“We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” John 4:42 (NIV)
People just love a good underdog story. As much as we like to see the popular people fall from grace, we want the most unlikely people to succeed and catch the limelight for a moment or two. It is very heartwarming. The Bible is filled with stories of the unlikely people succeeding. Moses, Abraham, David, Esther… and too many more to count. Of course, they could never have done it without the grace of God on their side.
Jesus met up with the Samaritan woman at the well in the heat of the day. It was noon, when most people stayed inside to gain some relief from the heat, and she was out drawing water to avoid the scoffing murmurs of the other women in town. She had been through five husbands and was currently living with a man who was not her husband (John 4:18). It was certainly not socially acceptable for a man to talk to a woman in public, but it was even less acceptable for a Jew to talk to a Samaritan. The two groups had a significant disdain for each other and did not associate at all. But Jesus selected her, much to her confusion, to ask for a drink of water and offer up his own “living water” (John 4:10).
After their initial conversation, the woman begins to realize that Jesus could possibly be the Christ, the one they have been waiting for. She urgently runs back to town, leaving her water jar behind. When she arrives she exclaims with excitement “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29). As they all rush out to meet Jesus, I try to imagine what that Samaritan woman is thinking. This is her moment of redemption, both literally and figuratively. Jesus has saved her soul and helped her regain her dignity and reputation. I would be inclined to believe that if God’s grace had not intervened in her life at that moment, the people in town would have just looked at her and laughed. How interesting that Jesus chose not only a woman, but a woman of ill repute to deliver the news of his arrival to the town in Samaria. Of course we learn that Jesus stayed for several days teaching the Samaritans and many believed in him, but it was because of the Samaritan woman at the well that his grace and glory were received by this town. I believe this story is telling us that we should never underestimate what God can do through us, and that we are never so far gone that he will not accept us into his loving arms of mercy and grace.