Critics lambast romantic comedies for their predictability. A lonely guy meets a girl through some adorable happenstance, but then some horrible confusion drives them apart. By the movie’s end, the mis-understanding resolves into an understanding and the remaining “mis” becomes a “Mrs.” Rom-com screenwriters spend a great deal of time and creativity on what film critics call the meet-cute—the crucial scene where the guy and the girl meet in a quirky, funny, or you know, cute way.
Rom-com screenwriters spend a great deal of time and creativity on what film critics call the meet-cute—the scene where the guy and the girl meet in a quirky, funny, or you know, cute way.
With this concept in mind, let’s consider four stories from the Bible. Like the meet-cute, these scenes set the tone for relationships they describe—and for yours.
Isaac and Rebekah
Consider the story of Isaac and Rebekah (Gen. 24). Abraham didn’t want his son to marry a local woman. So, he sent a servant to his faraway homeland to find his son a wife. The servant left, asking God to show him the woman to bring back as Isaac’s bride. As he approached a well, he invented a test: he would ask a young woman for water, and if she also willingly watered his camels, that would be the wife for Isaac (vv. 12–14).
God answered this prayer when the servant met Rebekah. She arrived at the well, fulfilled the servant’s request for a drink, and then watered his camels, too. Astounded by God’s goodness, the servant told Rebekah his mission, met her family (Abraham’s extended family), and brought Rebekah back home to Isaac. Showing the faith of Abraham, Rebekah left her father’s land and traveled to the land of promise. She met her future husband Isaac, who was coming from a well (v. 62).
Jacob and Rachel
That first meet-cute has a sequel one generation later. Echoing Abraham’s concern, Rebekah didn’t want her son Jacob to marry an unbelieving local woman. So, she and Isaac sent Jacob to her faraway homeland to find a bride (Gen. 28:1–2).
Just like Abraham’s servant, Jacob arrived at a well. This well, however, was covered by a large stone. Several shepherds had gathered, waiting for enough manpower to move the stone and water their flocks (Gen. 29:3)
When Jacob saw the beautiful Rachel arrive at the well with her flocks, he somehow (inspired by her beauty? enabled by the Lord?) found the strength to move the stone himself, providing water for Rachel and her sheep. Jacob then met her family and ultimately returned to his father’s land with a new family God had provided.
Moses and Zipporah
We find this pattern a third time in Exodus 2:15–22. After killing an Egyptian, Moses fled east until he (you guessed it!) “sat down by a well” (v. 15). There, the daughters of Jethro were being mistreated by other shepherds, so Moses drove off the evil shepherds and drew water for the women and their flocks. He eventually married one of these young women, Zipporah (v. 21).
Patterns in the Bible are meant to grab our attention. These stories don’t command believers to meet marriage partners at modern-day watering holes. They aren’t case studies for Ancient Near Eastern etiquette at wells either. Instead, the pattern shows us how God is at work, protecting his promise. The stories resound with both human faithfulness in difficulties and supernatural answers to prayer.
Jesus and His Bride
Before the New Testament reveals its own meet-cute at a well, we read a story about how unbelief covered the dark land of Israel (John 3). In that story, Nicodemus, a Jewish teacher, ought to have recognized the Messiah and responded with worship and witness. But the setting of this nighttime visit reveals just how “in the dark” Nicodemus was. Jesus, as surprised as any omniscient person could be, asked, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?” (John 3:10).
In this context, we’re set up for a scene in John 4 that builds on all of the Old Testament meet-cutes. This story happens at Jacob’s well (vv. 5–6, 12), encouraging readers to look for parallels between this story and Jacob’s—as well as the other biblical, he-met-her-at-a-well scenes.
Like Abraham and Rebekah, the Father did not want Jesus to find an unbelieving wife from the local vicinity. The Father wanted Christ to have a believing and beautiful bride. But the faraway homeland that the Father sent Jesus to was . . . Samaria?
Just as in Isaac’s story, Jesus sat by a well, met a woman, and asked her for a drink (vv. 4–8). When she questioned his request (v. 9), he, like Jacob, offered her a drink (vv. 10–15). And just as Moses arrived at a well and delivered the daughters of Jethro from their harassers, Jesus dealt with the harassments of this woman’s heart.
No matter how sinful our past, Christ offers us living water and calls us to leave families and false husbands to be with him.
Nicodemus failed to recognize the truth, but this woman at the well successfully answered Christ’s questions with faith. She said, “I know that Messiah is coming. . . . When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus replied, “I who speak to you am he” (vv. 25–26). Astonishingly, the direct answer Jesus hid from the Pharisee’s questions, he plainly revealed to this Samaritan woman. The Savior speaks plainly to his friends (John 15:15); the groom reveals himself to his bride (John 3:29). And just as the story of Isaac, Jacob, and Moses included camels and flocks that need to be watered, the woman’s entire town is filled with Samaritans who need the water Jesus provides (John 4:39).
True Life and True Love
The meet-cute at this well is not romantic in the same way as the other meetings. The real scene where Jesus finally meets his destined bride comes later (Rev. 21:2). But this scene included the Samaritan woman in the story the same way it includes you and me. No matter how sinful our past, Christ offers us living water and calls us to leave families and false husbands to be with him. No one is beyond his reach.
This scene teaches us that true worship is centered on Jesus; true life is found in his grace; and perhaps most breathtakingly, this scene teaches us that true love is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ the Lord.