Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one speaking with you."
Dicit ei Jesus: Ego sum, qui loquor te.
You'll be happy to know this never happened. Well, something like this may have happened, you know; but this, this event, never happened. Jesus never made any claims about his messiah-ness or his divinity. So this talk where Jesus seems to "magically" know what this woman was doing and where he uses the Divine Name ("I AM") and claims to be the Messiah of Israel - this never happened.
It was learning that this never happened, sitting in a sermon (and later a Bible Class) in an Episcopal Church that made me lose my faith and leave the church for good.
Leave, that is, a group that claimed that this never happened. I gave up my faith in those who try to be Christians by denying Christ. The whole "Jesus never XYZ" crap.
I left all the shystery, shenanigans, and shell games (and bullshit) that deny not only 2000 years of Christian teachings but also denies the 4000 years of Jewish prophecies fulfilled by those teachings as well as millennia of human expectations those prophecies manifests.
I lost my faith. But found the Faith At the same time, but by a much slower process, I began to realize that it was not just my faith I need to lose. For our modern, liberal shell game can confirm us in a lot of shit, too. We have to get rid of that...
This woman standing at the well seems to know a lot about Jesus. Have you noticed that? She, too, is a Biblical Scholar: not of the sort that denies the Bible, but of the sort that reads it in faith. She sits down at night and worries about her five husbands and the one that's not her husband. Even as she lays down next to the latter and says her prayers.
What would I do, she wonders, if Messiah were to come?
These are the thoughts she has even as she goes to the well in the noonday sun alone, not at early morning when all the neighbor ladies go together: she can't take their hypocritical gossip and snark. It strikes too close to home, first off; and secondly they've known her all her life.
The first husband was Dad's fault. She should never have been betrothed when she was eight, but Dad wanted the property next door. The boy didn't love her, and, truth be told, it would have been stupid for him to say otherwise. No one in town was surprised when he put her away and found someone his own age.
The second husband was love. He loved her and she loved him. And he loved her despite the lies her first husband had to to utter to get out of the marriage. She loved him all the more for that love that made her feel clean again, and like dancing in the spring. And when the Roman Army drafted him off to some "troubles" in Egypt she wept and waited... and would still be waiting, to be honest, if he hadn't gotten her pregnant. And raising a young child alone, even on Dad's income from the property... this wasn't happening in that town. And after five years of no word, the Rabbi let her get married again. To someone who wanted the property and loved her as much as the first one did.
But he did love the daughter. A little too much as it happened. And she put him away and had to give up her property at the same time.
The Rabbi arranged the fourth one: a widower and her. It made perfect sense, and while it wasn't love, it was firm. He had two grown sons - who did not begrudge his new wife caring for their aging father so they didn't have to. And when he died, she mourned truly. Her daughter finally had an dowry, and she, too, was safe. And when her daughter's husband moved into the house, they built her a cottage with a garden. It was a family, finally.
And then this young man showed up. And things happened, and the family smiled because she was happy, but he was a gentile drifter, and he would come and go. But he always came back. And so... People talked - because they knew. And she didn't care, really... but they could talk painfully in her presence, and they didn't know, with their normal life story, that sometimes, life can suck.
And yet, here was a man claiming to be what? A prophet? No, the messiah? No, God! This man was using the Divine Name... and standing right in front of me and if you couldn't feel the Love standing right there you were dead... no, she finally decided, even if one were dead you'd feel the Love.
And then a new affair began: but this was forever Love. And he loved her around all the corners, not despite the the mess, but through it. She realized that love - real love - was what everyone was looking for. Some human relationships mirror that quest better than others, but all of them are attempts at it. Here, however was real love that demanded all her relationships line up with it. Here was love that wouldn't let her settle for just earthly happiness - even the good stuff. And certainly not the bad stuff. Here was Love that wanted to lift her out of mere living into Life.
If you go to a church of the Enlightened Sort where this never happened, you should count your lucky stars.
They're all you've got.