The Woman At the Well
In John 4 we read of Jesus choosing to travel through Samaria on His way to Galilee. I said he chose to travel through Samaria because during this time most Jews despised the Samaritians so much that they would avoid this area by crossing over the Jordan Riven and travel northward until they passed that region and then cross back over.
If coming from Jerusalem what would be about a 3-4 day journey to Galilee turned into a 6-7 day journey by going around. I don’t know about you but when I travel I take the shortest/fastest route possible. Going somewhere that would add hours to my trip is just not something that I would want to do much less taking a route that would add days.
Whether Jesus was just wanting to get there faster or being the master teacher He was, decided to go through Samaria because of the opportunities it would produce is unknown but nonetheless he and some of his followers come to a town called Sychar (Jn. 4:5).
It’s there that He meets a woman while sitting next to Jacob’s well as his disciples had gone to buy food. She was a Samaritan woman and was perplexed that Jesus would even speak to her much less ask of her something. Jesus took the opportunity of asking her a simple question to spring board into teaching her that He was the awaited Messiah. It is evident that there was some doubt on her part at first and even after she leaves to tell everyone still some lingering questions as she says to them “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (Jn. 4:29)
John records for us that many of the Samaritans from that town began to believe in part because of what the woman had told them and then after asking Jesus to stay for a few days they believed further, as I’m sure she did as well, because of his continued teaching (Jn. 4:41-42).
So much could be said about this event to help one believe that Jesus truly is the Son of God. After all John’s gospel is written in a way that focuses solely on proving that Jesus is the Christ and that those who read this gospel will believe. What I find most interesting about this event is where Jesus finds people.
We’ve already noted that the Jews avoided this territory like the plague and the Samaritans on their part weren’t innocent by any means. And yet it’s here well within the Samaritan territory, at a Samaritan well in a Samaritan city that Jesus seizes the opportunity to teach someone His gospel. He doesn’t start off by going to a synagogue or to the most prominent person’s home to begin teaching but rather he goes to a well in the middle of the day and begins with a woman.
It’s interesting to think about the woman he uses to begin teaching when one considers that the middle of the day was typically when most everyone rested from their work. No doubt that morning and probably later that evening many of the women would come out together to fetch water from that well so why is this woman doing her work by herself in the middle of the day? I can’t say with certainty that I know the full perspective surrounding this woman’s standing in the community but I think Jesus helps shed some light on that for us possibly when he exposes her situation with the husbands and her lifestyle.
A great lesson we should strive to take away from this is that like the Jews there tend to be certain places and/or people we just don’t want to deal with. Probably certain people that we just wouldn’t want to waste our time teaching and studying with. And yet Jesus meets such people and in such places because the gospel message is for all. How often have we refused to take an opportunity and gone well out of our way to avoid that conversation or interaction with others because of their background, current lifestyle, religious affiliation? Let’s take a lesson from the Master Teacher and learn that often it’s those people in those places that prove to be the best soil for the word of God. The question is are we willing to take the opportunity?