The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:28-29)
The encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well is poignant example of His willingness to meet and minister to those not only in need but also outcasts from society. This unnamed woman was doubly outcast. She was a Samaritan, and this fact alone is significant – there was bitter enmity between Jews and Samaritans. Secondly, she was a ‘loose’ woman who had been married five times and was living with a man out of wedlock, so she was also an outcast even in her own culture.
Yet Jesus has no reservations about speaking with her. In fact, the bible tells us that He took the longer route on His journey, one that took Him deliberately to Samaria when He could have made faster time and avoided the ‘enemy territory’ altogether. This speaks so eloquently of His willingness and deliberate action to meet with sinners in need of redemption. He does not avoid them but seeks them out to bring them the wonderful gift of salvation.
This woman, a hated Samaritan and ostracized by her own people, has a one on one encounter with Christ, and He comes straight to the point. Ignoring her sarcasm and defensive tactics, He highlights her sin and her need for redemption and offers the only solution that can save her. The result is transformation. She rushes back to town and wastes no time in spreading the Gospel, the news of her encounter.
The first astonishing thing is that she recognizes who He is. ‘Is this not the Christ,’ she says. She bases this on His supernatural knowledge, His spiritual insight into her life. I’m reminded of His promise that signs and wonders will always accompany the preaching of the Gospel, to testify of Him and of His truth. It doesn’t have to be dramatic healings or deliverance. Clear discernment of the root of the problem can be the only sign necessary to confirm the Gospel.
In a genuine encounter with Christ, a one on one meeting with our Redeemer, two things always happen. The first is that we will always know Him. We absolutely must, without any doubt whatsoever, recognize Him as the Son of God, the promised Messiah, the King of Kings and our Saviour and Redeemer. The second is that we will always be aware of our sin. A face to face encounter with the Son of God will, without fail, illuminate our sin for what it is and bring us to a place of repentance, forgiveness and salvation, unless we choose to walk away and not heed His voice.
The response to this is a natural ‘outpouring’ of faith and a passion for the Gospel. I’m reminded that ‘he who is forgiven much, loves much.’ Meeting the Messiah face to face and receiving salvation will always result in living waters pouring forth. This is the ministry of Christ – not simply to save a single person, but through them to then save others. The water is not for our own use alone, but rather for all those who thirst after the righteousness that can only be found in Jesus.
Note that the woman ran. She didn’t think about it for a day or so. She didn’t stop to discuss it with someone, or to wonder if the people would think she’d lost her marbles. She didn’t hoard the treasure she had been given but rushed to share it. She didn’t formulate a programme or design a campaign. She simply ran and spoke. The joy and the excitement found a natural expression in her witness to people who, most likely, spurned her at any opportunity.
What lessons we can learn from this nameless Samaritan woman. No matter who we are or what we may have done, Christ Himself is willing to meet with us. Not only willing, but He will go out of His way to find us where we are. But an encounter with Christ will always reveal the places of sin and unrighteousness, and if we wish to meet Him we must be willing to surrender self and yield to His call to repentance. He will never force us, but the depth of our intimacy will always depend on how much we’re willing to lay down. It’s not a question of condemnation but rather of our willingness to submit to transformation.
Finally, there is the challenge of our witness. Evangelism is the product and natural outworking of our intimacy with Christ. If we do not have this passion for the Gospel, we should evaluate our relationship with Him. I can find no instances in the Bible of anyone who truly encountered Christ who did not respond with a joyous, spontaneous passion to witness to the saving power of Jesus. It is an outpouring of the ‘living water’ that fills us, a manifestation of the ‘first love’ that so many believers lose over time.
The only way to keep that first love aflame is constant interaction and fellowship with Him. It’s not meant to be a single experience. Yes, salvation is a single event, but it is one which is then outworked in us through our ongoing intimacy with Him. Salvation results in ongoing transformation, but unless we remain in constant communion with Him, we cannot sustain it on our own.
Transformation, quite simply, means being changed from glory to glory. The intention is that we reflect more and more of Christ’s glory as we grow in faith and in the knowledge of the Word. Glory does not suggest a comfortable or complacent faith. It suggests ‘larger than life,’ exceptional and dramatically noticeable. Our witness for Christ shouldn’t grow quieter with time. It should grow louder. It should retain the nature of a sinful woman saved and made bold and passionate by intimacy with Jesus.
This is the personal challenge to every believer. Are we willing to get ‘up close and personal,’ knowing and accepting that this will radically change our perceptions and even our personality? Or are we willing to settle for a sedate salvation that ruffles no feathers, ripples no waters, and touches no one around us?
Jesus, draw near to us. Help us to surrender all. Quicken our first love and our desire to meet with You, no matter what. Reveal our unrighteousness and impart to us Your righteousness, changing us daily for Your glory, so that we might be Your witnesses in all the world. Give us boldness and passion, and reveal Yourself to us according to Your will and purpose in our lives.