This is the fourth in a four-part series on Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well.
Jesus had to go through Samaria. He came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, which was near the land Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus was tired from his journey, so he sat down at the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me some water to drink.”
Jesus said to her, “I Am—the one who speaks with you.”
Just then, Jesus’ disciples arrived and were shocked that he was talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” The woman put down her water jar and went into the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done! Could this man be the Christ?” They left the city and were on their way to see Jesus. – John 4:4-7, 26-30 (CEB)
After her long conversation with Jesus, I don’t think the Samaritan woman even noticed the disciples as they return to the well. How does she have eyes for anyone but Jesus? I don’t think it’s the disciples that spook her, causing her to run off into the city. Rather, the Samaritan woman realizes that she is encountering God and needs to invite others to do the same.
And this is an act of generosity and grace.
Does it surprise us that she wants the people of the city to come? These are the people who have driven her to this well alone, in the middle of the day. Have they ever given her anything other than exclusion? Yet, she doesn’t hold a grudge. Her first thought when she realizes who Jesus is, is to go and get the others. Even though they have never offered her life, she freely offers it to them.
John makes sure we know that she leaves her water jar there at the well. The whole purpose for her visit had been to draw water. But now, she sets it aside as she goes back into the city. It is a symbol of her faith. She has received the living water, and you don’t need a water jar for that.The Samaritan woman leaves her water jug at the well because she has received the living water, and you don’t need a water jar for that. #grace #hope Click To Tweet
We might marvel at her invitation to the people, “Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done!” This seems a bit of hyperbole. But maybe not. As we discussed last week, knowing that the woman had been married five times wasn’t the extent of Jesus’ knowledge. The facts weren’t as important as the story that lay beneath them. The woman had just said the Messiah would come and teach them everything. Her statement has been fulfilled.
Jesus did not condemn her but named her fear, grief, and desperation. Even more, Jesus’ continued pursuit of this woman and the offer of living water tells us that he also saw the good within her. Jesus doesn’t just know about her.
Jesus knows her.
The Samaritan woman is not announcing a magician and some parlor trick as she goes back into town. She is sharing her joy in being known and seen. She believes she has seen the Messiah who has proclaimed all things to her. She invites her neighbors to receive the living water that she has received.
I recently watched an episode of Survivor where one person was blind folded with a bucket of water and they had to throw it about five feet hoping the person on the other side would be able to catch the water with their bucket. It was ridiculous to watch. Try it later today. You can only catch a little bit at a time.
It was funny to watch on Survivor but this is not how we want to receive the living water. Nor is it how Jesus offers it to us.
Jesus didn’t have to go through Samaria because he was in a time crunch. Jesus had to go through Samaria because that’s where this woman and the others in the city were. She may have been the one going to the noonday well, but in truth, we all spend time there. They didn’t need a few drops in their bucket, but the gushing, leaping wellspring of water that does not leave us thirsty.
Dale Bruner says the woman “came for the water but… went home with the well.” (The Gospel of John: A Commentary)
Jesus met this woman at her noonday well. When all she had was an empty bucket, he filled her with the living water of honor, mercy, love, and hope. Jesus had to go through Samaria for love allowed for no other way.
We all have times we are in Samaria standing at our noonday well with an empty bucket and little hope. Stuck in the heat of the day, alone at our noonday well, in need of grace, Jesus tells us here that we do not stand there ourselves. Jesus needed to go through Samaria because it’s where we are, and we need the well of living water. This is why God incarnate came to us. Love allowed for no other way.
The entire sermon and worship service can be found here:
I’m excited to announce my new book will be out this month!
Come to the Table: Communion Liturgies of Invitation to Celebrate and Experience the Love of God is a collection of communion liturgies inviting worshippers to experience and respond to the Gospel.