The Bible tells the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. I’ve read teh story several times in the past, but this week a different thought (for me) hit. Donald Miller pointed out how Jesus was all about relationships, and still is. He sits down with the woman, opens the discussion, asks for her help. I had heard, and taught, most of this in the past. But then He offers her the living water that only He can give. Her reply is somewhat sarcastic it seems, because she tells him to give her that water so she can quit coming to the well. I don’t really think she meant it as a put off towards Jesus. I really believe that he was personable and genuine enough that she was joking with him a bit in her sarcasm. Jesus’ reply is for her to go and get her husband.
Now He knows she’s not married, and has been with five men. I always thought it a bit harsh of Him to make this jump in the conversation. I tended to see it as Him turning a corner to conviction, and lowering a hammer on her. But it was pointed out that maybe that isn’t the case at all. Maybe he realizes how broken she is, how she is desperately seeking a loving relationship, and offers it to her (“living water”). Then He gently points out to her what her need is by bringing up the issue of her relationships. He sees her brokenness, her need for love, and draws her into it.
Suddenly, her running into town and proclaiming to everyone that they need to come and meet the one who “told me everything I ever did!” would be so attractive. She found what she was looking for. Not just conviction and forgiveness, but a relationship with the One who loves her because He is Love itself.
Maybe this doesn’t hit you as new, or amazing, but it does for me. The story makes so much more sense, it fits better within the story of Jesus now. And it changes my life, as it should. I need to be more like Christ, calling people to the love affair that Jesus offers them with Himself. I need to recognize the true needs in people and offer them real hope. I pray that I can learn to see people the Christ does.