I like her. I like her a lot. She has a bad reputation. She’s been rejected and hurt a lot in her lifetime. She’s lonely. She’s feisty. She’s bold and breaks boundaries. She’s honest. She is curious and ask questions, but will quickly change the subject when confronted. She’s a broken woman yet she is strong. Her life is used to make an eternal difference in the lives of others. She rises above circumstances and becomes a woman with influence.
Maybe I like her because I catch glimpses of myself in her story. Maybe I like her because I admire her tenacity. Maybe I like her because, in her I find evidence that God uses the least likely to do the seemingly impossible.
I know that there was a time when I would have seen this woman through a different lens. First, I would have seen myself as having a lot more in common with other woman in the village. I would have envisioned myself joining the popular crowd who would gossip about the woman and her reputation. I would be part of the in crowd and the woman at the well would not be invited to join. I would have arrogantly considered myself better than her. I would be perplexed by the mess in this woman’s life but I would assume it was her own fault. I would have judged her and condemned her. I would have rejected and ridiculed the woman whom I now like so much.
I would have been void of mercy and grace and kindness.
I would been filled with pride over my own exclusive, comfortable social status.
I would have been wrong!
John 4:1 tells us that Jesus “had to go through Samaria.” It was the fastest route between Judea and Galilee but no religious Jew would want Samaritan soil to touch their sandals. They would rather take the long route around Samaria.
Animosity ran both ways. The Samaritans despised their Jewish neighbors, too. The tension began historically when Assyria invaded the northern kingdom of Israel. Only a small number of Jews were allowed to stay behind. Assyria then brought Gentile captives from other nations and settled them in Samaria. Years later, when the Jewish exiles were finally able to return home, they hated what they saw…the interwoven life and intermarriage that had taken place in Samaria (2 Kings 17). So they declared Samaritans racially impure and unclean.
But Jesus “had to go” there. He had a divine appointment. I’m convinced that the reason He had to go is found at the end of the story. Many would come to know Him as the Savior of the world. But, I am jumping way ahead of myself. More about that later.
John 4:6 tells us, “Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.”
Divinity and humanity are on display in the person of Jesus. The One who promises rest for the weary knows what it feels like to be tired. The One who is Living Water sat beside a well because He knows what it feels like to thirst. The One who offers salvation to the world reveals Himself to the most unlikely candidate to become His evangelist.
I am so drawn to our God because He knows and understands our human condition. And cares. And offers hope.
It was noon…the heat of the day. “A Samaritan woman came to draw water.” And this is where Jesus met the woman I like so much.
More about their lively encounter next blog. I am convinced you are going to like this woman too. But even better…this story may be the one that first took me from liking Jesus to falling in love with Him.