The story of the Samaritan woman is quite the incredible one because she was chosen to be the gateway through which many more Samaritans would come to believe in Jesus. It was no mistake, her testimony was what brought many Samaritans into Jesus’ fold. Now in those days, Jews did not associate with Samaritans. They worshipped differently, and had differing beliefs, a fact that this woman was well aware of. So when she found Jesus sitting by a well when she went to draw water and he asked her for a drink, she swiftly reminded him of the fact that Jews did not associate with Samaritans.
The conversation proceeds much in the same way, with Jesus telling her things and she, engaging him in a very meaningful way, not typical of what would have been expected of women those days. She did not simply accept everything that Jesus told her but instead, using the knowledge that she had, asked him questions and deduced from his answers that He was indeed the Messiah. Of much interest in the story of the Samaritan woman were three things.
The first was that despite being a Samaritan and having differing worship practices from the Jews, she was well aware of the prophecy that the Messiah called “Christ” was coming and believed in him enough to wait upon his instruction when he came (she did not know that she was speaking with him). Had she not had this belief, she may not have believed Jesus when he told her that he was Christ. She may, like many other people, have said that he was only a prophet.
The second of these things was her honesty. At one point, Jesus told her to go and call her husband and then return, to which she said, “I have no husband.”
“You are right when you say you have no husband,” Jesus replied. “The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
This brings us to the third thing, she, like many other women depicted in the Bible, was not perfect. She had a relationship outside marriage, but this did not make her unworthy to participate in the ministry of Jesus. In fact, because of the life she had lived, which she was honest about, when Jesus narrated it back to her, she was inspired to go back to her people and tell them, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.” And the people came out of the town and followed her to Jesus. The woman continued to give her testimony, drawing crowds who went and listened to Jesus, and when they did, they told her, “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 Saviour of the world.” So you see, the Samaritan woman was an integral part of Jesus’ ministry.
In a similar manner, in today’s world where people are quick to judge and condemn, the Samaritan woman’s story shows us that there is still hope for us unlike what others would lead us to believe. We can leave our past mistakes behind and come into a new relationship with God where we have been called to do great things. Just like the adulterous woman, the woman with the alabaster jar, Gomer the prostitute and many more seemingly insignificant women in low places, our pasts should not dictate our futures. Our positions in life and society do not represent our limitations but rather, we are called to believe that we have been placed where we are for a purpose and should seek to fulfil that purpose with courage and humility.
There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.