In this world we will have trouble and sorrow—we’ll be misunderstood, rejected, taken advantage of, maybe even abused. This is why we can relate to the Samaritan woman in John 4. We love this story because Jesus doesn’t leave us in our mess. What this story is telling us is that He is the “God of the instead!”
This is a continuation of my series called “Loving Our Samaritans.” We looked at John 4:13-18 in my last post, where Jesus finds this woman at Jacob’s well. Like many of us, she was haunted by her failures and regrets, having put her hopes in the “five husbands” of this world, now living in a fallen space, left empty, disillusioned, and rejected.
But then Jesus happened. He came to offer her, and us, something that this world cannot give. It comes from a very different well—“a gushing fountain of the Holy Spirit, flooding you with endless life!” (John 4:14 TPT).
I love the following dialogue in the series, The Chosen, depicting how the Samaritan woman responses to Jesus when she finally gets it—that the worship God wants “will not be a matter of the right place but with a right heart” (see John 4:23-24):
Woman: “I’m going to tell everyone!”
Jesus: “I was counting on it.”
Woman: “Spirit and Truth?”
Jesus: “Spirit and Truth.”
Woman: “It won’t be all about mountains or temples?”
Jesus: “Soon…just the heart.”
Woman: “You promise?”
Jesus: “I promise.”
You can watch the whole clip here.
Let pick up the story from this encounter…
28 All at once, the woman left her water jar and ran off to her village and told everyone, 29 “Come and meet a man at the well who told me everything I’ve ever done! He could be the One we’ve been waiting for.” 30 Hearing this, the people came streaming out of the village to go see Jesus. (John 4:28-30 TPT)
What struck me about her response is her absolute joy over Jesus exposing her deepest darkest secrets. She wanted to tell everyone! Now, let me ask you, would you want someone exposing your deepest darkest secrets? Would your response be that you want to tell everyone? Probably not. That not only should tell us something about how God ministers to us, but also how we’re to minister to others. We could probably learn a lot about love and grace from this story. Just saying….
What’s evident is that Jesus didn’t reveal these things to shame her like everyone else did; He revealed them to free her from her shame. Not only that, but as we will see later, to reconnect her to her community.
There was such incredible grace in this confrontation of her failures that all this woman felt was love and connection, which is exactly what her heart had been searching for all along! Before, only finding failure, disconnection, and disappointment, now she could trust again, fully open herself up again to intimacy (in-me-see).
Look at the woman’s response again…
28 All at once, the woman left her water jar and ran off to her village and told everyone, 29 “Come and meet a man at the well who told me everything I’ve ever done!
She wanted to tell everyone because, perhaps for the first time, she felt fully alive and deeply loved, even in the most guarded and vulnerable parts of her soul. She got a taste of who she was created to be. This space is where we were all meant to live and thrive.
So, how would we respond? Because this is what happens every time we genuinely encounter Jesus. You cannot experience this kind of grace and love and connection and not be changed, healed, and set free! This is why the Gospel is called the good news that brings great joy! I think this is what what the world needs now…it’s what we need now.
One more thing. How did her community respsond to the Samaritan woman’s testimony?
30 Hearing this, the people came streaming out of the village to go see Jesus.
Think about it. This marginalized and rejected woman brought her whole city to Christ! Do you want to reach your community for Christ? Then come to this “well” with Jesus and leave those old “water pots” you’ve tried finding life from behind! People don’t need our canned speeches about Jesus. Even though their minds may not know what they’re really looking for, their soul does. It’s what this woman found, what only Jesus can give them, and us—“a gushing fountain of the Holy Spirit, flooding you with endless life!”
Beloved, we, too, may have been rejected by others, but not by Jesus. And when we open our heart to Him, He turns our sorrow into joy! He gives us “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isa.61:3). And this “God of the Instead” lives in us. And He’s waiting by our well.