There are sections of scripture that when I read them, I cannot seem to shake them from my mind.
I cannot remember why but recently I came across John 4:1-42. I had read this section of scripture numerous times before. Probably too many to count. I have even preached from it. When I was in Israel a few years ago I was able to visit this very site. I even drew water from Jacob’s Well! What a time it was. But something struck me differently this time when I read the story. I don’t know if it was because of circumstances in my life where I needed to extend grace to someone else or perhaps someone was extending grace to me. But I read this scripture, and something jumped off the pages at me and I cannot seem to shake it. Most of us know the story. Jesus is traveling. He stops at a well to get a drink. He asks a woman there to draw him a drink. She seems confused as Jesus is a Jewish man and she is Samaritan. He has no cup. He has nothing. So, she says, well how can you draw water with no rope, no bucket, no cup!
Now the rest of the story is really a story about grace. I will not summarize here but you should read it if you are not familiar with it. But really, what I want to touch on is how we extend and show grace to others. I have been placed in a unique situation for the past several months to interact with people that typically I do not get to. As a pastor my world seems to be surrounded by faith-based organizations and individuals. On all the boards I serve on and the opportunities to volunteer, most of them have some aspect of a faith foundation. While people there need grace shown as well, they sort of expect it from a pastor. But when I leave this community that I am so often surrounded by, I find that people expect condemnation and separation from the pastor. And to see this has hurt terribly. It has made me stop and ask, ‘Why aren’t we (the church) extending grace here as well?’
When I read the story about Jesus and the Samaritan women at the well, this is a story of grace. She was much different than Jesus. If he had not stopped for a drink that day, there worlds would have never collided. This interaction was not in a church or the temple. Jesus was by himself, as the other disciples had gone off to get food from the town ahead. This wasn’t a teaching moment for Jesus (at least to those around him). This was a grace moment for Jesus. The good Jewish Man (Jesus) and the Samaritan Woman should have never been interacting with each other. They were from two different communities. She had been married numerous times. This broke Old Testament law. I think our culture and understanding today would be disappointed with this interaction. People would say, “You weren’t harsh enough Jesus.” Or, “You weren’t direct enough Jesus.” Or, even still, “How could this woman do any good Jesus?”
This lady went on to bring many Samaritans to know the Lord. By the end of this encounter, the Samaritans were referring to Jesus as ‘The Savior of the World.’ I know for myself, I want the people around me, after our interactions, whether they think like me or not, whether they believe like me or not, I want them to say of Jesus, ‘He is the Savior of the World.’ And you know how I think that starts? I think it starts with grace, being extended not with our identity intact, but extended from us with the fingerprints and the breath of God all over it. The Spirit is in us and alive and well. We can breathe the grace of God to those we encounter. We can speak it. We can touch others with the grace of God. It is time we start! The people are waiting. Are you ready to ask those different than you for a drink? Are you ready to meet them outside of the church?
The location of Jacob’s well is known. It is deep. It is covered by a church now to preserve it and to care for it. You can still draw water from it. It is cool and refreshing just as the Grace of God is.
— Clint McBroom is pastor at the First Church of God of Newton.