She had no expectations that day would be any different than all the other days she had known or would know. Making her way about a half mile north out of town, she dreaded the long way back carrying the heavy pitcher of water. Maybe this time her good heart, her good deed, would pay off and he wouldn’t abandon her in the streets like the rest of them had. She didn’t have much hope – he hadn’t even thought enough of her to protect her with his name. But what could she do? The alternatives started at prostitution and went down from there. So she made her long, lonely way out to the ancient site at mid-day in the hope that the fresh, cold water from Jacob’s deep well would convince him to keep her around for another day.
And there, at the well, sat a stranger. Alone, but looking for all the world like he had been waiting for her. What was he doing here? Most of them went round the long way to avoid people like her. No cause for alarm, but cause for curiosity – especially when he asked her for a drink from the well. His accent gave him away – he was a Jew from the north, probably on his way home from Jerusalem. Her shock at being addressed caused her to throw manners to the wind. “How is it that you, being a Jew, are talking to me, a Samaritan?” And more curious was her following unspoken thought . . . “And asking for a drink from my pitcher, which to you is contaminated, just because I touched it?”
She knew something was seriously off when he suggested that, were circumstances just a bit different, it would be she doing the asking and he providing the living water at the bottom of this deep well. Him, serving her? Not likely. She knew what men were like... Her joking response was met with a twinkle in his eye.
Then the universe began to spin. With a gentle smile, he asked her about her husband – and let her know that he really didn’t need any information from her about her. Gradually the light began to dawn as her curiosity gave way to outright demand – and finally the revelation that she – she! – was talking, face to face – right now! – to the Messiah that her whole nation had longed for. Hurrying back into town, she was able to gather a crowd with just the hint that it might be Him. Could it be?! What a moment!
And to think, were it not for that chance encounter, she would have missed Messiah!
Explaining it all to his disciples later, Jesus just smiled and said, “My meat and drink is to do the will of Him who sent me.”
Chance encounter indeed!