Yesterday, the lectionary text included the story of the woman at the well in the book of John. This is a commonly-told stories, one of the greatest examples of Jesus’s character and his mission here on earth. No matter how many times I hear this story, though, it never really loses its meaning. Here was a woman, a Samaritan, a sinner—someone who in that day in age would be completely insignificant—and Jesus still thinks that her life is worth changing. And changed it was.
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 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.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” —John 4:9-15 ESV
Though this is not necessarily verifiable history, it’s interesting to note that stories have been passed down through the orthodox church about Saint Photini, or the woman who Jesus met at the well. Photini is said to have become the first evangelist—telling her town and her family about Christ. They were so outspoken that she and all of her family members were hunted down and martyred by Nero in the first century—most notably, Photini died by being thrown down a well.
Whether or not the stories about this woman are true, it’s undeniable that her life was changed.
Maybe you, like the woman at the well, can trace your faith back to a single encounter with Jesus. For me, though, this is not the case. I haven’t had a major transformational experience—only lots of small experiences that have shaped who I am.
How have you encountered Jesus in your life? Have you found him in your spiritual practices this week?