In one of the most curious scenes of John’s gospel, Jesus gets into a theological, political, and nutritional discussion with a Samaritan woman at Joseph’s well. Their conversation covers the ancestral heritage of Israel and Judah, the proper place to worship, salvation, and some kind of aquatic therapy that leaves one with their thirst forever slaked.
But, when measured up, these aren’t the crazy things in the passage. Yes, it’s weird that a first century Jewish rabbi is speaking with a Samaritan woman. Yes, it’s strange that Jesus talks about a living water that won’t leave you thirsty again. Yes, it’s odd that Jesus tells this woman about her history with men. That stuff just wasn’t supposed to happen.
But really outlandish part of this conversation is that a person is speaking face to face with God.
“I am he, the one who is speaking with you” (John 4:26).
This is the same “I am” when God tells Moses the divine name: “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14). This is the same “it is I” when the disciples see Jesus walking on the water (Matthew 14:27).
God divulges God’s true personality time and again in the biblical narrative. God is the fullness of being, the very One who gives being to all other beings. We know who God is because God graciously lets us in on the divine secret, that God will show his loving face to those who want to see it. Then, when confronted with the terrible and merciful personality of God, we find ourselves. We are, simply because God is.