Lessons for Today from Women of Yesterday:
The Woman at the Well: Engaging the Culture
When I read the gospel of John, I am grateful for his careful writing of specific encounters Jesus had with people from all walks of life. God inspired John to write about the respectable Nicodemus, a religious leader, followed closely by the Woman at the Well, who was despised and rejected by the Jews. John wanted us to know about Jesus love for all people. Our earthly evaluations of others are of no importance to Jesus.
In the story of the Woman at the Well, Jesus shows us how to share the love of God. When Jesus spoke kindly to the woman at the well, she was surprised that He would even speak to her. “‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ she asked Him. For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.” Jn 4:9 HCSB She knew she was a woman of a questionable past. The Samaritans were not considered Jews even though they had some Jewish heritage. The Jews of that area had intermarried with godless people from other nations, and they could no longer be considered true Jews. This woman was a person who was looking for life and love in all the wrong places. She was confused about life. When Jesus offered her living eternal water, she asked for water that would not have to be drawn out and carried every day. “‘Sir,’ the woman said to Him, ‘give me this water so I won’t get thirsty and come here to draw water.’” Jn 4:15 HCSB She was confused about love. Jesus confronted her lifestyle of immorality. “You have correctly said, ‘I don’t have a husband,’” Jesus said, ‘For you’ve had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.’” Jn 4:17-18 HCSB Then she quickly changed the subject. She knew the pain of her sin and the bondage it kept her in. “‘Sir,’ the woman replied, ‘I see that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, yet you Jews say that the place to worship is Jerusalem.’” Jn 4:19-20 HCSB In this statement, she revealed her confusion about worship. She tried to defend her place of worship. Jesus skillfully turned the conversation back to the spiritual. He explained that the place of worship is not important. Only the heart of worship matters. “‘God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.’” Jn 4:24 HCSB
Tired of arguing with Jesus, she simply stated her faith in the coming Messiah. When she found out Jesus was the Messiah, she left her jar and ran to town to tell others of her great find. By this time the disciples had arrived and were surprised to see Jesus talking with this woman. They offered Jesus food, and He once again turned the conversation to the spiritual. Jesus satisfaction came not from food, but from doing the will of God. Jesus drew strength from sharing God with others. He prompted his disciples to look for the harvest. The harvest is all around, but would they see it? Would they do their part to share God with others? “ …‘Open your eyes and look at the field, for they are ready for harvest. The reaper is already receiving pay and gathering fruit for eternal life, so the sower and reaper can rejoice together.’” Jn 4:35-36 HCSB
I love this story. Every time I read it, I think of people I know in my community. There are people who have a questionable past; people who are confused about life and love; and people who are confused about true worship. I want to be like Jesus. He didn’t condemn them, but simply offered a better life. I also want to remember, there are many people in my community who are not antagonistic towards God. They are simply confused and need someone to show them the way to Jesus. The harvest is ready and waiting. Will we do our part to share Christ and reap with our partners an eternal reward?