John 4:1-30, 39-42 – Sell at the Well
Have you ever been in the wrong place at the right time? There is an expression that timing is everything in life. There also is a high price tied to location. I have found that the price associated with “the where” can make or break.
In ministry and in life, I’ve been broken by the where. But God is able to make His timing work for our good even when we find ourselves in a place or predicament that is difficult.
Jesus is never in the wrong place, but in John chapter 4 it feels like Jesus finds himself in a potentially precarious position. During the hottest part of the day, he finds a rest stop at Jacob’s well near the town of Sychar. It was a Samaritan town so he was a foreigner (a Yankees fan at Fenway, not on game day).
Waiting by the well alone while his disciples went into town to by food, a woman approaches. Jesus asks her for a drink. His accent gives him away; she is confused as to why he is talking to her. Something feels wrong, but it’s actually right. Later, even his disciples are confused as to why he was talking to her, but Scripture says that they did not dare to ask him, “What do you seek?””
The implications of that verse suggest the disciples had a passing thought that Jesus was trying to spit game with this woman.
It’s such a human situation. It’s a dude situation. By outward appearance, it appears a single guy is hitting on the attractive female at the water fountain. It happens at gyms, trust me. It also appears that the bro’s are suspicious of a conversation that is actually concerned exclusively with this woman’s salvation. This happens less so at gyms, trust me.
I encourage you to read the passage and hear Jesus’ conversation with this woman as one filled with compassion.
Jesus is just soliciting this woman for a drink which turns into this woman soliciting Jesus for living water. Perhaps, Jesus is seeking kindness, while this woman is seeking convenience.
That is until Jesus changes the subject. Maybe Jesus feels like the conversation is venturing down the road of flirtation. Maybe the woman’s desire to avoid ever drawing water again stems from wanting a husband that is wealthy enough to pay someone else to do the work. Maybe she is disillusioned with her current living situation.
Regardless, Jesus drops a “Go call your husband, and come here,” which honestly at first glance could exacerbate the idea of flirtation. If you didn’t know Jesus you might assume he is testing the waters and she more than happily admits that she has no husband.
However, Jesus so as not to insinuate any gesture reads her mail with a word of knowledge. He knows she has had five husbands and is living with a man currently. I imagine him saying this with concern. She responds with a concern of her own about the proper place of worship. She admits a longing for God but is frustrated by a system that disallows her worship and prohibits her from finding fullness in God.
Jesus admits the system is broken but suggests a time is coming and indeed has come where worship becomes about who you know rather than where you are. He offers a relationship with God the Father to her because the Father is seeking those who worship in spirit and truth. And in a moment of revelation Jesus tells her that He is the Messiah because she, though a Samaritan is aware that a Messiah is coming.
This is where the beauty of God’s timing and location is so tangibly real and overwhelmingly good. A woman who is seemingly in the right place at the wrong time (at a well to draw water during the hottest part of the day) and the God-man who is seemingly in the wrong place at the right time (a Jew in a Samaritan town alone asking a non-Jewish woman for a drink) are actually in the perfect timing and place for a God encounter.
That encounter empowers her to solicit others to come see Jesus. Her excitement must have been convincing because many from the town came to see him. They convince Jesus to stay two days and many believed in Him because they heard the good news for themselves. A town full of Samaritans recognize Jesus as the Savior of the world.
True conversion, true encounter with the gentleness of Jesus and His pursuit of the heart of people mark us with hope and hopefully fill us with felt joy. I remember this feeling, albeit in this season it often feels foreign. Yet, I recognize there is nothing in the world that compares to knowing the love of Jesus. It is living water. Lord, give us this water.