The story of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman is a familiar one. It certainly also must have been the subject of sermons and Bible studies across Christian communities and gatherings over the ages.
This encounter was extraordinary to say the least, for not only did it defy the age-long acrimony and prejudice between the Jews and the Samaritans, it also reveals how a woman, who was considered to lack moral discretion and of no consequence in her society, became a messenger of the good news of salvation to her own compatriots.
This Samaritan woman had had five husbands, and the one whom she was living with at the time of her encounter with Jesus was not her husband [verse 18]. Such chequered marital history, considering the cultural norms of the time, would have made her an object of ridicule and discrimination. However, this one encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ at Jacob’s well was to change her life for good. The encounter must have been of long duration, considering that the dialoguing with Jesus started after Jesus’s disciples had left Him by the well and went into the city to buy food and continued even after they had returned from their shopping.
There is a plethora of teachings and messages that are inherent in this scriptural passage. However, there is one that is particularly appropriate for Christmas. Jesus told the Samaritan woman: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink’, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” [verse 10]. This was a statement of self-validation and self-affirmation by Jesus, not only of who He was [and is] but also of His earthly mission. Looked at very closely, it is apparent that there is a close relationship between what Jesus meant by “the gift of God” and “who it is who says ‘Give Me a drink’.
The statement “Who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink’”, is a direct reference to Jesus Himself, while it could be inferred that “the gift of God” being referred to in the passage equally has a direct bearing on Jesus, that is, Jesus is that “gift of God”.
The Bible says: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. And the government will be upon His shoulder, and His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace“ [Isaiah 9: 6].
This is the gift of God to the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. John 3:16 also declares: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” It therefore stands to reason that being the Son of God, Jesus was affirming that he was [and is] that gift of God. Jesus Himself declares: “I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly” [John 10:10].
He is the gift of God, which the Samaritan woman did not know nor recognise at the initial phase of the encounter with Him. Hence the statement by Jesus to the woman: “If you knew the gift of God”.
The message inherent in the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, among other inferable messages from the encounter, is a message of Christmas: the gift of God, which is the Son of God, given to the world because of the love of God for the world. The Bible says: “In this is love, not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sin” [1 John 4: 10] and “we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Saviour of the world” [1 John 4: 14].
It was this message of salvation [the message of living water, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself] that the Samaritan woman had the privilege to hear from our Lord Jesus Christ during that intimate encounter with Him.
This was also the gift of grace, peace, and salvation all wrapped in one single package and delivered to the Samaritan woman by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. What a moment of great blessing it must have been for her!
Nonetheless, this woman did not instantly recognise she was having a most wonderful gift being delivered to her and by the most special Delivery Man – our Lord Jesus Christ. At first she was confrontational, still holding to that cultural acrimonious stance between the Jew and the Samaritans, saying, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman? [verse 9].
Even as she progressively began to recognise that the Man she was having the dialogue with might not be an ordinary human being, she remained disputatious, saying, “You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and livestock?” [verses 11-12].
Then something wonderful happened, the Word penetrated into her heart and melted away the stony and resistive barrier. At that very moment, she was set free, she saw the Light, her sins were forgiven, and without further hesitation she accepted that special gift of God, saying to Jesus: “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw” [verse 15].
As the Word penetrated deeper, so did her knowledge of the truth and Jesus Christ increased, declaring in verse 25: “I know that the Messiah is coming [who is Christ]. When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
Then ‘cameth the hour and cameth the moment’ when the ‘law of unexpected circumstances’ took effect. The moment when this woman of Samaritan, who was once considered a social outcast, but having received grace and salvation during what was meant to be an ordinary and uneventful water-fetching trip to Jacob’s well, became a ‘disciple’ of Christ, sharing and spreading the message of salvation and of living water all around her community. “The woman then left her water-pot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, ‘Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’” [verses 28-29].
The story of the Samaritan woman is the story of great personal, social and spiritual transformation, the story of how a once presumed social outcast became a ‘disciple’ of Christ, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” This woman became a messenger of the message of grace and salvation to her community.
This is the Christmas story, that God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son [the special Gift of God] that whosoever believes and receives Him should not perish but have everlasting life. This is the Christmas story, that the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world that we might have life [the living water] and have it more abundantly.
This Christmas, whatever might be your circumstances, watch out, there is a special message of forgiveness, hope, love, grace, peace and salvation, all wrapped up in one special ‘parcel’ to be delivered by that special Delivery Man, our Lord Jesus Christ. As we celebrate Christmas, He will knock on the door of your heart, and even now, He is already knocking to deliver to you the “gift of God”.
This Christmas, will you open the door and let Him into your home and your life? This Christmas, will you share this Special Gift with family and friends, neighbours and colleagues? Whatever might be your circumstances this Christmas, will you put your hope in Jesus and find joy and happiness in Him. This Christmas, listen out for the knock on the door of your heart, and receive Him into your life. The Bible says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your heart, as in the day of rebellion” [Psalm 95: 8, Hebrew 3: 15]; “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” [2 Corinthians 6: 2].
Sing along with me if you’re familiar with the lyrics of the song stated below:
We’re feeding on the living bread
We’re drinking at the fountainhead
And whoso drinketh, Jesus said
Shall never, never thirst again
What never thirst again? No, never thirst again!
What never thirst again? No, never thirst again!
And whoso drinketh, Jesus said
Shall never, never thirst again!