In The Heat Of The Day

One day Jesus has to travel from Judea to Galilee, and He decides to travel through Samaria, as you can read in John 4:4-6

Now He (Jesus) had to go through Samaria. So He came to a town called Sychar, near the plot of the ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as He was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

In fact, Jews avoid travelling through Samaria. But Jesus has a purpose to go there, and you may wonder why. What could possibly be of such importance to Him that He has to go there? By the time He arrives at His place of destination, He is tired and needs to take a rest. John takes notice of the time: it is the sixth hour, or to put it in our language; it is 12 o’clock midday. No doubt, it is hot at this time of the day, and He will be thirsty. Moreover, He will be hungry, for He sends His twelve disciples into town to get something to eat for lunch, as you can read a little later on. However, there does not seem to be anyone around who is in need of His ministry. How strange. Perhaps Jesus has made a mistake, or at least a miscalculation as far as the time is concerned, for everyone knows that 12 o’clock midday is the hottest hour of the day and no one will come to the well at that time of the day. But then, surprisingly, someone does come to the well. Who can that be? Let’s read John 4:7-8 to find out

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give Me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food)

A Samaritan woman appears on the scene. But she cannot possibly be the person Jesus has gone to Samaria for, to minister to, since Jesus, as a Jewish Rabbi, is not supposed to talk to women in public. Moreover, she is a Samaritan woman, and Samaritans are considered unclean. But Jesus actually begins to speak to her. Perhaps it is because He is extremely thirsty and his disciples are not around to provide him with some water. So this may be an emergency and, therefore, Jesus may be willing to forego the proper rules and talk to the woman. The woman is extremely surprised as well that this Jewish man is willing to ask her for a drink, as you can read in John 4:9

The Samaritan woman said to Him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans)

She knows the rules well, and is completely taken aback that this Jewish Man breaks all of these rules. It seems Jesus does not care that she is a woman, and that He is not supposed to talk to her. Neither does He seem to care that she is a Samaritan woman and is, therefore, considered unclean, for not only does He ask her for water, He continues His conversation with her, as you can read in John 4:10

“If you knew the gift of God and Who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.”

By talking about water Jesus has the woman listening to Him. After all, the reason she has come to the well is to draw water. But that water supply will run out, and she will need to come back the next day for another supply of water, and the day after, and the day after… This time He turns the invitation around, for this time He does not ask the woman for water. No, He invites her to receive water from Him. However, it a very special kind of water, it is called “living water.” And what an invitation that is. No wonder the woman wants to find out more about it because this “living water” is worth further investigation. So she begins to question Jesus. And Jesus is not upset about her questions, for He recognises that these are honest questions and deserve an honest answer. Let’s read John 4:11-12

“Sir,” the woman said, “You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can You get this” living water”? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”

The woman has observed that Jesus has nothing with Him to draw water with, so she is very puzzled about His statement on “living water”. To her natural mind even “living water” has to be drawn from a well and to be able to draw from a well a container is needed. Yet, at the same time she wonders if perhaps He is able to offer her this “living water” from a well without the need for a container. If that is so then this Jewish Man standing in front of her must be even greater than her forefather Jacob, at whose well they are having this conversation. Jesus, encouraged by the woman’s honest questioning, begins to expand on His words, as you can read in John 4:13-14

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus makes her this amazing promise that the water He can give will mean she will never be thirsty. This is surely an offer no one, including this Samaritan woman, can refuse, as you can read in John 4:15

The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

The woman still thinks Jesus is talking about natural water and, of course, it will be so wonderful if she does not have to make that daily trip to the well. Especially because she is making that trip at midday, the hottest time of the day. That is very unusual, for the usual time for the women to draw water is in the early morning and in the early evening, when it is cooler. No doubt Jesus is very aware that this woman has come to the well at an unusual time to draw water. However, He does not ask her why that is so, but He begins to talk about a matter which seem to be totally unrelated to water; He begins to talk about her husband, as you can read in John 4:16-18

