Unite, dear Christians, unite.
She has a name. Unfortunately, we don’t know it—yet.
I’m speaking of the woman at the well. If you’re unfamiliar with her and her significant story, the following is exactly how she is referred to—the woman at the well. Her story is found in the Gospel of John (chapter 4) immediately following the story of Nicodemus (chapter 3).
Some individuals mentioned in the gospels—like the rich young ruler, for example—also are not given a name, so this namelessness does happen not only to women, but also men.
I want to find it sad that we never know this inspirational woman’s identity. Is she yet another Mary? Another Martha? Maybe she’s Daphne, Diane or Desiree. Debra from the Old Testament has been taken, but old names do circle back.
Maybe she would be hurt by her name not making it in print. After all, she carries with certainty the identity of Jesus as the Messiah to her village. The people who rejected her are so rallied from her message that they travel out to the well to see Jesus.
Oh, she is a Big Deal.
I think more about her name not being mentioned and the reverence of scripture being error free. Maybe she never would want to be identified by name. With humility, which is a hallmark Christian trait, she may have been altruistic and only want to be known for what she did.
And what she did? Sharing the story of who Jesus is and why Jesus came to earth as the Messiah? Whoa! Yes! This may outweigh the oversight of excluding her name.
The debate of whether her name should have been included in scripture is a good one to have given the framework of the patriarchal world in which the Bible was established. With no voice or power whatsoever, women were essentially property at this time. Let’s pray we all value and support the feminism found and breathed into scripture because theological insight and empowerment happen when women in scripture gain more attention, reflection, and voice.
Now speaking of voice, I imagine the woman at the well would argue that Christians need to unite. Barriers, divisions, socioeconomic stratospheres, gender, ageism, and religious and racial lines are walls Jesus broke not built.
Let’s call her Debbie in this column. Debbie is not only an outcast—a socially shunned woman who came to the well at noon whereas other women in her culture and community went for water in the morning—she is one who represents Jesus’ passionate ministry of inclusion.
Debbie’s scriptural story begins with Jesus traveling to Galilee from Judea. To do this, he needs to pass through Samaria (John 4:3-4).
There are two ways to get to Galilee from Judea. One route is through the soft and flat Jordan River Valley. The other is through rocky and mountainous Samaria.
Think of a line from Frost when I share that Jesus—on a mission—takes the road less traveled.
Jesus arrives in a city of Samaria called Sychar, which is the site of Jacob’s well. In the Old Testament, this is where Jacob first meets Rachel (Genesis 29).
At this time in the Old Testament, Jews and Samaritans shared a common devotion to Yahweh. This changes after both accuse each other of infidelity to their God.
Jesus’s mission is to reconcile the world to God (2 Corinthians 5:19). To do this, He comes back to where the division started—the well. Specifically, this well. Jacob is Jesus’ forefather. It is significant that Jesus, a Jew, meets Debbie, a Samaritan. Here Jesus offers Debbie more than water. He offers her living water from God alone. This water lasts forever.
After time at Jacob’s well, Debbie gets who Jesus is and what He offers. Powerfully, she shares to the town of Sychar this message about Jesus and this living water He offers everyone.
Debbie’s message—which is Jesus’ message—is one of unity. Divides will continue to sink us, dear Christians. Let’s remember this well. Let’s be well. Let’s pull up Jesus’ living water not for some but all.
And let’s do this together.
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