It was an unlikely meeting; a Jewish man approaching a Samaritan woman (John 4:7-42). That was far from the norm for several reasons, but that was the way of Jesus. He broke down barriers and strayed from the conventional paths throughout His brief stay on earth. It left the woman in wonder and the disciples scratching their heads.
It began simply enough. He was thirsty, and she had water. He asked for a drink, and she was surprised. She was a Samaritan, and good Jews would not stoop to such levels as to talk with the likes of her. Her heritage was contaminated by folks from the wrong side of the tracks, and that might be contagious. Distance was best lest they be soiled by the commoners. The Savior disregarded such concerns. The door wasn’t just being cracked; it was being bulldozed open. If only she knew.
The circumstances that drove this woman to the well at that day and time are not known but there are suspicions. Her domestic history was not exactly storybook. A handful of marriages had not worked out. There were an equal number of failures. The latest relationship never made it to the alter. Had she given up on the institution? We are not told, but she and the new guy had not even tried. Jesus knew, and she knew that He knew.
Her eyes gradually opened. She had asked about worship. Her concern was geography. He addressed the deeper issues of spirit and truth. God desires worshipers and is searching for a particular kind of heart. The externals are important but matter only when the internals get right. It is not either/or but a both/and. The “where” is not the emphasis. She begins to figure this thirsty guy out. A prophet? She is starting to see. Could this possibly be the Messiah?
This improbable conversation amazed the disciples. Venturing onto the dark side for conversations with the dubious were more than enough to raise apostolic eyebrows, and add to that she was…well…a she. Men and women didn’t mix like that. So, there was the Lord talking to a five-time-divorced Samaritan woman. One, two, three strikes against her. None of them presented a hurdle too high for the Son of God to clear. After all, He came to seek and save the lost and she was about as lost as you can get.
Who would have ever picked such a missionary? And an effective one, at that (Verse 39). Crossing traditional boundaries was the Lord’s specialty, and when we get in step with Him, we’ll cross them too. There are people with all kinds of shady histories who need the Lord. Rich, poor, black, white, young, old, men and women come with sinful baggage that needs to be emptied. Jesus is the only answer. Start a conversation. Lead them to the Lord. It’s amazing what He can do.