Living Water

Living Water

The woman at the well.

Tapestry Treasures

The sun rose over the horizon, making the stars disappear and bringing heat to warm the day. The woman slowly opened her eyes as she wished she could sleep longer, if not forever. Another day of stares, snickers, and sneers from the neighbors and fellow villagers awaited her. Her man had already left for the masonry shop and wouldn’t return until much later in the evening. He’ll probably stumble in drunk, the woman thought as she dressed herself and tried to mentally prepare for the upcoming day. She reached for her sash and then suddenly remembered what day it was. The woman shivered and shook her head, trying to rid her mind of that awful memory. But that was the problem with memories – they can’t be dumped from one’s mind like garbage into the waste bucket. Memories stick and haunt and torment. She knew it all too well.

At just fifteen years old her father married her off to a local farmer twice her age. When winter came and sickness ran rampant throughout the land, her husband died. Her father quickly found another man who took her in as his second wife, but after two years of barreness he divorced her. Once again, she was back in her father’s house and looked upon as the family’s shame. If her own kin couldn’t accept her, who could? No man in his right mind desired a woman who had been married twice and proved her womb “didn’t work.” A year later, to the woman’s and her family’s shock, a rich young man her own age moved to their village. He seemed taken with her and didn’t care about her past or how people viewed her. They were soon married and lived happily together for several months. They thought they couldn’t be happier until the woman discovered she was with child – quite a shock since she believed she was barren for life. The joy quickly faded, however, when she miscarried the child before she was halfway through the pregnancy. The woman and her husband grew apart after that tragic incident and no longer possessed happiness in their marriage. Not wanting to shame himself or his wife, he quietly divorced her, married the woman off to his brother, and faked his death so the villagers wouldn’t think the woman had been twice divorced. He skipped town never to return. The woman knew the whole plan and only went along with it to avoid further shame. No joy, satisfaction, or purpose existed in the fourth marriage of hers and that’s why she didn’t shed a single tear when her husband was killed in a drunken brawl in the neighboring village. By this point in her life her family had completely abandoned her, she literally had no friends, and no one even attempted to speak to her. She lived alone in a little hut just outside the village, glad to be left alone for the rest of her miserable life.

Six months after the death of her fourth husband a group of Roman soldiers came through the village to collect the necessary taxes for the Roman Empire. As compensation for not being able to pay the full tax she was forced to marry a Roman soldier. The woman was driven into further shame because she now belonged to a foreign man. It was during this fifth marriage that she began going to the well at the hottest time of the day in order to avoid hearing the other women call her a whore. After one abysmal year of marriage to the Roman, the woman received news that he had been killed in a far-off battle. Left with no way to earn money and 100 lifetimes of shame heaped upon her, the woman didn’t have any problem whoring herself out to any man who would have her. She moved in with one of the masons in her village and didn’t even bother to marry him because there seemed to be no point. Either he would die or kick her out – it didn’t matter because she would never be viewed as anything good again.

The woman slowly completed her household chores while waiting for the sun to reach the top of the sky. It was then that she’d make her way to the well during the noonday hour. No one was ever at the well during that time because of the scorching heat. But as she made her way to the well today, she noticed a man sitting, breathing heavily. Not wanting to walk all the way back to her house, wait for him to leave, and then walk back to the well to draw water, she decided to brave it and awkwardly draw water while he just sat there.

“Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.” “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband—for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!” “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!” Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?” 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?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him. Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, “Rabbi, eat something.” But Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.” “Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other.
Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.” Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Author’s note: This is the true story of a woman saved by the grace of God. The sentence “Please give me a drink” all the way to Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world is all Biblical text and not any of my own words. Her encounter with Jesus Christ is documented in John 4 in the Bible. We are not given her full story, just this little snippet in this scriptural passage. The details in the above paragraphs are from my own imagination of what her story could possibly have been. I stayed completely true to the original text in the Bible, adding details where the Bible provides none. Please know that any Biblical fiction can never replace the authenticity and beauty of the actual Word of God.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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