An Outcast among Outcasts

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Contributed by Brian Shifflett, Worship Pastor of Image Church

Reading through the gospel of John this week, I ran across a familiar passage in chapter 4.  Yet this time, my focus was stopped near the beginning of the story, where Jesus speaks to a woman of Samaria.  John 4:3-9 says:

3He [Jesus] left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) [ESV].

If one were to travel from Judea to Galilee, the straightest shot would be to go through Samaria. Yet, the Samaritans were considered by the Jews to be an inferior race, and we see in verse 9 that “Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.”  So, often times, Jews would travel around the city turning a normal 2-day walk into about a 6-day walk.  However, Jesus chose to travel through this city where this “inferior” group of people resided.   It is here where Jesus meets and converses with a woman who was seen as an outcast.  Isn’t it interesting that Jesus was more concerned about a person than His reputation?

His reputation was on the line because….

1)      She was a woman (women were automatically looked upon as inferior in that culture)

2)      She was a Samaritan

3)      She was an outcast among outcasts

Let me expand upon number 3.  The passage says it was about the sixth hour (around noon) when Jesus met the woman.  This is important to note because it is HOT around the sixth hour in the Middle East.  The majority of people would come to the well to get their water in the morning, before the midday heat arrived.   She was most likely an outcast even among the Samaritans because of her past, which is revealed later in the story.  This woman has had five husbands (John 4:17).  This was completely looked down upon in that culture.  Divorce is not such a big deal today, but it was back then.  So she was probably not even welcome to travel with the Samaritan women in the mornings to get her water for the day.  A complete, unloved, outcast!

Jesus was compassionate to whom society deemed as unlovely and unacceptable.  His priority was not His reputation among men, but bringing life to those who were otherwise helpless.  So let’s not let our pride and egos get in the way of showing the love of Christ to those whom society would call unworthy.  We are ALL unworthy of God giving us attention.  He does anyway, He and calls us to show that same compassion to others, regardless of our reputation among men.

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