Have you ever been an outsider?

From the ages of 11 to 14, I hated Wednesdays. During that period of my life, Wednesdays meant one thing: Catechism class. It wasn’t the class itself that made me loathe 3 to 5 pm one day a week, it was the community. Or lack of it. You see, our church was in a different town. Which meant everyone else in that class was from the same school except me. There was one other girl from my school, actually, but she and I didn’t get along very well.

And so, I was alone.

Whenever the class had a break, I went to the bathroom first, hoping to delay as long as possible what would ensue during free time in the gym. When the others would play and laugh together, and I would sit in the corner by myself. When, on good days, I would be ignored. When, on bad days, I would be picked on.

I hated being the outsider. Sometimes, it left me frustrated, trying to do things to fit in, but just not getting it right. Other times, it left me angry, wondering who they thought they were to leave me out. Most of the time, it left me feeling worthless, thinking I was excluded for a reason.

In Jesus’ day, the Samaritans were the outsiders. The Jewish people considered Samaritans to be half-breeds and religious-compromisers. They shunned them. Yet, John 4 begins with,

So he [Jesus] left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now he had to go through Samaria… – John 4:3-4

Jesus didn’t actually have to go through Samaria to get from Judea to Galilee. Yes, it was the most direct route. But, many Jewish people avoided taking that route, in order to avoid Samaritans. But Jesus chose to go through Samaria. He ended up there around noon. He sent His disciples to get some food while He waited at the well. While Jesus was there, a Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water.

Noon was an odd time to come to the well.

Noon is the heat of the day. It is not the time to do such a physically taxing chore. This woman was obviously trying to avoid running into others.

She was an outsider among outsiders.

Yet, when she came, Jesus spoke to her. He did not avoid her. He engaged her in conversation. He revealed details He knew about her life. She could tell He was a prophet. She was curious, but confused. Until He revealed something amazing.

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” – John 4:25-26

To this outsider, Jesus revealed Himself to be the promised Messiah.

This woman was used to people ignoring her. She was used to sitting in the corner by herself. She was used to being scoffed at by Jewish men as they walked by.

But the very man who broke that trend, who treated her as if she was worth something, said “I, the one speaking to you- I am he.” I am the Messiah.

And so, this woman ran to town to spread the news. She ran with such haste that she left her water jar behind. She ran to the very people she had been avoiding.

Her response was not the response of a frustrated, angry, and worthless outsider. It was the response of someone who knew she had something of value to share.

And others listened. I wonder if it was her words that made the most impact, or what they saw behind the words. The change in her. The confidence. The hope. The love.

And so

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. – John 4:39-41

Jesus had to go through Samaria. He had to show that He does not respond to people the way the world does. He does not exclude. He does not segregate. He does not discriminate. He comes. He speaks. He says to all of us,

“I, the one speaking to you- I am He.”

I am the One who can bring you hope. I am the One who can satisfy your needs. I am the One who can remind you that you have something valuable to offer the world.

You are not an outsider in My eyes.

Have you ever been an outsider? What do you think this “I am” statement said to the Samaritan woman reveals about Jesus?

Read the post before this one, The Question No One Likes to Ask.

* Photo Credit: Tecfan on Flickr Creative Commons