We don't know her name, she is only referred to in Christian circles as The Samaritan Woman. But I love her. I love her because she is so.....real......so like us. Yes, like us: she needed Jesus, we need Him, too.
I'm sure you know her story in John 4. Jesus and His disciples had left Judea on their way to Galilee and v4 says, "Jesus needed to go to Samaria."
The Jews did not like the Samaritans and the Samaritans did not like the Jews, and they went to great lengths to avoid each other. No Jew wanted or needed to go to Samaria. But Jesus did. The disciples went into town to buy food, but Jesus, exhausted, sat down at Jacob's well. It was noon, extremely hot, and the Samaritan woman came to the well with her waterpot to draw water. The other women from town had already been there; they had come early in the morning, in the cool of the day. They came as a group, laughing, talking, maybe adding a little gossip into the mix as they made their way to the deep, cool well. Women of all ages, grandmothers, mothers, sisters, daughters, daughters-in-law, every woman who could carry a clay pot or waterskin came to the well. But the Samaritan woman was not in their group. She was excluded. You see, she did not fit what they thought a good woman should be. She had been married five times, she was living with a man who wasn't her husband and she was openly shunned by the other women. I can hear the mothers as they tell their daughters, "Don't speak to her. Don't help her with her waterpot. Don't walk close to her. Don't look at her." But Jesus did not see her as the women saw her. He saw a heart hungry for real love and acceptance. He saw a woman whose heart yearned to know forgiveness.
In verse 7, Jesus asked her for a drink. She is surprised. She is surprised because she is a woman and men did not speak to women publicly. She is surprised because she is a Samaritan.
In v9 she can't believe that He would ask her for a drink and in v10 He says to her, "If you knew the gift of God and Who it is that is talking to you, you would have asked of Me and I would have given you Living Water."
They talk for awhile about the appropriate place to worship; the mountain or the Temple in Jerusalem,
then Jesus surprised her again. He said, "Go home and bring your husband back to the well." And she said, "I am not married." Jesus said, "I know. You've had five husbands and the man you are living with is not your husband." She thinks He is a prophet because He knows her past. I won't tell you the rest of her story because I want you to prayerfully read it for yourself, but this is what it says to me:
1. Jesus did not preach to her or condemn her sin.
Neither should we. That is the job of the Holy Spirit, either through the preaching and teaching of the Word, or from reading the Word. She'd heard it all before. She knew she was living in sin. Jesus did not point His finger at her and respond to her in anger. He simply spoke to her in a kind, matter of fact way.
2. Jesus gave her an opportunity to reflect, to listen, to freely ask questions.
He didn't rush in. He was respectful. He gave her time to process what He was saying. We should, too.
3. Jesus did not shame her.
Shame is a crippling emotion. Jesus came to take away all shame and all guilt. The Bible tells us that our shame, guilt, and our sin were placed on Him at Calvary and He bore them in His own body so that we don't have to.
If you are saved and still feel shame and guilt, they do not come from God. What God forgives, He forgets. What He redeems stays redeemed. Thoughts of shame and guilt come from our enemy, Satan. When we allow his accusations to linger in our minds, they shape our feelings about ourselves.
Several years ago Gigi Graham Tchvidian wrote that when her father, Billy Graham, came home after a long absence from preaching evangelistic campaigns the kids were excited to see him and they would often sing for him. One night after dinner they sang the song, "I've God the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my Heart."
When they came to the part, "If the devil doesn't like it he can sit on a tack" her father stopped them and said, "I don't like that song. Don't ever give place to the devil."
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:27: Do not give place to the devil. When we let our minds linger on thoughts of shame, guilt, past sins, embarrassing moments, and failures we are giving him a place in our mind. And what starts out as a small space can turn into an occupied zone. He can never have our soul, he cannot have our heart, but he relentlessly tries to occupy our mind.
Amazed that she had met the long awaited Messiah and that He had given her Living Water, she ran back to town and invited everyone she met to come with her and meet the One Who knew everything she had done. This woman who had been shunned became the first woman to hear that Jesus was the Messiah: she became the first woman soul-winner. Many of the Samaritans believed and they, too, received Living Water. Did any of the women who had shunned her and thought she wasn't good enough to walk with them receive Living Water? I believe they did.
Verse 41 says that "many believed" and in v42 people are talking to her. They are saying, "You are right." She is included. And that is what Jesus will do for you. All of us have felt excluded. We have all been shunned at some point and by someone, we all know shame and guilt. But when Jesus walks into the situation, things change. Attitudes change. Old perceptions change.
Jesus stayed in Samaria for 2 days and I believe He changed the trajectory of this woman's life. I believe she was respected, I believe she was included all because she received the Living Water. And that is why she is like you and me: no matter our past, no matter how bad we feel we have messed up, we all need the Living Water that only Jesus can give. Only Living Water can quench a thirsty soul. Only Living Water can take away the shame, the guilt and the sin.
If you have not received this Living Water, my prayer for you is that you will. You must do nothing but confess your sin, believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died on the cross to pay your sin debt, then ask Him to come into your heart and save you. And when you do, your thirsty soul will never thirst again.
I always love to here from you.