WOMEN IN SCRIPTURE: The Woman at the Well

As my second segment in my Women in Scripture series, I chose to highlight on the woman at the well. As one of the most most read passages in the Bible, the woman at the well teaches is about us about how Jesus meets us where we are in our lives.

We are first introduced to the Samaritan woman at the well when she is mentioned in John 4. As Jesus travels through Samaria on the way to Galilee, he stops to rest. Most Jews avoided this route at all costs, but Jesus chose to walk this road to specifically seek this woman out. Tired from his journey, Jesus commands the woman to draw some water for Him to drink. The Samaritan woman quickly responds with, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” As a preface for those who are unsure of the context, Jews do not often share things in common with Samaritans. The response this woman gives Jesus is very fitting in that she is unsure of why he is approaching her.

Jesus broke three major cultural Jewish customs right off the bat. First off, he spoke to her despite the fact that she was a woman. Secondly, she was a Samaritan woman and the Jews traditionally despised Samaritans. For centuries, Jews and Samaritans rejected each other simply on the basis of race. Lastly, he asked her to fetch him a drink of water, although using her cup or jar would have made him ceremonially unclean.

Historically and culturally speaking, woman during this time period tended to draw water from the well during the early morning hours. Because she was drawing water at midday alone is more than likely because she was wanting to keep the shunning to a minimum. She has been been married five times previously and was living with a man that was not her husband. In addition to her being an “outsider,” we also see in scripture that she was an openly curious person. She felt comfortable enough to not only talk with Jesus but also ask Him particularly pointed questions.

After Jesus asked for a drink of water, He quickly reveals himself to this woman as the living water, which is something that is mentioned many times in Scripture. The woman craved this type of water He was speaking of, but was unsure of how to achieve it. In the flesh, she was only hoping for a water to quench her thirst to make her trips to the well lesser. In that moment, Jesus talks to this woman about her immorality and infidelity. He understands that she is shameful and afraid to admit full responsibility, but takes time to explain the importance of the true meaning of eternal life through Him. Jesus uses living water as a metaphor for the Spirit that meets people’s thirst for life in relationship with God (John 7:37-39). Jesus says that the spiritual water that he provides brings people eternal life (4:14).

The story of the woman at the well is a rich example of hard truth, redemption and acceptance. Jesus accepted her as He accepts us, too. He knows our past in its fullest and loves us despite our failures, flaws and very sinful nature. We, too, can be like the woman at the well. We can be too ashamed to admit to our wrongdoings before the Lord. However, the Lord uses ordinary people for extraordinary causes.

Be obedient and don’t be afraid the approach the Lord boldly, just like this woman did. Our sin is the very reason that the Lord went to the cross and died a gruesome death. Jesus’ mission on this earth was to reach all people. He came for the blacks, whites, Latinos, outcasts, unfaithful and poor. He came to live for us to experience an abundant joy and grace.