The noonday sun beat down in oppressive waves as she made her way through the empty streets toward the well. Each step was heavy and labored. She was burdened with far more than her clay water jars.
Shame, guilt, embarrassment, contempt . . . these were the weights around her neck, pulling her attention to the ground in front of her rather than to the eye level of those she may have encountered. Her reputation was well known in the community, forever marking her as untouchable, unapproachable, and unlovable.
What must she have been thinking? Fine, then. You people do not need me, and I certainly don't need you. Or perhaps, Why should I care what you people think? You've never done anything for me.
Maybe, though, her spirit was more broken than she realized, and her inner voice squeaked out, Love me. Look at me. Talk to me. Please.
Whatever her thoughts, they were interrupted by the voice of the stranger sitting at the well. "Will you give me a drink?" he asked.
Recognizing him as a Jew, the Samaritan woman could not conceal her shock at this surprise encounter. Racial tension was at an all-time high, and polite exchanges between Jews and Samaritans simply did not happen.
"You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" she responded. In her mind, a flurry of other questions arose. Can't you see I'm here at this time of day because I don't want to see anyone? Don't you know it is improper for a man to approach a woman in public like this?
The stranger's answer confounded her. "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink," he said, "you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."
"What are you talking about?" she asked. "You do not even have a jar to draw water from the well; where can you get this living water?"
The love in his eyes and voice broke through her defenses as he answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst." Her curiosity was piqued. "Sir," she asked, "give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water." She silently finished the statement, . . . because I want to stay safe at home and not subject myself to judgmental stares.
Suddenly, the stranger caught her off guard with a request.
"Go, call your husband and come back."
"I . . . I have no husband," she replied through gritted teeth and pursed lips. Her curiosity, which had turned to suspicion, now gave way to amazement and embarrassment as the man revealed his awareness of her private indiscretions. Her heart raced. Who is this man? How does he know about my life? The current discussion was too personal for her comfort, so she attempted to change the subject to a more theological issue.
The stranger redirected the issue back to her private affairs. She realized that he was interested, not in talk of religion, but in the condition of her life.
She had never seen such godly passion in any other person. Perhaps this made her think of the Jews' and Samaritans' shared prophecy of a coming Savior. She gave voice to her hope, saying, "I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."
She trembled as the man looked deeply through her eyes and into her soul and said, "I who speak to you am he." And then, she knew. This was no mere man, no simple teacher, no ordinary prophet. This was the Christ, God's Holy Son. Her shame vanished and her guilt fled as she stood tall in the love of the Lord.
Leaving the scene, the woman ran back to town. Down the same path she had just crept quietly, hoping not to be seen, she now bounded wildly looking for people to tell. For the first time in years, she did not feel like a walking scandal. Instead, she had a new job: she was a messenger of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. She no longer hid; now, she yelled in the streets, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?!" Perhaps to her own surprise, the people did come. They came in droves, and Scripture records that many in that area came to a saving knowledge of Jesus through this one restored woman's testimony.
She began with no hope and no purpose. Jesus changed that. He used a most unlikely messenger to transform the lives of many in Samaria, and He began with the one person who needed Him most.
Has Jesus changed your life? There is a power in your testimony that you may never have realized. If you have the Living Water in your life, take a lesson from this woman at the well and let it out. The results may astound you.