I’m indebted to Marvin Vincent in his excellent book “Word Studies in the New Testament” for pointing out the way that Jesus interacts with the Samaritan woman who rolls up to the well at noon, a time when no one else would be there. She avoided the other women because of her social position in the village of Sychar. Having 5 husbands and shacking up with a sixth man who was not her husband, would not lend itself to good relations with other people in the town, especially given the culture and mores of 1st century Samaria/Judea.
Vincent points out how Christ connects with her:
- He approaches her first of all by asking her for a favor – “Give me something to drink.”
- He does not overwhelm her with new knowledge, but stimulates questions and thought – “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
- He treats her sin frankly, but not harshly – You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
- He is content with letting her see that He is aware of it, knowing that through Him, as the Discerner, she will by and by reach Him as the Forgiver.
- He is not deterred from the effort to plant His truth and to rescue a soul, either by His own weariness or by the conventional sentiment which frowned upon His conversation with a woman in a public place. – How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”
One can’t help but think that, if we connected with people the way Christ did, we would be less likely to be accused of being the holier-than-thou, self-righteous people that we are sometimes rightly accused of being.