Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Who Do You Love?

I was thinking about the woman at the well in Sychar yesterday. It's not like I'm so old that I remember her. I was not there and I would never go to Samaria anyway (:^))) However...

In John 4, Jesus finds Himself in Samaria in the town of Sychar at noon. His disciples go into the city to buy supplies and they leave Jesus at the town's well. This well is famous. It was one sunk by Jacob, the father of all Israel and it had not run dry even in the time of Christ.

Back in the day, people, usually women, would go to the local water source to retrieve water for the day. In desert climates this was usually done early in the morning. The people that would gather for water would converse. It would have been a social center for the town; a place for exchange of information and maybe even local gossip. And this last bit may be the reason why Jesus encountered a woman at the well getting water at noon. She did not go to the well when others did because she was not what you would call virtuous; adventurous maybe, but not virtuous. Her reputation probably did not sit well with the other hens in the chicken house at Sychar. She would have been the one about which the others gossiped.  She had relationships with more than one rooster.

Jesus, being God in the flesh, knew this about her as she approached the well and He engaged her in conversation. There are several reasons why this conversation should be impossible in Christ's day and the woman herself points this out.

1. Jesus was born a Jew. Jews do not associate with Samaritans. They would be considered like Gentiles, unclean sinners outside God's family.
2. A Jew and particularly a rabbi would not have accepted a drink from a Samaritan.
3. Any righteous Jew would not have gone through Samaria if it could be avoided and they would certainly not have stopped to socialize or eat.
4. An observant male Jew would not have spoken with any woman that was not his wife. 

So Jesus is breaking all the rules here. He is socializing with unclean sinners and His goal seems to be to enlighten them about who He is and why He has come.

The story kind of breaks my heart. I see the courage of the woman whose life is a mess addressing her Messiah without fear, but with respect. I see her hospitality as she invites Jesus and His disciples into town to meet everyone. She is amazed and enthralled by what Jesus knows and what He knows about her. Despite her sinful life, she is smitten in spirit by the gentle rabbi from Nazareth. She desires immediately to tell others about Him and she does. As a result of her enthusiasm, many in Samaria learned the Truth that day. Jesus took a harvest of believers among these Samaritans before He departed. 

I love this story. Jesus took what could have been a tense situation and turned it into an opportunity. While holding fast to the Truth, He presented Himself and His Father with the grace these people so needed and brought them into the fold. Grace and Truth, living in the tension between the two. This is what we as believers are called to do.

Do you know anyone like this woman? Is she at church or at work? Is she marginalized by the rule keepers and relegated to going to the well at noon? Strike up a conversation with her. She could introduce you to people that are just waiting for what you have. In our pursuit of grace and truth, sometimes we are called to go to Samaria. Is that time now? Well, maybe.


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