No doubt you’ve heard the story of the woman at the well. Here’s this woman with a sordid past, a string of former husbands trailing behind her, and currently living with a man who can’t even claim husband status. I can relate to the Samaritan woman and it’s likely why I love this story so much. I too was a woman with an offensive past. Married at eighteen, divorced at nineteen. Following it up with my own wake of abject relationships; one after another. I walked around carrying heaping bags full of shame and unworthiness, looking for a savior in all the wrong places. And this Samaritan woman who likely carried her own cruddy baggage, she too was looking for a savior. She had no doubt the Messiah was coming, and when He did He would tell her all things (John 4:25). I just don’t think she expected to meet Him at the well that day. But Jesus doesn’t often work in expected ways and she does meet Him and her life is forever changed because of it.
Well, this flawed and sinful woman, (aren’t we all?) she comes to the well to draw water that will never satisfy and meets the living water in flesh and blood. After some back and forth between them, including Jesus boldly and specifically naming her very sins, He says to her, “that Messiah you’ve been looking for to tell you everything…? Well I am He!” Jesus reveals Himself to her, right there in front of the well. He tells this shunned, worn out woman with the sordid past no one wants to claim, just exactly who He is. And He names her sin not to be cruel, but to lovingly show her the truth. That she cannot both worship the Messiah she awaits and continue to live her life drenched in sin. Jesus meets her in her mess and reveals a better way.
I remember when I first encountered Jesus. When He opened my heart and revealed there was another way. I thought to myself, “How can this be? He knows everything about me, and yet He loves me anyway?” When you experience immeasurable love like that, it changes you. I was never the same after that encounter, and this Samaritan woman, neither was she.
And here is the part of the story that grips me the most…After Jesus reveals Himself to her; tells her He is the very Messiah she has been waiting for,
“… the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?’” John 4:28,29 ESV
Did you catch it? It seems a minor detail, easily overlooked, seemingly unnecessary to the story even, but the picture painted is so beautiful to me. This woman came to the well for one reason; to draw water. She probably thought she would get the water, go home and do it all over again the next day. But that isn’t what happens. She ends up meeting a man who tells her everything she ever did. This man knows all about her sins, her five husbands and the live-in boyfriend back home. And yet, here He is talking to her, revealing Himself to her, a woman in desperate need of a savior and what does she do? She sets her water jar down and goes. The very thing that brings her to the well in the first place, she leaves it, abandons it. She discovers Jesus and suddenly her life takes a dramatic turn.
It’s as if the jar she is carrying around holds all the sin, shame and unworthiness she likely believes defines her, and when she discovers who Jesus is her only possible response is to set down her water jar and go tell the people about Him.
It’s like that with Jesus. He doesn’t care what we’re bringing to the well. It’s our response to His offer of the only water that truly matters that He cares about. Will we cling to our jars of sin? Our pasts riddled with grime? Or will we lay it all down and, like the Samaritan woman, go and tell the people about the Man who knows all about our cruddy baggage and loves us anyway. It is the greatest story we will ever tell and its implications reach far beyond this side of heaven. This woman, she went and told people about Jesus and because of her testimony, those people went and discovered Jesus for themselves. It doesn’t matter what your past looks like; what kind of baggage you’re carrying around. If you’ve encountered Jesus, you can just lay it all down. Set down your water jar and go…go tell the greatest story you will ever tell.
By: Marsha Russell
Are you clinging to any sin that you need to set down today?
Have you allowed yourself to encounter Jesus in a way that evokes change in your life or do you keep Him at a distance from your heart?