She was basically invisible. And, when people did notice, she was looked at with disdain. Society shunned her. They only saw her mistakes and it was their own constructs that kept her ostracized and unwanted. She was imprisoned by shame and guilt and fear and old habits that followed her around like a five o’clock shadow.
She was the woman at the well.
By the time she encounters Jesus, she is used to being slighted and cast off. She has settled into the routine of sin and accepted the results of her decisions. She uses her physical shelf as a shield, trapping the hurt and confusion and despair from years of mistakes inside a body that has been used in all the wrong ways.
She uses her body to hide from others and herself. But, the very body she hides behind, the very body that has mingled with too many men, is the very body that reaches over Jacob’s well to draw water for a man who seems different than the others. She meets a man whose gaze seems to penetrate the weather-worn exterior of her body and her soul. He isn’t interested in her for that body, He is interested in what’s shackled inside.
She is unaware of His supernatural sight, but He sees the five husbands, the current unhealthy relationship, the pain and scars of a hard life. He sees past the walls being erected — one snide remark, one nasty look, one lonely night at a time. He sees her and offers what no other man could possibly give: life.
“Will you give me a drink?”
With one question, Jesus hands her the key to unlocking her prison cell: living water found only in Himself. When this woman chooses to engage with Jesus, she chooses a path that eventually leads to freedom.
Jesus knew everything she ever did and doesn’t walk away. He stays and talks and gives. The mere fact that Jesus knows everything she has ever done convinces her that He is indeed the Messiah. When she realizes Who stands beside her at the well, she wastes no time in embracing freedom.
She wasn’t just the woman at the well. She was seen and accepted. The flow of freedom did not end with her. She promptly abandoned her water jar and spreads the news around town. “Many of the Samaritans believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39). Jesus told the woman everything she had ever done and the truth brought freedom to herself and others.
Just like the woman at the well, Jesus chooses to interact with and pursue us, even with an intimate knowledge of who we are, inside and out. He views us through a lens of freedom, so why do we choose to live like slaves?
Originally Published July 2014
Re-posted from the Archives