“A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered and said to her, ‘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.'” (John 4:7-10)
To us, in the twenty-first century west, there is nothing very unusual in Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well of Samaria. It differs little from an exchange we might have with someone at the water cooler at work or in the line at the grocery store. However, to a first-century audience, this encounter would have provoked no little wonder and some degree of shock. Lines of class and culture were more distinctly drawn in Jesus’ day than they are in ours, and He was by-passing any number of societal taboos by engaging her, which is evident by her surprise and response to his simple request for a drink of water.
Women in general were little more than chattel in first century Palestine, and this woman, a half-breed Samaritan, would have hardly been noticed by any one of Jesus’ own disciples. Understanding how the societal lines of were drawn in those days helps us then to see how Jesus’ interaction with her ascribed a value to this woman she would never have expected from a man in her own village, not to mention a Jew with whom she was unacquainted. To say it would have caught her off guard would be an understatement, and may have even aroused her suspicions.
This is where so many in the world find themselves today. If there is one thing that is universally true of people of all cultures everywhere, it is that we all seem to carry with us a sense of inadequacy. Even those who demonstrate the greatest bravado often harbor hidden insecurities about themselves. We all inherently wonder, “I am good enough?” I believe this is a residual trait carried over from our fall in the Garden of Eden and subsequent alienation from God. We know we’re not what we should be. We know we don’t measure up, and consequently we spend so much time looking for validation and affirmation from whatever or whoever will offer it. This need remains unmet until we find our acceptance with God in Christ. I believe God meets that need for validation and demonstrates our value in three ways:
Our Purchase Price. As the scriptures tell us, God didn’t redeem us with silver and gold, “but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,” (1 Peter 1:19). If the value of a thing is determined by the price paid, then God surely demonstrated that we were priceless in His eyes when He spilled the blood of His only begotten to secure our redemption. The songs that extoll the precious blood of Christ are without number, and the sermons that particular theme has inspired are countless, and yet it was that precious blood that God willingly shed to secure our deliverance.
Our Place. We all desire a place of belonging. The popular television show, Cheers, quipped in its title song that we all want to go “where everybody knows your name.” It’s true. We all seek for belonging, love, and acceptance. Denzel Washington’s brilliantly directed movie, Antwone Fisher, tells the story of a young black man and his search for belonging. It opens with the image of Antwone, as a young boy, in a large house with a table set with every homemade delight spread out before him. Waiting with open arms is the family whose love and acceptance define for him the quintessential idea of home. A moment later Antwone awakens from sleep to realize the images were only dreams expressing that inward longing for a restored sense of belonging for which we all hunger. For those who have come home to the Father through Christ Jesus, that sense of belonging is found when we become a part of the family of God. As the scriptures tell us, “God places the lonely in families; He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.” (Psalm 68:6).
His Purpose for our lives. Even the most secure child will grow up to feel unfulfilled and useless without a sense of purpose. Most of ask at some point in our lives, “What am I here for?” God made us for more than heaven when we die. He has both a place and a plan for us. God has uniquely called and gifted you to live a significant life (see Ephesians 2:10). God has made you to be a world-changer and a history maker. In fact, God has called us all to share the revelation of the goodness of God with those who are still on the outside looking in, that they may likewise find their way home though Jesus Christ and enjoy the place and purpose to which God has called them.
There are many in our world, even within the circle of our influence, who still trudge out to the same dry wells each day. In fact, of the making of idols there seems to be no end, as men give their devotion to one thing after another, from pleasure to profit to play, hoping to find in any of these the contentment they seek. Yet every new venture and trendy diversion prove only to be one more broken cistern with no water to satisfy that fundamental thirst for value, belonging, and meaning. That thirst is satisfied only in Jesus, and He still sits beside the dusty wells of this world to show the weary wanderer where they can drink of that living water to the full.