Written by Candace Maxymowich of Winnipeg, Manitoba
The world is full of people who are spiritually thirsty. The story of the woman of Samaria teaches us that each person matters to Jesus and each can be filled with living water.
Maybe you already know the story? Traveling from Jerusalem, Jesus and His disciples took the quickest route through Samaria. Jews didn’t normally travel on a Samaritan road, but Jesus chose to walk this way anyway. Tired and thirsty, Jesus sat by a well while His disciples went to a nearby village.
In the scorching heat, a Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water. She wanted to avoid encountering other people as she was shunned and rejected. This woman was ostracized and marked as immoral. She was an unmarried woman living openly with the fifth in a series of men. She wanted to avoid all the wagging tongues of the townspeople.
Jesus asked the woman for a drink of water. He told her He could give her living water so she would never thirst again, living water which gives eternal life and divine grace.
At first the Samaritan woman didn’t fully understand, so Jesus using divine insight addressed her situation of living with a man who was not her husband. She needed to confess her sins and change her life before she could obtain this life-giving water.
As they talked, the woman voiced her faith that the Messiah was coming. Jesus answered, “I, the one speaking to you – I am he” (John 4:26).
As the woman began to grasp the reality of her encounter with Jesus, the disciples returned. They were equally shocked to find Him speaking to this woman. Leaving behind her water jar, the woman returned to town, inviting the people to “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did” (John 4:29).
She was given the opportunity to have her sins forgiven and to realize what it means to take freely of the water of life. The Samaritan woman’s spirit was enlightened and illuminated by Jesus.
Living water is the spiritual refreshment that comes into our soul after we encounter Jesus and confess our sin and need for salvation.
This story teaches us that God wants to give us sinners His love. God values us enough to actively seek us, to welcome us to intimacy, and to rejoice in our worship. A person like the Samaritan woman, an outcast in many ways, had a special understanding of what this means – to be wanted and cared for when no one, not even herself, could see anything of value in her. That is grace.