This story is based on true events. You will find this account in John 4:1-42.
Elianna kept her eyes fixed on the ground in front of her. Whatever this Jewish man wanted it could not be good. She placed the jug beside her unsure of what to do next. The man was blocking her access to the well. She decided it would be safer to ignore the man completely and wait for Him to leave.
“Give Me a drink.” She could feel the eyes of the stranger looking at her. While He had given her a command, He had spoken the words kindly. Still, what business did He, a Jew, have ordering her about?
“How is it that You being a Jew are asking a drink from me a Samaritan woman?” Elianna tried to sound more confident than she felt. “Certainly you are aware that Jews and Samaritans have no dealings with one another.” Maybe the Man had some sort of mental illness.
“If you knew the power of God and who it was who asked ‘Give me a drink’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” The stranger uncrossed his legs and began to stand. Elianna took one step back giving herself room to run should the need arise. She was perplexed by the stranger’s words. Was He testing her with a riddle perhaps?
“Sir, you don’t even have a jug to draw water with and this well is very deep. Where then would You get this living water? Are you claiming to be greater than Jacob who dug this well and drank from it himself.” Maybe if she pointed out the obvious impossibility of His statement, the stranger would leave her in peace.
“Anyone who drinks from this well will thirst again, but anyone who drinks of the water I can give them will never thirst.” The stranger once again sat on the edge of the well. He was obviously exhausted from his journey. “The water I can give to someone will become in them a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” Elianna grew even more puzzled with His declaration. Did such water exist?
“Sir, please give me this water then that I may no longer thirst or have to come to this well in the heat of the day.” Elianna glanced at the man and gave him a soft smile. She was unprepared for His next demand.
“Go call your husband and come here.” Elianna felt the heat rush to her cheeks and hoped the man had not noticed. Could He see her shame? Could He read in her eyes the pain His question raised? He had looked at her the whole time they had been conversing. If He knew what manner of woman He was speaking with, He would have never extended to her such a courtesy.
“I have no husband.” She could hear the tremor in her voice. She hadn’t lied exactly. She was not married at the moment even though she was living with Nachum. She would never marry again. What difference did her scarred reputation make at this point?
The stranger smiled, not a sarcastic smile, but the kind of smile her father had given her as a child when she would sit on his lap and he would tell her a story. “You are right when you say you have no husband for you have had five husbands and you are not married to the man you are currently living with.” Elianna let out a short gasp. Could this man hear her thoughts? Had his smile been a cruel trick?
“Sir, I perceive you must be some sort of prophet. I know we Samaritans worship God in different places than you Jews, but I too know that the Messiah is coming, who will be called Christ. When He comes, He will tell all us things.” Elianna’s voice trailed off. The Messiah would never bother to tell her anything.
The man replied, “I who speak to you am He.” Nothing could have prepared her for this revelation. Had she been in fact speaking with the Son of God? She began to feel dizzy. Why had the ground begun to move?
“Come sit by me, my daughter.” The stranger must have seen her distress for He had gently led her by the hand to the edge of the well.
Peter, James, John, and the other disciples stood at a distance and marveled at the sight before them. They had gone into the city to buy some food, but Jesus had told them he would wait by the well as He was tired from the long journey. Buying the food had taken longer than expected and they were antsy to get back to the Lord. Why was He talking to a woman, and a Samaritan woman at that? He had even invited the woman to sit at His feet. Maybe the heat had done more than just tire Him.
All of a sudden the woman jumped to her feet and began to run toward the town. Oddly enough, she had left her unfilled water pot by the side of the well. As the disciples approached Jesus, they noticed He looked rather refreshed and was in great spirits.
“Rabbi, we found some food. Please eat.” Peter broke a chunk off the loaf of bread he was carrying and held it out to Jesus.
“I have food to eat you know nothing about.” Jesus politely refused the bread in Peter’s outstretched hand.
“Has someone brought Jesus something to eat?” James asked the question they were all thinking.
