advent lettering

O Come All Ye Faithful

The Woman at the Well

Today's Reading

John 4:1-32

Throughout this Advent Season, we have been using the theme “O, Come Let Us Adore Him,” and we’ve been exploring the lives of individuals when they first met Jesus. Today, we turn to one of my favorite moments of discovery—the Samaritan woman and her encounter with Jesus at the well.

To best understand what happens in this story, we need to think about it as one of those before and after photos. You know the ones that I am referring to…we see them all of the time on the infomercials. Whether it is for acne treatment, hair products, or a fitness system, you see the person in bad shape in the “before” image, and then the “after” image looks like a new person. The message—buy our product, and you will be just like this person.

Enter the Samaritan woman. Let’s call her Sharon. First, we know that according to Jews during Jesus’ time, the Samaritans were considered traitors to the Jewish bloodline and not worth their time. Second, Sharon was a woman, and in that day and age, that meant she was more in line with property than with her own personhood. So when meeting anyone, Sharon already had two strikes against her.

And then there is strike three. She has had an exceptionally bad life when it comes to men and relationships, and it is no secret to the town. In fact, she spends most of her time away from the crowds so that she doesn’t have to deal with the scorn and shame. In short, she is hopeless. Three strikes, and she wants out. Here is Sharon’s “before” picture.

Enter Jesus on the scene. He is tired and hot and only wants a drink of water. He has been moving with his group from town to town, and even though he was gaining a following, He didn’t stick around to enjoy the popularity.

Sharon wasn’t wanting to meet anyone that day. It was at the hottest time of the day, so she hoped to get to the well and back without being noticed. No such luck she realized as she turned the corner and saw some random Jewish man sitting there. In my mind, I can see her holding off for a minute before approaching, hoping to wait him out. But he didn’t move, and she had to get on with her day. Or maybe she was so jaded by this point in her life, that she didn’t care anymore about what people said.

Regardless, she approached the well, and Jesus breaks the ice. “Will you give me a drink?”

What happens next is both wonderful and humorous all at the same time. She tries to get out of the request by deflecting, and Jesus, who would have been incredible at tennis, continues to volley back questions, peering into the depths of her soul.

They cover topics such as the Jewish/Samaritan divide, the living water that everyone seeks, and eternal life and how to obtain it. By this point in the conversation, Sharon must have been feeling pretty good about herself. She was having a great conversation, and not once has this stranger found out about her past. Until…

“Go, call your husband and come back,” Jesus asks her. We know why Jesus did this. He probably had a slight smile on His face, but she didn’t know. She was floored.

“He knew,” she thought. “Someone told him. Everyone talks about me! I can’t have a life here anymore! Here goes the only genuine human interaction I have had in years.”

She scrambles with a quick answer, “I have no husband,” trying to deflect again or perhaps excuse herself from the scene. But Jesus doesn’t let up.

Jesus continues to reveal to her how much he knows about her life, but she doesn’t run, and she doesn’t really deflect. Instead, she asks about how to worship God.

Jesus must have loved this moment as he continued to explain more and more, and then something changed with her. She begins to make connections. “I know about a Messiah who is coming. He will explain all of this to us.”

Can you see the smile on Jesus’ face and the shock on her face when he told her, “I who speak to you am he.”

Amazing! The Messiah who was to restore Israel and save His people was standing right in front of her, and he wasn’t sending her away. In fact, He told her everything about herself, and yet He stayed right there. The great I Am remained.

This same I Am speaks to us today in the same way. When we draw close to Him, he reveals our darkest sins and accepts us as we are.

Do you understand that today? Do you understand that it is your sin, not your good works, that draws you close to Jesus? It is understanding your total need for a Savior that changes your life?

Look back to the text and see her response. She is so ecstatic that she can’t contain herself. She runs off, leaving her jar, and she begins to tell everyone without any hesitation.

She tells the same people whom she had been avoiding her whole life that she met a man who knew everything about her and loved her anyway. She becomes one of the first evangelists in the New Testament! This is the “after” picture, and she doesn’t look the same at all.

Which image are you this morning—the before or after? If you are the before, give up the hiding and stop covering up your past and embrace a Messiah who has come to save you. If you are the after, then live as someone who is changed.

Spread the word the Christmas season about a man who knows everything that you ever did, and loves you anyway. This is the Messiah!

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