Two Tombstones: The Story of the Samaritan Woman and Jesus Christ
- Monday, October 06, 2008
Instead, she found one who knew her better than she knew herself.
He was seated on the ground: legs outstretched, hands folded, back resting against the well. His eyes were closed. She stopped and looked at him. She looked around. No one was near. She looked back at him. He was obviously Jewish. What was he doing here? His eyes opened and hers ducked in embarrassment. She went quickly about her task.
Sensing her discomfort, Jesus asked her for water. But she was too streetwise to think that all he wanted was a drink. “Since when does an uptown fellow like you ask a girl like me for water?” She wanted to know what he really had in mind. Her intuition was partly correct. He was interested in more than water. He was interested in her heart.
They talked. Who could remember the last time a man had spoken to her with respect?
He told her about a spring of water that would quench not the thirst of the throat, but of the soul.
That intrigued her. “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
“Go, call your husband and come back.”
Her heart must have sunk. Here was a Jew who didn’t care if she was a Samaritan. Here was a man who didn’t look down on her as a woman.
Here was the closest thing to gentleness she’d ever seen. And now he was asking her about . . . that.
Anything but that. Maybe she considered lying. “Oh, my husband?
He’s busy.” Maybe she wanted to change the subject. Perhaps she wanted to leave—but she stayed. And she told the truth.
“I have no husband.” (Kindness has a way of inviting honesty.)
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You probably know the rest of the story. I wish you didn’t. I wish you were hearing it for the first time. For if you were, you’d be wide eyed as you waited to see what Jesus would do next. Why? Because you’ve wanted to do the same thing.
You’ve wanted to take off your mask. You’ve wanted to stop pretending.
You’ve wondered what God would do if you opened your cobweb-covered door of secret sin.
This woman wondered what Jesus would do. She must have wondered if the kindness would cease when the truth was revealed. He will be angry. He will leave. He will think I’m worthless.
If you’ve had the same anxieties, then get out your pencil. You’ll want to underline Jesus’ answer.
“You’re right. You have had five husbands and the man you are with now won’t even give you a name.”
No criticism? No anger? No what-kind-of-mess-have-you-made-of-your- life lectures?
No. It wasn’t perfection that Jesus was seeking, it was honesty.
The woman was amazed.
“I can see that you are a prophet.” Translation? “There is something different about you. Do you mind if I ask you something?”
Then she asked the question that revealed the gaping hole in her soul.
“Where is God? My people say he is on the mountain. Your people say he is in Jerusalem. I don’t know where he is.”
I’d give a thousand sunsets to see the expression on Jesus’ face as he heard those words. Did his eyes water? Did he smile? Did he look up into the clouds and wink at his father? Of all the places to find a hungry heart—Samaria?
Of all the Samaritans to be searching for God—a woman?
Of all the women to have an insatiable appetite for God—a five-time divorcée?
And of all the people to be chosen to personally receive the secret of the ages, an outcast among outcasts? The most “insignificant” person in the region?
Remarkable. Jesus didn’t reveal the secret to King Herod. He didn’t request an audience of the Sanhedrin and tell them the news. It wasn’t within the colonnades of a Roman court that he announced his identity.
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