The Chosen - Episode 8
The Gospel is not so much an argument to assent to (though there are many arguments one can make for the Gospel); but more than this, the Gospel is a person that you place your confidence in.
Episode 8 - The Samaritan Woman at the Well
In John 4, we have one of the longest recorded conversations Jesus has with someone, and it was with a person of the opposite gender from a mixed race who lived in a lower status town on foreign territory where all of her neighbors were her enemies? And not only that: He shares the Messianic Secret of his Messiahship with her!
The story of the Samaritan woman and Jesus is remarkable for three reasons:
1. She was a Samaritan; He was a Jew and he talked to her. The Northern kingdom of Israel was conquered over 700 years before the time of Jesus. The conquering nation of Assyria had a transplant policy. They would deport Jews out of Israel and import Assyrians and other peoples into Israel. Reason? They would intermarry and lose their cultural and religious identity. The result of all this intermarrying was the Samaritans. So the Samaritans built their own temple and did not need the temple in Jerusalem. Jews ordinarily would not travel through the area known as Samaria in the first century, but would go out of their way down to the Jordan Valley in order to skirt around it, adding an extra day or two at least to their journey. The animosity was so deep that when His enemies wanted to call Jesus an insulting name, they called Him a Samaritan (John 8:48).
2. She was a solitary woman; He was a single man and he talked to a woman in public. Social taboo prohibited sustained eye contact between the sexes much so a conversation was way over the cultural line. And when it comes to getting water, all the women either come early or late when it’s cooler. What is she doing alone? The answer is she was a moral and social outcast. She had had multiple husbands. She was into serial marriage. Five of the women in town are probably married to her five former husbands, if in fact these were all divorces.
3. She was a stranger; He talked to someone he had never seen before and asked her for a favor. According to popular opinion of the day, to receive food or drink from the hand, or vessel, of a Samaritan, would be to share in their impurity. To the Jew, this was an amazing story. Here was the holy Son of God breaking down the barriers of race, sex, and orthodoxy. He does not ask for permission to get a drink, but for a drink from her bucket. “Can I have a drink from your water bottle?” Let’s have a conversation.”
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." (John 4:17-18)
She was at the well, but dying of thirst. She thought marriage could do it. A man would pay attention to her and love her and romance her and build a life with her. She thought the right ethnicity could quench her thirst. She thought the right religion could quench her thirst. She thought that a boyfriend could quench her thirst. But thirsty she remained until this day.
Here was someone who valued her beyond a label. He knew all about her but still enjoyed their brief relationship. He wasn’t trying to get her in bed, yet he was a man. He wasn’t trying to win an argument, yet he was Jewish. He wasn’t trying to expose all of her diary secrets, yet he knew all things. Quite simply, what Jesus offered to this woman was Himself. It was a different kind of romance. The Messiah came to her. The insignificance of her life was swallowed up by the significance of this moment. God had come to us, to her in a personal moment. I have a hunch that they talked about a lot more than just 5 former husbands (see verse 29).
You know, numbers mean a lot to Jewish writers. She had six men: five former husbands and a live-in. But then, she met a seventh (the number of completion), and she was totally smitten by him, but not in the way you might think. The “romance at the well” motif or ancient betrothal scene is prominent in the Bible. We'll talk more about this, but suffice it to say here that this was the "Seventh Man" in her life - the Perfect One. With him, we are then set up to do marriage better; to face tragedies like 9-11 better; and to find fulfillment for our deepest thirsts in life.
Are you thirsty?