We read the account (John 4:1-26), and we know that it was an encounter of the divine kind. But you gotta think that, as she experienced it, the conversation seemed a little strange.
That there was even a conversation happening was weird. He was obviously a Jewish man. She was unmistakably a Samaritan woman. That He spoke to her was way unusual. That, out of the blue, He asked her for water was unexpected. But forget the water, she was still trying to get her head around why He would even speak to her (v.9).
But then, He changes the subject. Instead, He says, she should be asking Him for water–even more unheard of, that a Samaritan woman would approach a Jewish man and ask him to serve her. And not just any water, but living water. Water that would become in her “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (v.14).
Intriguing, to say the least. But still weird. Jewish man with no bucket saying to Samaritan woman with bucket, “Ask me for water and you’re gonna get eternal life.” But hey, how could she resist? As far-fetched as it sounds, you gotta take a shot.
So she asks. And rather than some hocus pocus appearance of magic water which forever vanquishes her thirst, He changes the subject yet again. “Go call your husband and come here!” (v.16).
Whaaat?!?!? Okay, now this is getting personal. Why would He go there? Why probe her love life? Time to end this conversation.
But she can’t. She’s hooked. She is so taken by this Man that, rather than walk away, she engages–even if she needs to play a semantics game. And as they talk, she knows that this is a conversation unlike any she’s ever known because this Man is unlike any man she has ever known. She knows that she is standing in the presence of Someone who knows things that only someone sent of God knows, for he was a Man “who told me all that I ever did” (v.29a).
So now she changes the subject, “Oh, you’re a prophet. Let’s talk about religion and right worship. We have differing views you know?” And so they talk, or rather, He talks, and she listens. But she’s not quite willing to concede He’s right, yet. For in doing that she’d have to also admit she is less than a virtuous woman. And that would bring her back to whether or not He had eternal life to offer. So, once more, she tries to divert the conversation . . .
The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ). When He comes, He will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
(John 4:25-26 ESV)
The beating around the bush is done. Speaking in word pictures is finished. “You’re looking for Messiah?” says the Man. “I who speak to you AM.”
What was that moment like? As her brain tried to process what her ears had heard? As she stared into eyes that stared into hers–somehow knowing that they were able to see deep into her soul? As her heart pounded in her chest because she knew it had been laid bare before Someone who was all-knowing? As she tried to make sense of this Jewish man, who had engaged this Samaritan woman, declaring, “I AM Messiah!”
If I’m a movie director shooting this scene it’s time to strike up the band. Zoom in for a close up. Pull out whatever cinematic tricks I have up my sleeve to help everyone watching know this is the climax of the story. This is the great reveal!
I sit back and I chew on what it must have been like for her to hear those words, “I am the Messiah.”
Could it be true? And, if it was, why would He determine to engage her, of all people, and make Himself known to her? Didn’t He know what type of person she was? Oh yeah, He did. Then maybe His offer of living water springing up to eternal life had substance to it. Pretty sure. And then, if God really longed for people to worship Him in spirit and truth . . . and the Spirit had just shown her the Truth . . . shouldn’t she be worshiping? Probably.
What privilege. What blessed, mind-blowing, life-changing privilege. For Messiah to humble Himself and come into a mere mortal’s world, reveal Himself, offer eternal life, and bring that person to saving faith. A privilege this guy in this chair, and all who have had a similar encounter of the divine kind, have known.
Circumstances might be different. Storylines might be unique. But, in some way, at some point, Jesus revealed Himself to each of us in like manner.
“I AM. I am the Promised One. Come to expose sin. Come to atone for sin. Come to offer forgiveness for sin. Come to bring living water leading to eternal life.”
That’s the great reveal.
By His grace. For His glory.