The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” John 4:9
How often do we disqualify ourselves from things? Maybe we get asked to bake something for the local school fair “I’m sorry, I’m not really a baker”, or we get invited on a bike ride “Oh I’m not really a good cyclist”. Sometimes it might be an excuse, but often it’s because we feel we somehow don’t meet the required standard, we aren’t good enough. Or sometimes we might join in and feel a fraud “I’m only here because there was an extra space, I’m not really an artist!”
In the gospel of John there is a story about Jesus chatting with a Samaritan woman. This would have been a cultural shock because Jews wouldn’t have associated with Samaritans, not to mention the fact that she was a woman on her own, choosing to visit the well at the hottest part of the day when it was quiet so she wouldn’t be seen. But more than this, the woman Jesus talks to is in a difficult situation because she’s living with a man she isn’t married to, having been married a number of times before. Life as a woman in Bible times was hard, we don’t know her back story, but there would no doubt have been an aspect of survival playing into her actions. However, knowing that she was breaking religious and social rules she would have disqualified herself from many things, seeing herself as living in shame, too much of a mess to even visit a well during busy times when she might be seen.
But the beautiful part of this episode is that Jesus doesn’t disqualify her. In fact, He makes it clear that He knows her deeply, He knows the pickle she is in, He no doubt knows the hurt and struggles she’s been through. Then he makes it clear that He has come to give her living water, and not only that, many Samaritans then came to know Jesus from her story. She was certainly not disqualified from God’s love, His living water, or His mission of sharing the Good News about who Jesus is.
Whoever we are, whatever mess our lives might be in, however we might feel like we should be disqualified from knowing Jesus and the life He offers us, we can know that like the woman at the well, we are seen, we are known deeply, AND we are loved and welcomed. As Dan reminded us at Easter, Jesus overcame our shame and guilt on the Cross. Through Jesus we aren’t disqualified, we are welcomed and loved.
Dear Lord, thank you that You know us. You know the complexities of our lives, and all the ways we might see ourselves as not good enough. Thank you that You haven’t disqualified us, that there is a place for each of us with You. Amen.
Photo by Frank Albrecht on Unsplash