by Janet S. Wolff
In John 4:1–26, Jesus has an encounter with a Samaritan woman that I find amazing. When traveling between Judea and Galilee, most Jews would walk miles and miles out of their way to avoid Samaria and the Samaritans. Samaritans were part Jewish and part Arab descent, and events had led to a sort of Hatfield/McCoy relationship between Jews and Samaritans.
In this story Jesus breaks all cultural norms, starting with intentionally walking down the road directly into Sychar, Samaria. He continues to break cultural rules by approaching a woman. He can clearly see she had been shunned by her community, as women always went to the well in groups and she was alone. Jesus intentionally plans a visit to see this woman.
Already, it is an amazing story. A woman with the wrong heritage, who has also been shunned (whether or not the circumstances were her own fault), is at the well and about to have an encounter with Jesus. Jesus does not follow Jewish custom and take the long route. Instead, He walks directly to the well and talks to this woman. He talks to her! Despite the cultural custom that said men and women could not speak alone in public.
Jesus goes beyond His cultural knowledge of seeing her alone at the well and tells her everything she had ever done. His words are not meant to condemn, for she was already condemned. Despite her status, Jesus asks her to serve Him. Then, most amazingly, He offers to be her Savior.
“Salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” . . . The woman said, “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am He.” (John 4:22–23, 25–26)
Despite this woman’s reputation, Jesus makes it quite plain: He is not interested in her past. He is interested in her future and lets her know He has a plan for that future.
Effectively, Jesus is saying, “I know you and know your deep desire to worship Me. So I’m coming to you to tell you I want to be your Savior. I’m revealing myself to you because you will believe. You will truly worship. I’m not looking for perfect people. I’m looking for people who will love Me, believe Me, worship Me, and let Me love them.”
Jesus never spoke of His deity so directly to anyone other than this woman. A Samaritan. A fornicator and adulteress. A divorced woman. A woman tainted and shunned. A woman.
Jesus broke down the cultural barriers in existence then and continues to do so today. Jesus is not looking for a nationality. Jesus is not looking for a gender, for men and women are both made in the image of God. Jesus is not looking at your past transgressions. Jesus is looking to be your Savior and offer a future. Jesus is looking for you.
You don’t have to look for Jesus. He is already right there, where you are, at the well. He sees you. He sees that you are going through the motions of life and merely existing, wishing there was hope for you—but you are convinced all hope is gone. So much has happened; circumstances have happened; choices have been made. Some weren’t even your fault, yet you feel condemned.
Jesus is standing right there by that lonely well beside you, asking you to serve Him, trust Him, let Him give you a new place of worship—a place of hope in your heart. If you ask, Jesus will give you living water that will wash away all of your past anxieties and transgressions and give you hope for a future. You will never thirst again.
It is possible to have a Savior who will know everything, explain everything, and then still love you. He is there beside you, asking you to serve Him. Turn to Him and let Him change your life.
Janet S. Wolff is a Berean School of the Bible student from Lakewood, Washington. For more information about Berean School of the Bible, visit www.globaluniversity.edu/berean