The Woman at the Well

Author: Shari R. Panages

But whoever drinks the water I give him will never be thirsty; no, the water I give shall become a fountain within him, leaping up to provide eternal life." John 4:l4

The woman at the well had come to draw water at an odd hour to avoid the other townspeople. Her lifestyle made her unacceptable to them, a topic of gossip, so she kept to herself. She had married five times, possibly as a way of satisfying her own inner needs, but each time she found the relationship unfulfilling. Continually relying upon others to provide her with a sense of self-worth had left her lonely, ashamed and an outcast among her own people.

Then on the very day when there seemed no way left to improve her situation, she met Jesus, there beside the well. He was a stranger, not even of her kind, and yet he spoke to her respectfully. He refrained from mentioning her obvious feelings of inferiority and focused instead on the person rather than the problem. As the woman began to recognize Jesus' attitude of acceptance and how different he was from anyone she had ever met, she became more at ease and better able to listen to his words.

Only then did he speak about her lifestyle, but there was no condemnation in his remarks. Jesus' words opened her mind to understand how futile were her own outward attempts at finding fulfillment; and gave her the grace to recognize him as her real source of fulfillment. The trust relationship Jesus offered gave her the courage to accept herself and trust in him for the answers to her problems.

She had come to the well to draw water for a day and found acceptance for all her days. She had given Jesus a cup of water to drink and he had given her a sip of Living Water that restored her dignity to wholeness and gave her the freedom to live again. What a joy it is to find someone willing to love us in spite of ourselves. The remarkable effect Jesus had on the woman at the well instilled in her the desire to share with others the compassion and acceptance she had received.

Immediately she went to the very scoffers she had felt compelled to avoid only minutes before and said to them, "I have met a man who told me everything I ever did. Come and meet him". The townspeople could not help but notice the marked changes in the woman's attitude and demeanor. Shame had been replaced with self-respect; self-pity and loneliness had been transformed into compassion. Her remarkable transformation had opened the door for others to meet Jesus for themselves.

We each have a fountain of Living Water within that daily transforms us. Jesus' love fills us with personal dignity and compassion so that, like the woman at the well, our lives too might express the invitation to, "Come and meet Him".

Veritas, 2nd December 2010