Jesus was tight lipped about His identity. His mission on earth was to reveal the Father, so He kept His Messiahship secret. But there was one exception…..
On a trip from Judea to Galilee, Jesus passed through Samaria, a strip of land inhabited by a people despised by “true” Jews. Samaritans were held in contempt for their mixed blood lines, for their adulterated scripture, and for their unorthodox worship. Jews would not associate with Samaritans, but they could not deny their kinship. Samaritans were firmly rooted in the Land.
When Jesus arrived in the Samaritan village, He was tired. And thirsty. And on a mission . This mission required privacy, so He sent the disciples away and He sat down by a well. Not just any well, but Jacob’s well. He waited there like Jacob, like Moses, like Abraham’s servant in search of a bride for Isaac ; Jesus waited for a woman to come draw water.
When she saw Him sitting so near the well, she must have been uncertain. What was a Jew doing in Samaria? In her space? Perhaps she also waited, hesitated, busied herself doing nothing hoping He would move. But He did not. Exasperated, she pressed through to her task, trying to ignore His presence.
“Woman, would you give me a drink?” He asked.
Startled, she replied, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
“If you knew the gift of God and who is asking you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.”
What an odd response…. yet inviting, intriguing. He sounded kind. Who else would have spoken to this woman this way? And what gift of God could she possibly imagine? But she knew better than to trust men.
“Sir,” she responded, “you do not even have a bucket and the well is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus must have smiled internally. She had no idea how much greater than Jacob He was! But He restrained Himself. Living water, the Holy Spirit, was the topic of this conversation. Staying on point He replied, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Something was gripping the woman. Surely this was all nonsense, but her heart was pounding. Why?
There was no one around to hear, no one to mock, and so she dared.
“Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Jesus paused, touched by her thirst, by the faith He saw welling up in her. So He answered.
“Go get your husband.”
Oh…..cut to the heart once more! Exposed. No strength, no desire to run.
“I have no husband.”
“You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
She could have run. She could have denied the truth. She could have accused Him. But something held her there. He spoke the truth, but He was kind. He saw her. He knew her. She could not leave.
“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The Father was seeking her! This is what she heard. The man said that she would worship God, in Spirit and in truth, though she was a Samaritan, though she could not enter the temple. The Father was seeking people like her! And at that moment, I think that living water began bubbling. Could this be the One they were waiting for?
“I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
And then Jesus did smile, and He volunteered to this woman something He told no one else in scripture.
“I am He, the one who is speaking with you.”
Jesus told this woman who He was because Jesus is a Bridegroom seeking a Bride. Like Jacob at the well. Like Moses and Abraham’s servant. He is seeking those who worship in spirit and truth. He is the Husband the woman needs to call for her living water. And her faith is like a drink of water to His soul.