Summary: The woman at the well helps us learn about our need for the living water of CHrist.
First Baptist Church
October 6, 2002
Have you ever tried to draw a picture of what a character from the Bible looks like? If you have the artistic ability that I do, you’d end up with stick people. For the next couple of moments, I want you to paint a mental picture or draw a real picture of what you imagine the woman at the well looks like. It might seem like a silly exercise until we realize that when we think about who she was and begin to draw a picture, the first impression and actual picture may vary a great deal.
Let me give you some clues as to how I picture her. I imagine she is wearing on old and worn out dress. She wasn’t wealthy, in fact, she was pretty poor. She had no friends, only a few people would even acknowledge her presence. Her head and shoulders drooped. She tried to take care of her body, but the years were catching up to her. In my eyes she is only 35 - 40 years old. She’s been through 5 husbands and is living with a 6th man. Who knows how many others there have been. When she was 20 years old, she was beautiful, but had no self esteem. 15 to 20 years have passed and some of the beauty is evident. Even though the years have caught up to her. . . behind the weary and beaten face is a beautiful woman.
As I picture Jesus, He’s tired and weary. He’s thirsty and hungry. His cloak is probably a little dirty and worn from his travels and He sits down beside this well, as the disciples go into a nearby town to get food.
Maybe Jesus fell asleep or was in prayer or was just enjoying the shade of hiding behind this well. . . when suddenly He’s startled and this women appears.
That is the background. For the past few weeks we have been looking at the longing and desires of our soul. So, now let’s take a look at this story of Jesus and the women at the well. Let’s see if there isn’t something in this story that we can take with us that very well may help to fill our parched souls.
There are a number of subplots in this story which bring out the beauty of the story. If you would look at your inserts, you will notice a map that I copied of the land of Israel. It is vital to understand what is happening because of the history of Israel. According to verse 3, Jesus had been in Judea and was now on His way to Galilee. However, in order to pass from Judea to Galilee, you had to pass through Samaria. And that was the problem. You see, the Jews from Judea despised the Jews from Samaria. The people who lived in Samaria were considered half- breeds because when that land was taken captive by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. the Assyrians repopulated the area with a mix of many different peoples. The Jews who were left in Samaria began to intermarry and began to include aspects of other religions within theirs. Also, the Samaritans only held onto the first 5 books of the Old Testament, while the Jews in the Judea accepted the entire Old Testament.
Since the Jews of Judea despised the Samaritans when they had to travel to Galilee and areas further north, they would not pass through Samaria. Instead, and again look at your maps — they would go to the Jordan River, cross it and travel along the river until they passed the town of Salim, then they would begin to cross over the river. To show how much hatred existed between these people, by taking this alternate route, in essence extended the trip from a 3 day journey to a 7 day journey.
Now, with that in mind we can understand why this woman looks at Jesus and says you are a Jew and I am a Samaritan. Furthermore, according to social customs a single man was never supposed to engage a single woman in conversation when no other chaperones were present.
Jesus was breaking political, religious and social customs by having this conversation. It becomes especially intriguing as we discover what type of woman this is. . . she’s had 5 husbands and 5 divorces and is living with a 6th man. And who knows how many other men she had been with. Many men had initiated conversations with her in the past. But in those instances, they had one thing on their mind. And most of the time, she delivered. As far as she knew, that’s why Jesus had approached her on that day.