Leaving Behind the Water Jar


Taken from: http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/two-tombstones-the-story-of-the-samaritan-woman-and-jesus-christ-11582592.html

That’s why the story you are about to read is significant. It’s the story of another tombstone. This time, however, the tombstone doesn’t mark the death of a person—it marks the birth. Her eyes squint against the noonday sun. Her shoulders stoop under the weight of the water jar. Her feet trudge, stirring dust on the path. She keeps her eyes down so she can dodge the stares of the others.

She is a Samaritan; she knows the sting of racism. She is a woman; she’s bumped her head on the ceiling of sexism. She’s been married to five men. Five. Five different marriages. Five different beds. Five different rejections. She knows the sound of slamming doors.

She knows what it means to love and receive no love in return. Her current mate won’t even give her his name. He only gives her a place to sleep.

If there is a Grace Llewellen Smith in the New Testament, it is this woman. The epitaph of insignificance could have been hers. And it would have been, except for an encounter with a stranger.

On this particular day, she came to the well at noon. Why hadn’t she gone in the early morning with the other women? Maybe she had. Maybe she just needed an extra draw of water on a hot day. Or maybe not. Maybe it was the other women she was avoiding. A walk in the hot sun was a small price to pay in order to escape their sharp tongues.

“Here she comes.”

“Have you heard? She’s got a new man!”

“They say she’ll sleep with anyone.”

“Shhh. There she is.”

So she came to the well at noon. She expected silence. She expected solitude.

Instead, she found one who knew her better than she knew herself.

He was seated on the ground: legs outstretched, hands folded, back resting against the well. His eyes were closed. She stopped and looked at him. She looked around. No one was near. She looked back at him. He was obviously Jewish. What was he doing here? His eyes opened and hers ducked in embarrassment. She went quickly about her task.

Sensing her discomfort, Jesus asked her for water. But she was too streetwise to think that all he wanted was a drink. “Since when does an uptown fellow like you ask a girl like me for water?” She wanted to know what he really had in mind. Her intuition was partly correct. He was interested in more than water. He was interested in her heart.

They talked. Who could remember the last time a man had spoken to her with respect?

He told her about a spring of water that would quench not the thirst of the throat, but of the soul.

That intrigued her. “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

“Go, call your husband and come back.”

Her heart must have sunk. Here was a Jew who didn’t care if she was a Samaritan. Here was a man who didn’t look down on her as a woman.

Here was the closest thing to gentleness she’d ever seen. And now he was asking her about . . . that.

Anything but that. Maybe she considered lying. “Oh, my husband?

He’s busy.” Maybe she wanted to change the subject. Perhaps she wanted to leave—but she stayed. And she told the truth.

“I have no husband.” (Kindness has a way of inviting honesty.)

You probably know the rest of the story. I wish you didn’t. I wish you were hearing it for the first time. For if you were, you’d be wide eyed as you waited to see what Jesus would do next. Why? Because you’ve wanted to do the same thing.

You’ve wanted to take off your mask. You’ve wanted to stop pretending.

You’ve wondered what God would do if you opened your cobweb-covered door of secret sin.

This woman wondered what Jesus would do. She must have wondered if the kindness would cease when the truth was revealed. He will be angry. He will leave. He will think I’m worthless.

If you’ve had the same anxieties, then get out your pencil. You’ll want to underline Jesus’ answer.

“You’re right. You have had five husbands and the man you are with now won’t even give you a name.”

No criticism? No anger? No what-kind-of-mess-have-you-made-of-your- life lectures?

No. It wasn’t perfection that Jesus was seeking, it was honesty.

The woman was amazed.

“I can see that you are a prophet.” Translation? “There is something different about you. Do you mind if I ask you something?”

Then she asked the question that revealed the gaping hole in her soul.

“Where is God? My people say he is on the mountain. Your people say he is in Jerusalem. I don’t know where he is.”

I’d give a thousand sunsets to see the expression on Jesus’ face as he heard those words. Did his eyes water? Did he smile? Did he look up into the clouds and wink at his father? Of all the places to find a hungry heart—Samaria?

Of all the Samaritans to be searching for God—a woman?

Of all the women to have an insatiable appetite for God—a five-time divorcée?

And of all the people to be chosen to personally receive the secret of the ages, an outcast among outcasts? The most “insignificant” person in the region?

Remarkable. Jesus didn’t reveal the secret to King Herod. He didn’t request an audience of the Sanhedrin and tell them the news. It wasn’t within the colonnades of a Roman court that he announced his identity.

No, it was in the shade of a well in a rejected land to an ostracized woman. His eyes must have danced as he whispered the secret.

“I am the Messiah.”

The most important phrase in the chapter is one easily overlooked.

“The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did!

Could he possibly be the Messiah?’” ( John 4:28–29 nlt)

Don’t miss the drama of the moment. Look at her eyes, wide with amazement. Listen to her as she struggles for words. “Y-y-y-you a-a-a-are the M-m-m-messiah!” And watch as she scrambles to her feet, takes one last look at this grinning Nazarene, turns and runs right into the burly chest of Peter. She almost falls, regains her balance, and hotfoots it toward her hometown.

Did you notice what she forgot? She forgot her water jar. She left behind the jug that had caused the sag in her shoulders. She left behind the burden she brought.

Suddenly the shame of the tattered romances disappeared. Suddenly the insignificance of her life was swallowed by the significance of the moment. “God is here! God has come! God cares… for me!”

That is why she forgot her water jar. That is why she ran to the city.

That is why she grabbed the first person she saw and announced her discovery, “I just talked to a man who knows everything I ever did . . . and he loves me anyway!”

The disciples offered Jesus some food. He refused it—he was too excited! He had just done what he does best. He had taken a life that was drifting and given it direction.

He was exuberant!

“Look!” he announced to disciples, pointing at the woman who was running to the village. “Vast fields of human souls are ripening all around us, and are ready now for the reaping” ( John 4:35 tlb).

Who could eat at a time like this?


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