In John 4 we are told of a Samaritan woman who meets with Jesus when drawing water from a well at midday. In their conversation we find that she had five husbands and was living with a man she was not married to.

In those days Samaritan women went to the well in groups in the morning and evening as it was cooler. Also, traditional ancient Jewish culture didn’t allow for friendly exchanges with Samaritans, because they were a mixed-race people who had married with Assyrians centuries before, so were deemed outcasts. In addition, and in an even larger context, first-century men didn’t enter into conversation with women in public, not even their wives as they were considered greatly inferior to men. So for Jesus to be found speaking to this woman was not only culturally inappropriate but would’ve been readily perceived by onlookers as scandalous.

She having had so many husbands was clearly the talk of the town. What was even worse was that this unmarried woman was presently living with a man.  Even for the Samaritans, this was an abomination. In order to avoid the mockery of the townswomen who filled their water jars at sunrise and sunset, this woman came to the well at noon, the hottest hour of the day. The social stigma that this woman endured in the community must have been demeaning.

She was ostracised by all who lived there, so imagine her surprise when Jesus came up and spoke directly to her.  He even called her “woman” which was a sign of respect and dignity not found anywhere at that time. Jesus treated her like a person, a person of intelligence, someone who mattered, someone who was worthy of the Messiah’s ‘living water’.

“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”” – John 4:13-15

Jesus used the water as a metaphor to teach this woman. He spoke about the living water, which gives eternal life.  The woman realised her innate need for this type of water and Jesus gave it to her. She left the well a changed person. He REDEEMED her! In His mercy and love, He extended to her a gift of which all others would have deemed her undeserving: His grace, His covering… HIMSELF!

This same shy, rejected lady went through the town proclaiming the works of Jesus. His redemption liberated her, took away her shame and consequently made many Samaritans of that city believe in Him. By reaching out to the Samaritans, Jesus showed that his mission was to the entire earth, not just the Jews. In the book of Acts, after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, His apostles carried on this work in Samaria and to the Gentile world.

This Samaritan woman was REJECTED. She was rejected because of her race, her gender and her sexual indiscretions yet God still chose to reveal Himself to her.

He did it for her… He can do it for you!

By Ify Alexis Ossai

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