Jesus Meeting Us in the Midst of Our Deepest Sin- the Samaritan Woman

 by Cindy Bleuler Tucker

She was born with 3 strikes against her- she was of mixed race, a woman, and poor.  She was intelligent, but she lived in a time and culture in which intelligence was of little value to a woman.  The only thing going for her was that she was beautiful, and had the kind of beauty men liked.  She learned a young age that her beauty could be the way out of a hopeless situation and that was where her value lay.

Most women married young and this woman was probably no exception.  In a society in which a man could divorce a woman for burning the dinner, something went wrong.  Whether the reason was trivial or not, she found herself alone.  So using the only marketable skill she had, she went from man to man, becoming an outcast even in that dusty backwater town.  Life was lonely and miserable and she was trapped- trapped by a past she couldn’t change.  As time passed and she saw her beauty fading, she watched as the only thing that gave her any sense of worth disappear.

There was a Samaritan woman…

After the conversion of Nicodemus, the Pharisees became aware of the increasing popularity of Jesus.  He was a much bigger nuisance than John the Baptist, who was sitting in a prison cell.  Jesus, feeling their agitation, purposes they leave and return to Galilee.   In the 4th chapter of the gospel of John, John states that  “ he had to pass through Samaria.”  Logistically it makes perfect sense to travel from Judah through Samaria to Galilee because it was most direct route.  But no self- respecting Jew would travel through the half-breed, unclean land of Samaria.  They would take a much longer route, crossing the Jordan River and traveling east of Samaria until they were north of the region and then re-crossing the Jordan to enter Galilee.

Around 600 years ago, Samaria was the in the southern part of the kingdom of Israel.  When the Assyrians conquered Israel, they took the royalty, wealthy, talented and educated Jews captive and carried them back to Assyria.   Those who were of no profit to them- the poor, lower class Jews-were allowed to stay.  The Assyrians then sent captives from other countries to settle in Samaria.   As the years passed, the different groups intermarried forming a new ethnic group, the Samaritans.  The Samaritans kept much of the Jewish law and tradition, but it became diluted with the paganism of their foreign ancestors.  To the Jews, this combination of race and religion was impure.

So why did Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, insist that he “had to go through Samaria?  Because He had a very important appointment to keep…

Each day, in the heat of the day, she walked to the well alone.  She had no servant to fetch the water for her.  It was a long walk, and by the time she got to the well she was sweaty and covered with dust that combined with sweat to cover her with a thin layer of mud.  It was a lonely walk.  Instead of going when the other women went she choose another, less convenient time of the day.  Better to go alone, avoiding the whispers and looks of contempt, the speculation of how long it would be till this man threw her out and she would find another to take her in.   No respectable women would talk to her, much less befriend her.

As she approached the well, she saw an unusual sight.  A Jewish man, from his dress a rabbi, sits at a Samaritan well!  What was a Jew doing in Samaria?   Panicking, she almost turned around.  But the walk was so far, and she needed that water. There was no one around to witness her alone with a strange man.  Besides, she thought, it was not like she had to worry about ruining her reputation.  So eyes down, avoiding contact with the man, she walked up to the well and began to draw water to fill her jugs.

“Give me a drink”.  She stopped what she was doing and gaped.  Now this was incredulous; a Jewish rabbi, sitting at a Samaritan well, talking to me, a Samaritan woman.  And not just any Samaritan woman, she thought ruefully.  If he really knew me, he’d be picking up a stone.

“Why are you, a Jew, asking me, a Samaritan woman, to give you a drink?” He doesn’t even have a cup!  Am I to give him my cup, which would make him unclean? If I accidentally touched him handing him the water, he would be unclean and I would have that to add to my long list of sins.

He looked at her, amazingly looking in her in the eyes with not lust, but compassion.  “If you knew how much God wants to give to you and who I am, you would ask me for a drink and it would be fresh water that gives you life.”  Now I understand, she thought.  He is crazy, or demon-possessed.  Fearful, she decided she needed to needed to be calm and continue the conversation so as not to agitate him.

“Sir,” she began respectfully, “this is a deep well, and you have no rope or bucket, you don’t even have a cup.  What is this better water you are talking about?  Do you have more power than our father Jacob?  He gave us this well, he and his sons and livestock drank from it.  The water was good enough for him.”  Being a rabbi, he would understand the greatness of their common ancestor, one of the patriarchs of their faith.  Perhaps this would bring him back to reality.  Once again, he looked at her with kindness and responded.