Jesus having compassion on the confusion His statement had caused explained, “My food is to do the work of my Father who sent me.” Seeing they were still bewildered, Jesus proceeded. “In four months time it will be time for the harvest, right? Listen to me, I say that now is the time for the harvest. The seeds that I sow are always ready to reap. To the reaper they will gain eternal life and then we will all rejoice.”
Elianna ran as fast as her wobbly legs would permit. She paid no heed to the upraised brows of all she passed or their looks of disgust as she hurried by. She must find Nachum. He would be by the olive trees eating his lunch if she had calculated the time correctly. She was relieved when she turned the corner and saw him sitting in the shade with the other men just as she had expected.
“Nachum, I met a stranger. A man was at the well.” She paused to catch her breath.
“What are you babbling about Elianna? What are you doing here?” Nachum had stood and she could tell by his face he was anything but happy to see her.
“I met a man at the well who told me everything I have ever done. He knew my parents had died when I was young. He knew all the men I have been married to. He even knew that I was now living with you. I think He is the Christ. He still sits beside the well. You must come with me immediately.” Elianna didn’t care that tears were now streaming down her cheeks. She just wanted to be back at the well. She just wanted to be near Him again. Never had she felt such peace. It was like all the fragments of her shattered heart were beginning to slowly knit back together again.
Nachum stared dumbfounded at Elianna. Had the woman completely lost her mind? He had never seen her cry before. Could she be telling the truth? His curiosity was more than just a little piqued. “Alright Elianna, I will come with you to meet this stranger that has caused this deep well of emotion in you.”
“We are coming too!” Caleb and the other men brushed the dust off their tunics and stood as well. Like an out of control wildfire, word spread quickly and all who were physically able made their way to the well. Elianna wished they would move faster, but no one seemed to sense her urgency. When the well was once again in her sight, she saw that Jesus was no longer alone.
“I have brought the entire town with me.” Elianna hoped Jesus would not be angry. She had only planned to bring Nachum. Jesus didn’t look surprised in the least as if He had been expecting them.
Jesus spent two glorious days in their city. He had told them that He was the Christ and many believed even Nachum. Elianna was the happiest she had ever been. This Jesus had filled the vacuum inside of her heart. She wished Jesus would stay in their city forever, but He had to go to Galilee. Her heart felt heavy with His leaving.
“Walk with me daughter.” Jesus was standing in front of her. She must have been so lost in her thoughts she hadn’t even heard Him approaching. His disciples were several feet in front of them as they walked down the path leading the way out of town. The same path that two days ago she had walked alone while thinking about the past she wished she could erase.
“I am so happy that you came and that we know you are the Christ that was promised.” Elianna finally broke the silence. Jesus continued to walk quietly beside her.
All of a sudden He stopped and turned to face her. After a long pause He said words she would never forget. “I stopped here for you. Even if you were the only one who lived in this town, I would have come. This is as far as you can come with me now, daughter, but I will always be with you. Even until the end of the age.”
Elianna stood on the path long after Jesus had disappeared out of sight. She was afraid to move. Afraid she would break the spell. She never knew she could feel this light, this loved, this whole. The Son of God had come to see her. She meant something to Him. He had not only given her the gift of eternal life, but the gift of His endless love. He had told her, He would be with her forever.
30 Years Later
The wrinkles around her eyes deepened as Elianna smiled at her grandchildren gathered around her like little chicks to their mother. The children sat as still as they could muster waiting for her to begin the story they never grew tired of hearing. Sometimes Elianna had to choke back the tears so overcome by the blessings the good Lord had given her, blessings she didn’t deserve.
She had married Nachum shortly after Jesus had departed and the happiness that had always eluded her had found its way permanently in her heart. Then three years into their marriage, she had become pregnant with what would be the first of six children. She wasn’t barren after all. God had seen fit to make her a mother. Did God’s mercy have no limits?
Little Jacob pulled on the hem of his grandmother’s tunic. “Grandma please tell us your story. Please.” Elianna wondered if Jacob knew how easy it was for him to melt his grandmother’s heart. She had made them wait long enough. And so she began the story of the day she met Jesus, the day she was transformed by His endless love.