As Jesus and His disciples travelled north to Galilee they went through a part of Israel called Samaria, filled with people who weren’t pure blooded Jews. The pure Jews looked down on the Samarian’s and, the Samarian’s hated the Jews. Both did everything they could to avoid each other.
As they travelled through Samaritan territory, they came to the village of Sychar. Jesus was very tired from the long walk and sat down at the side of a well - at about midday, while His disciples went on into the village to buy some food.
Now, normally, the women of the village would come at a certain times of day to collect water for their families. A woman wouldn’t usually go on her own to the well unless there was some kind of trouble – maybe the other women were being nasty about her, or there was some kind of emergency. But, for whatever reason, today, as Jesus sat beside the well, a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the deep well.
As well as not liking Samaritans, Jewish men – and especially teachers and leaders – avoided contact with all women outside their house, even Jewish women. They wouldn’t even talk to a woman out on the street – it wasn’t the ‘done thing’. So can you imagine this woman’s surprise when a Jewish man looked over to where she was drawing water and actually spoke to her? A Jew talking to a Samaritan was unusual enough, but a Jewish man talking to a Samaritan woman! This was unheard of!
‘Please, would you give me a drink?’ Jesus asked.
As the woman poured a drink for Jesus she looked at Him with a puzzled look on her face. ‘You’re a Jew,’ she said, ‘and I’m a Samaritan woman! Why are you asking me for a drink?’
‘If you knew the gift God’s got for you - and who I am,’ Jesus replied, ‘then you’d be asking me for a drink and I’d give you living water.’
The woman laughed to herself, how could this man, without bucket or rope, draw water from the well? ‘You don’t have a bucket or rope,’ she said. ‘So where are you going to get this ‘living water’ from then?’ She asked.
‘Those who drink the water from this well end up getting thirsty again.’ Jesus replied, ‘But the water I give takes away thirst altogether. And not only that, it becomes a never ending spring inside them, giving them eternal life!’
You see, Jesus wasn’t talking about ordinary water He was talking about the Holy Spirit who gives eternal life! But the woman still hadn’t understood, and thinking how wonderful it would be to not need to come to the well each day she said. ‘Oh, please sir, give me some of that water. That way I won’t get thirsty again and need to come here everyday.’
‘Go and get your husband,’ Jesus told her.
This was suddenly getting uncomfortable for the woman. ‘I don’t have a husband,’ she replied.
‘That’s right,’ Jesus said. ‘In fact you’ve had five husbands and the man you’re living with now you aren’t even married to!’
The woman hadn’t expected this! Who was this man? She wanted to change the topic as quickly as she could. ‘I can see you’re a prophet. Erm, tell me, why do you Jews insist on worshiping God at the Temple in Jerusalem while we Samaritans say we should worship God here at Mount Gerizim?’
‘A time’s coming soon when it won’t matter where you worship the Father.’ Jesus replied. ‘You Samaritans don’t really know much about the God you worship, while we Jews know all about Him, because salvation comes through the Jews. But a time’s coming, in fact, it’s already here, when true worshippers of the Father will worship Him in spirit and in truth.’
The woman was beginning to struggle with all Jesus was saying, ‘I know the Messiah will come,’ she said, ‘the one they call the Christ and He’ll explain everything to us.’
‘I am that Messiah!’ said Jesus. (PAUSE)
As Jesus spoke, the disciples returned. (P) And they couldn’t believe their eyes! Jesus was talking with a Samaritan, and to make things even more uncomfortable, a Samaritan woman! As they arrived with the food, the woman left her bucket beside the well and ran back to the village. When she got there she started talking to everyone she could find, ‘Come and meet this man down by the well, He’s told me everything I ever did! Do you think He could be the Messiah?’ At this the people hurried out of the village to meet Jesus.
As the woman was hurrying off to the village, the disciples urged Jesus to take some food. ‘It’s ok,’ said Jesus. ‘Because I’ve food to eat you don’t know anything about.’
What could Jesus be talking about? - the disciples asked each other? Had someone already brought Him some food that they didn’t know anything about? But Jesus wasn’t talking about natural food; the food He meant was entirely different.
‘The food I’m talking about - is to do what God wants me to do – and finish that work,’ Jesus explained. And then, as the people from the village started to come to meet Jesus He said. ‘Just look around you, it may be four more months until the crops in the fields are ready to be harvested. But can’t you see that already vast fields are ready for the harvest?’ (He was talking about people). (PAUSE)
Many of the Samaritans from that village believed in Jesus because of what the woman had said. But when they came to meet with Him beside the well, they begged Him to stay with them in the village. And so Jesus stayed two more days, long enough for many of the people to hear what He had to say - and to believe. And after they’d met with Jesus and heard His message they said to the woman. ‘We believe in Jesus now, not just because of what you told us, but because we’ve heard Him ours tale2tell original Bible Stories series - New Testamentelves. And now we know that He really is the Saviour of the world.’