Updated: Jun 28
"The greatest crime in the desert is to find water and keep silent." -Ancient Arab proverb
The same story told over and over again can lose my attention quickly. How about you? Especially when it gets told based in personal opinion that leaves me still feeling dry. Fascination can be hard to muster from a woman whose well is deep, yet has been dry for years.
Let me tell you how the ancient story was told to me that lead me to a thirst for more truth.
“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”
Psalm 63:1 NIV
The simple story of the woman at the well. We heard it many times, from many perspectives. Instead of listening to any voice that portrays this woman less than desiring God during this interaction, choose rather, to understand this is exactly what is happening. I have been told numerous times that the woman at the well is trying to change the subject when she asks Jesus in John 4:19-20, "Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
How can she be trying to change the subject? This has never set well with me since that is NOT what my God who sees me tells my heart when I read this text.
Let me explain in more detail my understanding. Hold on a minute. You do realize that this is my opinion as well. Even though I have studied this for years and look for wisdom, as well as a Hebrew Scholar that I consider one of my teachers in the faith, I fall short trying to define all there to offer in the Scripture.
Sovereignty is not something I can grasp, nor will I tell you that I can even merely begin to understand it. But, I am asking to let your mind accept, even for mere moments, that The God of the Universe dear friends, esteems women! Particularly those who are discarded, looked down on, as well as, seen from a flawed human perspective.
As you and I both know, I am incapable of understanding the fullness of God. My hope is that we can realize that we have intrinsic value. Even in this statement, there will be those who will want to criticize these very words. In our human arrogance we think we know. Yet, the scripture is very clear about this. "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." I Corinthians 1:25
This woman has a name. The Samaritan woman at the well. Her name is Photina. There is much history about her life after her encounter with The Messiah in that desert place (not based in biblical fact rather historical from that region and other accounts.) Just like you sister, God sees you and knows your name!
Just for today, for now can you see this story with fascination? Can you see how much God loves you?"
"I've always loved this woman. For years I've seen her as a woman of great capacity. She was a deep well living a shallow life. The hardships she experienced and the realities of her choices had dug a deep, dark, dry hollow within her. The enemy of her soul meant for this to be a perpetually broken place that isolated her and buried her dreams."
John 4:5-8 (The Passion Translation) Jesus arrived at the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son, Joseph, long ago. Wearied by his long journey, he sat on the edge of Jacob’s well. He sent his disciples into the village to buy food, for it was already afternoon. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink of water.”
"Jesus is tired from an extensive walk and exhausted by the Pharisees. I see Him seated on the edge of Jacob's ancient well. The relentless Middle Eastern afternoon sun beats down on Him, but He can feel the cool air rising from the deep well. Jesus looks into it's depth and ponders it's history as He reviews the events of the day. Their outreach in Judea had ended abruptly and the walk had been long and dusty. He had put an end to the baptisms when he learned that the religious leaders had turned them into some sort of temple numbers competition between His and John's disciples.
Why couldn't they see it for what it was? They were working together as co-laborers. Yes, the masses came. Their hunger was so desperate after so many years of dryness. Now the prophetic and the promise were making a people ready. Lives were being restored through repentance and the flowing waters of baptism.
It was so holy, so hopeful, and they had tried to reduce it to a circus. So He had left behind the waters of the Jordan for this arid plain."
I want to point out something that I missed repeatedly when studying out this woman at the well. Praise God for other women that have taken the time to research this story out as well.
John 4:1-4 gives another clue to the heart of God. "Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that He was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John (although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but His disciples.) So He left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now He had to go through Samaria." The umpteenth time reading this I thought nothing about verse 4, other than it was Jesus' road to travel. The Samaritan Woman wanted to NOT be thirsty, nor have to come to the well according to verse fifteen.
As this story begins it is so significant that the place the woman didn't want to be was the exact place where Jesus met her. According to a woman I look up to, and one of my teachers, Shadia Hrichi, "The phrase in verse four has a positive connotation whereby Jesus was compelled to go ("had to pass') through Samaria. The place the woman dreaded coming to the most was the very place Jesus was determined to enter. The words "had to pass" can also mean "to be compelled." This passage is the longest recorded conversation between Jesus and another person in the Bible." You may wanna read those last two sentences again. God was compelled to speak with The Samaritan Woman, His conversation with her is the longest recorded in the Scriptures! My God, thank you for how you esteem women.
