The sun was at its peak – boasting of the light and heat it was dissipating. A lady was at the well drawing water at this dreadful moment, not in the cooler moments of the day. Who in their right mind would go to the well let alone walk a distance to get there at midday? Circumstances drove this woman to sneak out when no one else would be around. She just couldn’t face the humiliation, the ignorance and the condemnation of her community. Who likes to be ostracised? A man, tired from his journey, sat down by this same well at the same time. His mates had gone to get food. The man asked the woman for a drink. The woman was surprised! Why?
It was the time and age where Jews did not associate with Samaritans, let alone men converse with women. The woman at the well was Samaritan. No wonder she was surprised. I’m sure she was touched by the act of this man, especially since she had to draw water when others weren’t around. Finally someone showed acceptance, and that a Jewish man! Yes, the man was none other than Jesus Christ although the woman did not know this.
The two struck a conversation. Eventually the woman asked Jesus to give her the water He was referring to so that she wouldn’t have to keep coming here to draw water. Was the act of drawing water the issue, or was it the desire to be spared further humiliation coupled with the despair having to come in the heat of the day?
Jesus asked her to go call her husband. She didn’t hesitate to confess to this stranger that she had no husband. In response, Jesus showed her that He knew of her life and commented, “What you have just said is quite true” (John 4:18). How often would we share our ‘sins’ with one another let alone a stranger? It seems obvious that she wasn’t happy with her situation. It almost seems as if she was just waiting, dying to get it off her chest. This would make sense – if she was accepted in community she wouldn’t be drawing water at the sixth hour.
Why did Jesus choose this woman to tell her of the good news? Why did He not choose someone who had a good standing in the community? Is it because He saw her heart and not her situation? Was her heart crying out in pain and loneliness and desperation?
A woman found barren was easily discarded by the husband. Society expected women to breed children and raise them up. Nothing else was required! It was a culture whereby a woman cannot live alone, it was not accepted. Having a guardian in the form of a husband or male relative was essential. What if this woman had been barren? She may have had to go through 5 marriages expecting security, desiring life and acceptance only to face the same scenario over and over again… – being packed away. Her barrenness wouldn’t have changed unless of course God had performed a miracle in her life. What if she was an orphan? To whom would she turn? Would living with a man be the only solution as then he would not expect a family from her, but just companionship giving her in return the guardianship she required to survive?
All this is speculation, but important questions to raise – we don’t know the details of her life. However, we do know one thing! Jesus accepted her. He crossed all cultural taboos to reach out to her. He obviously saw her contrite, broken heart. In fact after her confession, He addressed her as ‘woman’ – a term of respect.
Jesus didn’t condemn the woman caught in adultery let alone allow others to condemn her. However He told her to go and sin no more. Interestingly He didn’t say the same to the Samaritan woman at the well. At least, the Bible doesn’t record it. If she had been ‘sinning’ the way we term it, would Jesus not have mentioned it?
Man looks at appearances, God looks at the heart. We could be sinning in the sly while pretending to be holier than thou. God sees that and He hates hypocrisy. However a broken and contrite heart, He will not despise (Psalm 51:17).
- What is your heart condition today? Is it broken and contrite or is it one of self righteousness?
- Who are you condemning today? Are you basing your judgment on discernment or on appearances?
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn you.. that those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19).
- Are any sins listed as greater than the other or are all equal?
- Are you grateful of the grace that God has extended to you, especially of that in areas in your current walk with God?
- Do others not deserve the same grace as you?
God isn’t looking at our stumbling or our falling;
He is instead looking at our heart condition and
our desire and decision to do a U-turn for Him and towards Him.