Two thousand years pass. Then from the promised progeny of Abraham and Sarah, yet another son of even more miraculous heritage is born. And his path is about to intersect with that of a woman reminiscent of Hagar in several ways. She is apparently disenfranchised, living on the fringes of accepted society. She, too, arrives at a well, but she purposely travels there in the heat of the day. This unnamed woman seems to be more concerned about a different type of exposure. She has a story, in fact, several. She’s a regular in the tabloids of her day, and at midday, traffic is low around this 1st century water cooler. But also like Hagar, she has a lone Observer who is about to engage her in an unusual conversation.
7 Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 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.”
15 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.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 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.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”
She had been exposed. He saw her and knew her. And she was quickly putting together clues regarding his identity, but he certainly challenged some of her assumptions during their interaction. Her particular preconceptions may sound foreign to us, but they can be easily refashioned into similar constructs held by those you know, or even by you. Jesus goes about setting the record straight though, in both word and deed.
The disciples had thought it highly unusual that Jesus would speak one-on-one with a woman. Much less a Samaritan woman. Much less a Samaritan woman of poor reputation. Jesus was already demonstrating what the Apostle Paul would declare to the Galatians:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:28-29)
After all, Abraham’s original promise had concluded with the words,“through your offspring, all nations will be blessed.” (Genesis 22:18) As a Samaritan, the woman’s claims of Abrahamic heritage through Jacob (Abraham and Sarah’s grandson) were probably considered dubious to pedigreed Jews anyway. We see that Jesus quickly diverted her focus from bloodlines and sacred locations. His response to this woman echoed the truth that Hagar had learned. That Abraham’s provisions were only temporal. She was going to need something more substantial. That’s where the well comes in.
Abraham’s blessing for all nations was also described as the Light of the World. Exposure to this Light is wherein expiation lies. For it burns with such great intensity that some who encounter it die immediately, only to be simultaneously refreshed by a peculiar Water that restores them to Life. The Light consumes everything, yet all that is finally lost is dross.
“No man has seen Your face and lived,
and that’s what I’m asking You;
for just one look upon Your face
and I’d be made brand new.”
“Is it easier to forgive sin or to open up my blind eyes?
I want to see you right now;
I need to see you somehow, or I’ll die.”*
The Light is both terminal and transformational. And it burns through figurative fig leaves that are suddenly no longer found to be necessary. Eve was the first woman to find that fig leaves have insufficient SPF.
*Lyrics from “Open Up My Blind Eyes” on Singer Sower by 2nd Chapter of Acts.
Copyright © 2014. The Literate Lyoness.
Make your own tracks…At the end of Chapter 11 of “The Great Divorce” by C.S. Lewis, you can read about a ghost with a little pet lizard. Lewis’ friend, J.R.R. Tolkien, might have rewritten the haint to call the little creature “his precious.” See if you can determine how this story relates to the post above.