To Be Known and Loved by Pastor John
She has a history. Things done and left undone, some good some not so good. Guilts and regrets. Fears. Wounds and sorrows. I suspect she has secrets too.
Study the history of this text, read the commentaries, listen to the interpretations and you will learn that her past is generally seen as one of promiscuity. The evidence? Five spouses, and now living unmarried with a sixth man. She’s looked at yet not seen. She’s labeled yet nameless. She remains unknown to everyone. Everyone, that is, except Jesus.
How easily we forget that women of her day had very little choice or control over their own lives. If she is divorced it is because the men divorced her, she had no legal right to divorce; that was exclusively the man’s right. If she’s not divorced, then she has suffered the death of five husbands. Five times left alone, five times nameless, faceless, and of no value, five times starting over. Maybe some divorced her. Maybe some died. We don’t know. Either one, divorce or death, is a tragedy for her life.
It seems to me, history has unfairly judged and labeled this woman. The details of her past are unknown to us. Then again, maybe we don’t need to know the details. Maybe it is enough that she mirrors for us our own lives. We too are people with a history, people with guilts and regrets, wounds and sorrows; secrets too. We’re not so different from her.
People like her, people like us, people with a past, often live in fear of being found out. It is not just the fear that another will know the truth, some of the facts, about our lives, but that they will do so without ever really seeing us and without ever really knowing us. She’s divorced. He’s gay. She’s a drunk. He’s a drug addict. She lost her kids in the divorce. His parents disowned him. She’s depressed. He has AIDS. She’s single. Looked at but unseen. Labeled but nameless. Unknown.
We all thirst to be seen and to be known at a deep intimate and vulnerable level. We all want to pour our lives out to one who knows us, to let them drink from the depths of our very being, which is exactly what Jesus is asking of the Samaritan woman when he says, “Give me a drink.” It is a profoundly vulnerable and intimate moment for both, he’s acknowledging his own need – his thirst – and simultaneously he’s inviting her to be known, to leave behind her life in the margins.
I wonder, in what ways are you offering your own life as living water to those who are unknown – those who thirst for love and acceptance? I wonder, in what ways are you living in fear, unwilling to see and embrace life before you?
To be known is to be loved and to be loved is to be known.
John 4: 5-42
So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’
Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ 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 have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’
Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ Then the woman left her water-jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ They left the city and were on their way to him.
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples said to one another, ‘Surely no one has brought him something to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, “Four months more, then comes the harvest”? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, “One sows and another reaps.” I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.’
Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.’