The route to Galilee took Jesus through Samaria, a land considered ceremonially unclean to the Jews. Stopping to rest at the town of Sychar, Jesus sat down by a well while his disciples went to buy food. Just then a Samaritan woman came to draw water and Jesus asked her for a drink. Taken aback, the Samaritan women asked how it could be that he, a Jew, would ask her, a Samaritan, for a drink of water. Jews considered Samaritans a heretical branch of Judaism and wanted nothing to do with them since even contact would make them ceremonially unclean. An extended discussion took place (John 4:4–42) in which Jesus identified himself as the Messiah. At that point the disciples returned and were surprised to find Jesus talking with a woman, and of all things, a Samaritan woman.
What I want to point out is that in this interchange it was Jesus who took the initiative. What might be expected would be for Jesus to find someone else to ask the woman in his behalf. But Jesus took the initiative; he was the one who broke the silence and asked the woman for help. Had he not, it follows that a large group of townspeople in Sychar would not have come to faith.
As you know, in these blogs we are looking at what Jesus did rather than what he said in order to learn how to live a Christ-like life. What we see here is Jesus taking the initiative. He didn’t wait to be spoken to but, seeing a woman there at the well needing help, he initiated the discussion. This readiness to help continued throughout his ministry. For example, on the evening before his crucifixion he washed his disciples feet and said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15). He wants us to respond to the needs of others.
In today’s narrative we see him doing exactly that. Not waiting for the woman to speak to him (and she wouldn’t, being both a woman and a Samaritan), Jesus opened the discussion with a simple request. There is no question but that we are to take the initiative whenever the opportunity arises to share the good news about the “water that gives life.”