The world is full of overlooked, undervalued, and disaffected people. Do you feel like you are one of them? We live in a culture of identity politics. Everyone feels that they are not getting the respect, rights, and opportunity they deserve. We are all offended, opposed and angry. This is in part a reflection of our selfish immaturity, we might as well get that out in the open. However, there are many people in culture that are seen as “less than.” We can categorize them in to genders, ethnicities, worldview, social standing, or affluence. Some of them are very obvious. We have all learned to overlook the homeless drug addict begging on the corner. We are making every effort to reverse some of the trends in our society. We are trying to bring all sexes, ages, level of affluence and races into the larger culture. We are only partway there.
John 4:3-9 (ESV)
3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
The world was a very different place in Biblical times. Many groups did not experience much personal autonomy. They were trapped in a position as second or third or fourth class individuals. They had much less control over their lives than Jewish men. It is said that the Jews had a saying that went something like this “Thank You God that I was not born a woman, a slave, or a gentile. These people groups were not allowed to fully participate in the religious community. We see this in the structure of the temple. There was an outer Gentile court, a women’s court, and the court of Israel where the men and priests could go.
Jesus came and changed everything. The accounts of His life tell of encounter after encounter after encounter with those that were “less than.” This interaction with the woman at the well is one of the most well known and retold examples. The Samaritans and the Jews were antagonistic toward one another. It is probable that the Samaritans were the Jews that intermarried with other ethnicities during the Assyrian captivity. The Samaritans had developed their own version of worship with a sacred mountain and a temple. The Jews often traveled the long way around Samaria to get to Galilee from Judea to avoid the Samaritans. Since the woman was not a Jew, her vessel would have been impure, she was a woman, she was a stranger, she was at the well alone which might reveal her as a social outcast, and we have hints that she has a questionable moral history. Jesus approaches her and asks for a drink. We see from her response, the rarity of this encounter. We will see Jesus reveal extraordinary things to her. He speaks of living water, true worship, being the Messiah, and knowledge of things He could not know. We will explore these truths if further posts.
So, today, if you feel that you are in a misunderstood, disaffected, subservient, unseen people group, there is good news. See yourself as the woman at the well. Jesus came to all of us. Jesus approaches all of us. Jesus is the source of life for all of us. Seek Him today. Look to Him for dignity and belonging. He is waiting for you. Reach out to Him. He came that we could all be adopted as sons and fully participate in the kingdom of God. No exceptions!