I have read and re-read John 4. I have dissected it, I have looked to commentaries, I have prayed about the woman and her encounter with Jesus in an effort to understand fully her circumstance, and who she was. She is me. She is, likely, you. She is us.
Let’s do a bit of a review. We have this women, who against cultural standards, ventures out daily to retrieve water for her household, she does this at noon. She does this when all other women are tending to their daytime chores. While the rest of her village retrieves water at the very beginning or end of the day per cultural standards, the Woman at the Well can only bring herself to complete this task at the hottest, brightest time of the day. She does this to avoid the others. She does this because her life is filled with shame and regret and she has become an outcast because of her choices. But, God sees her. He sees her and he meets her in the least expected ways. He is man, she is woman. He is a Jew, she is a Samaritan. She is desperately sinful and he is perfectly sinless. They are a lesson in extreme contrast.
As I said, I have read and re-read this story, trying to understand why God choose to put this woman on my heart and share her with all of you. It came upon me …friendship. This story is a perfect example of friendship.
Jesus came to give this woman living water. He promised her salvation and hope and love if she drank from His cup. He showed her compassion. He invited her to love herself as he loves her. He encouraged her to love herself so much that she turn from her former life and begin living abundantly in the new life He has gifted her. I love the Lord.
Jesus is a friend of sinners. Throughout the Bible we see the beauty of His love to the least of these. He holds them close, he encourages them well, he never turns his back without offering a redemptive plan. He gives us a beautiful example of agape, unconditional love. I challenge us all to show that kind of love.
So, let’s make ourselves the Woman at the Well. When in your life, past or present have you ventured out, if you will, in the middle of the hot day to avoid the pointed fingers of others? When have you been so drowned in your own sin and shame you could barely face yourself? When have you felt so lonesome in the poor choices and bad judgment you have made? We all have times of shame, whether private or personal, it all hurts and it is all ugly and it all binds us to desperation.
Ok, now think of those times and think of the friend who God put in your path to walk side by side without judgement, without condemnation, without chastising. Think of who was with you, the woman Jesus sent so that you could face the day with the bright light of hope and joy. Give praise to Him. He loves us so much that He plants people in our lives to love and rebuke us in truth and love.
In John 1:14, John 7:37-39 and Revelation 17:7 we learn that we serve a God who fills us with His grace and truth and He grants us continual untold refreshing. The reviving and regenerating effects of the Holy Spirit are similarly called living water. He loves us beyond our weakness and shame.
No worldly joy gives lasting satisfaction. We learn this when the lures of this World lead us to places of sin and disgrace. His Joy fills us and renews us and makes us grow brilliantly in His perfect love.
Jesus came to us to reap and sow the goodness of the Lord. He came to reach deep into our hearts and fill the “God-sized” hole. He has given us friends, and sisters in Christ to come alongside and share His Word without judgment and condemnation.
As sowers and reapers we bless our fellow Christian sisters. By loving the least of these.
For those friends who are in a season of shame, when they feel the love of Christ, when we love them where they are…in their fallen, broken condition, we show them Jesus’s sweet nature, the Fruit of His love and Gentleness.
As we love women who are weary in sin we encourage them to walk humbly in the joy of Christ and not in the crushing deceitful delight of this world.
Empowering the broken to become whole in Christ allows them to become sowers of kindness and wisdom and understanding. They are able to meet others where they are because they share profoundly similar life experiences.
Patience is key. We may sow the seeds of Christ’s love and never see the harvest. We must be ok with that, because it is. Those who are ready to hear will understand the truth sooner, some may need more time to process the truth of Christ’s abundant love. Remember, it is not our obligation to force the Love of Christ upon anyone. We are to be Gentle and Kind and Good. Ours is only to love well with His heart and know that our seed planting will reap a harvest in God’s perfect timing.