GET TO KNOW THE STORY:
Jesus left Judea and started for Galilee again. This time he had to go through Samaria, and on his way, he came to the town of Sychar. It was near the field that Jacob had long ago given to his son Joseph. The well that Jacob had dug was still there, and Jesus sat down beside it because he was tired from traveling. It was noon, and after Jesus’ disciples had gone into town to buy some food, a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well.
Jesus asked her, “Would you please give me a drink of water?”
“You are a Jew,” she replied, “and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink of water when Jews and Samaritans won’t have anything to do with each other?”
Jesus answered, “You don’t know what God wants to give you, and you don’t know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would ask me for the water that gives life.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. Where are you going to get this life-giving water? 12 Our ancestor Jacob dug this well for us, and his family and animals got water from it. Are you greater than Jacob?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again. But no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give is like a flowing fountain that gives eternal life.”
The woman replied, “Sir, please give me a drink of that water! Then I won’t get thirsty and have to come to this well again.”
Jesus told her, “Go and bring your husband.”
The woman answered, “I don’t have a husband.”
“That’s right,” Jesus replied, “you’re telling the truth. You don’t have a husband. You have already been married five times, and the man you are now living with isn’t your husband.”
The woman said, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. My ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say Jerusalem is the only place to worship.”
Jesus said to her:
Believe me, the time is coming when you won’t worship the Father either on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans don’t really know the one you worship. But we Jews do know the God we worship, and by using us, God will save the world. But a time is coming, and it is already here! Even now the true worshipers are being led by the Spirit to worship the Father according to the truth. These are the ones the Father is seeking to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship God must be led by the Spirit to worship him according to the truth.
The woman said, “I know that the Messiah will come. He is the one we call Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
“I am that one,” Jesus told her, “and I am speaking to you now.”
The disciples returned about this time and were surprised to find Jesus talking with a woman. But none of them asked him what he wanted or why he was talking with her.
The woman left her water jar and ran back into town. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! Could he be the Messiah?” Everyone in town went out to see Jesus.
While this was happening, Jesus’ disciples were saying to him, “Teacher, please eat something.”
But Jesus told them, “I have food that you don’t know anything about.”
His disciples started asking each other, “Has someone brought him something to eat?”
My food is to do what God wants! He is the one who sent me, and I must finish the work that he gave me to do. You may say that there are still four months until harvest time. But I tell you to look, and you will see that the fields are ripe and ready to harvest.
Even now the harvest workers are receiving their reward by gathering a harvest that brings eternal life. Then everyone who planted the seed and everyone who harvests the crop will celebrate together. So the saying proves true, “Some plant the seed, and others harvest the crop.” I am sending you to harvest crops in fields where others have done all the hard work.
A lot of Samaritans in that town put their faith in Jesus because the woman had said, “This man told me everything I have ever done.” They came and asked him to stay in their town, and he stayed on for two days.
Many more Samaritans put their faith in Jesus because of what they heard him say. They told the woman, “We no longer have faith in Jesus just because of what you told us. We have heard him ourselves, and we are certain that he is the Savior of the world!” John 4:3-42 CEV
GET TO KNOW THE WOMAN:
Of all the women in scripture, I think I might have been closest friends with the Samaritan woman. Her story has been recited over and over again to reveal the depths of the Lord’s understanding of our chronology and character.
It’s been shared to teach us about His overwhelming compassion, forgiveness, mercy, and love. We’re taught about all that Jesus did on the day He met her. He traveled through a forbidden area, was alone with and talked to a woman—and a Samaritan—in broad daylight, and then changed His travel plans and stayed in her village—a Samaritan community—for two days.
What we’re often taught about her is less becoming. She’s a woman with an unsavory past and a questionable present who wonders about her future until Jesus comes along and sets things right. The words, “He told me everything I ever did!” are shared in ways that seem far more like a public outing of wrongs than a revelation of the intimacy of God’s great affection.
I think there’s more to her story—and she is far more than we imagined. She has words to share about using our words.
We don’t know why five men would have chosen to take her as a wife and then dispose of her. There are no courthouse records to view, no tear-stained journals or local newspapers to provide details of the moments that led to decisions to leave.
