Transformed by an Encounter with Jesus
John 4 is one of the most famous stories in the bible in which a Samaritan woman meets Jesus at Jacob’s well and has a conversation with Him about a water that will never leave her thirsty again. This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible as I see a story of complete redemption and a powerful testimony of what a simple encounter with Jesus can do to someone’s life.
Today I want to go deeper into this story and talk about 3 things I see about this woman that makes this story all the more powerful.
1. She was not just any person, she was considered an marginalized outcast.
She was a woman…. During “biblical times” when Jesus walked the earth, women were extremely oppressed and were often treated as second class citizens with little or no rights at all. In fact, when a teacher would enter a home, it would be the men who would listen while the women were serving the men (remember Martha and her issue with Mary?). For Jesus to acknowledge her presence and want a conversation with her was quite the paradigm shift.
She was a Samaritan woman....
But John did not stop in saying that she was “just a woman” but in fact made sure we knew she was a Samaritan woman. Jews absolutely despised the Samaritans and wanted nothing to do with them. Yet here we see Jesus, a Jewish Rabbi, initiating a conversation with her and in doing so, created such a deep impact in her that she returns home and shares with everyone she can find.
She was a shamed Samaritan woman....
Another point that often gets overlooked is that this Samaritan woman lived with a great deal of shame. Due to the extreme heat in the middle of the day, women would often go out to the well for water either early in the morning, or later in the evening to take advantage of the cooler air. For this woman to come out during the middle of the day meant that she likely struggled with shame and thus knew that going out at midday would allow her to avoid seeing the other women and having fingers pointed at her. Yet here again is Jesus, going against the grain of what is acceptable for man of His position, and instead of ignoring her and treating her like dirt, He immediately initiates a connection with her.
2. She was important to Jesus
For Jesus to speak to this woman was a miracle in of itself. Culturally, because of the place Jesus held in Jerusalem as a Rabbi/Teacher, He would have been traditionally forbidden from talking to a Samaritan woman, in particular one that felt that she could not present herself in public when other women would see her. To take it another step further, they were also alone at the well, something that could have caused suspicion of Jesus’ integrity and destroyed His credibility. He would have been considered “unclean” and would need to go through a “cleansing process” to be in right standing with God again. Yet here we see Jesus, greeting the woman and asking her for some water to drink. Shocked that a Jewish teacher would ask her such a question, she responds by clarifying to Him that she was a Samaritan woman. For her, this was a scenario that she could have never prepared herself for. Jesus then begins to share with her about a “Living Water that will never leave her thirsty again.” He then begins to share about true worship that shall soon come and has now arrived where “worshipers will worship in spirit and in truth.” He then finishes the conversation by revealing that He was the awaited Messiah. Why is all this important? Up until this point, Jesus had not revealed to anyone that He was the Messiah (though He did hint it to Nicodemos, He never directly said it like He does with the Samaritan woman), nor had He offered anyone else the living water that He offered her! Why would he do this to an outcasted Samaritan woman? Because she was important to Him!
3. She had an encounter with Jesus and was completely changed
This is the most beautiful part of the story. In John 3, Nicodemos has a powerful conversation with Jesus, but his life remained the same. However, in John 4 we see the Samaritan woman getting so impacted by her encounter with Him that it completely changed her life and the way people saw her. Think about it for a moment. She returns to the town shouting about a man who knew everything about her. It is very likely that many would have ignored her and not thought much about it because it is very likely that everyone in town knew about her 5 husbands. However, we see the entire town getting excited and following her back to Jesus. Why? I believe it is because when she returned to the town, she had been completely transformed and the people of the town could see the instant change! This one encounter with Jesus changed this woman from being an outcasted, insignificant woman into the Bible’s first recorded evangelist! She also became the first true revivalist as her testimony not only impacted the lives of some in the town, it impacted the entire town!
Why is all this important? Because I believe that to a certain degree, all of us have been marginalized in one way or another. Maybe it is because of how we look, or how we speak. Or maybe because of the home we live in or career we have chosen. Regardless of the reason, there is a powerful truth in this story. No matter who you are, or why you are in the situation you are in, all you need is one encounter with Jesus at the well and one sip of His living water for all of it change! And the best part is that He is at that well right now, waiting for you to respond to Him!