I’ll start with a confession. I’m a big Disney princess fan. Maybe more than a 26-year-old should be. Going to Disneyland Paris when I was 21 (my first and only Disney trip) was quite possibly the best day of my life. I even met Rapunzel!
That’s not something I might lead with on a first date, but is something I don’t mind admitting here. We’ve all got flaws and quirks, but we usually like to decide when the best time to show them is in a newer relationship.
In the 1997 Brandy movie version of “Cinderella,” the step mother instructs her daughters how to act around the prince at the ball. “Remember girls: we hide our flaws until after the wedding.”
While that kind of timeline will cause a lot of hurt and confusion down the road, we all have things we’d like to stay hidden. Deeper things than liking kids’ movies. Nobody wants to admit their sins, mistakes, and uglier moments. And perhaps worse than freely admitting our wrongs is being called out on them. How dare someone bring up my mess when they are surely no better!
Except there is one who is better. I guess we can’t grumble when Jesus wants to make a point.
In John 4, Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well, and he had every right to bring up her past because he was the one person who knew it all and could do something about it.
This woman came alone to get water from the well at noon when the sun was high and the air was hot. However, most women would get water during a cooler part of the day and use it as a time to socialize. It’s the year 30 A.D. version of women all going to the bathroom together, whether you really have to go or not. Take care of some bodily needs and get some gossip as you go about it.
But this woman was not part of the popular girls’ group. She came to the well when she knew no one would be there and she could get her water and go quietly. She went when there would be no one to judge her. Because she had a past to hide, and a present she was ashamed of.
But on that day, there was a man sitting by the well, and he asked her for some water. She was confused why a Jewish man would be talking to her, because Jews and Samaritans did not get along, and in their culture, a man would not just go strike up a conversation with a woman.
Jesus didn’t care how the situation looked. He cared about her.
To get from Judea in the south to Galilee in the north, most Jews would take a wide, out-of-the-way route around Samaria, because tensions were so bad between the groups. But John 4:4 says, “Now he had to go through Samaria.” Geographically, it made sense, but plenty of Jewish people wouldn’t take that route, so there was another reason Jesus HAD to go through Samaria to this particular town. He needed to tell this woman something important, and he got right to the point.
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.”
She didn’t get his meaning yet. She didn’t know who this guy was and why he was talking about magical water that would quench her thirst.
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
This Jewish stranger just told her intimate details about her life that he had no way of knowing or hearing from someone before. She was so shocked that Jesus knew her past that she immediately believed he must be a prophet.
So, she deflected and asked a question about the proper place to worship instead of admitting her sin. Nice cover.
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
Can you imagine being in her place? Someone you just met pointed out your deepest shame. And then says that HE IS GOD. Ohhh…..
But Jesus didn’t bring up her past husbands just to rub it in or to yell “repent!” at her. He came to that well to tell her that he offered the living water. Jesus came with forgiveness, not condemnation. He said to her and still says to us today, “I know what you did, but there is grace. Yes, change your lifestyle, but your salvation doesn’t depend on you.”
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?”
The woman was so sure this Jesus was saying some important truths that she was willing to face the people she had always tried to hide from. She was ready to admit her sins to everyone to tell them what Jesus said to her. He knew, but he forgave. This is what we’ve been waiting for! She couldn’t keep the good news to herself.
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
Jesus knew he had to go through Samaria to talk to this woman who would then go share the message. He didn’t need to preach before a huge crowd, but showed he cared about one sinful woman, and the gospel was spread.
What sin has been eating you from the inside out? What New Year’s resolutions have already failed? What would make you shrink back if Jesus was sitting in front of you and brought it up? Take the time to feel the guilt and repent.
But then know that Jesus doesn’t see you that way. That failure is why he came to earth. He took your place to redeem you.
He knows your flaws, everything you’ve ever done, and still wants his bride.
Whether in a ball gown or servant’s rags, he came for a relationship with you. Drink the living water, believe in his forgiveness, and you will live in an eternal castle with the King of Kings.