This week, we looked at Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. It’s interesting that this woman has acquired a reputation for immorality and promiscuity. It’s even more interesting how easy that narrative is to believe once you decide that’s her story. She’s been married five times, she’s living with a man she’s not married to, case closed.
In preparing for the sermon, I ran across this fantastic article in Christianity Today from Lynn Cohick, a professor of New Testament Studies, which challenges these easy assumptions. Her article helped me see the passage with new eyes that were accustomed to the cultural understandings of this woman’s world and (more importantly) helped me look more closely at Jesus’ focus in his interaction with her.
I encourage you to give this article a read and as you do, consider a couple of questions. First, think about the easy narratives that you fall into. Think about times in which you’ve been frustrated by someone painting you with a broad brush, making quick assumptions based on incorrect or superficial understandings of you and your situation. We all bear those scars, some more hidden than others. But take a moment to hand that hurt over to Jesus, who sees past all surfaces, who knows you completely.
Second, think about those whom you may have dismissed too easily with a quick judgement. Maybe this is a co-worker or even a family member. If you dig deeper, maybe there are even entire groups of people you’ve overlooked because you think you understand their situation at a glance. Consider how Christ might be calling you—in this season of Lent—to encounter those people again, working as Christ did to learn who they are, where they’ve been, and (most importantly) what it would look like to serve them with the living water of the gospel.