There is an interesting story in the New Testament where Jesus has a conversation with a woman at a well (John 4). The story goes that Jesus, in traveling from one Jewish town (Jerusalem) to another (Galilee), passed through a foreign land (Samaria).
Jesus, being tired from his journey through this arid land, sat down in the heat of the day by a well in need for rest and refreshment. He asked the woman from Samaria to draw him some water from the well to drink.
The interesting thing about this story is that it perfectly fits the ancient literature genre of romance. This is the conventional love story. We know this because this isn’t the only story like this in the Bible. There are three other stories just like this one in the Bible (Gen. 24, 29, and Ex. 2). At the end of these stories, however, the man and the woman at the well end up getting married.
In these stories, there is a single man who is traveling through a foreign country where they meet a young woman at a well. The man and the woman then have a conversation about water, and the woman then goes back home to tell the town about the man they met, and then they get married. Again, this is the typical love story in ancient Near Eastern literature.
This means that when the ancient audience first heard this story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, they know this is a love story. This is the future wedding couple! (notice that John’s writings begin and end with weddings)
Adding to this expectation is the fact that John had been talking a lot about weddings before this little story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. In John 2, we read the story of the wedding in Cana. In that story, Jesus takes on the role of the groom by providing wine for the wedding reception. Then, in chapter 3, John the Baptist calls Jesus the “bridegroom” at least three times. So, going into this little story in John 4, the reader has weddings on the mind.
Do you know what the crazy thing about all of this is? We fully expect Jesus to be the groom, but the Samaritan woman at the well is the last person we would expect to be the bride of Christ. According to Jesus’ Jewish customs, Samaritan women were unclean. Just by talking to a Samaritan woman, Jesus would have been “defiled”. Not only that, but this Samaritan woman was especially “unclean” due to the fact that she had five husbands! This is the last person we would expect to be the bride of the King of Israel.
But she is the bride of Christ, symbolizing the Church and believers.
The bride of Christ, like the Samaritan woman, know their ugly pasts. They know their hurts. They are honest about their bad decisions.
Jesus didn’t come for the healthy, but the sick.
Do you know what else Christians and the Samaritan woman have in common? When they meet Jesus, they turn around and tell everybody about it.
After Jesus talks to this woman about her past and her need for healing, she goes back to the town she’s from (where she has a bad reputation), and tells everyone about Jesus.
Do you feel unworthy of Jesus? It’s for the unworthy that he came.
Do you feel defiled? It’s the defiled he makes clean.
He wants you to be his bride.