Monday, March 06, 2006

The Woman at the Well

In preparing a Bible study for a women's group in Barrington I learned some new things about the story of the Samaritan woman that met Jesus at Jacob's well.

The well was in Shechem, which is where Hamor's son, Shechem, raped Dinah, Jacob's daughter, and then her brothers came and slaughtered all of the men of Shechem's family.

God instructs Jacob to bury all of his foreign gods under the oak of Shechem and get out of there and go to Bethel, the "House of God".

It is also the place where Joseph's brothers were herding sheep when Joseph was thrown into a cistern and then sold into slavery.

Bad stuff happened there.
"My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water."---(Jeremiah 2:13)
Then along comes a despised Samaritan woman. Too filled with shame to draw water with the other women in the early evening, she comes alone at noon and finds Jesus waiting for her there. Disregarding barriers of gender and ethnicity, Jesus humbly asks her to draw water for him because he is tired and thirsty.

She had experienced bad relationships with men. Five times she had entered into marriage, surely feeling each time that this would be the relationship that would bring her happiness, but each time she was either dumped, or things got so bad that she walked out, or perhaps the men found someone they liked better, or maybe there was abuse... we don't know, but five times something happened, and her dream of ever finding happiness was shattered. She finally gave up on marriage completely and just shacked up with another guy.

Then she meets Jesus and he talks to her of living water, the kind that flows from within, the spring of living water that satisfies all thirst forever, the cleasing fountain that washes away all guilt and shame, and she was transformed. Her "Valley of Trouble" becomes a "Door of Hope" and she is so excited about her new relationship with Jesus that she runs back to town and brings the entire village to meet Jesus.

There are several examples in Scripture of women going about their daily chores of drawing water when they are surprised to meet their husbands. Rebecah found her husband, Isaac, at a well. Rachel met Jacob at a well. Zipporah met Moses at a well.
I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor (ie. "Trouble") a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth... "In that day", declares the LORD, "you will call me 'my husband'."---(Hosea 2:14-16)
There is healing, cleansing, forgiveness and true happiness at the well. Jesus is waiting for me to call him "my husband".

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