The story of the Women at the Well seems incomplete to me. One issue is that, as recorded in the Bible, the conversation doesn’t flow particularly easily. I’ve thus had a go at writing my own version and am reasonably happy that I’ve achieved a more free flowing conversation without departing from the original too much.
The other issue is that the original story is abbreviated so much that I don’t really get a feel for exactly what it was in the conversation that led to such a transformation in the woman. I’ have to admit failure on this. I’ve reached the conclusion that the Biblical material isn’t detailed enough to give a convincing insight to this. It requires an act of imagination that takes us beyond what is recorded and I’ll leave this to your imagination rather than imposing mine upon you.
Jesus and his disciples came to Jacob’s well just outside the town of Sychar at about midday. It was hot and Jesus sat down to rest. His disciples went into town to buy food.
While he was sitting there a Samaritan woman came to draw some water from the well but Jesus asked her “Can I have a drink of water?”
The woman was astonished. “You are a Jewish man and I am a Samaritan woman”, how can you possible ask me for a drink?” Jews and Samaritans didn’t even speak to each other at that time let alone share the same cup or bowl.
Jesus replied, “If only you understood the generosity of God and who it is you are speaking to now, then you would be asking me for life-giving water.”
“You?”, the woman started to laugh, “You haven’t got a bucket and the well is deep, where are you going to get any water from, life-giving or otherwise? This well was given to us by our ancestor Jacob many generations ago. He and his children and flocks all drank of its waters. Are you saying that you are more important than Jacob?”
Jesus answered, “Those of you who drink from this well will get thirsty again, but those who drink the water that I give them will never be thirsty again, It will be as if a spring of life-giving water will be bubbling up within them and giving their life meaning”.
“I’d love some of that water”, the woman said, still mocking, “I’d love never to be thirsty again, I’d love not to have to trudge out to this blessed well in the mid-day heat ever again. If you can magic up this water, then give it to me now”
“Tell you what”, said Jesus, “why don’t you go home and come back with your husband and I’ll give it to you both.”
“I don’t have a husband”, she said.
“I thought as much”, said Jesus, “you’ve had several husbands, haven’t you, and the man you live with now isn’t your husband.”
“I see you are a prophet”, she said, “but you Jews worship God in your way in Jerusalem and we Samaritans worship him in a different way on this mountain. What can you possibly have to say to me”.
“The time is coming when everyone will recognise the one true God and will worship him wherever they are”, said Jesus. “It won’t matter whether they are in Jerusalem or on this mountain. You Samaritans can’t see this, but God has now made himself known to the Jews. He has sent us his Spirit and it is through this that we can truly know him and worship him properly. True worship comes whenever God’s spirit bubbles up inside us and gives our lives meaning.”
“We may not be able to see yet”, said the Woman, “but we are awaiting a Messiah and when he comes everything will be made clear”.
“I am he”, Jesus said, “I am making everything clear to you now”.
Just then the disciples returned. They were amazed to find Jesus talking to a lone woman and a Samaritan woman at that. They didn’t hide their feelings. The woman sensed their hostility and made herself scarce. In her haste she left her water jug behind.
She went back to the town and told the people there about Jesus. “He knew exactly who I was” she said “but he still talked to me about who God is. He said he was the Messiah. Do you think he really could be?”
The people were so amazed to hear that a Jewish holy man had been talking in this way to this woman, that they came from the town to hear what Jesus had to stay. When they had listened to him they begged him to stay longer, and he did so, for two more days. Many of them believed what he had to tell them. Even so they felt they had to make it clear to the women that this was not because of what she said, but because of what they had heard directly from Jesus.