“If you drink the water from this well, you will always run out and be thirsty again.  If you drink the water I give you, you will never be thirsty again and you will never run out.  The water I give you will always be within you, a “gushing fountain of endless life.”  Looking now into his eyes, she began to really listen. This is no mad man.  What I could do with an endless supply of water!  I could wash all this dust off and never be dirty!  Oh to never be thirsty again, to make that lonely walk to this well!  If only he had that power!

“Sir, give me this water so I will never be thirsty again and I will never have to come back to this well again!”  She began to believe he could change her circumstances, but Jesus had something bigger in mind.  He wanted to change her.   In order to do that, he had to get to the root of her misery.  Not work, not the thirst, not the way she was treated. If she truly wanted to receive that living water, she would have to change her focus. Instead of looking outward, she needed to look inward at herself.  She needed to come face to face with her sin, her brokenness.  Jesus would meet her head on at her point of need.

“Go get your husband.”  All her shame came to the surface.  She couldn’t let this kind man know her sinful past.

“I have no husband.”  She hoped that would end the discussion and get the focus back on the living water.  But Jesus would not let her avoid her sin.  He is does not condemn her but is unflinching as he reveals to her how much he truly knows the depth of her sin.

“You have told the truth.  You are right.  You’ve had five husbands and now you are living with a man who is not your husband.”   Her cheeks burned with shame.  He does really know me.  Only God could have revealed that to him.  

“Sir, I see you are a prophet.  Please tell me who is right- we Samaritans say we can worship God at this mountain, but you Jews say that God can only be worshipped in Jerusalem.  Who is right?”  Jesus heard the hidden question.  If Jerusalem is the only place we can worship God and the Jews don’t want us there, how can we Samaritans ever worship God?  How can we ever receive that living water?

Jesus looked into her heart and saw her desire to be able to worship God.  He would reveal to her a new way of worship that crossed manmade borders.

“Woman, soon the time will come when it won’t matter where you worship God.  You Samaritans don’t understand the God you worship-we Jews do understand.  Salvation comes from the Jews, but soon those who are the true worshippers of the Father will worship him in spirit and truth.  The Father seeks true worshippers.  He is spirit and not confined to one place.  We who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.  True worshippers must face the truth of their sin, confess their sins, and repent.  Then they will receive the living water and be clean.”

Not only will receive living water, but I will be able to worship God anywhere at any time? “Sir, I don’t understand these things.  Only the long-awaited Messiah, the promised son of God, could explain such things.  “Sir, when the Messiah comes, he will explain all these things.”

Jesus saw her trust in the promised Messiah, which now had been fulfilled.  “I am the one you are looking for.” She looked up at Him and realized such love, such compassion, could only come from God.   This is the Messiah! And of all people, He is speaking to me!

She was filled with a peace and joy.   He knows all my sin, loves me!  He loves my people!  Forgetting her shame and guilt she knew she was finally free of the past.  Forgetting her water jug, she ran back to the village.  No longer fearful of man’s disdain, she ran to the center of the villages were the prominent men were gathered.   “Come with me to the well, and meet a man who told me everything I ever have done!  He knows all my sin yet he forgives me.  Could this be the Messiah?”  They looked at her glowing face, free of the burden of her sin.  As the men looked to the village priest in wonder, the priest exclaimed to the woman, “Lead us to Him!” As word spread through the village, the men were followed by the women and children.

Many in Sychar believed after seeing the woman’s transformation and hearing of her encounter with Jesus.   As the villagers gathered around Jesus and heard His word for themselves, they knew this man was not only the Savior of the Jews, but that Jesus had come to save the world.

 

Jesus didn’t wait for the Samaritan woman to clean herself and seek Him.  He went out of His way to find her, forgive and cleanse her and her people.  She, as all of us, though thirsty, was drowning in sin, shame, and regret.  Yet our Holy God had compassion on us and sent His son on a personal quest to rescue her.  In the very midst of her sin He met her at her point of need.

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She was born with 3 strikes against her- she was of mixed race, a woman, and poor.  She was intelligent, but she lived in a time and culture in which intelligence was of little value to a woman.  The only thing going for her was that she was beautiful, and had the kind of beauty men liked.  She learned a young age that her beauty could be the way out of a hopeless situation and that was where her value lay.

