And He had to pass through Samaria. So He came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as He was from His journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:4-11
Today’s passage is easily one of my favorite interactions with Jesus recorded in the gospels. Each time I read it, a new insight and truth arises from it. Out of the numerous lessons to learn from Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman, there are two that stand out above the rest.
The first is Jesus’ desire to be counter-cultural. The woman was astonished at the fact Jesus would even talk to her because of the respective groups they belonged to. It’s an understatement to say that there was bad blood between the Jewish people and the Samaritans. Interaction between the two was frowned upon. This social faux pas didn’t matter to Jesus. Even though Jesus was Jewish, being God’s Son took priority and served as His focus. As God’s Son He did not stay confined to the cultural norms, rather He found ways to bring healing to relationships between enemies.
In a way, no one was safe from an interaction with Jesus. Jesus did not allow the cultural boundaries deter Him from engaging in a relationship. No upbringing, skin color, or religious beliefs kept Jesus from entering into the lives of others. He did not see the labels society placed on an individual; He saw a person who needed to know they were valued and seen.
The second lesson we learn from this passage is how this interaction pushes against our desire to earn and prove our worth. When Jesus told the woman about the living water He could give her, her immediate response was, “You have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep.” The woman knew how wells worked. The woman could not wrap her mind around having access to water without some sort of way to get it. I have retrieved water out of a well before, and it is not an easy task. The process of gathering water consumes energy as you crank a handle to get a bucket down a well, let the bucket fill up, and then crank a full pail back up.
Jesus wants her to understand that the living water He has is freely given. She’s not able to be earn it. I’m sort of like the Samaritan woman, I also struggle with trying to earn something that is given freely to me. We all have our life-long struggles, and for me it is the desire to earn God’s grace. My response when I sin is not to confess and instantly receive the freely given forgiveness God has for me. My response when I sin is to focus on the list of things I can do to “earn” God’s forgiveness. I tell myself I need to double my quiet time, only listen to worship music, or donate to a missionary before I can dare ask for forgiveness. Yet, the truth is immediately after I sin I can confess and receive God’s forgiveness and grace.
Coming face-to-face with Jesus changes everything for us. A truth I cling to is that it only takes one glimpse of Jesus to change us forever. There is a song I love by Jonathan and Melissa Helser called “Just One.” It speaks about the reality of how just one glimpse, word, or interaction with Jesus changes everything. We see this played out in Jesus’ interaction with people all throughout the Bible. No one ever left an encounter with Jesus the same, including us. Whether we have never had an interaction with Jesus, or we have had several, He influences our lives.
What influence have your encounters with Jesus had on your life?
As you continue to have encounters with Jesus, we’d encourage you to journal them. When you are going through a rough season, recounting those encounters will remind you of His faithfulness towards you over time.
Father, thank you for having encounters with us. How unreal is it to think the Savior of the world still desires to have intimate encounters with His children. I pray I would never take those encounters for granted, and realize the deepening of our relationship that each encounter brings. I am grateful for Your love for me. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
PC3 writer Davy Nance wrote today’s devotional.