Jesus initiated a conversation, which was counter cultural. A Jew did not willingly speak with a Samarian and a male did not generally speak with an unescorted woman. But Jesus had been breaking social and religious barriers since His arrival on the scene and He reached out to the woman and asked, “Will you give me a drink?” Her reaction was direct as she points out their religious differences by asking how he, a Jew, could speak to her. When Jesus asked for a drink He was not using some evangelic trick to initiate a conversation, He was indeed thirsty and had no means to draw water from the well on His own. It would seem that religious and cultural practices didn’t matter to Him.
The woman reacted to His request as her culture demanded but as we continue with the story we know something was happening to her. She was somewhat of a pariah in her own village and most likely had very little interaction with the people. It would be safe to say she was probably not respected. Her multiple marriages might also suggest she had a difficult time with relationships. Was she lonely, sad, or depressed? Jesus, who had seen past the social practices of the day reached out to her and asked for something that immediately gave value to her life. He allowed her to give to another person without being scorned or judged. Jesus saw her as the Father did, as His creation made to love and be loved.
Jesus had an impact on this woman’s life. How do we know? She left her water behind and ran to the village saying “come see the man who told me everything I did”. What did He tell her about herself other than she was terrible at relationships! But something had stirred inside her and she knew He has seen past her label. He allowed her to be a woman who could contribute to the well being of another.
We are called to share the gospel with those we encounter however we cannot do this if we do not see people as Jesus does? When we look at a homeless person, an alcoholic, or a friend or family member who hurt us in the past, can we see beyond those labels? Can we find value in that person and acknowledge they have something to offer? Can we see that person God created in His own image? Loving others is not easy. When we left the garden our ability to love as God desired was corrupted by sin. Today we have generations of bias imbedded into our nature such that we tend to look at people based on how they affect us. God wants to restore His nature in us so that we can again be the image He created. He wants this so we can live in harmonious relationship with our family, with the homeless, with the drug addict. He wants this so we can freely share His gospel without being blinded by the labels society has forced on all of us.