If you wanted to engage society, early mornings at the well might be your "Happy Hour," but Jesus shows up at noon! No one comes to draw water at noon, no one unless the someone trying to hide from everyone. Jesus camped out at Jacob's well at noon, not because he was hiding, but to meet the woman who was. John 4 tells the amazing story of Jesus' encounter with a Samaritan Woman, a woman who disengaged from her community because of her shame. She would soon discover that when you encounter Jesus your shame loses control over your life. He frees her from her shame in three ways. In this post, I describe the first way Jesus disarms the Samaritan Woman's shame. I will address the other two in subsequent posts. (You can hear the sermon "Shame Less" here).
Aware of her worst, Jesus loves her the same.At one point in their conversation, Jesus offers the woman perennial water - "living water." She is no fool and takes him up on his offer, to which Jesus responds, "Go, call your husband and come back." Woops! How was she going to get out of this one? She was not married; she was just shacking up with some guy in his pad. And, the only husbands she had were EX-husbands, five of them.
The live-in boyfriend, the multiple failed marriages, and her embarrassing and broken past explain her peculiar time for fetching water. She did not want anything to do with anybody because she believed no one wanted anything to do with her. She was ashamed, humiliated, and likely felt like an unlovable failure.
How would she explain this to the prophet? She did not need another disapproving head shake, a pointing of the finger, or a glance of disgust. How could she avoid another person knowing all her baggage? Quite cleverly, "I have no husband," she said. She did not lie; she simply concealed, and you would too if your life had her storyline.
She was unaware everything she was trying to hide, everything she was running from, everything saying, “You are a horrible person,” Jesus already knew (John 4:17-18). He knew her at her worst and yet he is not shocked, disgusted, hateful, or even disappointed. He loves her the same! He loves her no differently than he would if her life had no cracks and dents.
Shame keeps so many people locked in an arm-bar because shame whispers in your ear, "If people knew what you were really like, if they knew what you have done, if they knew how bad you really are they would hate you, disown you, turn their backs on you." But Jesus already knows. The one thing you can’t tell anyone because it will destroy the person and you, the one thing you are afraid will end the relationship, cost you the job, destroy your marriage, break your mom’s heart…the one thing… Jesus already knows. And, he loves you the same. It has no impact on his love. It does not sway his feelings or opinion of you at all.
When you come to grips with a Messiah who knows all your junk as well as you do and loves you the same...you begin to feel Shame's grip loosen a bit. It did on the Samaritan woman.