No, it was in the shade of a well in a rejected land to an ostracized woman. His eyes must have danced as he whispered the secret.

“I am the Messiah.”

The most important phrase in the chapter is one easily overlooked.

“The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did!

Could he possibly be the Messiah?’” ( John 4:28–29 nlt)

Don’t miss the drama of the moment. Look at her eyes, wide with amazement. Listen to her as she struggles for words. “Y-y-y-you a-a-a-are the M-m-m-messiah!” And watch as she scrambles to her feet, takes one last look at this grinning Nazarene, turns and runs right into the burly chest of Peter. She almost falls, regains her balance, and hotfoots it toward her hometown.

Did you notice what she forgot? She forgot her water jar. She left behind the jug that had caused the sag in her shoulders. She left behind the burden she brought.

Suddenly the shame of the tattered romances disappeared. Suddenly the insignificance of her life was swallowed by the significance of the moment. “God is here! God has come! God cares... for me!”

That is why she forgot her water jar. That is why she ran to the city.

That is why she grabbed the first person she saw and announced her discovery, “I just talked to a man who knows everything I ever did . . . and he loves me anyway!”

The disciples offered Jesus some food. He refused it—he was too excited! He had just done what he does best. He had taken a life that was drifting and given it direction.

He was exuberant!

“Look!” he announced to disciples, pointing at the woman who was running to the village. “Vast fields of human souls are ripening all around us, and are ready now for the reaping” ( John 4:35 tlb).

Who could eat at a time like this?

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For some of you the story of these two women is touching but distant.

You belong. You are needed and you know it. You’ve got more friends than you can visit and more tasks than you can accomplish. Insignificance will not be chiseled on your tombstone.

Be thankful.

But others of you are different. You paused at the epitaph because it was yours. You see the face of Grace Smith when you look into the mirror.

You know why the Samaritan woman was avoiding people. You do the same thing.

You know what it’s like to have no one sit by you at the cafeteria.

You’ve wondered what it would be like to have one good friend. You’ve been in love and you wonder if it is worth the pain to do it again.

And you, too, have wondered where in the world God is.

I have a friend named Joy who teaches underprivileged children in an inner city church. Her class is a lively group of nine-year-olds who love life and aren’t afraid of God. There is one exception, however—a timid girl by the name of Barbara.

Her difficult home life had left her afraid and insecure. For the weeks that my friend was teaching the class, Barbara never spoke. Never. While the other children talked, she sat. While the others sang, she was silent.

While the others giggled, she was quiet.

Always present. Always listening. Always speechless.

Until the day Joy gave a class on heaven. Joy talked about seeing God.

She talked about tearless eyes and deathless lives.

Barbara was fascinated. She wouldn’t release Joy from her stare.

She listened with hunger. Then she raised her hand. “Mrs. Joy?”

Joy was stunned. Barbara had never asked a question. “Yes, Barbara?”

“Is heaven for girls like me?”

Again, I would give a thousand sunsets to have seen Jesus’ face as this tiny prayer reached his throne. For indeed that is what it was—a prayer.