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Week Three | Jesus and the Woman at the Well

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Week Three | Jesus & Women Online Book Study
Reading Assignment – Session Three
Scripture Passage: John 4:4
Listen to the Audio version | Read time 7-minutes

In May 2012, my brother and I boarded a plane in Pittsburgh, PA and flew west to Detroit, MI even though we were headed east to London, England.

It was during that 7.5-hour long layover in Detroit, in an airport lounge, on my brotherโ€™s phone (because he had better service), that I wrote my very first blog post, which led to my friendโ€™s encouragement to keep sharing my writing, so I did, and here we are today.

Layovers and detours often seem like an inconvenience. They require more patience and more time than if we went straight from point A to point B.

But it is often by way of these detours that we find that weโ€™ve already arrived.

He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually, he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.
John 4:4-6, NLT

History tells us that there had already been a 700-year-long feud between the Jews and Samaritans by the time Jesus reached Jacobโ€™s well that day.

In fact, it is often thought that Galilean Jews would follow the Jordan River valley on their trips to Jerusalem to celebrate the annual festivals instead of taking the more direct route through Samaria.

But Jesus was determined to take this detour as He and the disciples returned to Galilee from Judea.

This detour was only the first of many more to come in this visit to the village of Sychar.

In Session 3 of Jesus & Women, Kristi McLelland shares a few rabbinic teachings of the Mishnah that Jesus would have been familiar with as a Jewish Rabbi:

  • โ€œ’Talk not much with womankind.’  They said this of a manโ€™s own wife, how much more of his fellowโ€™s wife!  Hence the sages have said, ‘He that talks much with womankind brings evil upon himself and neglects the study of the Law and at the last will inherit Gehenna’โ€ (hell).  
  • The spit of a Samaritan woman is unclean.

Jesus and the Woman at the Well

As Kristi says, things are about to get Gospel Gorgeous!

Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
John 4:7-8, NLT

Enter detours two, three, and four:

  • There He sat alone, a Holy Rabbi, with a Samaritan woman.
  • He bridged the age-old gap by speaking to her, a woman.
  • Then He humbly asked to drink from her cup.

And Heโ€™s only getting started!  

Jesus goes on to offer this Samaritan woman the Living water that He possesses.
He then turns the detour into the destination.

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
John 4:16-18, ESV

“In this moment, Jesus is not naming her sin, He is naming her shame.”

Kristi McLelland, Jesus and Women study

I could weep for what this means.

Jesus acknowledges the real reason that she is alone at Jacobโ€™s well in the middle of the day.  Her community had turned their back on her after she was married five times and left vulnerable in a patriarchal society five times.  

The shame she carried likely weighed more than the water jugs she carried to and from the well each day.

I imagine that she fought back tears as she tried to change the subject, which led to a theological discussion.

And then Jesus does the unspeakable.

He reveals, for the very first time, that He is the Messiahโ€ฆ not to his disciples, or the religious leaders in Jerusalem, but to a Samaritan woman who has been married and divorced five times, alone, at the community well in the middle of the day.

Who loves Jesus right now?

Can you feel the mishpat (justice) and tzedakah (righteousness)?  The generous lifting up that Heโ€™s offered?

She then leaves her water jars and runs back to the village to invite others to โ€œcome and see a man who told me everything I ever did!  Could he possibly be the Messiah?โ€ (John 4:29, NLT)

From shame to first missionary. 
Itโ€™s a beautiful reminder of the generosity of our Messiah. 

Jacobโ€™s well, where Jesus met this unnamed woman is still there.  It is approximately 130โ€™ deep and you can still draw crystal clear, cool water to drink.

And I bet that whatever journey brings you to that place, it would feel like a destination of a lifetime, to stand in the place where Jesus, the Messiah, once stood, offering a Samaritan woman the greatest gift; to be the first to know!

Entrance to the well in 1894 | Image Source
A Samaritan woman at Jacobโ€™s Well in 1900 | Image Source
Jacobโ€™s Well Present Day | Image Source
Let’s recap…

Today we learned:
– It’s often by taking detours that we find our true destination.
– Jesus took a detour through Samaria to meet a woman in her pain.
– He broke down barriers and acknowledged her deep shame.
– He talked theology with her.
– He gave her the explicit gift of revealing His identity as Messiah.
– He generously lifted her up and restored her honor as she became the first missionary.

In what ways is Jesus bringing mishpat (justice) and tzedakah (righteousness) to your life? How does the story of the Samaritan woman at the well speak into your own shame and help generously lift you out of it?

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Jesus and Women | Kristi McLelland

A 7-week study to examine the historical and cultural climate of first-century Middle Eastern society to not only understand Jesus more deeply but to fuel your worship of Him today.

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  1. It has only been in the past few years that I’ve not felt the shame of being a Christian who was also a divorced woman. My ex and I divorced because I was unhappy, not for any biblical reason. When I first turned back to Christ, after remarrying, I felt deeply that I was living in sin because of Matt 19:9 and Mark 10:11-12. I wasn’t looking for any particular answer or redemption, but it sat in the back of my mind, when one Sunday my pastor shared with us what it really means for us to take off our old selves and put on our new selves in Christ (Eph 4:22-23). I no longer lived in my former life, I had repented, Christ has forgiven me and taken all my shame with him so that I could live a full and free life in Him! What a wonderful gift! I now know that I have to live differently because I’m in Him and that guides this second marriage for me, but I don’t have to live with shame or guilt from my first failed marriage. Such mishpat and tzedekah that he had given me!

    1. Kara,
      Thank you for sharing your story with us and entrusting us with these details. As a woman who has walked in sin in the past when it came to men, this story always resonated with me. I too am grateful for the mishpat and tzedakah that He extends! Such a gift and such hope is found when we step fully into the identity we’ve received from Him, His daughter, and friend!

  2. To answer your question, I grew up in an abusive home and felt very dirty because of things that happened to me I had no control over. God is redeeming my story and restoring what the locusts had eaten! The story of the woman at the well has always been quite encouraging to me.

    1. Oh, Amber, I am so sorry to hear that is part of your story. Thank you for being vulnerable and willing to share that with us. I am so grateful for the work that the Lord is doing to restore you to a place of honor. Take heart, sister, if He’s willing to do it for the woman at the well, He’ll do it for you too! Virtual hugs!

    1. Me too, Mary! But I love how God takes even the craziest of detours and teaches us something or leads us to a place of growth that otherwise we would not have known or experienced! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Why did the woman say, โ€œCome and see a man that told me everything Iโ€™ve ever doneโ€? Why didnโ€™t she say, โ€œCome and see a man who told me everything thatโ€™s happened TO meโ€? I agree with your post wholeheartedly, but the way she worded her testimony has always been confusing to me and I was wondering if you have an explanation for that or why you think she may have worded it that way.

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