The Woman at the Well (part 4)

Jesus did what He wanted,
regardless of social convention.

We left Jesus and our heroine in what looked like a staring contest while she tried to absorb just Who Jesus was. Jesus must have seen the disciples approaching while they talked. Perhaps He even skipped ahead in order to finish the conversation before they got there. At any rate, the disciples found Jesus and the woman this way. They were, of course, surprised to see Jesus engaged in conversation with this woman, but even though we’re only in John 4, they already knew better than to question him about it. Jesus did what he wanted, regardless of social convention.

John 4:27-42.

For the background, click over to Context and Consequences or jump into the beginning of the story with Are YOU Talking to Me?.

In many ways, the
woman had just woken up.

The disciples’ arrival spurs the woman to action. I imagine she looks around at them and blinks, as if she just woke up. In many ways, she had. What’s her first thought? “I need to tell people about this!” Leaving her water jug behind, she strides back to town, heedless of the sun and the sweat soaking through her tunic. It seems impractical to abandon her jug, but…

  • She knows this isn’t going to be a normal afternoon where she’ll need water
  • She can move faster without the heavy water jug
  • She’s coming right back.

“Come and See!”

earthen jugs
Middle Eastern earthen jugs (c) Carole Sparks

When she enters town, does she walk up and down the streets, talking to one person at a time? Does she march into the marketplace and start shouting? Does she barge into her family’s home even though she hasn’t been welcome there for years? I don’t know. I’d like to think she goes to see her mom and dad.

Someone once told me our testimonies aren’t a forum for airing our dirty laundry. When you make your story about the specifics of your sinful past, it focuses on you and doesn’t bring God glory. At the same time, we need to let people know just how much God has changed us. It’s sufficient to say, “I did some really bad things. I disappointed God, my family, and others around me. But Jesus took care of all that. He forgave me and renewed me” (or something like that).More important than where she goes is what she says. She no longer hides her past. She owns her past and uses it to demonstrate Jesus’ power and position.

Still, with her reputation, I’m surprised the townspeople listened to her. The change in her countenance and attitude must have been undeniable.

Or maybe it was a slow news day. Doubtful.

Our heroine’s “come and see” matches Philip’s statement to Nathaniel in John 1:46. This is the heart of evangelism: not some slick presentation, not an answer for every skeptic’s question, but a simple invitation to join me (or you) in figuring out Who Jesus is. It’s a “come with me to meet this guy I know” rather than an intellectual or moral pronouncement. It’s an arm around the shoulder rather than a finger pointed in the face.

What’s For Lunch?

It took a little while for the woman to walk to town, talk to people, and come back. Remember, it’s a mile each way. Plus, we don’t know how many people she spoke to or how many times she repeated her story.

In the meantime, the disciples encouraged Jesus to eat his lunch. After all, they’d walked two extra miles in the middle of the day to get this food. They were all hungry, so He must be, too.

Jesus doesn’t intentionally make the disciples look dumb here. He claims to have some secret food, and they wonder where He got food while they were gone. They are often very matter-of-fact because they just haven’t been trained to think on a spiritual plane (Same thing in their conversation about Lazarus in John 11:1-16.) Jesus did have a drink of water, but no read food.

Jesus had higher priorities
than His stomach.

Jesus had higher priorities than His stomach. He found obedience more satisfying than food. He said the same thing to Satan in the wilderness:

It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  -Matthew 4:4

As I sit here at my desk with my cup of coffee and my lemon cookies, I am convicted. Is it really possible to prioritize God’s will over my physical needs? It’s easy to say, even to think, but I can put off eating about as long as I can hold my breath. This is difficult because God designed us to use food as fuel for our bodies. But he also calls us to fast at times. I need to think on it some more (maybe another blog post in the future).

Why Wait?

Jesus goes on to tell them they aren’t paying attention to the important things. This saying, “It’s still four months until harvest” (John 4:35), seems to mean you can’t rush good things, that you need to be patient, or that you must wait for the rewards of your work. The disciples thought they needed to wait before people would start believing in Jesus as the Messiah, but these Samaritans were already “ripe,” already looking for the Savior.

In fact, they were already on their way to meet Him! People followed our heroine out to the well despite the mid-day heat and whatever work they left behind. (Maybe some of them were doing the dishes after lunch.) Their belief began with the woman’s testimony, but it came to fruition when they met Jesus for themselves. Then, during those two days in Sychar, Jesus and His followers discipled all the new believers.

One more thought: The Jews always believed the Messiah was coming only for them, but these Samaritans accepted Jesus as the Christ long before the Jews, and they recognized the universal nature of His message. They called Him “the Savior of the world” (John 4:42), which is what John said in the chapter before (3:16)—that God loved the world.

That time “God so loved the world” started with one wild woman. Via @Carole_Sparks #NotAboutMe #BibleStudy (click to tweet)

I just love it when Jesus turns social convention on its head. What part of this story resonates with you? About what is God speaking to you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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2 thoughts on “From One Woman to the World

  1. Beautiful storytelling. You really bring the scene and the people to life! What resonates with me is Jesus’ willingness to set aside social convention to reach a soul. My grandfather was like that, and I always admired that quality in him. It never occurred to me until I read your post that he was being Christ-like!

    Liked by 1 person

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