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What Can Separate You from Jesus?

Watch Session Four

Of all of the “water cooler conversations” we’ve had at work, none have ever resembled the one like Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John 4, have they?

The Samaritans were descendants of Israelites who had intermarried with local, nonJewish people and settled in the region that became known as Samaria. They were rejected by the Jews, both socially and spiritually.

What have we heard about the Samaritan woman? From our modern perspectives, we’ve assumed that she was an immoral woman who’d married and divorced five husbands. At the time she met Jesus, she was living with a sixth man, this time not even bothering to marry him. In order to accurately interpret this passage, we need to reconcile our modern connotations with the cultural realities of first-century living.

Women in the first-century Middle East did not experience the freedom that we women enjoy today. They were legally and socially treated as property with little power. It’s more likely that she had been widowed or divorced her several times. Living without the protection of a man could have been risky, both in terms of physical safety and financial security. Living with a man who was not her husband likely, then, implies that she was either his concubine or second wife in order to avoid poverty.

reconciled to reconcile

Looking at the woman through first-century eyes will help us see that her story was one of loss, pain, and shame. Enter Jesus, who broke down barriers to:

  • Cross a gender divide—he spoke to a woman while she was alone (John 4:7).
  • Cross a social divide—he, a Jewish man, spoke to a Samaritan woman (v. 9).
  • Cross a religious divide—he asked for water. The Samaritans were considered unclean. The water that she gave Jesus would have been considered unclean also. Jesus didn’t care (v. 9).

He then engaged this woman in a deep, theological discussion as if she were his equal. This was Jesus’s longest recorded conversation. We should take note of that. Jesus’s longest recorded conversation in the Bible is not with his disciples or with the religious leaders of the day. It is with someone whose gender and religious pedigree counted against her.

This intentional interaction illustrates something powerful and relevant to us. Jesus breaks societal rules and norms, refusing to let cultural constraints deter him from encounters with women who desperately need his presence.

But also consider this: The conversation at the well wasn’t just for this woman’s salvation alone. The encounter with Jesus brought God’s presence to the entire community (v. 29). They initially came because of the Samaritan woman’s testimony, but they stayed because of all the things they heard from Jesus himself.

We’ll explore how God reconciles us to himself first and then uses us to reconcile others to himself later on this week. Our encounter with God is never for our benefit alone. He wants to use our whole story, including the painful and shameful parts, to draw others to himself.


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What the Women Saw

Daily Question

Is it painful to share your past with others for fear of judgment or rejection? What person or group of people can you share your story within order to draw them to Christ?

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Comments (14)

I tend to be pretty open and vulnerable with my story. I find this to be a result of the freedom Holy Spirit gives me, which has to be sought daily.

I also just want to say that this week’s video was beautiful!!! Seeing the actual well was a powerful experience for me, even through video. Thank you!

“ It’s more likely that she had been widowed or divorced her several times”
This sentence is written above . Did it mean to say that her husbands probably divorced her or passed away ? This is a new concept to me. All these years I didn’t even consider that, I just assumed it was her. Thank you for this new lense in which to view this teaching .

I also had never heard or considered this aspect of the story! My Bible’s notes state that "divorce is initiated by the husband, who states publically his wife is unclean, unloveable or incapable of fulfilling her wifely duties." How awful, to have someone not once, but multiple times stand up and publically shame you. Unloveable?! In a time where women had only wifely duties for their worth and safety. Maybe she did nothing "wrong" to deserve this – rather than my assumption that her adultery was always the spark for divorce (where did I get that assumption?). And she’s smart and fierce, she holds her own asking theological questions to this random man she just met. I’d never heard this was the longest dialog either. She’s quite amazing!

It is very painful to share my past with others because I do fear both judgement and rejection. I feel alot of shame over my depression and insecurity. The pain of worthlessness. I am beginning to share my story more with my church dinner and with my friends who don’t know a lot about my past.

Yes, it’s both painful and scary but I know that it will be worth it, I believe that young girls who are walking through the same things that I had to walk through in life should hear my story so that they know about a Savior who loves them in spite of their faults and who has grace to cover all of their sins.

Amen and Hallelujah! yes, when we know we receive grace, it is impossible not to share that! That is great that you are helping younger girls to know the love and grace of Christ.

I’m not ashamed of my past. I gladly share what has happened to me but yes I do sometimes feel like people really don’t want to hear me. I try not to be hurt and just turn it over to Jesus.

Yes, it’s especially tough when people in the church don’t want to really hear it more than surface level. How powerful you turn it over to Jesus. Thank you for the encouragement. I know He has used my pain to draw me closer to Him. He shows me His love in so many tangible ways that it’s impossible to deny He is with me. He is with you too dear sister! I HEAR YOU

It depends on the audience and the right timing. There are some places I won’t share about my attempted suicide after I lost both parents unless if I felt it was a safe place or someone needed to hear it to see how God took me out from my darkest days. Safe place is in church, during connect groups, when counseling others, when serving because we serve others to show Christ’s love and show that God uses broken people and ordinary people not extraordinary people to do his work. Amen.

There alot of painful things we go through in life but thank God we have been given the grace of forgetting, with time.
Age mates, people who have a similar walk though different challenges.

I do find it a bit difficult to share a lot of things about my past with other people. I went through a lot and it got to a really bad place. I feel like I can share my story with my close friends and family and not have to fear being judged. Especially the ones who stood by me throughout the hard times.

It is shameful and painful for fear of judgement for me. I do know that God looks past this as we are new in Christ Jesus when we are saved and our sins are forgiven. I try to share this with my children often so they too can see how I was before and know what I am now to help them also understand and want God’ salvation in their lives.

No it’s not painful anymore . It was when I was younger, because it mattered what people thought of me. But that’s one of the joys of growing older (I’m 78). I know that Jesus doesn’t judge me and that’s all I care about now. I haven’t had an easy life and it’s pure joy to share with other women how God’s brought me through deep waters many times.

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