This season of Lent led me to the gospels. The tender storytelling had me falling in love with Jesus all over again. Our sweet, strong Jesus, sent from heaven and recorded in God’s word so that we as Christ followers understand how to live.
Growing up a good Baptist girl, I heard all the Bible stories. And yet, in this season of Lent in early morning readings, a story unfolded for me in a totally new way. The woman at the well jumped off the page and into my heart. Never before had I thought about how she must have been broken open by Jesus.
I can’t even remember what I thought the message was about before when I heard her story. Maybe I thought it was about Jesus’s grace in reaching out to her. But maybe I fell into the “Truth” Christian category and thought the most important part was Jesus telling her to turn from her sin – forgetting “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” John 1:17. That grace cannot be separated from truth – that Jesus is grace and truth.
What spoke to me as I reread John, were the words in 4:39, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.'” It wasn’t that her testimony was powerful because Jesus was a mind reader. The testimony is that Jesus saw her sin and was kind to her anyway. He saw who she was and loved her anyway. He knew that she was not the likely candidate to share his message and yet he chose her.
This new understanding undid me. Jesus was grace for this broken woman. Jesus spoke to her. Jesus validated her. Jesus invited her into conversation. Jesus wanted her to serve him. Mercy sakes people, Jesus is our example. When as believers we hold certain behaviors up as the ultimate sin while we sit in our high places, we are not living like Jesus.
Jesus loved the unlovable. He loved the outcast. When Jesus gave us the greatest commandment in Matthew 22, love God and love people, he had already modeled it for us. Jesus’s heart must be breaking for our world right now, the way we treat each other. So quick to tear each other down in the hopes that our self-righteousness will protect us from exposure. We don’t trust that if people see and know us that they will be kind. And why should they when we are so quick to put a wall up to those not part of the dominate culture.
I am the first in need of repentance; I am the worst of the rotten sinners. But I have been the woman at the well with my sin on display, and if you are honest, you probably have been too. I wouldn’t be here today loving Jesus if in my deepest despair I had not been treated kindly by the most unlikely person.
As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord this weekend, let our hearts be broken open for the people Jesus modeled his love on. Help us not to let our desire to be right outshine our opportunity to be the light.