Originally posted July 2016
The woman at the well. We’ve read her story and probably been moved by the compassion Jesus had for her. But have you ever considered her life and how spectacular Jesus’ visit to her really was? She was an outcast. She had been married and divorced five times. Even in today’s American culture, this is shocking and we judge people like this as broken in some way. She was living with a man who was not her husband. She was a mess. There was much shame, both internal and external. Her life was filled with brokenness, hurt, and loneliness. She even gathered water alone possibly because she was rejected by others or her shame was too great.
Her life was messy. Very messy. But Jesus sought her. Jews in that day avoided Samaria (John 4:9, Jews had no dealings with Samaritans). It was unclean and they traveled around Samaria to avoid interaction with Samaritans. Jesus had compassion and it was not by accident that met her at the well. He came to bring her living water (verse 13). He came to free her of her sin and shame and fill the empty places of her heart that had been filled with worldly things. Jesus faced her. He loved her. Right where she was. He wasn’t afraid of the mess of her life. He exposed her. Not to shame her, but to free her. This is the beauty of the gospel.
“The gospel is bad news before it is good news. The living water of grace is only sweet to those who know the bitter taste of their sin.” (Gospel Transformation Bible Commentary, John 4)
This woman needed what Jesus alone can give. “She had been a poor steward of her thirst – a thirst only Jesus can satisfy. She had spent most of her life running to broken cisterns that hold no water. Now she is offered the only water that will satisfy her, and us – the grace of the gospel.” (Gospel Transformation Bible Commentary, John 4)
The woman at the well is us. We are all broken, looking to earthly things and people to fill our empty souls. Some of us feel that the journey to Jesus is too far and we are too messy, too hopeless. But Jesus meets us where we are, in our Samaria, in our brokenness and sinfulness. He comes to fill our emptiness with His presence and not just “fix” our brokenness, but make us new (Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17). Maybe you feel like the woman at the well. As you reflect on your life, all you see is carnage; broken relationships, pain, loneliness, destructive choices, regrets, shame, guilt. It seems everything and everyone you touch is tainted, so you live in isolation. Jesus came to cleanse you, forgive you, free you and make you new.
The woman at the well was as messy as it gets and Jesus loved her. He sought her, exposed her and freed her. Jesus death and resurrection secured this for us. (But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4)
We come as we are – the broken mess that we are, the wreckage of our life and lay it at His feet, confess our sin, repent (turn from our sinful ways) and He is faithful to forgive – and cleanse us (If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9) The woman at the well gives us hope. We don’t even know her name. But Jesus did. And He knows your name. The journey of rebuilding our wrecked lives and learning to walk as the free people we are takes time and help. We need other Christians to help us to live this life. While this path seems insurmountable, God promises that He will complete His work in us (And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Don’t let the shame, guilt or messiness of your life keep you from coming to the well. Jesus is there. He has come to bring you living water so you won’t be thirsty for the things of this world but instead be fully satisfied and complete in Him.
Liz Beck, President
Hope for Addiction, Inc.