There is simply no one like Jesus. Maybe you know this already. I hope you do. After more than 40 years of reading about Jesus, studying his person, listening to his words in the Scriptures, and hanging out with other Jesus-admirers, I am still astounded — still in awe. I believe that I will be for all eternity. I think the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 thought and felt the same way.
Do you know the story? Jesus is traveling with his disciples and at mid-day they come to a well in the land of Samaria. The disciples leave Jesus alone as they go to a nearby village to look for food. As Jesus is waiting, a Samaritan woman comes to the well to draw water. He asks her for a drink of water. Other Jews considered Samaritans “unclean” compromisers of the Jewish faith. Worthless people. Not worth your time. Not worth your energy.
And she was not only a Samaritan — she was probably an outcast even among Samaritans.
Women did not normally draw water at mid-day. They usually came in the cool of the morning or evening to get water and talk together about their lives and the latest news. But this woman stays away from the other women of her village. Why? We’ll get to that. First, simply take a moment to see Jesus, and his intense concern about an unclean outcast of the outcasts. He wants to know her and, more importantly, he wants her to know him. Who is like that? Who has a heart of compassion for “the least of these” like Jesus?
In our day we are told that loving and compassionate people are those who will simply accept others, as they are. But Jesus is too loving to leave this woman as she is. In His love, he wants to change her. He comes speaking the truth to her and to us. He asks her to go get her husband. And the woman says that she has no husband. She is being truthful but evasive.
Jesus answers her, "You are right in saying, ’I have no husband' for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true." (John 4:17-18). By the way, this is probably why the women of the village don’t want to be around her.
She had a bad reputation. We don’t learn the details. But whether she was widowed five times, or divorced five times, or some combination of the two (plus a live-in boyfriend), no woman can go through that many intimate relationships without either beginning with a sense of great emptiness, or ending with a great sense of emptiness. And this is what Jesus is putting his finger on.
The woman at the well was seeking satisfaction and worth from men, and she ended up empty —drawing water from a muddy cistern, instead of the Spring of Living Water. In a very real way, that is all of us. Going through life seeking that one thing or one person who will finally satisfy our longing hearts. And Jesus tells her and us that He is the One that our hearts long for. “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." Who talks like this?
Whose words penetrate our souls like the words of Jesus? Who can truly satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts?
The woman believed. Her eyes were opened to the glory of Jesus. She was so excited, she was set free from her shame and told her whole village to come and see this Jesus who knew everything about her and yet, still loved. They did, and many of them believed in Him as well.
There is no one like Him. The Samaritan woman knew and felt this. Jesus changed her from worthless, to a worshiper, and finally to a witness. Who else can do this? Truly, there is no one like Jesus.
James Calderazzo is pastor of Safe Harbor Presbyterian Church in Destin. He can be reached at email@example.com.