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
What can one encounter with Jesus do to a person’s life?
The Samaritan woman (John 4:1-29) had five husbands in the past and was currently living with a man who was not her husband. Also, she was a Samaritan– one who was shunned by the Israelites because she was a racially mixed Jew. To the Jews, this meant she had a partially pagan ancestry– an affront to their strict adherence to the Law of Moses. Also, to both fellow Samaritans and Jews, her adultery meant that she should be stoned. Perhaps it was the Samaritan woman’s shame that drove her to go to the well at the hottest time of the day; the time when other women were resting.
Still, there was one person who wanted to see her. Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, knew of a special appointment waiting for Him in Samaria. The Bible says that Jesus “needed” to go to Samaria (John 4:4). It is mind-boggling to realize that the Lord Jesus felt the need to touch the life of ONE single person when so many people existed around Him. This gives us a glimpse of the kind of heart Jesus has. Despite the clamor and sins of the world, He will not forget a single person who needs Him.
The drama unfolds: Jesus first asks for water from this woman. This is strange to the woman. Perhaps Jesus’ accent or His clothes gives away His identity of being a Jew. The Samaritan woman says, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans (John 4:9).
Jesus answers the woman by saying that He can also give her a drink of water! However, it’s not the water from the well, but “water that will spring up into everlasting life.” How often does God use our own “type” of language to reveal Himself to us? How often does He relate with us in a manner where we can relate back to Him? How often, too, does He empower us by asking us to give Him what is in our hands to give to Him? This woman, though an adulterer and a Samaritan, had something capable that she could do with her hands: Give water to Jesus. Jesus knew it, and asked for it despite the shame of her past. He was essentially saying that she wasn’t dirty enough for Him to reject her.
Jesus then says something that makes her delve into her past. “Go, call your husband.” Why does He do this? In every encounter people have with Jesus, we must remember this: Jesus seeks to liberate us. Christ, in His mercy, exposed the sinful condition of this woman not to condemn her, but to give her a chance to see herself properly and to see Him properly. Jesus is Truth. Truth liberates us.
Then Jesus says something that broke the dividing wall between Jews and Samaritans. He said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23) This woman need not fear the shame of her bloodline. She could worship Him as any Jew could.
The woman was an adulterer. This woman was a Samaritan. What else? This woman was the best candidate to influence others.
The drama continues: This woman becomes the very first city evangelist of the New Testament. She leaves her water pot and tells the city of Jesus. “Could this be the Christ?” she says excitedly. This woman of shame is listened to by the very people she wants to hide from; those who define her shame. The men of the city come out to check whether this man by the well, Jesus, is the Christ.
We may have the most shameful pasts, but this does not stop Jesus from reaching out to us. This does not stop Him either, from turning us from hidden, despised people into evangelists. Perhaps like this woman, God will allow us to impact one whole city. Perhaps, He will allow us to impact one whole nation or region. Perhaps He will cause us– a single life– to impact the whole world. Why not? The Samaritan woman may have impacted one whole city, but her story, written in the Bible, has already impacted countless lives around the world. In fact, this unlikely evangelist transcended her own generation and is influencing us right now with her story.
An encounter with Christ will always mean an encounter with Truth. Our response to Truth will always matter. Will we open our hearts to Jesus when He meets with us? Or will we harden our hearts to Him? Our response may mean the seeking of Jesus by other countless souls.
First published online for SAVED RADIO at saved.ph.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.