There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water; Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink… John 4:7
There’s material in the New Testament that would shock us if we stopped to think about it. John Chapter 4 is a shocker.
In this chapter, Jesus and His disciples are going to Galilee and taking a short cut through Samaria. Jews would usually detour around Samaria, to avoid any contact with the detested Samaritans.
The disciples leave Jesus alone, sitting by a well, while they go looking for provisions. By and by, along comes a woman from the nearby Samaritan town of Sychar, and Jesus asks her to draw Him some water from the well. Read the chapter for the whole conversation–which has its climax in Jesus telling this Samaritan woman that He is the prophesied Messiah, the Christ: “I that speak unto thee am he” (v. 25).
This is completely unexpected. Remember, Jesus was not advertising who He was. He kept telling people to keep quiet about it, time and time again.
Now the Samaritans were despised by the Jews. The Samaritans were the descendants of assorted heathen people forcibly resettled there by the Assyrians, and assorted Jews who came filtering back from exile and didn’t mind intermarrying with pagans. The Samaritan religion was viewed as an insulting knock-off of Judaism.
It was odd that Jesus would even speak to a Samaritan, although He did so more than once. But this woman was more than just a Samaritan. Jesus knew all about her: “For thou has had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband…” (v.18) She has gone through five marriages, somehow, and is now shacked up with some guy.
And not only did Jesus talk with her, and tell her something that He was keeping secret from most Jews; He went into the Samaritan town, stayed there for two days, and preached to the Samaritans–who said, “Now we believe… and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” (v. 42)
These actions of His must have freaked people out. Dude, look at the company He keeps! We think of Jesus as gentle, and so He was: but He also made a habit of shattering people’s expectations of Him, as we see repeatedly throughout John’s gospel. At one point His audience seemed to think He was advocating a form of cannibalism: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (John 6:52)
Picture it: the silent, sunny mid-day, not a cloud in the blue sky, and Jesus and this woman all alone at the well, as if they’ve got the whole world to themselves–and He tells her everything. You can see it, if you try.
What we usually don’t see is how revolutionary, how shocking, this was. Maybe even worse than going to Matthew’s house to eat and drink with tax collectors and prostitutes (Matthew 9:10-13). But He was here as the Good Shepherd, here to reclaim what was lost.
As He continues to do today.