Most women married young and this woman was probably no exception.  In a society in which a man could divorce a woman for burning the dinner, something went wrong.  Whether the reason was trivial or not, she found herself alone.  So using the only marketable skill she had, she went from man to man, becoming an outcast even in that dusty backwater town.  Life was lonely and miserable and she was trapped- trapped by a past she couldn’t change.  As time passed and she saw her beauty fading, she watched as the only thing that gave her any sense of worth disappear.

There was a Samaritan woman…

After the conversion of Nicodemus, the Pharisees became aware of the increasing popularity of Jesus.  He was a much bigger nuisance than John the Baptist, who was sitting in a prison cell.  Jesus, feeling their agitation, purposes they leave and return to Galilee.   In the 4th chapter of the gospel of John, John states that  “ he had to pass through Samaria.”  Logistically it makes perfect sense to travel from Judah through Samaria to Galilee because it was most direct route.  But no self- respecting Jew would travel through the half-breed, unclean land of Samaria.  They would take a much longer route, crossing the Jordan River and traveling east of Samaria until they were north of the region and then re-crossing the Jordan to enter Galilee.

Around 600 years ago, Samaria was the in the southern part of the kingdom of Israel.  When the Assyrians conquered Israel, they took the royalty, wealthy, talented and educated Jews captive and carried them back to Assyria.   Those who were of no profit to them- the poor, lower class Jews-were allowed to stay.  The Assyrians then sent captives from other countries to settle in Samaria.   As the years passed, the different groups intermarried forming a new ethnic group, the Samaritans.  The Samaritans kept much of the Jewish law and tradition, but it became diluted with the paganism of their foreign ancestors.  To the Jews, this combination of race and religion was impure.

So why did Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, insist that he “had to go through Samaria?  Because He had a very important appointment to keep…

Each day, in the heat of the day, she walked to the well alone.  She had no servant to fetch the water for her.  It was a long walk, and by the time she got to the well she was sweaty and covered with dust that combined with sweat to cover her with a thin layer of mud.  It was a lonely walk.  Instead of going when the other women went she choose another, less convenient time of the day.  Better to go alone, avoiding the whispers and looks of contempt, the speculation of how long it would be till this man threw her out and she would find another to take her in.   No respectable women would talk to her, much less befriend her.

As she approached the well, she saw an unusual sight.  A Jewish man, from his dress a rabbi, sits at a Samaritan well!  What was a Jew doing in Samaria?   Panicking, she almost turned around.  But the walk was so far, and she needed that water. There was no one around to witness her alone with a strange man.  Besides, she thought, it was not like she had to worry about ruining her reputation.  So eyes down, avoiding contact with the man, she walked up to the well and began to draw water to fill her jugs.

“Give me a drink”.  She stopped what she was doing and gaped.  Now this was incredulous; a Jewish rabbi, sitting at a Samaritan well, talking to me, a Samaritan woman.  And not just any Samaritan woman, she thought ruefully.  If he really knew me, he’d be picking up a stone.

“Why are you, a Jew, asking me, a Samaritan woman, to give you a drink?” He doesn’t even have a cup!  Am I to give him my cup, which would make him unclean? If I accidently touched him handing him the water, he would be unclean and I would have that to add to my long list of sins.

He looked at her, amazingly looking in her in the eyes with not lust, but compassion.  “If you knew how much God wants to give to you and who I am, you would ask me for a drink and it would be fresh water that gives you life.”  Now I understand, she thought.  He is crazy, or demon-possessed.  Fearful, she decided she needed to needed to be calm and continue the conversation so as not to agitate him.

“Sir,” she began respectfully, “this is a deep well, and you have no rope or bucket, you don’t even have a cup.  What is this better water you are talking about?  Do you have more power than our father Jacob?  He gave us this well, he and his sons and livestock drank from it.  The water was good enough for him.”  Being a rabbi, he would understand the greatness of their common ancestor, one of the patriarchs of their faith.  Perhaps this would bring him back to reality.  Once again, he looked at her with kindness and responded.

“If you drink the water from this well, you will always run out and be thirsty again.  If you drink the water I give you, you will never be thirsty again and you will never run out.  The water I give you will always be within you, a “gushing fountain of endless life.”  Looking now into his eyes, she began to really listen. This is no mad man.  What I could do with an endless supply of water!  I could wash all this dust off and never be dirty!  Oh to never be thirsty again, to make that lonely walk to this well!  If only he had that power!

