It’s February! A new month to get excited about. Spring is inching ever closer, days are starting to get slightly longer and I’m optimistic that the weather will start to warm up soon. With a new month comes new focus and for our community this month, we are thinking about Jesus and his faithfulness.
This month got me thinking about John 4:1-41 and the story about the Samaritan woman.
Traditionally, I have heard this story told through a lens of shame and guilt. It has been taught to me in a way that paints the woman at the well as someone ostracised from her community and who had been married many times before, due to unfaithfulness. It has been loaded with judgement on the Samaritan woman but has ended positively with salvation as the driving force behind the tale.
That is, until the time that I wasn’t told it that way. Until the time that I was told the story in a way that made me look at the text and rethink completely what I once thought I knew about the Samaritan woman.
The time that I saw her story as an incredible example of faith.
We are never told that the woman is unfaithful. Yes, we are told that she has had five husbands and that the man she is living with now is not her husband, but Jewish culture would have meant it was the families responsibility to take care of her if her husband dies. That might have been a Father in law, rather than a lover.
We are not told that she is excluded from her community. If she was, would they have listened to her when she told them about Jesus?
We are never told what season it is – maybe she is drawing water in the middle of the day, not out of shame, but because of the weather.
I could go on but the point that I am trying to make is that sometimes, we come to the text with presuppositions and we do the same thing in life. We make assessments before we know the full story or because of what we may have been told about someone.
That is, until the time that we don’t. Until the time that we see people as Jesus does.
Until the time that we listen to their stories and allow ourselves to listen to what God is telling us about them.
The text portrays the Samaritan woman positively and the divine knowledge that Jesus knows about her allows her to see who Jesus is. It is an incredibly positive interaction and completely changes her life. The woman experiences the realisation of who Jesus is, shares the news with the town and the whole town then believes in who Jesus is. Not only that, but Jesus remains with them.
The Samaritan woman is a disciple in the most traditional sense, excited to share her realisation with the town and is an incredible example of faith.
The reframing of her story reminded me that there are people in our lives and in our towns, whose stories might be being told through the lens of presupposition, shame and guilt. People who need the realisation of who Jesus is and who may join us as disciples to share with the rest of the town. People who might need the chance to be seen and to be seen positively. People and families who need an “until the time…” moment.
We can be the people who give others a chance and lead them to realise who Jesus is.
Like the Samaritan woman, we can be disciples in the most traditional sense and it is my prayer that in our faithfulness, Jesus will remain with us.