Summary: There are many times when we feel like outcasts - on those occasions Jesus, who is also an outcast, crosses our path and brings us hope.
What happens when Jesus crosses your path? Well anything can happen can’t it.
When Jesus crossed Peter’s path Peter went from an unschooled fisherman to a disciple.
When Jesus crossed Matthew’s path Matthew went from hated tax collector to well-loved Gospel writer.
When Jesus crossed the path of Lazarus, Lazarus went from a four day old corpse to eating dinner with his family.
Right throughout the Gosepels there is story after story of people whose lives were effected by Jesus in a very powerful way. One of those people was this unnamed Samaritan woman whose life was transformed.
For her the day started like any other day. Rising early she sent her defacto partner off to work. At about 7:00am the village women walk past her door, on their way to get water from the village well known as Jacob's Well.
They would walk past her house in groups of three or four.
Their joyful chatter and spirited laughter mocked her everyday.
Of course early morning was the perfect time to collect water – when the day was still cool. But it had been years since she had been to the well with them.
The condemning stares.
The hushed whispers.
The deliberate isolation.
It became too much to bear.
She would get water when no-one else did. The middle of the day when the sun was hottest. Why did she behave this way? This Samaritan woman was an outcast. In fact she was an outcast among outcasts.
In the eyes of a Jew she was an outcast because of her ethnic background.
The comment in verse 9 says it all, Jews do not associate with Samaritans. There was a lot of ethnic tension between Jews and Samaritans – tension which comes as a result of history.
When the king of Assyria conquered the Northern Tribes of Israel in 722BC he removed most of the inhabitants – and then replaced them with people from other countries. This strategy was known as deportation – spreading the inhabitants of a conquered land to other nations in order to discourage regrouping and retaliation.
As the new group of people from various nations began to work together they would often keep their old religion and mix it with the religion of their new country. In Israel these imported people became known as Samaritans – a mixed race of unfaithful Jews and outside pagans. The words of 2 Kings 17:41 summarises the situation well
Even while these people were worshipping the LORD, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as they fathers did.
In the eyes of a Jew the Samaritans were disloyal to the true God. This woman Samaritan was an outcast.
But that is not where it stops. In the eyes of her fellow villages her poor moral reputation makes her an outcast in the Samaritan society. This woman has a bad reputation. She’s been married five times and is currently living with a man to whom she is not married.
We are not told if the five marriages ended in death or divorce – but the odds of loosing five husbands to death is very small.
It could well be that she is unable to produce children which, in that culture, was enough of a reason to get a divorce.
We do know she is currently with a man who is not her husband – is he just taking advantage of a lonely woman who is crying out for attention?
She is an outcast among outcasts so it is normal for her to be ignored, judged, slandered and isolated. When we understand this fact it becomes clear that she is not expecting anything to happen when she meets Jesus.
When the Samaritan woman meets Jesus at the well she is not looking for companionship, nor is she expecting her life to become different – all she is doing is looking for water.
That might sound like an obvious thing to say but it is important to understand. Because, when Jesus crosses our path, it doesn’t always occur because we are seeking Him out. Rather it is Jesus who initiates the contact. That is what is happening in verse 7:- Will you give Me a drink? Asks Jesus.
Jews hate Samaritans.
Men shouldn’t address woman who are alone.
Rabbis don’t mix with sinners and promiscuous people.
Jesus knows the questionable lifestyle of this woman.
Yet here is Jesus conversing with her. He is even willing to share her cup. As Jesus does this we are being given a huge insight into the nature of His ministry.
Jesus does not judge us on the basis of what we were. Jesus realises that each one of us is an outcast and that we need Him as our Saviour. That is an insight into the mind of Jesus which should really get us thinking.