divorce, Jesus, purpose, Samaritan woman, shame

My Heart Hurts for Misunderstood Biblical Characters

A few weeks ago we visited our son who is going to college at NC State. It was his birthday which just happened to fall on a Sunday, so we went to church with him and took him to lunch. I don’t remember the context in the sermon, but the preacher referred to the sin of the “promiscuous” Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42). As he spoke the hairs raised on the back of my neck because I believe this woman was broken, hurting and empty rather than sleezy. She’s become one of my friends.

Why have we never questioned why a woman in biblical times would’ve been divorced by five husbands and desperate enough to live with one who didn’t love her enough to marry her? She had no right to divorce these men. They divorced her. I believe there was a physical reason for this “shame.” She is one of my “Marys”. And this is an excerpt of her chapter.

photo by Andy Lee shot in Israel

….Despite her predicament and perhaps less than pleasant character, Jesus chose to ask this woman for a drink of water. Salvation Himself came to her in person. Jesus sat down at this well and waited for a thirsty, lonely, broken woman.

I love how intentional Jesus was. He knew what time she would come; He sent the disciples into town, and He waited. When she arrived, Jesus asked her for a drink. His question started the conversation.

I wonder if the fact that a man asked her for a drink was even more revolting and frustrating to this woman than the fact that He was a Jew. Did she hide her fear and anger behind her religious talk? Did she really want to say in response to Jesus, “Everybody wants something from me! You men are all alike! Go home!”? She had been used and abused by men; why would this stranger be different?

But this stranger was different because rather than demanding the water, He offered to give her something. Living Water. Water that would fill her dry, empty heart.

She thought this odd. I can see her looking around to see if He was talking to someone else, but there was no one else standing beside Jesus. Can you visualize His intense gaze into her eyes as He spoke to her? She questioned His offer, but His knowledge of her life and the authority in which He spoke turned her questions into acceptance.

Those who came with nothing to give but their sin and shame, their sickness and burdens were the ones who received His grace. His eyes saw past their skin into their hearts and offered Living Water. Living Grace. However, Jesus did more than give this woman a new heart, He gave her a purpose.

This part is interesting. The scripture doesn’t record Jesus telling the Samaritan woman to go back to town and tell everyone to come see Him. But her encounter with the Messiah changed her countenance of shame and disgrace to one with something to give.

She did not linger at the well after she met Salvation. She went running into her hometown, the town of her shame and heartbreak. She shouted to all who would hear, “I met the Messiah!”

She could’ve kept this secret to herself. These people had treated her poorly for a long time. But she held no grudge on this day. This was the day her value was restored, and that is something you can’t be quiet about. In the presence of Jesus, she was given significance. Her dignity was given back. Shame gone. Joy renewed.

I want to point out a very important fact: This woman’s life situation didn’t change. Her joy didn’t come from a baby in her arms or a husband who wanted to love her forever. Her life changed because her heart had been filled with the Holy Spirit. She had experienced being sought after by Jesus and felt her worth.”  ~ A Mary Like Me

Are you thirsty? Spend some time with the Living Water. In His presence we are not only restored and filled up, we are given purpose for the day.

Much peace and grace,

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