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Mary Elizabeth Baxter :: The Woman of Samaria. Part 1—John 4:1-42

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THE WOMAN OF SAMARIA.


It happened on a day when Jesus Christ was weary, that He came near to the city of Sychar, in the province of Samaria, and sat down on Jacob's well. It was "about the sixth hour," that is twelve o'clock by our time, and the hottest part of the day. Even when weary, Jesus had little opportunity to refresh Himself in an unbroken rest.

How many a woman, a mother of a family, when she is worn with headache, and has had a hard morning's work, sits down for a few minutes of rest, and tries to get a snatch of sleep in the afternoon, but as sure as she sits down, little Mary begins to cry, or a button comes off Thomas's boot, or somebody calls at the door, and she is inclined to say: "How trying it is! I never can get a moment's rest." Dear tried sister, Jesus knows even this trial, and that it is not light to one who has much to do and not much strength to do it with.

"There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water." Jesus never took anything into His own hands; He did not Himself judge whether He should pay attention to the woman, or whether He should try to sleep. Everything was ordered for Him by His Father, and He was always quiet enough and attentive enough to ascertain His Father's will. God willed that He should speak to the woman, and He received of His Father exactly what He should say to her. "The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of Myself, but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works." (Jhn 14:10.)

It was as an obedient Son that He said to her the words:

"Give me to drink."

And by the same Father, Who communed with Him about all He should do or say, Jesus was prepared for the rude, unwomanly retort:

"How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?"

How many a man, receiving such an answer, would have turned and said: "Well, you might be civil at least!"

But Jesus, as a "Lamb dumb before her shearers" (Isa 53:7), answered not a word in self‐defence or in anger, when He was so rudely treated. He manifested the power of God in enduring grief, "suffering wrongfully" (1Pe 2:19), although He had done nothing to merit such treatment. There are many who could bear a much greater indignity far better than a rude or inconsiderate saying-nothing makes them so angry, nothing makes them feel so hurt-but Jesus who "pleased not Himself" (Rom 15:3), and who received not honour from men (Jhn 5:41), had none of the touchy feeling in His heart, which would lead Him to defend Himself. He looked upon Himself all the time as not His own, but His Father's; He had not His own character to maintain, but His Father's, and He knew that His Father was in charge of all events which occurred.

With perfect serenity He answered the offensive utterance:

"If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee Give Me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water" (4:10). When a rude person receives a rude word in return for his remarks, he feels that he and the other party are on a level. Each has had his say, and each has done his best to offend and wound the other; but when a rude remark meets only love and gentleness, O how ashamed the speaker becomes that the other party can control himself when he has failed to do so! "A soft answer turneth away wrath." (Pro 15:1.) Jesus had conquered the woman already; He had secured her attention, and had shown her that He had something to give her far more precious than she had to give Him. Then she asked Him:

"Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; from whence then hast Thou this living water?"

The spirit of the question was a very different one from that in which she first spoke to Jesus. It was an inquirer now who addressed Him, and none of the snappishness of her former words remained.

"Art Thou greater," she continued, "than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?"

Something in the person of Jesus must have impressed her, or why should she say: "Art Thou greater?" His manifest greatness was in His gentleness. "Thy gentleness hath made me great." (Psa 18:35.) O, if every woman, tempted to evil temper and to unkind retorts, could learn the lesson-the greatness of the mastery of the tongue-how much blessing might result, and how many a home might be made happier!

The answer of Jesus must have been a surprise:

"Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again. But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

Very naturally, she took it all materially, and thought only of water which could quench the thirst of her body. She could form no idea of what was meant by "a well of water springing up into everlasting life;" and yet there was a something in the Stranger which had won her confidence; there was a power, a reality about this Jew which made her feel that He could teach her, and, without knowing what the water would be, she said to Him:

"Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw."

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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