The Devotion to Christ – Jesus crosses all barriers that society builds

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By Brian Cook

John 4:4-42 says about the woman at the well that her past and present behavior had led her not just away from God but away from society. The woman comes to the well alone to avoid those who know her reputation. Her only comfort comes from being invisible. She chooses to do her hardest task in the hottest part of the day in hopes to remain unseen. Jesus disturbs her solitude and is a very unwelcome surprise for the woman. But Jesus loves His bride and had come for her.

In this scripture, Jesus crosses all barriers that society had built. Men did not speak alone to women who were not family. Jews did not meet with heretical Samaritans, rabbis taught only men and Jewish Rabbis most definitely did not teach Samaritan women alone. In fact, the Pharisees would not even drink the “defiled” water of Samaritan lands. 

Yet Jesus comes to this well, and in two sentences causes all the walls to fall: “Give me a drink” and “Go call your husband.”

Seeing the depth of the woman’s pain, Jesus lovingly leads her through her own barriers. He speaks of living water, a wellspring that gushes from within the heart, forever quenching spiritual thirst. She is intrigued. Desiring rest from her weary work, the longing for that promised “rest for your soul” in Matthew 11:29 takes root. She desires relief from work, but Jesus desires to fill her with His Holy Spirit. But in order to do so, He must call for her god. He gives the woman this test: “Go call your husband and come here.”

Imagine the woman’s emotion. Maybe she was excited that a Jewish Rabbi would break all social norms. Perhaps she was thrilled that a man would speak to her as an equal and without a perverse ulterior motive. But her brief relief from the daily burden of her reputation came crashing back down with a decisive blow straight to her heart, highlighting her sin, singling out her god and demanding a decision.

“I have no husband,” the woman replied.

But this was only a partial confession that offered only a half-truth. It avoided the most painful parts of confessing her sin. So, the Savior presses on. Consider that the Holy God helps the unholy sinner get to her full confession!

“You have had five husbands,” said Jesus, “and he who you now have is not your husband.”

At that statement the woman must have been overwhelmed with emotions – anger, shame, surprise, shock and anger again. She tries to deflect by starting a theological debate (A warning to all church men and women – apart from the grace of God, we will debate theology and give incomplete confessions and miss the Holy Spirit and Eternal Life).

Note that the woman did not argue with Christ’s assessment of her sin. Imagine the depth of her pain in being thrown away by five men and now just used for sex by a sixth who did not value her enough to even give her the dignity of being a wife; she was just his whore. The Healer is exposing her wound and wants to properly clean and dress it. The woman’s Comforter had come.

From the above theological debate, Jesus quickly centers the woman’s attention back to the point at hand. He demands true worship in “Spirit and truth.” Truth! Her redirection is null and void, and she is starting to realize who this lone traveler may be. She tentatively mentions The Messiah, and He clearly says, “I AM HE.”

Imagine the woman’s emotion once more, in that The Messiah had arrived and revealed Himself to her! She rushes to evangelize the very village that had ostracized her. No longer trying to hide her shame, the woman declares, “He told me everything I’d ever done.” That is what the Sacrament of Confession does; it crushes the Lie that God does not love sinful people and it sets free the Truth and the sinner to look upon each other with love and be “naked and unashamed” (Genesis 2:25).

The Healer had revealed this woman’s desperate desire for love and the willingness to do anything to get it. But now she was freely loved and valued by God Himself! He had filled her to overflowing. The woman finally had her Beloved, and she loved the Lord her God with all her heart!

Brian Cook is a Cropwell native and a graduate of Pell City High School, Gadsden State Community College and studied music and history at Jacksonville State. He and his wife Hope have five children. A self-described “on-again-off-again bi-vocational part-time” Protestant minister for almost 20 years, Brian converted to Catholicism in April 2021. They attend Saint James Catholic Church in Gadsden. With no formal training (Acts 4:13), Brian active in the Catechetical training of children and adults. His book “The Devotion to Christ” can be found on Amazon. He is available for speaking and teaching engagements in any parish, church, or group setting. He may be contacted at thedtc@protonmail.com or thedevotiontochrist@gmail.com.

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