Read: John 4:1-26
I grew up in a small town in eastern Michigan. Anyone who has ever lived in a small town can attest to the fact that there is no privacy. Everyone knows everything about you. To make this worse, my mom was a teacher in the school, so not only did everyone know me, but they knew my mom. If I ever did anything, she knew all the details by that evening. Small towns can be great in this sense because of the closeness of community, but if you ever get yourself on the wrong side of the community, or do something you’re embarrassed about, everyone knows… and they will never forget.
This brings us to a small town in Samaria, where Jesus, tired and worn out from the journey, was sitting at the well around noon waiting for His disciples to come back with the food they had bought. As He’s there, the Samaritan woman came up to the well, alone and in the heat of the day. In the first century, the women of the villages would often go to the well together, either in the morning or evening when it was cool, and be in community as they drew their water for the day. The fact that this woman came alone in the midday sun tells us she is probably avoiding the other women of the city. Jesus notices this. But He also knows far more than this simple avoidance tells him. He knows her history of sexual sin and her broken dreams spelled out in six relationships, not all of which were even marital. This would account for why she was avoiding her peers. She was an outcast in her moralistic religious community with five broken relationships and a sixth that was scandalous.
Jesus, knowing all of this, approached and engaged this woman in conversation. He breaks all conventions of His day: He talked to a woman who was a Samaritan and an adulteress and even asked her for a drink (which would have made him unclean according to customs of the day). The woman is shocked that Jesus is speaking to her. He offers her living water that would make her never thirst again. With all the hardships in her life, she cannot see that Jesus is speaking of eternal life. All she can see is that this water would make her life easier in the here and now. Jesus then tells her that he knows about her past, her pain, and her heartache, proving that he is more than just a man asking for a drink. She, in turn, asked about the Messiah, and He answers with one of the most straightforward responses in the Gospels: “I who speak to you am he.” He forces her to take seriously his offer of ‘living water.’
Take a walk today and spend time looking at the people on the streets around you. Really look at them. Are there any people you deem outcasts? Are there any that you don’t normally take the time to acknowledge? The good news of the Gospel is for them too. Pray for them as you walk, and if you can take some time to share the love of Christ with them.