She’s been misunderstood for centuries. Thought to be a loose woman. Divorced. Living with a man not her husband. Why in the world would Jesus plan to meet a woman like her at the well that day? Surely he knew who he was asking for water.
She was surprised by his question also. How dare this Jewish rabbi speak to her, a Samaritan woman.
Men! They were all the same. They all wanted something from her.
If only Messiah would come . . . she muttered under her breath. She was tired.
That hot dusty day, Jesus offered living water to a woman whose soul thirsted to know where to worship. Very few commentaries or sermons ask the question of why this woman had been married five times and lived with a man not her husband.
We read her story with twenty-first century eyes and American legal rights. We don’t consider what the Law said about divorce. But the Law found in Deuteronomy 24 provides a stark contrast to this woman’s rights and our modern legal system.
She had been rejected five times. The Law allowed husbands to give certificates of divorce if they found something wrong with their wife, something shameful. What would lure five men to marriage and then cause them to divorce her?
There was a good chance a barren womb perpetuated the rejections and shame that caused her divorces and noonday water-run to the community well when no one would be there, especially the mamas and their children.
“Sir,” she said, “I see you’re a prophet. Tell me where to worship. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem” (John 4:19).
She was desperate for Messiah. The same emptiness in her womb was growing in her heart. “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us” (John 4:25).
Jesus looked deep into her eyes like no man had ever looked. “I am the One you are searching for.”
Salvation met her that day. He sat at the right place at just the right time. He didn’t wait to meet the most righteous or wealthy or perfect person. No, he waited for her. A rejected, desperate woman who needed hope.
The moment Jesus told her who he was, she believed. And her faith propelled her back to the place of her shame. She ran to tell everyone that she’d met the Messiah. Her countenance shone a new light, and they ran see for themselves.
No baby. No husband. Life hadn’t changed, but she had. And her testimony brought them to Jesus.
“They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world” (John 4:24).
Her story changed her world.
What’s your story? Have you gone back to the place of shame and loneliness to tell them to come meet a man who knew everything you ever did and chose you to know him? Have you told them you found the Messiah?
Don’t worry if they don’t’ believe you. It’s not up to you to change their hearts.
It’s up to him.
Tell your story.
Could your story change the world? You'll never know unless you try - @WordsByAndyLee (Click to Tweet)
Andy Lee is a Bible teacher, blogger, and author of A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called (Leafwood, 2016) and The Book of Ruth Key Word Bible Study: A 31-Day Journey to Hope and Promise (AMG Publishers). Read more of her biblical inspiration on her site, www.wordsbyandylee.com and meet her daily on her Bite of Bread Facebook Live broadcast at 8:20 AM ET.