By The Well

Too much water. I don’t understand why that fellow consumes too much water. If I fill my jar up at Jacob’s well today, I still have to fill it up on the morrow. The water never lasts up to a week. Why doesn’t it even last a week?

Oh, the sun is unbearable again. Well. Better the torment of the scorching rays than the torture of the stinging words from — them. Well. At least I can take on the heat of the sun. They flinch at the very thought of sunburn, at the very thought of the sun tainting their porcelain skins. Ha! Don’t they know that men prefer rich coffee to pale goats’ milk?

Strange. There’s someone else by the well today. I’m usually alone at this hour. What an odd fellow. No matter. Just hold your head up high, deary. Don’t let him get to you. Just take your water and go. Oh, he’s a Jew. Again, don’t let him get to you. Just take your water. And go.

“Please give me a drink.”

Oh. No. Fine, the man has spoken. I can not just take my water and go. Can he not get water himself?

Wait. The man has spoken? To me?

“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” I look at him half-bashfully, half-incredulously.

There is a hint of a twinkle in his eye. “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

He must be playing with me. He’s joking. “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket. And this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor, Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his animals enjoyed?”

His reply startles me. “Anyone who drinks this water will soon be thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

Never to thirst again? His words grab my attention. Water that will satisfy? Water that will quench every thirst forever? The fellow needs this! Heck. I need this!

“Please sir, give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”

“Go and get your husband.”

My heart sinks. The Jew is only messing with me. Why is he asking for my husband? We’re talking about water! Why does he have to bring my husband into the picture?

“I don’t have a husband.”

He looks at me with eyes that are kind but at the same time fiery, boring into my soul. “You are right! You don’t have a husband — for you have had five husbands and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”

I almost drop the jug I am holding. How. Can. He. Know? Yes, the women talk, yes the men do, too – but – how can he know I’ve had five? How can he know about the one I’m with now? Nobody knows about the fellow! How can he know?

“Sir, you must be a prophet.” I pause. Is he? There’s a question I’ve been dying to ask all my life. “So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshipped?”

He smiles. “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews.” He pauses and gives me a meaningful glance. “But the time is coming — indeed it’s here now — when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him tat way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

I take some time to process what the man has just said. It’s still foggy. Nonetheless, I say, “I know the Messiah is coming — the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

“I am the Messiah.”

I freeze. He is the Messiah? The man — the prophet — talking to me is the Messiah? I hold shakily on to my still empty jug.

Several men approach the well. They look at me oddly for a second and I know I can not stay any longer. I drop my jar and run to the village —

“Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he be possibly the Messiah?”

Somehow, my heart tells me it’s true. I forget about my thirst. I forget about the fellow’s thirst.

I have found living water which will never run dry.

Could he possibly be the Messiah?

Oh, but I have found living water which will never run dry.

He must be the Messiah.


A retelling of John 4:1-29. Text in violet were directly lifted from the text in the NLT version.