John 4:1-42 (AD 27)
Samaritans were loathed, shunned, apostate turncoats. Adulterers, by law, were to be stoned to death. Women, by custom, were perceived to be less significant, valuable and reliable as men.
Jesus, therefore, went to speak with an adulterous Samaritan lady.
His ministry to her was one of compassion. His example to his fellow Jews was to show that the love of God was for everyone – regardless of where they were from, who they were or what they had done.
Not only that, but this story includes a rare instance of Jesus being utterly straightforward in his claim to be God:
“The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah’ (called Christ) ‘is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’
Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you—I am he.’”
Two chapter ago, Jesus made a reference to raising the temple three days after its destruction, which was only seen retrospectively by the disciples as a foretelling of his resurrection. Jesus did not “entrust” himself to them – partly a reference to not being more straightforward about his identity – because he knew that so many were looking for a military, nationalist zealot to throw off the Roman shackles. He had three years of ministry to get through, and many thousands of people to speak to and share the good news with. Only then would come the time for him to allow the murderers to have their way with the mob so that the people would turn on him.
Jesus loved the woman enough to show her his identity so that she – and many of her neighbours – put their trust in Jesus and were saved. But that’s not the same thing as affirming or approving everything about her.
Of the three things that caused Jewish men to look down on her, one was provoked by her sinfulness (the multiple adulteries), one was a generalisation based on the ungodliness of many of her countryfolk (such as refusing to worship at the temple in Jerusalem), and one was merely dumb misogyny. Jesus gently pushed aside the two prejudices in order to come alongside her, and only made her uncomfortable about the one thing we must all be uncomfortable about: our sinfulness.
Thank God that Jesus broke through the walls of prejudice, that he opened the door in an obvious way for the neglected, sidelined and ignored, was utterly plain about who he was, and lovingly dealt with the woman’s greatest problem and need.
Be someone who reaches out to everyone, and especially those who are thought less of by society.
Be someone who gratefully receives the poking of God about your sin and turns to him, like the Samaritan woman did, accepting his love.