The Woman Whose Day Didn’t Turn Out Like She Planned

There was once a somewhat bold and saucy Samaritan woman who lived on the outer edges of social convention. As a result, perhaps, she went to the well at midday to draw water and ran into a strange man, resulting in one of the most surprising conversations in history… John puts it like this:
“Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” (John 4:27-29 NIV) Why does John point out that the disciples were so surprised? Jesus’ conversation with the woman by the well in Samaria is one of his most interesting and intriguing encounters in history. It is a passage full of surprises.

woman claim

By even having this conversation, Jesus breaks all kinds of social barriers and engages in a conversation that ends up changing the lives of an entire village. Because Samaria was considered apostate, devout Jews would often journey far out of their way to avoid going through there. Jesus walked through Samaria and even stopped to rest. Stepping outside of accepted social convention, He talked to a lowly woman, which was forbidden for a Rabbi. Not only that, but she was a SAMARITAN woman.

To top it all off, the woman had a morally questionable background (which apparently Jesus already knew), because she had had several husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband. She went out to the well at midday rather than in the morning (ostensibly to avoid the other women who would be getting water); so she was probably not very popular with other women in the village.

The disciples were surprised to find Jesus talking to this woman for all of these reasons. And in the aftermath of the conversation, there is an additional surprising and interesting detail in these verses that I had never noticed before; did you catch it? The woman left her water jar! She was so excited about her conversation with Jesus that she totally forgot why she had gone to the well in the first place. Water is incredibly important in the trans-Jordan area, and water jars aren’t cheap; but she was so motivated by what had just happened that she just took off for the village and left it all behind.
When Jesus talked with the Samaritan woman, He crossed cultural boundaries and broke down social barriers. He surprised her by knowing details about her life, things for which she had been judged and scorned; yet he showed her no condescension or scorn. She responded to this remarkable man not only because of what he told her, but HOW he told her as well. And then she couldn’t help it– she left everything, went back to her village and told everyone she knew about this man! Yeah, the disciples were surprised to find him talking to a woman; but the woman was surprised even more. She snuck out to the well at midday to avoid judgment and awkward conversations, and was instead surprised by wisdom, acceptance, and love. If you have been avoiding God because of guilt or judgment, have your own conversation with Jesus. He might just surprise you, too.

The scarlet woman snuck out to the well,
Because the other women put her down;
They’d all decided she was going to hell,
And no one even wanted her around;
Until a stranger asked her for a drink,
And told her every thing she’d ever done;
Surprised, she didn’t know just what to think,
But wondered, somehow, if he was the One…
He wasn’t prejudiced like all the rest,
And she could only look at him and nod;
He seemed to call her out to be her best,
And introduced her to the Living God.
You and I have both been there,
Struck by hatred, hopelessness and lies;
Until we looked and found an answered prayer–
Until we looked in Jesus’ eyes.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David

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A Claim so Astounding That it’s Worth Investigating

Tucked within the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well, Jesus makes an astounding claim. “The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” (John 4:25-26 NASB)

While there are 7 great “I am” statements that Jesus makes in the book of John, this is not generally considered to be one of them…The “I am” statements are some of the strongest public claims Jesus made about his identity, but they are often symbolic or ambiguous, and stop short of making a literal claim to be the Messiah. Here, even though this statement is not one of the traditionally listed seven, Jesus removes the ambiguity.

claim

In this conversation with the woman at the well in Samaria, Jesus makes perhaps the most direct claim recorded about who he is and why he came. Given the social climate of that day, it is interesting that he chose to reveal this claim to her. She was a despised Samaritan, a mere woman without status or importance. She was immoral by the standards of her day, probably on the fringes of polite society. A lot of us feel too unworthy to approach God, or too far away from him to ever go back; the woman at the well proves that this is never true. Just like her, we can draw near to Jesus without recrimination or condemnation. If anyone approaches him with an open heart, Jesus never limits someone by what they know or where they’ve been.

