Meeting the Man of Your Dreams
By Sharon Jaynes
"I who speak to you am he" (John 4:26 NIV).
The harsh mid-day sun beat down through a cloudless sky. The morning breeze had long since stilled as the heavy air weighed a body down. The weary, worn woman picked up her empty water jug, a reflection of her empty life, and headed to Jacob's well to draw her daily supply.
Jacob's well was a bustling place for community life among the women in the small village. It was their one chance to leave the confines of home and mingle with friends. They caught up on the latest gossip, exchanged village news, and shared homemaking tips. Most women came to the well in groups…no surprise there. But Ramona ventured out alone.
"It would be nice if I could go to the well in the cool of the morning or the calm of the evening like all the other women," she mumbled to herself. "But it's just not worth it. I'm tired of the condescending stares, the buzzing gossip, and the snide snickers. Why, last week, Mariah yanked her five-year old daughter's arm to keep her from getting too close to me. What? Did she think I would contaminate her if she brushed my robe? No, I prefer the searing sun to their glaring gazes."
Ramona peeked out of the door. "High noon. The coast is clear."
The Samaritan woman easily balanced the five-gallon water jug atop her veiled head and made her way to the community well. Her thoughts of rejection continued as she plodded down the dusty trail. She felt as empty as the jug she carried. All I've ever wanted was to be loved. What's so wrong with that? Five times I've tried and five times I've been rejected. Married and divorced, married and divorced. Tossed away like an old worn sandal. Rejected by men. Shunned by former friends. I guess I'm just a throw-away person that nobody really wants.
Ramona's thoughts were interrupted as she reached her destination and noticed a lone man sitting by the well's edge. What's a Jew like that doing in a place like this? She mused. I'll just keep my eyes down and pretend he isn't here.
But he was there. And he was there for a purpose.
His unexpected words pierced the silence.
"Will you give me a drink," He asked.
A Jewish man would never stoop so low as to speak to a Samaritan woman, she thought. He's just like all other men. He won't speak to me in public where people can see, but he is all too eager to engage when he wants something. I'll show him.
With a hint of sarcasm, the woman replied. "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink? Isn't that against the rules?"
Jesus ignored her sarcasm and cut right to the chase. He was more interested in winning the woman than winning the war of words. "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asked you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."
Now he had her attention. What in the world is living water? What is the gift? Who is this man? Without realizing it, she lowered her water jug and began lowering her emotional walls as well.
"And how are you going to get this living water?" she laughed. "You don't even have a bucket? Are you just going to reach down in the well with your hands? Our forefather, Jacob, gave us this well. Are you saying that you are greater than Jacob? That you can give us something better than he has given?"
Even though Jesus was trying to move her thinking from a physical need to spiritual truth, she was not quick to follow.
"Drink from this well," Jesus continued, "and you'll be thirsty again. But if you drink from the well that I'm speaking of, the well of living water, your thirst will be quenched forever. Not only that, you'll have a spring of water living inside you that will bubble up and spill over onto those around you."
"Give me that water!" she said. "Oh how I'd love to never come to this well again!"
The woman didn't understand what "living water" was all about, but if it meant that she didn't have to come to the well every day and face the condemning comments and stoic stares from the other women in the town, she wanted it.
"Go, call your husband and come back."
Suddenly, the warmth she had felt earlier began to seep from her soul and the empty chill returned with a vengeance.
"I don't have a husband," she flatly replied, retreating behind harsh features and a practiced face.
"You are right," Jesus continued. "I'm glad that you admitted it. I applaud your honesty. The truth is, you have had five husbands and the man you're living with right now is not your husband. So you are telling the truth when you say you don't have a husband."
There was not a hint of condemnation in Jesus' voice. He simply stated the facts like he would have noted the day's weather condition or the price of eggs at the market.
Suddenly the years of her pitiful life passed before her and she saw herself all alone…emotionally empty and desperately thirsty. How did he know that about me? She wondered. Who is this man? Is he a prophet?
Trying to skirt the real issue at hand, the woman tried to engage Jesus in a theological debate. She tried to divert the conversation away from her life and onto a safer subject. "Sir, I get the idea that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem. Which is it?"
"Believe me," Jesus said, "one day you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. A time is coming and actually has now come, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. That's what God really wants. It is not about where you worship but whom and how."
"Oh well," she shrugged, "I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."
Jesus looked intently at the woman, and for the first time in his ministry, he told someone his true identity. "I who speak to you am he."
She wanted to laugh, to cry, to worship at his feet, but before she could do any of those things, a cloud of dust and the rumble of male voices interrupted their conversation. Jesus' friends had returned from the market and stopped short; amazed that Jesus was talking to a woman alone. But even more startling than who he was talking to, was what he had just said…"I am he."
Then leaving her water pot, she ran back to town and told the townsfolk about the Messiah she met at Jacob's well. She had met the man of her dreams-- what she had been longing for all her life. She had met the Messiah.
Lord, I am that woman. No, I haven't been married and divorced five times, but I do come thirsty. Thank You for giving me Your living water! Today, I drink deeply and share freely. Forgive me for going to "other wells" seeking satisfaction. I know that You are the only One who will satisfy my soul completely. In Jesus' Name, Amen.