The Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. The story in John 4 (4:1-10) is well-known: Jesus encounters a divorced woman at the well, they chat, and He tells her all about her life. She in turns run into town and tells everyone about the man who could be the long-awaited Messiah and brings half the town back with her. For me, it is a great story, one of redemption and grace and a beautiful reflection of the heart of God. But there is one verse that really speaks to me in this story and it’s verse 4:4 ‘Now he had to go through Samaria.’ Seven words that, for me, are some of the most profound words in the Bible.
Jesus had to go through Samaria. He wasn’t just strolling through; He intentionally made his way through Samaria to Jacob’s well. He detoured on purpose, going out of His way, and when He gets there, He finds a woman, alone in the heat of the day, drawing water from the well. This is no mere coincidence. Jesus knew He would find her there and He knew she would be alone at that time, so He sat, asked her for water and proceeded to tell her about her life. But He didn’t stop there; He then goes on to reveal His identity to this woman, telling her that He is the Messiah. Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords, reveals himself to a woman who in that day and age would have been an outcast in community. Divorced five times and living with a man out-of-wedlock, she is the last person he would have been expected to, or allowed to, engage with. But Jesus was never interested in social rules and religious restraints; He was more concerned with showing His Father’s love to those who needed it most. And in this case, He ‘had to go’ through Samaria so that He could show this Samaritan woman that she is not beyond the love and grace of the Father.
Jesus shows us, time and again, that He is interested in the ‘one’, but not more so than in this story. When his disciples returned, they were shocked that He was talking with her, but Jesus didn’t even flinch because He had achieved what He set out to do and that was to touch the woman’s heart. He let her know that she was seen. That despite what society said, she was important and loved and known to the Father in Heaven. And that hasn’t changed today. Jesus still wants us to know that we are seen and loved and important. Jesus still wants us to know that He will meet us at our ‘well at noon’ and will sit with us because that is the love of the Father. We at times may feel that we are too far from God, that we have fallen too far, but we are never far enough that God won’t meet us with open arms if we come with the right heart. A heart that wants to know Him and love Him. You may feel today that you are too far, or disconnected, but He sees you and loves you just as much today as the day He created you. Or you may have a loved one that you have been praying for that seems too far. Be assured that God sees them; He has His eye on the ‘one’ and is interested in their heart just as much as He is interested in yours. Because for our Father, it’s always about the one.
‘And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”’– John 4: 4-7 (ESV)