The woman has religious knowledge, but some of what she knows is colored by Samaritan heresy (obvious, since she tries to draw Jesus into a discussion about whether Jews will worship in Jerusalem or on Mt Gerizim). But she does know something noteworthy; she mentions the coming one, who will answer all questions and settle all disputes. Jesus’ reply is unequivocal: I am the Messiah. (He didn’t take two thumbs and point back to himself and say “Who has two thumbs and is the Messiah? This guy!”–but he could have.) He doesn’t use imagery like “I am the bread of life” or word pictures like “I am the door”, he just makes a simple, direct statement which is an astounding claim. “I who speak to you am He.” Jesus replies to her statement by saying, “I am the Messiah, I am the Christ.” Is there prophecy about a savior? I am he. Are people looking for a coming king? It’s me. Is there one sent from God to answer all questions and settle all issues? You’re talking to him. Jesus says in effect, if you’re wondering who is providing wisdom, leadership, and salvation: I am. So what does this claim have to do with you? If you have never investigated who Jesus said he was, and who he ACTUALLY was, you owe it to yourself to find out.

Maybe you’ve never thought about it, men have even fought about it,
Whether a Messiah came to earth on God’s behalf.
Some folks try to underscore it, skeptics pretty much ignore it:
Some folks take it seriously while others only laugh.
Don’t messiahs all make claims? Really, aren’t they all the same?
You don’t have to listen to messiahs, just because…
But if you’d investigate, you’d find one you could validate:
What if Jesus was exactly who he said he was?
That’s a question for the ages. Read about him. Turn the pages,
Think about the things he taught, and whether they are true;
Most agree they’re pretty good. Think about them. If you could,
Just ask yourself: What does this Jesus have to do with YOU?

 

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

 

Everything You Ever Did: Have You Ever Really Thought About That?

It’s an intimidating thing, thinking about “Everything You Ever Did”. I mean, stop and think about everything– not just the good sweet things and the highs and lows, but the white lies, the secret pride, the selfish moves in traffic, the hateful thoughts…John tells us about a woman who was told “everything I ever did”, and yet still saw it as a positive experience. When she spoke to Jesus and he candidly acknowledged her sinful lifestyle, you’d think she might be offended, and accuse him of being insensitive; but instead, this is what she did:
“The woman then left her water pot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me everything that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (John 4:28-29 KJV)

Hmmm, what if someone knew everything YOU have ever done? Are there things you regret? Things that no one else knows about? For me, I have often thought that if people knew the real, evil me, they would not, could not look at me the same way. (Would you see him in that light? Would you, could you? If you might—surely you would get a fright! You would say, “That’ boy’s not right!”) But, really, if anyone was aware of “everything I ever did”, they would certainly reject me. And I would be terrified that they were going to turn around then and tell EVERYONE ELSE all of the bad stuff I’d ever done.

I feel sure if you knew EVERYTHING I’d ever done, you wouldn’t be reading this and you wouldn’t like me. (Ha, but it’s funny in a way–I know you’re thinking, “So what has he done that he is so ashamed about?”, but at the same time if you stop and really apply the inverse of that to yourself I bet you’d feel the same way, and I bet if all of us knew, nobody would like YOU, either…)

Jesus, who had never met this person or been to this place before, told the Samaritan woman accurate details about the sin in her personal life. But the way he did it was very matter-of-fact, not condescending or rude. The woman responded fearlessly to what Jesus knew, and when she went back to the village she described Jesus in a unique way: “come see a man who told me everything I ever did.”

She had been in several failed marriages and was “living in sin” with a guy, which are just the obvious things Jesus told her about. I’m sure there were lots more seedy details. Here’s my point: if Jesus knew some of the bad things, it stands to reason he knew ALL of them. Yet, he never chastised her, never condemned her… He engaged her, intrigued her, and elevated her.

Her life, and that of her entire village, was changed by an encounter with Jesus. That’s great, you say, but what does this have to do with me? Well… Jesus knows all the things YOU ever did. Not just the big stuff, but all of the seedy details. He does not chastise or condemn, but looks at you with a mixture of both love and disappointment, forgiveness and grace. As he offers himself, are you engaged and intrigued? The Samaritan woman found forgiveness, acceptance, and something worth telling her whole world about! What about you?

