue and shows He understands her true need:
“Go call your husband,” he told her, “and come back here.”
“I don’t have a husband,” she answered.
“You have correctly said, ‘I don’t have a husband,’” Jesus said. “For you’ve had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.
What you have said is true.” (John 4: 16 - 18, CSB).
I feel the pain of light touching the wounds created by a lifetime of self help. I sense the fear of exposure and all that it may demand I change or give up. I know the temptation to regress into hiding. She responds with a distancing, "'I see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.'"(John 4: 19 - 20, CSB). Jesus responds with the truth that destroys the wall she is building, "'But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.'” (John 4: 23-24, CSB). She says, “'I know that the Messiah is coming' (who is called Christ). 'When he comes, he will explain everything to us.'" (John 4:25, CSB). He reveals, "'I, the one speaking to you, am he.'" (John 4: 26, CSB).
I see the light kindled in her heart. I feel her hope expanding beyond her strength, to make way for expectation of God's action on her behalf, as she leaves her water jar and runs to tell everyone in town, "'Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?'” (John 4: 29, CSB). She is no longer searching for the Messiah. She has found Him! She has found the one who would explain everything; and that is how she declares His arrival to those who would come to believe. Her question is an invitation for them to come and see for themselves--and they do. Her question is an invitation to you.
Are you burdened with more demand than you can supply? Are you calling into question the wisdom of self help? Are you riddled with shame from the failure after failure of trying to do it (whatever it may be), in your own strength? Will you leave your water jar behind? Will you make room for God's action on your behalf?
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your willingness and faithfulness in extending your strength to help us in our weakness. We thank you for demonstrating that faithfulness so perfectly on Calvary's cross. We receive your help today. In Jesus' name, amen.
Carolyn Sinclair McCalla is a daughter of God, with a passion for encouraging women to embrace the fullness of God's love for them in Jesus Christ. She leads the Be-Held Community: a group of women seeking, living and being transformed by the truth of God’s Word together.