The story where Jesus meets the woman at the well (John 4:5-42) is the story of a bride and bridegroom. The wedding feast at Cana (2:1-11) sets the nuptial tone.
John the Baptist, just prior to this story, prepares us to look out for the happy couple: “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete” (3:29).
Right on cue, the bride appears. We recognize her by her appearance at Jacob’s well, the same well where Jacob met Rachel. Moses found his wife Zipporah at a well. Isaac’s servant met Rebecca at a well, asking her for water.
Jesus and the unnamed Samaritan woman engage in an exchange that leads her to recognize him as a prophet, and results in his self-revelation as “I am,” the words Samaritans used to refer to God.
The woman, leaving her past and her water jar behind, goes into town to tell Samaria the good news. At the woman’s urging, the Samaritans come to know and accept Jesus through their own experience.
During Lent, we are like the Samaritan woman and the people of Samaria. We are like the rescued bride, united with the royal bridegroom by the water of baptism, the water that brings new life and new disciples.
The harvest must be gathered before the wedding feast can begin. This bride is so successful in her mission that Jesus is acclaimed by his new followers as “the Savior of the world.”
During Lent, we can share in this experience of being courted and wedded by Christ. We can unite our hearts to his and call others to do the same. Like the woman at the well, we can be blessed by the water that will bring us eternal life.