The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
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Jesus doesn’t just coincidentally ask about this woman’s husband. He knows her story. And in that culture, her story is one of shame. In our culture, maybe five husbands is the butt of a joke [insert your Larry King joke here]… but in first century Palestine, that’s pretty unheard of, and it reveals a lifestyle that is extremely outside of the mainstream, and shows an extreme disregard for God’s law.
And this might help us understand why John makes a point of referencing the time – noon (v.6). It’s hot in this part of the world. Because of the heat, it’s understood that people would go out to the well (probably a mile or so from the city) to fetch water before the sun was high and/or late in the evening, as the sun was setting. But this woman comes at noon.
And not only that, in first century Palestine, it was the woman’s task to get the water… and they generally went in groups. But this woman was alone.
With these facts, plus what Jesus tells us about her home life, it’s pretty clear that she’s on the margins. She’s ostracized. She lives in shame. Jesus doesn’t bring up her home life to hurt her – but to heal her: Jesus says, in effect, “I know you; I know your story and your shame… but it is no obstacle for my mission. In fact, it’s the very reason for my mission.”
Jesus is greater than whatever baggage we have in our history (the truth is the same for us, as it was for the Samaritan woman). Here’s the reality, I’m not a prophet… but I can read statistics… and some of our histories read: abused, addicted, struggling, hurt (hurt by sins we’ve committed, and sins committed against us). And for some of us, that history eats away at our faith. It’s an obstacle to believing that we are cherished by God! Whenever it’s quiet, this history screams in our ear, “You’re not worth it! If they only knew!”
Oh, but I pray that that’s not the last word you hear. I pray today that you hear Jesus’ crying out: “You are worth it – I went to the cross to prove it! You are my beloved! And I am greater than your history, greater than your shame, and greater than your sin!”
Oh – Run to Him!
You may be a great sinner… but He’s a far greater savior.
You may be greatly hurt… but He is a far greater healer.