Yes, that’s right. Judaic law wouldn’t have allowed her to be the one to file the papers; in fact, each husband could have chosen to walk away for any number of reasons. We don’t know if any of her husbands died or if she was unable to have children, which would have been seen as a disgrace. We don’t know if she or her spouses were unfaithful.
We simply know that her story was one of broken story upon broken story—so many breaks, perhaps, that she had given up on the idea of a happily ever after.
The Samaritan woman was industrious and smart. Despite the brokenness that had pushed her away from community with other women gathering water in the cool of the day, she was determined to tend to her home and her life.
And it was in the heat and the dust she met Jesus. He asked for a simple drink of water, and her concern was immediate. She didn’t refuse Him the request, but she quickly warned Him of the danger of their interchange. “Sir, what you’re doing is against the law,” she said. Jesus smiled, and their discussion continued.
He talked to her of living water, of hope and healing. It wasn’t language unfamiliar to her. She had listened as the ancient scrolls were read and stories recited about a God who was faithful to sustain.
Samaritans were a religious people, and they awaited the day of redemption too. She knew of holy places, and she knew what it meant to bow low to the Lord most high. She knew Messiah was coming, and she prayed for that day to arrive.
She may have seen Jesus first as a con man or a fool, someone trying to take advantage of her and her people. After all, battles had raged for centuries between Samaritans and Jews about birthright and religion and politics.
And then, Jesus reveals the most personal of things to the Samaritan woman. He speaks to her brokenness. “I know the road you’ve walked,” He said. “I know there have been beginnings with ravaged endings, and I know you’re now afraid to even embrace the idea of a love that could last.
I know what’s been said about you, and I know what words are embossed on your heart right now. I know how that heart aches when it considers love. And woman, I see all the life that longs to be lived in you.”
She was unafraid to ask questions, unafraid to speak, unafraid to wonder and imagine. Jesus didn’t condemn her or dissuade her from any of it. In fact, He delighted in it.
He knew not only her brokenness but her beauty. He knew not only what was shattered within her but what was glorious about her. He knew that the voice firing questions would soon set her world ablaze.
And that she did. She ran back to her village and preached of the great love she had for the first time felt. She shared it in the village square to men and women. And because of how captivating the message was, because of the overwhelming transformation of that village, Jesus stayed in the village for two days to minister.
The people of the village said they believed first because of the power of her testimony, her words. Only after spending more time with Jesus did they say they also believed because of His words too.
The woman who met Jesus at a well at noon became a missionary in the cool of the day. The woman unafraid to speak truth to Jesus became the woman unafraid to share truth with her community.
According to Eastern Christian history, she became so known for her evangelistic message that she was brought before Emperor Nero to give an account for her faith. She was martyred for it.
The Samaritan woman isn’t a story of a bad girl busted. It’s the story of you and me. It’s the story of unfinished chapters and starts and stops and starts again. It’s the story of resignation and isolation and wondering if our voice has any purpose at all. It’s the story of all the questions we carry and the biggest question of all: does any of it really matter?
Her story gives our story permission to use our words.
She is an encourager to not be afraid to use our words, to not be afraid to ask the hard questions, to not be afraid to let our stories be known because within them are God’s redemption stories waiting to be revealed.
You may or may not have a string of broken relationships in your past, but if you’ve lived long enough, chances are you could list a series of wrong turns, bad choices, or misadventures.
Have you ever wondered which of those mistakes would be the final straw? If each failure discredits you, devalues your ability to serve in His Kingdom?
What does Jesus’ response to the Samaritan Woman tell you about the way He feels towards your own brokenness? What encouragement can you draw from her today about your story- the good and the bad- and the power you hold in sharing it?
“The Samaritan Woman” is an excerpt from the devotional, Reclaiming Who You Were Made To Be.
It’s one of 9 stories beautifully written by contributor, Ronne Rock, and is yours free when you preorder her latest book, One Woman Can Change the World.
about the author…
Ronne Rock weaves themes of transformative hope and grace-filled leadership into everything she shares on page and stage. Her book, One Woman Can Change the World, launches June 16, 2020 (Revell Publishing).
An Oklahoma gal by birth, Ronne now lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Brad and rescue pup, Pearl. You can find Ronne on Instagram here or on most every platform—just look for RonneRock.