You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
Psalm 139: 1-4
I was praying the other morning and started thinking about Jesus’s contact with the woman at the well. Her initial reaction at His knowledge of her (“Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet…”) seemed to be guarded, even though He had revealed very personal information about her. It wasn’t until He revealed Himself to be the Messiah that she truly reacted to His revelation of her past. John tells us that she “then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all the things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”..)
I have a penchant for empathizing with people, wondering what they felt or thought during certain experiences. During this encounter with Jesus, her curiosity had to have been more than just piqued to have Him, a Jew, ask her, a Samaritan woman, for a drink. She had to have been taken aback when He validated her statement of having no husband and then adding that she had had five husbands already, but she seems to have hidden it well. But when Jesus reveals Himself to her as the Messiah, she sees Him for who He is. Can you imagine the joy in her heart? Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the One Who would give her everlasting life, looked at her and saw her as she truly was: the daughter of the High King. I imagine that He looked at her, despite His weariness and her sin, with eyes of sincerity and of love. He offered her acceptance and hope, and she ran to share it with others.
Likewise, the adulterous woman whom the Pharisees and scribes brought to Jesus experienced the same. Here she was, the heaviness of her sin surrounding her like a thick fog, standing before Him for immediate judgment as an object lesson. She had every reason to fear, for Mosaic law demanded that she be stoned to death. She was probably the lone woman in a throng of rough, indignant men who were prepared to apply the law, disheveled and ashamed, hated for what she represented to the self-righteous crowd. I envision that she probably couldn’t even look Jesus in the eye, prepared to receive His judgment, as He wrote on the ground with His finger. Her heart probably beat wildly in her chest as she heard the grumblings of the scribes and Pharisees when Jesus refused to answer immediately. I bet she held her breath when He raised Himself up, and said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” I’m certain the faintest feeling of relief started to wash over her as she heard the crowd leave one by one, leaving only the two of them. When He addresses her for the first time, asking where her accusers had gone, and had no one condemned her, I imagine her timidly answering Him, “No one, Lord.” (some translations have “Sir”, or “Master”). I picture Jesus’s eyes warm and holding her gaze as He tells her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” What pure relief she must have felt, not solely because she had just escaped being stoned, but more so because of the lack of judgment from Christ Himself. They both knew that she had sinned, but yet He did not condemn her. Whether she knew who He was at the time is unclear, but one thing is certain: love released her from the punishment of her sin. Jesus redeemed her—would she ever experience a great love than that?
Friends, the enemy has an unfortunate habit of trying to convince us that the life we had before Christ is the identity we will carry with us forever. He calls us the names of our sins, and seeks to persuade us that we are not worthy to receive the love and forgiveness that Jesus offers us. He tells us that there is no way that our sins have been removed from us and are as far as the east is from the west, and the fact that we can remember them and not forgive ourselves means that God can’t either. But I hope you realize that all of that is a bunch of BUNK! He is a liar! We are no longer defined by what we have done. Our identity is in Christ—we are beloved children of the Risen King!!
- For those who don’t know the love of Jesus Christ
- For those who are struggling with addictions and pain
- For those discarded and abandoned in this cruel world
- For us to be obedient to His will to go serve those listed above
May you feel the love of Jesus as we reflect upon this beloved Holy week. There is nothing that can separate you from His love. Bask in its strength, its beauty, its density, and its buoyancy.
“You don’t have to fight for your place at the table or win God’s love. No one can take you out or replace you—you have no rival!”
“The key to heaven was hung on a nail.”