A Woman's example
The encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman is one of the more detailed stories that we have of Jesus’ interaction with someone. However, one big thing that we see happen in the midst of all the details is that Jesus ends up transforming an entire town by taking the time to transform one person in that town. And he uses this as a great teaching moment for his disciples to explain his mission which is now their mission as well.
Jesus' disciples get a taste of what it feels like to bring people under the reign of Jesus and into the Kingdom of God, but they get to do so because of what Jesus does first through this woman. As we see in this story, the disciples get to reap the harvest of what Jesus and this woman sowed.
And so the lesson here for all of us is that some may sow, some may water and some may get to reap the harvest, but either way, we are all called to be laborers in this mission to make disciples of Jesus.
What Jesus does through this Samaritan woman teaches us that anyone can be used by God to accomplish his mission. So let’s look at a few things about this woman and how Jesus embraced her and put her in the privileged position of being the one who led people in her town to become followers of Jesus.
So real quick, I want us to look at the following three questions:
- What were her qualifications for being someone who could help make disciples?
- Where did she go and who did she reach out to after her encounter with Jesus?
- And what was her message that led others to believe and many to want to learn more about him?
The Woman’s Qualifications
Let’s start by pointing out that it would have been unusual during this time for a woman to be traveling by herself and to be getting water at a well during the hottest part of the day. This kind of unusual behavior tends to imply that this woman was some sort of social outcast in her town and in the surrounding area.
Then we learn later that she had gone through five marriages, and that she was now living with a guy who she wasn’t married to. We don’t exactly know what happened in those five previous marriages, but we can assume that she had experienced a great deal of rejection and that she was living a life that many people would have looked down on as being kind of scandalous. And so maybe that’s one reason that she traveled alone at this particular time of the day when nobody else would be around.
But we should also point out that this woman would have been viewed as an outcast during this time just by being a Samaritan woman. There were some deep underlying social, cultural and racial prejudices between Jews and Samaritans that we can’t even possibly begin to breakdown in this message, but you can see them come out in her response and the disciples response to Jesus’ unexpected interaction with her. She can’t believe that a Jewish man would ask a Samaritan woman for a drink of water. And the disciples can’t believe that a Jewish Rabbi like Jesus would even talk to a Samaritan woman.
So in considering all these things, this scandalous Samaritan woman wouldn’t necessarily meet anyone’s qualifications for being someone that could help make disciples of Jesus. We can see from the story that she had a very limited understanding of the Scriptures, and that she would have been considered the wrong race, the wrong gender and living the wrong kind of life to do anything at all in service to God. But in spite of all these things, Jesus embraces her with grace and engages her with the truth about himself and this changes everything.
You see, so many of us discredit ourselves as being unqualified or lacking enough knowledge and experience to participate in the mission of making disciples of Jesus. And even though we should definitely seek to grow in our knowledge of God and be trained in godliness, we need to find courage and confidence in the fact that if Jesus saw the Samaritan woman as someone who could help make disciples then ALL followers of Jesus are qualified to participate in this mission as well.
Who Did the Woman Reach Out To?
Observing what the woman does after leaving the well provides us with some insight and guidance into where we should start and who we should reach out to after we learn the truth about Jesus.
This private woman who seemed to not want to interact with anyone or be seen by anyone runs back into town to share her experience with the people there. We don’t know how many friends or what kind of family she had, but we can assume that by going back into town she was reaching out to those in her immediate circle of influence.
It’s easy for us to hear the call to make disciples and to immediately start worrying that we now have to talk to strangers or go to strange places when the most basic place to start is with our own circle of influence. It’s as easy and as basic as asking ourselves:
“Who do I know that needs to know what I now know about Jesus?”
The Woman's Message
The answer to this question is summed up in the only quote that we have from her message. She said, “Come and see a man who told me everything that I ever did. Can this be the Messiah?”
Basically this woman was sharing what Jesus had just done in her life and who she believed Jesus was. Her message was short and simple. She was sharing her story and the good news about who Jesus was even though she didn’t yet have a complete understanding of what all this meant.
We don’t have to be seminary graduates who can preach the gospel with eloquence to share the good news about Jesus. All we need to start with is to be able to share our own short story of what Jesus has done in our own life and the good news about who Jesus is. This message alone was enough for some in the town to believe and others to at least come out to learn more about Jesus.
And so, again, the lesson here for all of us is that some may sow, some may water and some may get to reap the harvest, but either way, we are all called to be laborers in this mission to make disciples of Jesus.
What Jesus does through this Samaritan woman teaches us that anyone can be used by God to accomplish his mission. So let’s start with enough courage to share what Jesus has done in our own lives and who we believe he is and then trust that Jesus will use us and continue to help us as we faithfully try to carry out his mission to make disciples.
Be encouraged by what Jesus did through this woman. She woke up one morning as a scandalous woman from Samaria and by that same afternoon Jesus was using her to start a movement in her own town that led many people to embrace Jesus as their Savior and King.