A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” …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.––John 4:7, 9, nkjv

When Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman drawing water in the middle of the day, which is highly unusual, we quickly learn from their conversation that there are probably some good reasons for her timing. Normally, she would go the well to fetch water in the middle of the day to avoid the scrutiny, rejection, and even mockery of the other women. As Jesus noted, she was far from being an expert on relationships, having suffered the pain of five divorces and currently living out of wedlock with a sixth man. In all likelihood, she did not come to the well when the others did because her lifestyle had shamed her before the other women of the community. Perhaps she could not take any more of the other women’s questions her about her serial relationships in a society that highly valued monogamy. She had run out of explanations, and the less said, the better. Her current lifestyle was her own business. Besides, every time the subject came up, the wounds of relationships-gone-bad were reopened like botched surgeries that never can heal. The oppression of past failures and reproach for her current questionable lifestyle enforced a penalty of isolation and inconvenience. Trips to the well in the heat of the day were only part of the picture.

Today she could not retrieve her supply of water without being noticed. What was this Jewish man doing here? As he asked for a drink, his tone of voice did not seem to indicate any hint of the traditional antagonism between the Jews and the Samaritans.

Jesus’ prophetic eyes must have seen a desire for breakthrough in the heart of this woman. I must admit that of all of the people in the Bible, a woman of her character would not have been my personal choice of someone to whom to reveal the greatest revelation about worship in the New Testament. But “the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, nkjv). In His mercy, the Lord gave this nameless Samaritan woman a key that would change her life, heal her brokenness, and remove her shame—the key of worship.

Right away, the conversation took an interesting turn. No sooner did He reveal her deepest secrets and thus prove that He was more than just another thirsty traveler, but He immediately started teaching her about worship. There, sitting on the edge of Jacob’s well, which long before used to be an altar of worship, He revealed to a woman who had come to draw her day’s water from a natural well how to find the ever-renewable resource of a heavenly well. Worship was the key.

This woman’s life was in a mess. No amount of well-water could wash her clean or satisfy her thirst for love. While Jesus knew that worship would restore and heal her devastated life, she could not understand at first. He needed to talk about true worship. The problem was, this woman’s concept of worship had been skewed by the deep-seated cultural hatred between the Jews and her people. In order to position her to receive all of what He wanted to show her, Jesus first had to explain three common fallacies about worship… (Continued tomorrow)