John 4:9-12 (The Passion Translation) "Surprised, she said, “Why would a Jewish man ask a Samaritan woman for a drink of water?" Jesus replied, “If you only knew who I am and the gift that God wants to give you—you’d ask me for a drink, and I would give to you living water.” The woman replied, “But sir, you don’t even have a bucket and this well is very deep. So where do you find this ‘living water’? Do you really think that you are greater than our ancestor Jacob who dug this well and drank from it himself, along with his children and livestock?”
What is attention getting here for me, is that this conversation is really about her desperation of her thirst, not the depth of the well, nor that He doesn't have a vessel in with to draw the water. She speaks to this Jewish man, which goes against culture to inquire and engage. He does ignore her question here, only to speak to her dry bones.
John 4:13-14 NIV Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but, whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
"Jesus speaks of a thirst that is perpetual and insatiable. As a daughter of the Middle East growing up in a dry and arid land, this woman has known thirst all her life. There is no well deep enough or water cool enough to satiate her desperate need for love, affirmation, and companionship. Her soul is desperately dehydrated. Time and time again she had been deceived by what she hoped would quench her cravings and refresh her soul."
John 4:15 NIV The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
"Before Jesus could give her this living water, He needed to see if she was ready to empty herself. Was she truly ready to leave it behind? He addresses the faulty, stagnant well she had drawn from for so long...men."
Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." (V.16)
"Don't imagine that with this directive Jesus was looking for an authority structure through which He could speak to her, nor was He necessarily pointing out her sin. Rather, He asked for her husband to locate her pain. Our brave sister spoke the truth knowing full well that the truth might disqualify her from the Rabbi's living water."
"I have no husband." 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. What you have just said is quite true.” “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” (vv.17-20)
"Until recently, I didn’t understand the weight of this admission. She was stepping out beyond all she had known because Samaritans believed that only Moses was a prophet. According to Matthew 10:41, this reception positioned her to receive a prophet’s reward: “The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward.” What is this prophet’s reward? I believe this gift can be expressed in many ways, but there is none more precious than a revelation and realization of living truth. Prophets are also referred to as seers. Everywhere Jesus went he opened up the eyes of understanding. When she chose to receive Jesus as a prophet, she looked to her future and asked Jesus where she should worship. I can only imagine that she was weary of her old life with its old ways. She had no way of knowing that a new hour was upon her that would redefine worship as a person rather than a place."
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.” (v. 21) In The Passion Translation, the Aramaic opens this verse up a bit further for us with: Believe me, dear woman, the time has come when you won’t worship the Father on a mountain nor in Jerusalem, but in your heart." She honors Jesus as the prophet He truly is, and in return Jesus calls forth what she truly is, DEAR. This term means “beloved and cherished, prized, precious and priceless, valued and treasured.” I have to wonder the last time she had been called by any term of endearment. He was rebuilding her broken heart and wounded spirit with words of destiny."
"The Samaritan Woman" since was seen as nothing more than an ashamed outsider, divorced (many times) which also meant discarded and unwanted. This is first where Christ says He is the Messiah! Did you get that? God chose to reveal (once again in the Scriptures) Himself first to a woman!
"I love that Jesus chose to reveal something so preemptive, precious, and holy to a woman others saw as tainted, common, and soiled. By speaking the mysteries of God to someone others considered the lowest of the low, He threw the door open for us all."
"For years I have loved this intimate encounter that made the shamed outsider an ultimate insider. For a time, I even liked the fact that she was nameless; that way I could easily insert my name into her story. That was until I learned to know her by Photina, the enlightened. She started evangelizing that very day in Samaria, but as you now know, her reach extended far beyond that region’s borders. Her story should encourage each of us who are deep wells living shallow lives. What else could possibly explain a wayward woman conversing with a prophet about worship? Her well was not only deep . . . it was also dry. She’d had five husbands and two sons and yet the longing remained. This woman with huge capacity had poured herself out completely until the very marrow of her bones ached."
"Suddenly, it was different. She knew the gift. Jesus had invited her, and she boldly asked for living water. This magnificent Messiah knew her completely and loved her unreservedly. So, at His invitation this daughter without rival drank deeply of his living water and went on to become Photina, evangelist, who walked into danger with unshakable resolve. Woman with a past, will you follow her lead?"
Come join with Him in a deep conversation friend and drink deep so that your thirst will be quenched to heal your deepest hurt.
Bevere, Lisa (2016-08-16). Without Rival: Embrace Your Identity and Purpose in an Age of Confusion and Comparison. Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Hrichi, Shadia (2017) : Behind The Seen Series.HAGAR Discovering the God Who Sees Me.