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

The woman must have been surprised at His request for her to call her husband. As far as she is concerned, her husband has got nothing whatsoever to do with her receiving living water. Nevertheless, she decides to tell him the truth, or at least give Him a glimpse of what she considers to be the truth. Jesus next shocks her even further by telling her the true situation about her marital status. The woman begins to realise that the person in front of her is not an ordinary Jew, but must at least be a Prophet. And He may well be the One who is able to answer some questions she has had for a long time already, and which no one has been able to give her a satisfactory answer to, as you can read in John 4:20

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that You are a Prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

Perhaps she is trying to change the subject as well, because talking about her failed relationships is possibly too painful. Whatever her reason for bringing up the issue of worship may have been, Jesus takes it up, and gives her insights beyond what she has known, as you can read in John 4:21-24

Jesus declared, “Believe Me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Jesus’ revelation about true worship is completely new to this woman. She has never heard anyone say this before. His explanation that true worship is not related to a particular place, but to the condition of a person’s heart and mind before God, encourages her to speak about the coming Messiah as the One who will help her understand everything, as you can read in John 4:25

The woman said, “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When He comes He will explain everything to us.”

Jesus answers her beyond her expectations, as you can read in John 4:26

Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am He.”

Here you have the reason for Jesus going to Samaria. It is not to meet an important political or religious leader. No, it is to meet a sinful Samaritan woman, a woman with a past, a woman rejected by her community, a women who has had to draw water at the well at midday, to avoid being with the other women of the town. Such is the love of Christ for this woman that He is willing to go through Samaria, which no Jew ever did, is willing to suffer heat, thirst and hunger in order that this woman might get to know Him, her Messiah. Moreover, He has a plan and a purpose for her beyond her getting to know Him as the Messiah. As Jesus’ conversation with the woman is coming to an end, His twelve disciples rejoin Him. They have been food shopping in town and have now returned with lunch, as you can read in John 4:27

Just then His disciples returned and were surprised to find Him talking with a woman. But no-one asked, “What do You want?” or “Why are You talking with her?”

As proper Jewish men, the disciples are obviously very surprised to see Jesus talking with a woman, and a Samaritan woman at that. They may well have wanted to say to Jesus, “Please, Jesus, what about Your reputation? Don’t You know You are not supposed to talk with her? Do You realise the damage it will do to Your reputation? Perhaps, if You don’t care about Your reputation, will You not consider our reputation, for our reputation will be damaged as well if word goes out that You have been talking to this woman.” But they say none of these things. Perhaps they are learning that Jesus' standards are somewhat different than everyone else.

The woman, overwhelmed by her encounter with Jesus, completely forgets why she has come to the well, as you can read in John 4:28-29

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a Man, who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” They came out of the town and made their way towards Him.”

The woman having received so much more than what she originally went to the well for, cannot keep to herself what she has just received; eternal life. So she runs back to the town to share with others the Good News that she has met the Messiah, the One they have all been waiting for. This woman, who up till that time had been rejected by all the people of the town, now becomes an evangelist for Jesus, and those who have not been willing to be seen in her company, listen in awe to her story of redemption, believing it for themselves. They, in turn, want to meet this Messiah too, as you can read in John 4:39-42

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to Him, they urged Him to stay with them and He stayed two days. And because of His words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe, just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.”

Jesus chose a sinful Samaritan woman to save her whole town. Is that not wonderful? He looked beyond her sinful lifestyle and saw a heart that longed to get to know Him. He knew that once she had been set free to serve Him, she would serve Him with all her heart and all her strength, for His glory. He wants to use you too. You are not too young or too old or too insignificant for God to play a role in His Kingdom. The question is: Are you willing to be used by Him? He will help you. He will equip you for the task that He has for you. All you need to do is to be willing, just like this woman was. The moment she received the revelation that Jesus was her Messiah, she went to her town to share that Good News with all the people of the town, regardless of the way they had treated her in the past. The past was the past, a new day had begun. So it was for her, and so it will be for you. Whatever you have experienced in the past, leave it there in the past, and move into your future with Jesus, as the Apostle Paul explains in Philippians 3:13-14

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the price for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Jesus loves you beyond what you know and wants you to share with others His love for you and for them which He has shown you by dying on the Cross for you, as you can read in John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

So, make a decision today to do whatever He lays on your heart to do. And then go and do it, just as the Samaritan woman did when she told others in her town what Jesus had done for her.

A Handful Of Mud