In the Right Place at the Right Time
Now he 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 the sixth hour.
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.) (John 4:4–9)
While the shortest route from Judea to Galilee was through Samaria, it was not the only way. Many Jews would never have thought of entering into Samaritan territory. The relationship between the Jews and Samaritans was one of great hostility. The Jews hated the Samaritans who were only half Jew by blood and didn’t worship God in the same way. Indeed, the Jews forbade the Samaritan from the services in the temple and considered their food unclean. Enter Jesus. John says, “he had to go through Samaria.” “Had to”? Jesus had an appointment that he was not about to miss. An appointment that would give us a wonderful example of offering freedom to those in bondage.
Weary from the walk it took to get to the city, Jesus sits down by the well and waits. Ever been weary in the center of God’s will? There is much kingdom work to be done on this side of heaven and oftentimes as modern day disciples we may feel a bit overwhelmed. This is nothing new! From the Old Testament to the New, there is a tendency for those serving God to become weary. However, oftentimes we simply keep moving on. Jesus demonstrates for us an important principle. Rather than run ahead with His disciples as the go about the necessary task of gathering food for them to eat, Jesus shows us discernment by waiting at the well for His next divine appointment.
Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount:
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:33–34)
Jesus’ mission took him to Samaria where He had an appointment unbeknownst to anyone else. Jesus gives us these words in Matthew which illustrate his perfect focus:
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:35–38)
Ever about His Father’s business, Jesus forgoes traipsing into the city with His disciples to fetch food in lieu of the good work that must be done at the well. I wonder how many golden opportunities I have forgone in order to quench my earthly appetite.
In this passage, we find Jesus breaking the social norms of His day. He was a Jewish Rabbi speaking to a Samaritan woman, who was also a stranger. This totally caught her off guard, as a rabbi would never have spoken to a Samaritan woman. Shocked and surprised at this encounter with Jesus, the woman at the well certainly is curious.
Taking the time to teach a single person, and a woman at that, Jesus opens the conversation with an everyday request. Amazed at His willingness to cross religious boundaries, Jesus captures her attention and eventually her heart. Are you open to the divine appointments God gives you each day?
Take It to Heart
“We see here how divine Providence brings about glorious purposes by events which seem to us fortuitous and accidental.” (Matthew Henry)