Right now I want to ask you, how are you looking at this woman? If you are appalled and critical towards her, it’s understandable from one perspective. She deserves it. However, that is not the perspective Jesus had, is it?
He didn’t see her as the town tramp; He looked into her heart. You know what He saw there? The same thing He saw in the highly refined and educated Nicodemus. He saw a person in need. He knew her weight that day was not her water pot, but her conscience and her heart.
Think of the inner life of this woman. What do five divorces do to a woman? What does sexual involvement without a commitment from a man do to a woman? Think of the years she has lived in this town where everywhere she went, she wore the scarlet letter. Think of how important it is for a woman to have the friendship of other women. Is it just a coincidence that she went to the well alone, or was this the reality of rejection in her relationships? No husband. No friend. The only apparent person in her life is in her life for all the wrong reasons.
What did Jesus see when this Samaritan woman arrived at the well? He didn’t see her for her failures. He didn’t see her for her reputation. He saw her as a real person with real need.
The language here is about water and living water that if you drink it, you’ll never thirst again. What is Jesus doing? Jesus is simply doing with her what He did with Nicodemus, to whom He picked a metaphor of need and said, You must be born again. He knew the Samaritan woman’s heart. He knew that she was thirsty and it wasn’t water that her soul longed for. It was truth found in a Savior she could believe in.
Jesus Treated This Woman as a Person
Every person we come across is an image bearer of God Himself. They have a soul that will spend eternity somewhere. They are an intricate and complex being with spiritual longings and searchings. How Jesus treated the woman at the well ought to challenge each of us to see even the outcasts and the marginalized of society, even those in totally different categories than us, as worthy of our loving attention.
There are profound implications for us in the multiethnic, multiracial, multireligious community we find ourselves in. Can we look at people this way too, at the gathering places of our community where we rub shoulders with people different than us? People like this woman and Nicodemus have one thing in common – they are thirsty and they need Jesus.
They expect the same old treatment. If we can simply see them a little more like Jesus and see past the brokenness and hardness; see them as simply people in need…whose heart can’t be filled with compassion toward them?
The “I Met Jesus” Effect
As this woman walked to the well, she was her old self. Carrying the burden of five husbands and one uncommitted lover. She had lived a basically selfish life. She was on the fringes of her world. She snuck around. She walked alone. Her life was curved in on herself.
This is why verse 28 is so surprising. The woman left her water jar and went away into town. When a woman leaves her dishes, something big is going on. Suddenly, this selfish woman has a heart for her town; a town of people who had dismissed her years ago. Now she has a concern for them. Come and hear…He told me everything…Might he be the Christ? (Verse 29, paraphrased) She is no longer primarily thinking of who? Herself.
Jesus speaks through the ages into this room today the very same word to real people with real thirst. I who speak to you am he. (Verse 26)
What it takes for that to be a transformational reality is thirst. Soulish thirst for something true and real in a world full of lies. Something inward in a superficial world.
Are you thirsty? You might have been intimidated by Nicodemus. So polished. So refined. So not like me. But here today we may have someone on the other end of the spectrum. A woman with secrets. A woman with heartache. A woman feeling very alone. Perhaps someone like you.
Jesus guided her on a path of faith into His divine call as Messiah. She couldn’t worship in Spirit and Truth. If that’s what God requires, this woman of all women couldn’t meet the standard. She needed the Messiah. She needed Christ. She needed a Savior. The story ends with her and many others giving testimony to this man sitting at the well, We know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.
That is the bottom line. Is Jesus your Messiah? Does their testimony resonate with your own? We know that he is the Savior of the world! The Jesus at the well is the same Jesus on the Cross who died for our sins, our secrets, our shame. Believing in Him as Savior of the world begins a new life. We see it in the woman. We see it around here too. New life. Fresh starts. Authenticity. Transformation. No more lies. No need for secrets. Rather, in Christ a life of worship, in spirit and in truth.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
© Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.