by Eric Watkins
Where were you when Jesus found you? In John 4, Jesus meets a woman at a well who will soon become a part of the church—the bride of Christ. There are other instances of men in the Bible who find their wives at wells. In Genesis 24, Abraham’s servant prays to God that he might find Isaac’s future wife at a well. Jacob meets Rachel at a well in Genesis 29 just after his encounter with God at Bethel. Last, Moses meets his wife, Zipporah, at a well in Exodus 2 immediately after his flight from Egypt. What do these encounters have to do with John 4?
In John 4, we see Jesus seeking His bride—the church. Wedding imagery has already been introduced in the book of John. Jesus’ first miracle was at the wedding in Cana (John 2). In John 3, John the Baptist makes it explicit that he himself is only the friend of the groom, but that Jesus is the groom. Thus, John the Baptist rejoices in seeing the bride and groom together, and for this reason, John must decrease but Jesus must increase. Last, the legacy of Jacob is in view in John 4 as Jesus and the Samaritan woman meet at the well that Jacob left to his children. If this woman is to become a part of the church—the bride of Christ—what kind of woman is she?
First, she is a Samaritan, a “mixed-breed” result of Israel’s exile. Samaritans were disdained by the Jews. Their worship was out of accord with what God commanded.
Even worse is the story of this woman’s immorality. She is presented to us as a broken, nameless sinner. She comes to the well in the heat of day, when most others would seek to escape to the shade. She is happy to be left alone. Jesus will eventually tell her to go and call her husband. But she has no husband; rather, she has had five, and the man she now lives with is not her husband.
When Jesus points this out, she immediately changes the subject to worship. But Jesus redirects her: “God is seeking true worshipers.” Jesus is seeking her. She may be a Samaritan woman, a serial adulteress, ravaged by sin and its consequences, but the one who sits before her is the “I AM” of Israel, and His mission is not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. Though her sins are like scarlet, He will make them white as snow. She has had six broken relationships, but before her is the seventh, the consummate groom who will lay down His life to redeem her soul.
Where were you when Jesus found you? Was it not when you were dead in your sins and battered by sin’s consequences? May we always marvel at God’s “amazing grace—how sweet the sound—that saved a wretch like me” and count it all joy to be part of the redeemed and cleansed bride of Christ—His church.