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Worthy


"Jesus said to her, I who speak to you am He."





In 2024, in addition to doing a focused study on the book of John, many in our church have chosen to participate in reading through the Bible in a year together.  Something that has really struck me while doing so, is the contrast between how women were viewed and treated in the stories of the Old Testament as compared to those in the New Testament.  When reading through some of the bizarre and often disturbing stories in Genesis, I have to remind myself that just because it’s in the Bible, doesn’t mean God approved of the behavior.  In fact, many of the stories of the Old Testament are likely either for the very purpose of teaching us “how not to act,” or to show us that all humans throughout history are sinful and in need of a Savior.  


In early Bible history, women were treated more as property than as human beings.  They often had no choice in who they married and they were very much looked down upon if they were unable to bear children. They weren’t included in the census and at one point in the book of Leviticus, women were actually assigned a monetary value that was significantly lower than a man’s. Things that were considered acceptable behavior for a man could easily result in a woman being stoned to death.  


So what brought about the change that we see taking place in the New Testament in regards to the worth of women and their place in society?  One thing…or one person, rather…..Jesus.  


Read John 4:1-42


Prejudices have run deep throughout human history, and this woman had a lot going against her.  Not only was she a woman, but she was a Samaritan woman.  Samaritans were thought to have descended from three of the Israelite tribes, but because of intermarriage and pagan worship practices, they were considered by the Jews to be “half-breeds.”  Tensions ran high on both sides and there was enmity between the Jews and their temple in Jerusalem and the Samaritans and their temple on Mount Gerizim.  Hatred between the two groups was fierce and longstanding, so much so that when traveling, the Jews avoided passing through Samaria even though it meant a longer journey and crossing the Jordan in order to reach their destination.  So how did Jesus, who was not well-accepted by the Samaritans (see Luke 9:51-56), end up interacting with a Samaritan woman with a tainted past?  


“He left Judea and departed again to Galilee.  But He needed to go through Samaria.”

-John 4:3-4 NKJV


But did He really “need” to go through Samaria?  


The story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman is so much more beautiful than we often realize. Considered inferior due to her being female, her ethnicity, and her relationship history, the Samaritan woman surely dealt with feelings of worthlessness.  No other Jew would have dared to be seen with her.  But Jesus didn’t see her for these things, and He didn’t avoid her.  In fact, He had a divine appointment with her.  


Throughout His ministry, Jesus seemed very much drawn to the outcasts of society, showing kindness and compassion, and speaking truth and hope into their lives. Lepers and paralytics, the deaf and blind, the poor and oppressed, despised tax collectors, sinners….the list goes on and on.  Jesus went out of His way to interact with, care for, and offer salvation to the lowly and marginalized, upending prejudices and injustice and offending the religious elites. 


Jesus did not follow norms for the sake of appearance. He did not show favoritism toward any people group, nor did He condemn anyone based on their gender, race, or even their sinful past.  


There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” -Galatians 3:28


Jesus considered the Samaritan woman worthy of not only dignity and respect, but also of salvation, which He offered to her, and offers to each of us.   


“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,” -Titus 2:11


Have you ever felt like an outcast?  Worthless?  Looked down upon because of your gender, your social status, your race, your abilities, or even your age?  Take comfort, child of God.  You are worthy. 


“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” -Psalm 12:5



Reflection:


Typically, the women in a village would travel to the well together to draw water.  Why do you think this Samaritan woman was alone?



Read John 4:26. Put yourself in the Samaritan woman’s shoes, then imagine how you would have reacted when Jesus said, “I who speak to you am He.” 



In verse 27, Jesus’ disciples returned.  What do you think they were thinking upon seeing Jesus talking with this woman?  



Read 1 John 3:1, then consider how Jesus views you and how it contrasts the way society often makes you feel. Whose opinion truly matters? 











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