“Sir, give me this water so I will never be thirsty again and I will never have to come back to this well again!”  She began to believe he could change her circumstances, but Jesus had something bigger in mind.  He wanted to change her.   In order to do that, he had to get to the root of her misery.  Not work, not the thirst, not the way she was treated. If she truly wanted to receive that living water, she would have to change her focus. Instead of looking outward, she needed to look inward at herself.  She needed to come face to face with her sin, her brokenness.  Jesus would meet her head on at her point of need.

“Go get your husband.”  All her shame came to the surface.  She couldn’t let this kind man know her sinful past.

“I have no husband.”  She hoped that would end the discussion and get the focus back on the living water.  But Jesus would not let her avoid her sin.  He is does not condemn her but is unflinching as he reveals to her how much he truly knows the depth of her sin.

“You have told the truth.  You are right.  You’ve had five husbands and now you are living with a man who is not your husband.”   Her cheeks burned with shame.  He does really know me.  Only God could have revealed that to him.  

“Sir, I see you are a prophet.  Please tell me who is right- we Samaritans say we can worship God at this mountain, but you Jews say that God can only be worshipped in Jerusalem.  Who is right?”  Jesus heard the hidden question.  If Jerusalem is the only place we can worship God and the Jews don’t want us there, how can we Samaritans ever worship God?  How can we ever receive that living water?

Jesus looked into her heart and saw her desire to be able to worship God.  He would reveal to her a new way of worship that crossed manmade borders.

“Woman, soon the time will come when it won’t matter where you worship God.  You Samaritans don’t understand the God you worship-we Jews do understand.  Salvation comes from the Jews, but soon those who are the true worshippers of the Father will worship him in spirit and truth.  The Father seeks true worshippers.  He is spirit and not confined to one place.  We who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.  True worshippers must face the truth of their sin, confess their sins, and repent.  Then they will be receive the living water and be clean.”

Not only will receive living water, but I will be able to worship God anywhere at any time? “Sir, I don’t understand these things.  Only the long awaited Messiah, the promised son of God, could explain such things.  “Sir, when the Messiah comes, he will explain all these things.”

Jesus saw her trust in the promised Messiah, which now had been fulfilled.  “I am the one you are looking for.” She looked up at Him and realized such love, such compassion, could only come from God.   This is the Messiah! And of all people, He is speaking to me!

She was filled with a peace and joy.   He knows all my sin, loves me!  He loves my people!  Forgetting her shame and guilt she knew she was finally free of the past.  Forgetting her water jug, she ran back to the village.  No longer fearful of man’s disdain, she ran to the center of the villages were the prominent men were gathered.   “Come with me to the well, and meet a man who told me everything I ever have done!  He knows all my sin yet he forgives me.  Could this be the Messiah?”  They looked at her glowing face, free of the burden of her sin.  As the men looked to the village priest in wonder, the priest exclaimed to the woman, “Lead us to Him!” As word spread through the village, the men were followed by the women and children.

Many in Sycar believed after seeing the woman’s transformation and hearing of her encounter with Jesus.   As the villagers gathered around Jesus and heard His word for themselves, they knew this man was not only the Savior of the Jews, but that Jesus had come to save the world.

 

Jesus didn’t wait for the Samaritan woman to clean herself and seek Him.  He went out of His way to find her, forgive and cleanse her and her people.  She, as all of us, though thirsty, was drowning in sin, shame, and regret.  Yet our Holy God had compassion on us and sent His son on a personal quest to rescue her.  In the very midst of her sin He met her at her point of need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Cindy Bleuler Tucker

Hi! I'm Cindy, and I am a retired teacher, wife, and mother of a 20 year old. I am a Christian with great interest in living for the Lord in my daily life. My Christian worldview permeates every thing I do and say, at least when my sin doesn't get in the way! My family and friends are very important to me. I have a great interest in the Blble, moral issues, politics, books music, and popular culture. I love writing, going to church activities, swimming, and exercising. I have a personal interest in disability and adoption issues. I write devotionals, political commentary, reviews, poetry, and some fiction and I guess whatever I feel like. I guarantee you will not agree with me on everything. I welcome your constructive comments and hope we can have a great sharing of the minds.
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One Response to Jesus Meeting Us in the Midst of Our Deepest Sin- the Samaritan Woman

  1. Candy says:

    A beautiful story of compassion and forgiveness. Thank you for that reminder!

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