A friend sent me a devotional today on the woman at the well. It got me thinking.

Last night I was listening to Chuck Swindoll on the radio. He was talking about Nazareth, and Nathanael’s comment, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Swindoll went on to explain that Nazareth was the location of a Roman army barracks, and a center for prostitution, gambling, corruption. Jesus had “seen it all” growing up. Makes you wonder how many people suspected Mary was really pregnant by a Roman soldier, especially when Jesus bore no physical resemblance to his “dad”, Joseph. And it gives more meaning to Jesus being tempted in ALL ways like we are, yet without sin.

But that’s not all! Look at Jesus’ geneaology in Matthew 1 sometime. Do a little study on the four women mentioned there. (That’s amazing in itself! Rarely were women allowed in such a listing – even though they were the ones who did the literal labor!) They are all somehow outside the accepted “Who’s Who” of Israel. Let’s see, one woman (a Canaanite) has a child through incest, another (an Amorite) was once a prostitute, the third (a Moabite) is an immigrant, and the last an adulteress, (who was married to a Hittite)! Is that “messy” enough for you??? Sounds pretty contemporary to me!

It’s in that light that we can see Jesus talking to the woman at the well. He doesn’t see her in the same way that others see her, or that she sees herself. The failures and shortcomings – sin – are not the sum total of her life. Instead, He sees His imprint, His image in her life, and gives her hope that He can remove the stains of her life. Better yet, He uses those very stains when they are offered to Him – for His glory! Her humility, her honesty, her offering, are what give credibility to her message to the village, and what attract people to come hear words of hope from Messiah! Jesus enters the mess and ambiguity of their lives to give hope right where they are.

It is just the opposite with the majority of the Pharisees. They see themselves as above the “mess” of life, and do not believe God has anything to do with the untidiness of human dealings. Their own sin remains “hidden”. Ironically, it’s not really hidden. Jesus sees it, and so do others. But because of the lack of humility, honesty and offering of their life “as is”, Jesus cannot work with them. The first become last. But the last….they are first!

I am repeatedly amazed as I read the Big Story of God, at how willing He is to enter the messiness of human life – from the very moment of the fall! He keeps seeking us, wading into the muck of our existence, and responding if only we turn our face toward Him. It seems very small shreds of faith on our part are attractive enough for the Eternal One to make an investment of time, energy and love. Oh sure, He gets frustrated, angry even, when we willfully disobey. But He always provides a way to come back to Him.

I am learn to accept Him entering my messiness to continually bring restoration and healing! May I turn with the same offer as the woman in Samaria – “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out.” (Jn 4:29 The Message)

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