The Power of Story
She was a harlot, ostracized by her community, scorned, belittled, forced to change how she worked because of who ‘she was’.
She came from a people group thought to be less than others, a people group to be separated from, and to have nothing to do with. The woman I am referring to is the person who had the longest single interaction of any individual in the gospels. We don’t’ even know her name, the gospel of John simply refers to her as “The woman at the well”.
I have always been drawn to this story, and upon watching the depiction of this story in the season Chosen was struck by the power of this woman’s story.
So what is so powerful about a story?
The interaction Jesus has with this woman, it is not what it should be, and the woman recognizes this at the start. “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (John 4:9).
Jews (Jesus) would not be caught dead talking to Samaritans, in fact they struggled to utter the words or recognize anything good to come from this people group. Take the story of ‘The Good Samaritan’ (Luke 10:30 -37), Jesus sets the scene and asks at the end “Who do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?” (Luke 10:36). The Pharisee replies only with “The one who treated him kindly” (Luke 10:37) not barely able to affirm the generosity that might live in Samaritans.
As the story develops, it becomes apparent this woman is ostracized from her community.
Jesus asks her for a drink, then offers to fill her with water – so satisfying she will never have to thirst again! What a ridiculous comment from someone next to a well without a bucket to draw with.
The conversation continues, dialogue between Jesus and the woman, and she stays. The woman at the well stays to ask questions and understand who this wild man is talking to her at Jacob’s well in the middle of the day. She doesn’t run, she would be used to feeling like an outcast of her community,
Jesus then shows his true colours as a prophet by telling all about her back story – a woman of 5 husbands, with the man she is living with now, not even her husband. I feel you can hear her gasp in these verses as Jesus unravels and unveils her life.
She continues to stay, questioning Jesus before recognizing who he truly is; Jesus the Messiah.
All the messy bits
The Bible states that Jesus stayed in the village two days and many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because of the woman’s story. I believe this woman would have left her Village that day knowing her history and shame, yet returned proclaiming this because of the Messiah.
Jesus unearthed potentially all the ‘messy bits’ in life of this woman. Yet as she discovers who Jesus is and runs back into town, this story becomes the testimony she shouts to all who will hear “Listen to a man who told me everything I’ve done!”
Jesus turned her shame into power. It was her because of her story that many believed.
What’s your story?
I think so often we can try and hide our ‘messy bits’ under the carpet with others, and with God. How often do we try and hide the messy bits of us to others, thinking they are unacceptable or just not who we should be. This story highlights to me the power of Grace. It was by Jesus’ grace that this woman’s story turned from shame into power. She ran back into town proclaiming her story after meeting Jesus.
God knows us truly, inside and out, he formed us, and made us. We can offer our whole stories to Him, and in doing so, witness the Grace that turns all the ‘messy bits’ into beauty.
Kelly Thompson is the newest member of the Sports journalist team. Kelly currently plays AFL for Casey Demons in the VFLW, and practices what she preaches as a HOPE (Health, Outdoor, and Physical Education) Teacher in Melbourne’s southeast.