"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet without sin."
Hebrews 4:15--Story from John 4:4-30, 39-42
In this account Jesus and His disciples were traveling by foot through the country of Samaria when they stopped by a well to rest. Usually the Jews avoided this region, because they believed contact with Samaritans would defile them. While the disciples went shopping for food, a Samaritan woman approached the well where Jesus was resting. It was customary for people to get water early in the morning or evening when it the temperature was cool, but she came to the well around noon--the hottest part of the day. She was carrying her water pot and even from a distance Jesus noticed the slump of her shoulders, her eyes cast down, the lack of a spring in her step, and her face void of expression. He knew she came to the well at this time to avoid the disapproving looks and the rude comments of other women in her community. As she approached, she was surprised by Christ's presence and avoided His gaze.
As she began to draw water from the well, Jesus asked her for a drink. Surprised, she asked Him why He, being a Jew, was speaking to her. Glancing at the well, He told her that if she knew who He was she would have been asking Him for a drink of living water. She was puzzled by his comment. To her living water meant fresh pure water that was used for drinking. She glanced at Him, but did not recognize Him. He spoke to her again, asking her to her to bring her husband to see Him. She squirmed under His gaze and responded saying that she did not have a husband. He smiled ever so slightly at her discomfort and knowing her statement was a half truth. He caught her eye and held her gaze as He told her He knew she was five times divorced, now living with a man not her husband. She instinctively understood Jesus knew five men and declared her unfit as a wife and was amazed He was still engaging in a conversation with her.
However, she didn't realize He also understood that with each divorce her feelings of rejection had grown deeper. With each rejection she bore a growing sense of failure at fulfilling the role she was born to fulfill. We aren’t told why she did not marry the sixth. It could have been that she was afraid to marry him thinking it would save her the public humiliation of another divorce or maybe he was just using her for his own pleasure and she needed his provision.
Christ recognized an unquenchable thirst growing deep inside of her--a thirst to be known, loved, and accepted. She desperately needed some one to see the ugly parts of her heart and not walk away. She needed to have some one care enough to instill in her the hope that she could become the woman God designed her to be. As she listened, she recognized Him, not just as a Jew, but also as a prophet and asked Him where people should go to worship. Maybe she was dodging the personal issues Christ exposed or maybe she was actually seeking truth. He answered her question and it was then that she became aware that she had met God. He knew she had been rejected repeatedly and she had a long pattern of sexual sin and He still loved her! He was different from the men she knew. He gave her His pure love, His righteousness and met her needs instead of demanding she satisfy His. He satisfied her thirst to be known, her thirst to be loved, and her thirst to be accepted. As a result, she was forever changed from a vessel of dishonor to a vessel of honor.
Christ not only went out of His way to offer His grace to this one rejected lady; He used her to offer it to an entire rejected race. We can know she was changed, because she willingly told the people in her community who had shunned her about her encounter with Jesus. We each have similar stories. We were separated from God by sin, and He sought us out, bringing us face to face with Him so He could offer us a relationship with Him. All of us were born with the same needs that she had. Christ meets those needs if we let Him.
Interestingly, Jesus, like the lady, was well acquainted with grief and rejection. He was cast out of synagogues when He began to reveal who He was. While His neighbor's questioned His heritage His brothers questioned His sanity. Religious leaders accused Him of being demon possessed and His own disciples deserted Him. His countrymen traded His release for that of a murderer and His Heavenly Father poured His wrath on Him for sin He did not commit – it was for our sin that He died.
He offered the Samaritan salvation because He understood the pain of her unmet needs and her life of rejection. It’s comforting to know that Christ was touched with the feeling of her infirmities and that He understands ours as well. He also understands the struggles we have with our weaknesses. He hates our sin, but He definitely understands the needs driving it. The question we need to wrestle with is, “Will we let God expose our deepest needs that drive our behaviors?” Sometimes we admit we sin, but we avoid facing the needs beneath because we it is painful. We can share our longing to be known and loved with God and trust Him to meet us there. We can let Him see the darkest parts of our souls and know He won't leave. We can confess our sin and know He still loves us. We can trust Him to mold us into women He intended us to be.In truth, we are all very thirsty women and He is the "living water" who can fill us with His love and goodness not just to the brim, but to the point that it overflows!
Prayer: Father, I know that each of us has been rejected in some form or fashion and it truly hurts. Some have been rejected to the level of this woman and I cannot even imagine that kind of pain. I pray that You will heal those that are hurting and that each person will be comforted by the fact that You have felt the feelings of their infirmities and understand their failures and unmet needs. Please meet their needs and satisfy the longings of their souls! You are good and You are faithful! We love You…Amen.