It was a brief encounter, just a passing conversation.
She was an unknown. Even now, though her story is familiar, we do not know her name. But she met someone important for a brief encounter - a short conversation that proved to be an unforgettable, life-changing moment.
We know her only as the Samaritan woman at the well. She had three strikes against her. She was a woman in an age when that meant inferiority and inequity. She was also Samaritan, which, to the Jews, made her an untouchable social and religious outcast. And, she was sexually promiscuous, having run through five husbands and currently living with man number six.
Yet, of millions living, God stopped by to talk to her. Jesus struck up a conversation. Makes you wonder, “Why?”
Oh, he asked for water, sure. But, he who could walk on water and turn it to wine could surely have arranged for his own drink. This was something more. This was not about his thirst, but hers.
Her thirst for love and acceptance and a sense of worth had led her through five marriages. As each relationship failed to satisfy, she went looking for something new. But still she was empty.
Jesus offered her something remarkable: "Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:13-14).
Jesus offered her a soul-deep, permanent satisfaction. And his very conversation with her was the beginning of slaking that thirst. Beyond the words, his actions spoke to the depths of her heart that she was important, that he believed in her, liked her, and wanted to see her happy.
We drink from many different wells trying vainly to quench our thirst. Some run from one relationship to another. Others drink, literally. Some chase the myriad pleasures of an affluent society, hoping that the latest, greatest toy will finally be the one that brings joy.
Jesus’ conversation with an outcast woman at a well is also his conversation with us. To each of us, he is saying, “Hey, notice what’s going on here! I’m offering you the importance and worth for which you so deeply thirst.”
Do we hear? Do we comprehend his offer to quench our deepest thirst? Or will these few words be only a brief encounter, just a passing conversation?