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The Man at the Well

The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men,
“Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
John 4:28-30 

When we lived in far eastern Colorado a number of years ago, I would try to save up all my errands for one day a week because it was a 40-mile round trip drive to the nearest “large” town. At the end of one particularly long day of running around, I was especially relieved to be home. Even Schatzy the Schnauzer’s incessant barking didn’t irritate me as much as it usually did. But as I went about unloading the car, I became increasingly aware that something about her looked . . . different.

As I puzzled why, the hubster proceeded to tell me all about his day, ending with his crowning achievement of the afternoon: trimming the Schnauzer’s eyebrows. He had come to the conclusion after studying her forlorn countenance that the poor pooch couldn’t see and it would be inhumane to leave the scruffy thing in such a pitiable state.

Apparently, the crowning achievement had started out well enough. He’d gotten out the kitchen shears and went to work on grooming Schatzy’s right eyebrow. Admiring his handiwork, he was quite proud of the fine barbering job he’d done. The snafu didn’t occur until the left brow. Perceiving he had trimmed it conspicuously shorter than the right and unwilling to settle for an asymmetrical look, he went back to snipping on the right . . . Then the left . . . Then the right . . . Then the . . . Well, at least now they were even.

I was glad that it was only a temporary alteration and that in due time they would grow back. It gave us a few good laughs, but pretty soon we forgot all about it and her appearance eventually returned to normal.

It wasn’t the kind of abiding internal change that had taken place in the scorned woman with the sordid past who left her waterpot to announce that she’d met the Son of God. This iniquitous woman who’d had five husbands and was living with a man who wasn’t her husband, a woman who was shunned by her own people, was now suddenly, impossibly leading them to Christ. This was no superficial alteration. This was a change that demanded an explanation. This was a life transformed.

Gotta love the ladies’ Wednesday evening Bible study at my church. Where else could someone innocently comment that she loves to clean her house, have it met with a thunderous outbreak of horrified groans, and launch a bunch of grown women into a lively debate as to whose house is the messiest? Just one of the many reasons why I love these gals.

A few well_bucket2weeks ago, we studied the Bible story commonly referred to as “The Samaritan Woman” or “The Woman at the Well.” I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’ll get something stuck in my head and for days afterward it seems like I’m bombarded with things related to it. It’s like when you buy a car – let’s say a blue one – and for the next couple of weeks everywhere you go you see a spate of blue cars. That’s how it’s been these past few weeks. One thing after another related to the story kept crossing my path and I simply couldn’t stop thinking about her – this woman at the well.

In Old Testament times, the Israelites didn’t associate with the people of Samaria. Although they shared a common Jewish ancestry and were both awaiting the promised Messiah (the Hebrew word for Christ), the Samaritans had intermarried with pagan Gentiles (non-Jews) and had corrupted their practice of the religion by incorporating idol worship and other foreign practices and beliefs into it. Because of this, the Israelites considered them to be polluted, mixed-breed outcasts. In fact, their contempt for Samaritans was so extreme that they would go miles out of their way just to avoid having to step foot on Samaritan soil.

One of the cultural taboos of that day was that men didn’t speak to women in public. And most certainly not to this kind of woman. Fact was, her conduct was so shameful that she was treated as an outcast by her own people – an outcast among outcasts – isolated and alone, coming to the well in the sweltering midday heat, avoiding the scorn of the respectable women who came to draw water during the cooler parts of the day. Which made it all the more astonishing – perhaps even verging on scandalous – that Jesus would intentionally come through cursed Samaria to have a one-on-one encounter with a social pariah and a Samaritan one no less; and, as if that weren’t bad enough, a female to boot.

Clearly, by all expectations she was not a woman worthy of any attention from the Son of God. Yet an extraordinary event occurs in this story: It is to this woman that Jesus makes His very first personal declaration that He is Israel’s long-awaited Messiah!

Jesus Christ didn’t just break down barriers – He shattered them. Social barriers, cultural barriers, class barriers, religious barriers, yes; but most importantly, barriers of the heart. And her wretched heart was no exception.

In their relatively brief conversation, He had unmasked her need for eternal life, exposed and convicted her of her sin, and pointed her to true worship of the one true God. And the crowning achievement? She believed in her heart that He was the Christ, the Savior of the world. Now liberated from the guilt, the shame, and the bondage of her sin, she left her waterpot to embark on a much more urgent mission: to tell the men who had scorned her in the town that had shunned her about the Man who had freed her – the Man at the well. From captive to captivating. From contemptible to compelling. Misfit turned missionary in the twinkling of an eye.

No matter how many times I read it, I still marvel that this nameless woman with the waterpot has been forever preserved on the pages of the Bible. She is testimony to the truth that no one has sunk so low or fallen so far as to be beyond the grasp of the Man at the well. 

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.
 Romans 10:9

Amazing Grace

Category: Hope, Salvation  Tags: ,  2 Comments
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