When Jesus was going from Judea to Galilee, the shortest route was through Samaria. However, from a Jewish perspective, this was not the wisest or most desirable choice because no respectable Jew would associate with a Samaritan. But Jesus was undeterred by the racial and religious animosity, and His decision to go through Samaria resulted in the transformation of a woman who had lost all hope.
Various life circumstances can cause people to experience a sense of hopelessness. Sometimes this feeling is not the result of anything a person has done, but in other cases, hopelessness comes from a sinful lifestyle or unwise decisions. This was the case for the Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well. Consider these thoughts about her:
- She had made wrong choices. She had been married five times and was now living with a man who was not her husband. Because of this, she had suffered much difficulty, endured rejection, and been the object of gossip in her small community. Her situation left her feeling morally dirty and emotionally empty.
- She had repeatedly failed. She’d searched for love and was probably discouraged because none of her marriages had lasted. Her dejection may have led her to give up on marriage altogether and simply live with a man.
- She may have felt trapped. Where could she go to escape her situation? She needed a man for survival. Despite her search for security, she remained dissatisfied. The immorality was beginning to take its toll on her life, and she probably thought no one would ever love her.
- She was isolated from her community. No one wanted to associate with her. Even the religious leaders didn’t want anything to do with her for fear of ruining their reputations.
Can you identify with the Samaritan woman? Have you made choices that have left you feeling alone and like a failure? Don’t lose hope. There is living water that can meet your needs and give you a fulfilling life. We need only to accept this great gift Christ offers to us.
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.) 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.) Jesus answered her, “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.” “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 livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 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.” (John 4:7-15)
Was our girl ready for that leap of faith? Not quite. She wanted whatever he was offering, but only so she could avoid returning to the well for water. If we’re honest, we get this motivation. Eager to satisfy our physical desires, we overlook our spiritual needs.
She began that day as a rejected and hopeless woman but found her hope restored in Jesus because He didn’t condemn her and loved her without condition. She was no longer interested in well water because she had found living water. Leaving her water pot, she went into the city, which was full of people who had previously scorned her, boldly proclaiming that she had met the Messiah. “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 Messiah?’ They came out of the town and made their way toward him.” (John 4:28-29)
This once discouraged and ostracized woman became the city evangelist. She now had a purpose. She wanted everyone to know that Jesus had changed her life and that she would never be the same again. Through her witness, many believed in Him, and they even invited Jesus to stay with them for a while. “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.” (John 4:39-41)
Today people are still going to wells seeking something that will satisfy their inner thirst, only to discover that sin is like salt water: It just increases their thirst for more of the wrong things. As believers, we are called to pass the living water on to thirsty people. “But Peter and John replied, ‘Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.'” (Acts 4:19-20)
With whom have you shared the living water of Christ? Too many people don’t realize that God created them for Himself—to be His beloved children. That’s why He sent His Son Jesus to pay their sin debt in full. As followers of Christ, we can lead them step by step into a relationship with Him, just as Jesus did with the Samaritan woman. Look for opportunities today to tell others today about God’s amazing love—and His endless supply of living water. In any century, our response to the Lord is the same. We confront our true selves, experience God’s grace, and share the good news!