Waiting at the Well
Today’s novelists, journalists and moviemakers favor the themes of racism, prejudice and sexual immorality as if they are new. These themes go back to the Garden of Eden. One of the most dramatic stories of the love of Jesus conquering prejudice and human desperation was told two thousand years ago. The central figure of this story is known simply as the woman at the well. Read this story in John 4:4-26.
To understand the magnitude of Christ’s gesture when He reached out to the Samaritan woman, you first must try to understand the depth of the hatred and prejudice between the Jews and Samaritans. Orthodox Jews felt revulsion at the way Samaritans mixed Jewish beliefs and idolatry.
When Jesus set out to walk from Jerusalem to Galilee, His detractors would say He should not have taken the two-and-a-half day route. Instead, most Jews would have taken a five-day detour through Jericho and the Jordan Valley in the scorching desert to avoid contact with Samaritans.
But Jesus defied the expectations of others and traveled right into the heart of Samaria. Upon arrival, He stopped and rested at a well, clearly not avoiding the Samaritans. On the contrary, He sat there open, available and waiting, in no hurry to rush off. He had been led to that well for a purpose. Though tired from His journey, he waited.
The woman at the well was hated and degraded on many levels—by her birth as a Samaritan, by her gender that was considered inferior in that day, and by her infamous immorality. Yet this is the person the Christ, the Son of God, waited for expectantly.
We cannot fathom how shocking it was for Jesus to say to this fallen woman, “Will you give me a drink?” Not only did Jesus defy tradition by speaking directly to a woman, this woman was a despised and immoral Samaritan!
It is also significant that the woman’s word for water meant “stagnant,” water held in a cistern. Jesus’ word for water, however, meant a spring of bubbling, ever-refreshing, living water.
He wanted to give her water that would satisfy her every thirst. He wanted to give her the fulfillment that had eluded her as she sought satisfaction and joy in worldly pursuits. All had left her dry and empty. Only Jesus had the wellspring of eternal life that would satisfy her needs, and he offered it to her as a gift.
Jesus models how to share the good news with people from very different backgrounds. He put his agenda aside, lingered with her, asked her questions, did not condemn her for her past, did not rationalize or condone her sin, and offered her the bright hope of a future that is God’s gift. Jesus looked past her sin, her crusty veneer, and their cultural differences. He conveyed the Father’s love for her in a simple conversation. She confessed her sin, repented, accepted His gift, and was changed forever.
You may have unsaved neighbors or co-workers who have different values or different cultural backgrounds from yours. They need the Good News that Jesus loved them enough to give His life for them. The Lord has placed you at a well in your community so you can meet people who need to know the salvation message. Pray that the Holy Spirit will give you discernment to know the people you are to engage in conversation. Ask God for the words to say and the willingness to move out of your comfort zone to reach people quite different from you.
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