Biblical devotions not only provide for the chance to revisit simple bible stories, but apply them to daily life and achieve true spiritual enlightenment. The story of the woman at the well contains more relevant material for today’s society than meets the eye. The initial reading of this passage can be instantly rewarding because of Jesus’ obvious lack of discrimination against non-Jewish people, such as Samaritans. Deeper study of this account reveals elements of faith, hope, compassion, forgiveness, purity and love.
Historically, there were specific pathways of travel for both Jews and Samaritans. Jesus was not intimidated by passing through areas that were delegated primarily for Samaritans. He also didn’t mind asking a Samaritan woman for a drink, knowing that there was total segregation between them: Jews didn’t even want to use the same utensils as them. Remember racial segregation in the southern United States? This situation was not too different at all. Jesus’ plain actions speak a message of practicing tolerance, no matter what the circumstances are: Samaritan, sinner, race, creed, etc. Today’s public choices of sexual orientation could easily be applied. Putting one’s self in Jesus’ shoes regarding the association with someone outside our normal social circle is a scary thing. Today’s society has the internet, texting, and other types of potential anonymity through technology that wasn’t available back in the bible days. The public stakes of talking to a Samaritan woman were definitely high. But even Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn people. Why should anybody else justify criticizing others?
Sure, Jesus was quite tired by the time He had come to the well, but if anyone truly believes that He is God incarnate, this could have been a calculated opportunity to care for a lost soul. The fact that He asked the woman for a drink surprised her. But He blew her mind with the test of requesting to meet the woman’s husband. Considering the fact that she intentionally came out to draw water from the well during the hottest time of the day, just to avoid social ridicule for living in sin with a man, she could have easily lied and said that she was married. But Jesus knew her better than she probably knew herself.
Generations X, Y and Z are searching for purpose, identity, social acceptance and true happiness. This plight is not different from that of previous generations, such as the Baby Boomers, etc. Today, living with a person of the opposite sex (without a marriage license) doesn’t necessarily have to involve a sexual relationship, which would constitute a sin that the bible clearly condemns. But temptation is a funny thing, leading to rationalize the potential for friends with (sexual) benefits, the longer a situation persists. The informal, common law marriages can attest to that (even if people in a committed relationship deny the formalities altogether). This twenty-first century social plateau is a cultural phenomenon that has been around since Jesus’ time, and even before that. Jesus was simply trying to offer the woman another alternative to living her life without guilt or shame. The spiritual baggage was dumped, so to speak, at that well during their conversation. What if one could have a casual conversation with the Lord, during any random daily encounter? It could change a person’s life, if that person would accept the power (given freely by His grace) to change. The bible doesn’t mention anymore about the Samaritan’s life after meeting Jesus. It was probably hard for the woman to even consider changing her living status after one man’s profound words to her at a well.
But anyone in her position, male or female, living in the bible era or present times, has to weigh the consequences of sin, once a person realizes the sin and desires to change. One might think that the Samaritan woman sensed she needed to change her lifestyle in order to truly drink from the spiritual well that eventually ends all thirst, eternally. Jesus has subtle ways of speaking to us through His Word, or the bible, throughout the entire text. The story of the woman at the well hits various issues from many different levels. The best part is that this story, among countless others in His Word, is available for deep reflection, meditation and study anytime.