Her heart hurt. Not because she was physically sick, or injured. Her insides felt heavy and sad. Caught in a lie, destroying the trust of her friend. Acting like an immature child, she was so disappointed in herself. She knew her words had not been not truthful. She knew her hands were doing wrong. Most of the time, she ignored tiny twinges of regret in the back of her mind. Most of the time, she didn’t think bad consequences would ever apply to her.
But today, some of it finally caught up to her. Untruths and evils that she had done. Today she was ashamed. This is not what a good girl should feel like. This is not what a good girl would ever allow herself to do. Ashamed, unworthy. And apparently, she was not as “good” as she was pretending to be.
He stood there, watching too closely. And he saw it all. Strong eyes piercing her soul. Quiet for longer than was polite. Was he waiting for her to say more? Was he going to tell her what he thought? Was he going to walk away from her, or try to fix her? He stood there with her and just listened. Until there was nothing more she could say.
The woman answered, “I have no husband.”
Jesus said to her, “Well said: “I have no husband.” Because you have had five men, and the one you now have is not your husband. This, what you have said, is true.” (John 4:17-18)
She told the truth. Her dirty ugly sin, that she tried to hide from all of the other women who visited this well. That she had been unfaithful to many men. She knew it wasn’t right. That’s why she came to gather water in the middle of the day. To avoid the questions and the stares. But today the words slipped out of her mouth. I am guilty. I have not done what is right. And she was terrified, now that she spoke the unspoken, of what would happen to her next.
A faraway time and a faraway place still tells the same story that we experience over and over again. Confrontation with our sin. Uncomfortable silence. Hiding our faults. Avoiding our consequences. This unknown woman at the well boldly explored her sin and shame in the presence of Jesus, himself. But she didn’t really know it was him. And she didn’t really even know what she needed. The only thing that was clear to her at that moment, was that he knew her secret. And she was ashamed.
He looked her in the eyes, unmoved by her faults. “Give me a drink,” He said. Jesus smiled softly as she shuttered. Confused.
“Why are you talking to me?” She asked, “This is not socially acceptable. You are breaking the rules. And for what? To talk to an unworthy person like me?”
“If only you knew,” He said. She didn’t know. But that didn’t matter. In the middle of her confusion and sin and her shame, Jesus was teaching her the secret of eternal life.
“If only you knew to whom you were speaking, you would have asked me. Give me a drink.”
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but 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.” (John 4:13-14)
She knew her failures. And she knew her thirst. “Well spoken,” Jesus affirmed. “I have exactly what you need.”
The good news of Jesus is simply this: I have nothing. Give me a drink.
From the mouth of Jesus himself, the gospel is that simple. Desire living water. Desire eternal. life. Jesus did not require her to turn her life around, He did not ask her to be his good and faithful servant. Rather, he exposed what she really needed. The simple path to eternal life is knowing one thing. That you need this drink.
Taught by his words, confident to speak it out loud, the woman said to Jesus, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (John 4:15)
In this story of the woman at the well, face to face with the Lord himself she only got half of it right. She rightly repeated the prayer he taught her: “give me a drink”. Even though she was still a little lost and confused, she believed in his promise.
“So the woman left her water jar,” (John 4:28)
The gospel is simple. We are also discovered in our sin and shame. We don’t really know what to ask for, or whom to ask. But the words are the same. Jesus patiently teaches us to say to him, “give me a drink”.
But how do you explain this to someone else? How simple it is to taste the living water that Jesus has given? Forgive them. We just say what He has first said to us, “Give me a drink, forgive me my sins.” And for those whom we find along the way, thirsty, ashamed, exposed, all we have to give them is the promise of Christ. Forgive them freely. By this, they have tasted the water of life.
And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (Revelation 22:17)