March 3, 2024 Essay: Jesus Reveals Who He Is

Feb 26, 2024

Have you ever noticed or thought about why Jesus has the most protracted dialogue and encounter with the woman at the well, Jacob’s well, than any dialogue with his disciples? Although the “woman at the well” remains nameless, she represents people in any community who are the least respected, the marginalized of society, and they are the people Jesus always reaches out to in his ministry.

Jesus chose her because she was not a Jew and not the usual male persona we generally meet in the Gospel stories. She was an outsider, a Samaritan who was both Gentile and Jew and not highly regarded in her community.  As a Samaritan, she believes in foreign or idolatrous gods, along with the Hebrew God.

Think about this, she had to get her water from the well at high noon so she wouldn’t encounter other women from her community because they viewed her as a fallen woman.

Suddenly, a man appears who is sitting next to the well and asks the woman for a drink of water from her bucket. She knows he is not from Samaria because of his features and realizes he must be a Jew. Yet, Jesus disregards who she is and where she is from and asks for water. He has had a long journey and is thirsty and in need of a drink. She cannot understand why this Jewish man asks her, a Samaritan woman, for a drink of water.

At this moment, she meets the Light of the World at noon—the brightest hour of the day. Jesus offers her the Living Water of life, “those who drink of this water will never be thirsty again.” Something stirs up in her heart. As their conversation unfolds, it is a bit unnerving to the Samaritan woman to hear Jesus recount the innermost personal aspects of her life.  He knows she was married five times and is now not married but living with a man.

She thinks of him as a prophet, and it is here at Jacob’s well where the Samaritan woman becomes enlightened and discerns who this man might be. She speaks of the Christ, the Anointed One, who will come and proclaim all things to humankind. When Jesus says, “I am he,” the Christ, her eyes are opened, and she realizes he is the One who will lead, teach, and save God’s people. She heads back to her village to proclaim the “Good News” that the Messiah is among them right now. In our world today, if she had an Instagram account, it would have taken seconds to proclaim the news! And she probably would have taken a selfie with Jesus!

Why does Jesus reveal himself first to a woman? A Samaritan? An “outcast?” Jesus intentionally breaks down the religious, racial, and gender barriers in this one encounter with a Samaritan woman. This is our lesson to learn. Throughout the ages, humankind has put up barriers. We cannot bridge the divide if we continue to shut out those who are different from us. It is time to open our eyes and see the possibilities. See the wonder and beauty in diversity. Jesus shows humankind that it takes a variety of people to build any community. We, too, are all related to each other in some way—whether by blood, religion, church, nationality, ancestry, friendship, neighborhood—and we are related to Jesus.

Johannine theology emphasizes that all of us must come into personal contact with Jesus. Jesus himself, shows us in the Samaritan woman how important an encounter is to him. This Lenten season how will you encounter Jesus? How can you bridge the divide and bring the living water of Christ to others? How will Jesus reveal himself to you?

— Jean Santopatre, Pastoral Associate