Drawing by Amy Curry
When I first saw this drawing it reminded me of a woman who lived in Biblical times. She is commonly known as ‘the woman at the well’.
(The story is found in John 4.)
Jesus and His disciples were walking from Judea to Galilee and on the way they had to go through the village of Sychar in Samaria. Jesus was tired from the long walk and he sat down beside a well situated outside the village whilst his disciples went into the village to buy some food.
This coincided with the time this woman came to draw water from the well and Jesus asked her for a drink.
She responded with “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”
The Jews considered the Samaritans a mixed race, an impure race and therefore would have nothing to do with them, and yet, here is Jesus, a Jewish man speaking to a Samaritan woman.
You can almost feel and hear her absolute shock that a Jewish man would be asking her, a Samaritan woman, for something.
This woman was an adulterer, married five times and now living with a man who was not her husband, considered a sinner and shunned by the village folk – we know she was shunned because she came on her own to collect water at a time when no-one else would be there. Twice each day, morning and evening, women from the town would walk together to draw water from the well. This was a very social time for the women. And yet, this Samaritan woman, comes alone at noon to draw water.
Out of all the woman in the Bible I think it is this Samaritan woman that I identify with the most. Definitely not the adultery part but I relate to this woman’s feelings of loneliness and isolation, being rejected, being excluded, being a sinner, feeling guilty, feeling worthless.
I can identify with each and every one of those feelings.
I can imagine her closing her ears to the gossip and malicious talk of the village people, crying and screaming silently in her mind…expressing the same emotions as the woman depicted in the drawing.
I too, have felt that silent scream welling up inside me and the tears pouring silently down my face as the world overwhelms me.
God had created her, as He has created each one of us, to live a life of joy, of worshiping Him, of feeling worthwhile. And yet how many of us, just like this Samaritan woman, because of our sin, our backgrounds, our addictions, our wrong choices hide away from Him, hide away from others, and shy away from the amazing potential God has placed in each of us because we feel like sinners, not worthy of His love. Not believing that if we turned to Him, He is more than capable of turning our lives around.
Jesus couldn’t care less what race or sex we are, what we have done in the past and are still doing in the present – all He cares about is that we would turn to Him and declare Him Lord.
Once this woman has gotten over her shock at being addressed by a Jewish man, the conversation continues and the woman begins to realise that she just may be speaking to ‘the Messiah’.
She rushes back to the village and calls out “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did” and “they came out of the town and made their way toward Him. Many of the Samaritans from that village believed in Him because of the Woman’s testimony”.
Isn’t that amazing…after one encounter with Jesus this woman is so filled with confidence that she can face the townspeople with boldness and say ‘come with me’ and they must have noticed the change in her because they actually pay attention to her and follow her as she leads the way to Jesus.
When we encounter Jesus our lives change radically.
Instead of slinking back into town, with her head hanging low, and slipping into her house not speaking to anyone she faces everybody in the village and I can just imagine her – standing there, her head held high, her voice loud and clear, looking people in the eyes saying ‘come with me’ and these folks who have ignored her and ostracised her for so many years actually follow her back to Jesus.
The village people ask Jesus and His disciples to stay on in the village, which they do, for two days.
After spending two days with Jesus, feeling His grace and knowing His forgiveness I cannot imagine this woman going back into her life of sin. I believe that those two days that Jesus spent in the village would have been filled with people confessing their sins and making radical life changes. I love to imagine that this woman and the man she was living with got married and all the townspeople who she had hidden from in shame for years attended the wedding to celebrate her new life.
Jesus wants us to be real, to put away our falseness, our pretensions, our shame, our sin.
This encounter at the well was no chance encounter. Jesus deliberately took the route from Judea to Galilee in order to meet this woman at the well. Jesus deliberately seeks us out as well and asks us the same question “Will you give me a drink?” In other words ‘will you stop and spend some time with me, will you worship me, will you love me? Will you have a conversation with me?
Jesus didn’t need any water – He created the universe, he healed the sick, he made the blind to see again…He did not need this woman to give Him water BUT He did want her to stop and be real, to be honest and open. He wanted to “bestow on her a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3)
He wants the same thing for each of us.