If you open your Bible to John 4, you will read a story that tells us much about the ministry and method of Jesus. In this narrative, we read how Jesus intentionally encountered a woman at a well with a scandalous past. As you read, notice the different ways Jesus interacted with her.
If you have time, read John 4:1-30.
While Jesus “had to travel through Samaria” (John 4:4), every other Jewish man would have traveled around that area due to their disdain for the people. In reality, Jesus went down a culturally untypical path to meet this woman. He approached the well about noon (John 4:6), which was a densely populated time. The only type of people who would come then would be those who didn’t want to be seen by others. Jesus knew that and intentionally came at that specific hour.
Jesus crossed ethnic and religious lines to initiate a conversation with this woman (John 4:7). He knew how to turn a discussion on physical issues to spiritual matters (John 4:10). Jesus offered the gift of salvation (John 4:14). He wasn’t timid about talking about her situation, but He wasn’t overbearing about it either (John 4:16-18).
This woman had so many things stacked against her. She was hindered by her ethnicity, and she was plagued by her past. Her daily schedule revealed that she believed that she wasn’t worth the time of wholesome people who had their act together. And yet, this broken person is precisely who Jesus set an appointment to meet with on that day.
Jesus doesn’t define us by our past but works with us to create a different future.
Jesus never waited for this woman to get her life in order before He talked with her. Instead, He approached amid her drama and dysfunction. While others were afraid to be seen talking to her (John 4:27), Jesus wasn’t. Jesus was committed to initiating a relationship with her before she had ever given a thought to Him.
Jesus isn’t hindered by your past.
I know it is full of lots of issues, but it isn’t beyond what Jesus can do with it, from it, or despite it.
Don’t give up on yourself yet, because Jesus hasn’t.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.