There was once a time when the world knew not of its Savior. Yet there was hope because it had been foretold that a child would be born and called Emmanuel – God is with us. In Lent, we prepare for his coming anew. During this season, we discover for ourselves the call of salvation and the promise of eternal life.
When Jesus conducted his ministry, he traveled widely and almost always with followers. One reason for this is that he understood a key tenet of Judaism that issues of importance be verified by the witness of two or more people. (“Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.” – Deuteronomy 19:15) He wanted to make sure that the words, signs, and miracles he offered would be known and accepted as genuine.
In most of the scenes written in the Gospels, Jesus is in the presence of multiple people who could attest to his works. Such is the case with his miraculous feeding of the thousands, his walking on water, the Transfiguration, making the blind man see, the raising of Lazarus from the tomb, and, of course, through his capture and crucifixion.
There is one encounter, though, that is different: Jesus and the woman at the well.
Jesus decides to leave Jerusalem. He and the disciples head north so that Jesus can bring his message to the people of Galilee. The trip is over 50 miles, all on foot. Making the trip even longer, they travel around Samaria because of the prejudice and animosity that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. But, tired and needing food, the disciples decide to leave the path to Galilee and venture into a Samaritan town, Sychar, while Jesus stays behind to rest.
Jesus is sitting alone near a well. A woman comes to fetch water. He engages her in conversation by asking about drinking from the well. The woman skeptically asks why he, a Jew, is conversing with her, a Samaritan. Jesus says if only you knew who you are speaking with but she questions that he could be anyone important. Then Jesus tells her:
“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” (John 4:13 – 14)
Now, the woman is intent on learning more. She wonders if the man is a prophet for Jesus knows about her many failings in marriage. Jesus then says that the time is coming for worshippers to know the spirit of God. The woman says, yes, she has heard that the Messiah, the Christ, will be coming to proclaim the truth of all things. Jesus responds:
“I am he—the one who is speaking to you.” (John 4:26)
She is the one and only witness to this astounding revelation of Christ standing before her. And she alone must decide whether to accept or reject Jesus Christ as the living water leading to eternal life. Her lone witness is all that matters when it comes to the personal choice she must make.
A walk for water, a chance encounter with a stranger. An outcast woman from an ostracized society who happens onto a man who declares himself to be the Christ. A man who says she will never thirst again if she chooses to accept the water he offers. This is the choice facing the Samaritan woman at the well. And this choice comes to her – and to all of us – from one and only one person:
From Christ alone.
These Gospel stories are re-imagined in the book series:
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