(Originally posted April 16, 2012)
Do you find it beyond interesting that many women in scripture are not named? The “woman caught in adultery” (John 8:1-12), the “woman at the well” (John 4:5-30), and “the woman who bled for twelve years” (Mark 5:25-34). How do you feel about that? Some of you may feel a bit of “it’s not fair” huffiness. Or you may not have even given it a second thought. As for me, I love it! Why?
It’s as though their namelessness encompasses every woman who has lived the same circumstances. It doesn’t matter if she was Jewish or Gentile. Her age doesn’t matter. Her hip size, family size, brain size – none of it matters. To her surprise and mine, sinfulness doesn’t even matter. The only thing that matters is the love Jesus pours out on her and the relationship that follows.
Each of these women has pointed me toward Jesus, whom they met on the road, by the well, and in the court of rejection. Each has given me the courage to lay my burdens and sinfulness at his feet – only to be surprised by LOVE – immersed in grace. I want to speak to just one of these stories and how it relates to my own life.
The woman at the well (John 4:5-30, The Message) This is a long one (I took the liberty to shorten it a bit), but it is laced with pearls! So first, grab a cup of coffee. Now, read it as though you are right there.)
“To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village…. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon. A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?”
The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)
Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”
The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water?”
Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst.”
The woman said, “Sir, give me this water, so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”
He said, “Go call your husband and then come back.”.
“I have no husband,” she said.
(Jesus) “That’s nicely put: ‘I have no husband.’ You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough.”
(The woman replied) “Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”
(Jesus) “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem….But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.
(Jesus) “It’s who you are and how you live that count before God….That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.
The woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”
“I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”
Just then, his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman.
The woman took the hint and left…. Then, back in the village, she told the people, “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?” And they went out to see for themselves.
This woman was ostracized in a town where everyone knew her business. She could not hide from the other women’s ridicule or the condemning stares. So she avoided the courtyard in the early morning when the other women were there, choosing to go when she could be alone. And then…
Here comes a miracle!
Jesus chose to reveal himself (verse 26) to this lowliest of women, to a hated and rejected sinner – to me, “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”
By the time I reached my early twenties when a suicide attempt had failed, I often drank myself into a stupor to numb the pain. I was divorced and had a miserable off-and-on relationship with someone as messed up as I was.
And then it happened – suddenly and without warning – Jesus showed up at my empty well! It’s funny; in our misery, we muddle along day in and day out. Days stretch into years. Pain and sorrow become as commonplace as your morning bowl of oatmeal. No surprises. No hope. No desire or longing to cling to. We do life anesthetized. But just leave the slightest crack for Jesus to enter, and all of heaven breaks out into thunderous applause, dancing and singing, and all sorts of merriment! With a wink and a nod from God, Jesus joyfully erupts into our lives!
Does anyone besides me remember Mighty Mouse? I sing the song from that cartoon to my grandkids, and they look at me like I have two heads! But I do it anyway because it’s fun. But then, the other day, I heard my granddaughter singing it, “Here I come to save the day”! That is the picture I get of Jesus when he shows up in our lives. It is awe and wonder in the very midst of our messiness. There are indeed those still-small-voice moments. But I believe he saves those for when our hearts are open to him.
When I drift too far from the well, Jesus becomes a man on a mission, touching the depth of my heart—taking my breath away. Literally! Just like the woman at the well who was blown away by her Jesus encounter. She ran as fast as she could to tell everyone about it. She no longer cared one rip about what people thought of her. She was a new creation in Christ, a beloved daughter of the King, and no one would redefine her ever again! She was forgiven and loved more deeply than she ever thought possible – and so are we – every last one of us!
So, let us not find ourselves at the well of the lost and broken ready to judge and condemn them. Let us not participate in the ridicule of others so many so-called “Christians” piously denigrated in God’s name. I sadly confess that I often forget the sting of being judged as I become the judger – Lord have mercy on me.
You cannot encounter the Living God and not be changed – it’s impossible. So, get yourself over to the well, leaving just the teeniest crack in your heart, and then hang on for the ride of your life!
Let heaven rejoice,
Let the earth be glad,
Let all creation sing!
has made her claim,
as a daughter of the King!
Amen and Hallelujah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
One thought on “Jesus Encounters What’s-Her-Name”
This is just plain great writing! Thank you. God exploding on your life sure got you going! You, me, and the Gerasene demoniac. Brilliant!