Now [Jesus] had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
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.)
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.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 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?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 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.”
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.”
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 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.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
In this story, we see Jesus model what it means to be in relentless pursuit of people on the fringes. During Jesus’ day, Jews didn’t go to Samaria—it was a place to be avoided at all costs. But Jesus had to go. There were people in Samaria thirsty for the life only he could give. In fact, he trusted a woman with a scandalous past with his true identity. Not even with his closest disciples had he yet disclosed himself as the Messiah. Jesus’ life was marked by his willingness to go to the places no one else would—to the fringes, to the sinners, to the forgotten. He was willing to (and did) risk everything to deliver hope, truth, and love.
Imagine yourself in the Samaritan woman’s position as best you can—she has a scandalous past and is probably ashamed of the choices she’s made; she is considered an untouchable by the Jewish people, someone to be avoided; she is collecting water in the middle of a hot day for her family. What do you think she daydreamed about? What do you imagine she longed for? What feelings do you guess were triggered in her when Jesus arrived, offered her living water, and disclosed his identity to her?
Reflect on your life story and notice where you can now see that God was pursuing your heart either through circumstances or people. Who did God use along the way? How did he use each person you are able to see as part of his pursuit?
Who is God calling you to pursue? Who would it be scandalous to reach out to and build a relationship with in our culture? Pray for God’s guidance about how he wants to use you in his relentless pursuit of human hearts.
God, thank you for pursuing me, for every single person you placed in my path that pointed to you, whether I saw it at the time or not. Thank you for softening my heart over time to what you wanted to show me about who you are and how you love me. I want to be part of your pursuit for others. Use me. Show me where to go, what to say, how to enter the places on the fringes so the lost, lonely, and untouchables know they are not forgotten. Amen.