There she came. A woman. A Samaritan. She was alone. In first century Palestine, any non-aristocratic woman would have had to travel daily to retrieve water. Nearly all women traveled in groups. To travel alone was dangerous. There were thieves and other ill-intentioned people, not to mention wild animals. Yet, she came alone. (John 4:1-9)
Not only did she come alone. She came at the heat of the day. Most women would have come at evening time, when the sun was getting ready to set and the weather cooler. Noon, on the other hand, was the time the sun was directly overhead. Noon was the time that farmers, hunters, and even soldiers took a break from their efforts. It is reasonable to conclude that this woman did not want to be seen. Or, as we will later surmise, others did not want to see her. She had been ostracized, harassed, unwelcomed.
It’s amazing what can happen when a group of people who think they know better gather together. They begin talking about “them”, “they”, and “those people”. “Why don’t they just do this or that?” “How come they do that to themselves?” “How can they think that way?” This woman was a “them”. And you know what? Before Jesus, I was a “them” too. God had no reason to receive me. He had no reason to extend grace to me. But he did.
When this woman comes to the well that Jesus is sitting by, Jesus defies every social taboo when he asks her for a drink. Not only was Jesus a Jew asking a Samaritan – a racial half-breed in the eyes of the Jews – for a drink, he was asking one of the most despised Samaritan women one could have encountered in those times.
This is the beauty of the gospel. It is for all. It is for you. It is for me. There is no one so seemingly far gone, whom God’s grace can not reach out and touch. And so, it did, when Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink.
In a time of contention and adversity, when more and more groups are rising up against other groups – whether racially, politically, or otherwise – the grace Jesus offers gives us an example.
Who is your Samaritan woman? Who do you have difficulty reaching out with the grace of Christ to? Let Christ’s mercy wash over you. If Christ can reach out to me – a spiritual half-breed – let his grace through me reach out to all those around me.