The Scarlet woman snuck out to the well,
Because the other women put her down;
They’d all decided she was going to hell,
And no one even wanted her around.
She’d slept around with men, she lived in sin,
And the village women wouldn’t let her in…

One day a man discussed her wayward life,
And she could only look at him and nod…
As she saw the love in Jesus’ eyes,
He introduced her to the Living God.
What if everything you ever did
Was talked about, and none of it was hid?
What if God just opened up the lid?
Jesus would look directly in your face,
And say: “Don’t feel alone or out of place;
Rejoice, my child, in God’s Amazing Grace!”

 

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
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The Shocking Conversation that was Just Full of Surprises

The disciples thought they knew Jesus pretty well, but they sure didn’t see this conversation coming…
[Jesus said] “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24 KJV)

In this chapter (a great one to read, BTW) John records one of the most fascinating conversations in history. According to all religious and social standards of the day, it never should have happened. On the way from Judea back to Galilee, John says that Jesus went through Samaria. It looks like the logical path on a map, since Samaria lies right between Jerusalem and Galilee, and it may have been that Jesus was in a hurry and just took the most direct route. But most religious Jews would travel far out of their way before going through Samaria. Rather than walking straight north, they would go east through Jericho, then over across the Jordan River, north around Samaria, then back over to Galilee, a route that added hours of walking to their journey. They avoided Samaria altogether since it was considered to be a hotbed of heresy, and the Samaritans were considered to be beneath them culturally, socially and spiritually.

When the rulers and upper class Israelites were taken captive by the Assyrians in 721 BC, those Jews who were left behind a) were left from the tribes who revolted and pulled away from Judah; and b) intermarried with locals, participating in pagan worship and setting up their own temple on Mt Gerizim. Orthodox Hebrews knew that the ONLY place to worship was Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem, and they despised the Samaritans as half-breeds and idolaters. An upright Hebrew would normally shun a Samaritan; he certainly wouldn’t have a conversation with one. So while it seems like an everyday occurrence, Jesus taking his disciples through Samaria was a big deal. He was going into territory no righteous rabbi would have traversed.

Then, while his disciples go to find food, Jesus shatters social and religious convention by talking to 1) a woman (against  all existing culture and convention for a Rabbi) who 2) is a lowly Samaritan, and who also happens to be considered 3) immoral and socially outcast (She came to the well at midday, rather than in the morning with all the other women; she probably did this because, as a fallen woman, even the OTHER Samaritan women looked down on her). Any one of these considerations would have made this conversation socially unacceptable or scandalous, and it explains why John said in verse 9 that “the Jews have no dealings with Samaritans” and why the disciples “were surprised to find him talking with a woman” in verse 27 when they returned. So Christ’s participation in this conversation broke all kinds of social and religious barriers. The conversation itself is also ground-breaking. He pulls no punches about her life and issues, and yet she never seems to feel judged or abused… And then he tells her that we should worship God in Spirit and in truth. She tries to stir up the argument about where to worship, but Jesus points out that the Father (much like the prodigal’s father, who saw him coming home from a long way off), is SEEKING us to worship him! Do you think the Father would appreciate your worship? Do you worship with your spirit? Enthusiastically, whole-heartedly, deeply? And is there any deception influencing you that could cloud the truth? Any prejudice or assumption or half-truth that keeps you from yielding to the Father? Have your own conversation with Jesus. Maybe it’s time to break whatever conventions are keeping you from being honest with him. Your spirit will be glad you did!

The disciples never saw it coming. Jesus talked to a scarlet woman
Who happened to be a Samaritan, alone there at the well.
Although she wasn't Abraham's daughter, 
He boldly asked her for some water! The disciples thought 
He shouldn't ought to talk to her a spell...
But Jesus knew the how's and why's, he didn't believe society's lies
And Jesus didn't marginalize the woman, just because...
He knew about her wasted youth; He sat with her and spoke the truth
But never once was he uncouth as they spoke about who she was.
She heard the things He had to say about his being the only way,
and the woman left redeemed that day! Her neighbors started to buzz!
And you and I are at that well: 
we've done more things than we like to tell 
(We might be headed straight to hell!) 
But when we look at Jesus: we see a friend who doesn't judge, 
but sees through all our sin and sludge, 
And he gives our hearts a gentle nudge
Towards the faith in Him that frees us.
If you'll just talk to Jesus, you might find
That He can change your heart, and change your mind...

 

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread