“Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked him, ‘…Why are you talking with her?’ ” John 4:27 (NIV)
Jesus was an iconoclast. Originally in ancient Greece an iconoclast was a word that referred to an image breaker. Someone who broke what was sacred to others. Now the word means someone who attacks social or religious rules. It now means someone who loves to shake up other people by acting in an irreverent manner towards what is sacred to others. Certainly some iconoclasts are sincere and desire to improve the lives of others by showing that what they believe in or practice is irrelevant to our lives.
In His ministry of perhaps 3 ½ years before His crucifixion, Jesus did a lot to shake up the Jewish world of His day. In the context of the verse for today we see Jesus speaking to a woman, a hated Samaritan, and a known sinner. You see, in Jesus’ day it was unacceptable for men to converse with a woman in public. It was “unseemly” or risqué or provocative to be seen in conversation with a woman. Proper Jewish men would not even talk to their own wives in public for fear of what others would say.
Here was Jesus engaged in a very lengthy and serious conversation with a woman. But, not only that, there was concern here over a racial issue. The Samaritans and Jews hated each other. They tried not have anything to do with each other on any account. When Jesus was a young teen one year just before Passover, some Samaritans dressed like Jews and smuggled human bones into the Temple in Jerusalem and defiled it. Such a horrible thing as that Jews could not imagine. But this “prank” was a joy to the Samaritans.
So when Jesus’ disciples came to Him and found Him speaking to this woman, and a despised Samaritan at that, they were amazed. However, knowing Jesus and His habit of turning things upside down, they refrained from speaking to Him about His unusual behaviour.
The third way that Jesus shook things up in this scene is that He spoke to a known sinful woman. All her neighbours knew she had been married 5 times and was now living with a man to whom she was not married. Such a relationship was viewed in Jesus’ day as sinful. A good Jew would be scandalized to do such a thing. He certainly would be gossiped about for speaking to such a person. His reputation would be ruined.
However, Jesus had no interest in the social conventions, or rules of His day or any other day for that matter. He had come for sinners whatever their ethnic roots and whatever their sins. Jesus saw this woman as a person not a woman. He realised this individual was in need of the forgiveness He could give and so He spoke to her. He broke all the rules in order to win someone to Himself. He was indeed a mover and shaker.
Jesus is the same today. He values women as much as men. There are no little people in His estimation. Jesus wants to talk to all of us. Then too, Jesus does not see any racial differences in people. We are humans to Him and not this race or that. He does not see any group of people better than another. All nations need to hear His message.
Finally Jesus is not concerned about which sins you have committed, how many sins you have committed, or how the world views your particular sins. You may feel yourself the lowest of the low. Jesus is still interested in you. Jesus is not indifferent to sin as such, but He came for people who know themselves sinners and want to do something to change their lifestyle. Jesus allowed Himself to be touched by prostitutes, told them as they wept over their sins that their sins were forgiven (Luke 7:36-50). This horrified the self righteous people of His day.
Jesus was indifferent to the scandals He created by dealing graciously with the worst members of society in His day. He was determined to be good to those others hated. Once at least, Jesus invited Himself into the home of a notorious sinner named Zacchaeus. He told this man in public and in the presence of a crowd that He needed to go home with him. The people who heard this demand of Jesus were shocked to the core. Jesus did not concern Himself with their reaction. He knew this man needed forgiveness so He went home with him.
Do you feel yourself to be unacceptable to God or others? Can you see how Jesus was happy to be in the company of just such people whom others rejected? You may be rejected by others, family, friends, whoever, but Jesus has arms open for such as yourself. He bids you come. Why do you hesitate?