This sun is scorching! Maria exclaimed as she stepped out into the sun. It was afternoon at about 12:30pm. And the sun was at its peak. There were not enough trees in Sychar to provide escape from the torturing sun at this time of the day. Most inhabitants preferred to be found in-doors or gathered under trees for discourse. The busiest timelines in the town were around early morning or late afternoons to the evenings.
Sychar also known as Shechem was a small town in Samaria. The original name was Shechem but had been nicknamed by their neighboring Jews as Sychar "drunken," or sheqer, "falsehood." Well, the Samaritans did not mind at all because they knew the messiah’s coming would clear all this confusion going around.
She took her water jug from the common place and balanced it on her hip. It was her time to fetch water for her household. She would rather go to the well alone than to join the women’s folk in the morning or evening. Going alone was better than to endure the look of disgust and resentment. Lately it even looks like they wouldn’t mind chaining their husbands to their waist as they go about their activities.
Maria sighed. It wasn’t her fault. She was fully aware of her beauty and graciousness. It took her; her third husband to understand why men were so drawn to her. But then with it came its own demons. She could not maintain a man. They got attracted to her but then couldn’t stay. She had even considered the noble act of prostitution. At least in that, men came and paid for what they got.
It wasn’t totally the men’s fault. They loved her or appeared to at least love her. They showered her with the love that every woman was envious of. However they always came to an end. Which woman wouldn’t want such attention anyway? Erasmus, the man she was currently with was great. He wasn’t her husband but he treated her as a queen in spite of the gossips that have been going round.
Gossips, drunkenness and contest were the main forms of entertainment in Sychar. For this, both men and women indulged in heartily. Townsfolk would pay any price for the juiciest news and the bearer is always esteemed.
She was nearing the well when she saw a man sitting by the well. He appeared tired and exhausted. He looked like a Jew too. Maria tried to get a good image of him before she got any closer. Well he really does look like one and he’s definitely not from around here. She said to herself.
How come this Jew decided to rest here of all the places he could have. And not even in this town. They would rather use the other route which was longest than to pass this way.
Well whoever he is, he must be either new around here or just wants another confrontation to insult us. Well am just going to go about my business and move away. Enough mockery has been going round here and I don’t need another self righteous Jew to add another insult.
She got to the well, placed her jug on the side of the well. She lowered her water pitcher to fetch water.
“Will you give me a drink?” The man spoke.
“No this must be a joke, now my ears have started playing games on me. Actually, imagining this man is talking to me”. She told her mind. She lifted the water carrier out of the well and poured the water into her jug. Then she heard it again.
“Will you give me a drink?” The man asked again.
“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” Maria squeaked. Surprised that a Jew would actually be asking her a question how much more ask for a drink of water. That was unheard of.
The man did not appear moved by her reaction. Instead he responded.
“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
There was something interesting about this man. Here he was, supposedly dying of thirst, yet still he is claiming he has living water or better still he is or he is carrying the gift of God.
Strange enough as it was, something began to stir up within her as she heard the man make those statements. The man was looking very intently at her. Not in the ways other men did. His eyes were that of searching and knowing. It was as if he knew her from somewhere. It was as if he was staring right into her soul. She felt bared.
Her initial intent was to leave but her interest got the better of her. She answered the man
“Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
The man cut in on her babbling as if he didn’t hear the genuine express of concern she gave.
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Okay! that is it. Maria thought to herself.
The first sign of insanity; that’s all I need for proof. If you have water as you claim to have, why don’t you drink it up and stop pestering me with having living water that you will never thirst again. Besides if you wouldn’t thirst again why are asking me for water, you must have drank it some time back and shouldn’t be thirsting again as you claim to.
All these were questions running through her mind. She dared not utter them out since she did not know what he was capable of besides they were alone at the well. She began to seize the man up. She glanced around to see if the man carried with him any water carrier as he was claiming to have. None anywhere. She decided to outwit him.
“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
The man knowing the line she was treading on, answered her. “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
“You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” The man replied.
This made Maria stop in her tracks. She took another look at the man again. She asked him “please may I know your name? And he replied “I am Jesus from Nazareth”
“I can see that you are a prophet. Maria responded. To have told me my life without my telling you. She began to search for traces of condemnation or judgment in the man. She found none. In place she sensed pity instead. Well, at least I have a religious aspect I regard as important. She decided to change the topic.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
“I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Maria included to the discourse.
Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
Her eyes widened. Shocked but then that something within her confirmed what the Jesus told her.
She took another look at the man speaking to her to confirm. There was no doubt to what this man was saying. He didn’t look it but then after the revelation she began to see something different. She began to see the LORD. Her joy was unspeakable.
With the joy came serious questions in her mind. It cut short the joy welling within. If this is really is the Messiah he should know who I am and must not even be speaking to me.
But of all the people in Samaria, why me? And of all the women why me? She felt so ashamed of herself for the kind of person she was. The messiah had every right to condemn her for her current life. Her head was bowed but she decided to lift it again to see what the man would do next. It was as if the man was reading every unspoken word on her mind yet still no sign of condemnation towards her. She sensed an overwhelming sense of love from the man towards her. She broke down into tears.
I have been searching for something all these years, and have not found it. I tried to search for it in men but I still didn’t find it. But this man has made me see that which I had searched and did not find.
She began to ask Jesus all the questions she wanted to ask, and Jesus was answering. The water errand; completely forgotten. Her joy was great as if delicacies being handed down to a kid. She did not even notice the other 12 men walk in on them.
She quickly girded her skirts around her and run to the town. She was screaming on top of her lungs as she approached. People came to stir and come out to find out the cause of the noise.
“Come see the man, who told me everything I ever knew. He is the messiah”. She said.
People could not understand what she was talking about but they noticed a change in this once timid woman. They noticed the tears combine with joy. Some believed whilst others jeered at her.
“See how your sins have started catching up with you.” Someone in the crowd snorted. But then this time around no one could shut her up or hold down.
She screamed louder. The townsfolk followed her to the well to confirm what she was saying. They found him. The man Jesus, the Messiah and were saved.
She did not stop there but went ahead to receive baptism. After Baptism her name was changed to 'Photini' which literally means "the enlightened one". She became a missionary spreading the word of the lord as far as Africa together with her sisters.
To her there was a well with living water within her and she was determined to share it.
When was the last time you shared Christ with a “paddy”, with “boy’s boys”, with sisters club, a family member you dislike? To what purpose is a lamp lit and kept under a cover?