Summary: A divine appointment with Jesus brings about a dynamic alteration.
I have often been intrigued with the incidences in the Bible when people have, what appear to be, chance encounters with God. God is always at work in our world and He invites us to participate in what He is doing. Think about Moses on the backside of the desert. One day, he encounters a burning bush. Moses wasn’t looking for a burning bush. He wasn’t looking for an encounter with God.
It merely occurred, because God had great plans and He chose to involve Moses.
Remember young Gideon, who was processing wheat one day when he encountered an angel sent by God. This young man was the least likely person to be singled out by God for an encounter. He was from the least tribe, and the least family in the tribe and he was the youngest of his family. Certainly God would choose someone of higher stature to work through. But, God is no respecter of persons.
Think about the three Hebrew boys, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. These three boys never dreamed that they would encounter God in a burning fiery furnace. They sure never went there looking for God. But in the midst of an impossible situation, they found God.
A Divine Appointment
Our text is just such an encounter. And at first glance, it does not appear to be an encounter of great importance. But I contend, that this is probably one of the greatest encounters experienced by a person, who in all likelihood, never dreamed that God would stoop so low, as to even consider that she was worthy of an encounter with the Living Lord.
And like other instances of God’s intervention in a person’s life, this was no accident. We see in verse 4 that it was necessary for Jesus to go through Samaria. Why? He could have taken three possible routes: along the coast, across the Jordan and up through Perea, or straight through Samaria. Orthodox Jews avoided Samaria because there was a long-standing, deep-seated hatred between them and the Samaritans.
The Samaritans were a mixed race, part Jew and part Gentile, that grew out of the Assyrian captivity of the ten northern tribes in 727 B.C. Rejected by the Jews because they could not prove their genealogy, the Samaritans established their own temple and religious services on Mt. Gerizim. This only fanned the fires of prejudice. So intense was their dislike of the Samaritans that some of the Pharisees prayed that no Samaritan would be raised in the resurrection! When His enemies wanted to call Jesus an insulting name, the called Him a Samaritan (John 8:48). Even in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Samaritans were prevented from helping to rebuild the wall and the temple.
But Jesus was on a divinely appointed schedule. It was necessary for Him to go through Samaria. Why? Because He would meet a woman there and lead her into saving faith, the kind of true faith that would affect an entire village. Such a small thing. Such a seemingly insignificant individual. One that surely was not worthy of a confrontation by the Great and Holy God became man. But Jesus did not "despise the small things."
Jesus goes to Jacob’s well and there he encounters the reason for his route through Samaria. He was about to keep His divine appointment.
It is not only significant that Jesus was speaking to a Samaritan, but also the fact that she was a woman makes this story even more inconceivable. The strict Rabbis forbade a Rabbi to greet a woman in public. A Rabbi might not even speak to his own wife or daughter in public. There were even Pharisees who were called "the bruised and bleeding Pharisees" because they shut their eyes when they saw a woman on the street and walked into walls and houses because they couldn’t see. For a Rabbi to be seen speaking to a woman in public was the end of his reputation ... and yet Jesus spoke to this woman. Not only was she a woman; she was also a woman of notorious character. No decent man, let alone a Rabbi, would have been seen in her company, or even exchanging a word with her ... and yet Jesus spoke to her.
Why she should come to that well is something of a mystery, for it was more than a half-mile from Sychar where she must have stayed and there was water there. I believe that she was there because she was such a moral outcast among the women of the village that they treated her in such a way that she had to come all the way out there to Jacob’s well where she could draw water in peace.
A Disarming Approach
Jesus simply asks the Samaritan woman for a drink. He displays his humanity.