I feel flabbergasted every time I read John 4 and encounter the enthusiasm over the Samaritan woman's line "He told me all that I ever did" (John 4:39). I would not be at all excited to meet a man who knew and could broadcast all the sordid details of my life! What was going through the Samaritans' minds as they rushed to see Jesus--and what was going through the infamous Samaritan woman's mind?
The whole account seems so strange. Jesus calls the woman out on her shady relationship history. She hardly seems to blink; she merely, swiftly, changes the subject from her seedy past to worship controversies. How was she feeling; what was she thinking? Ashamed? Too amazed and bewildered to feel embarrassed? Perplexed by all of His mysterious talk? A growing excitement and anticipation, a hope that there was something about this Man...could He, maybe, be...?
So she runs and tells the whole town that He exposed her. Did they all already know her as the local whore? If she was ostracized, as I think I've heard in sermons but don't necessarily get just from this text, why would she want to tell the people who shunned and shamed her? Would there have been a kind of glory in knowing Him first, being the bearer of good news--that just having met and talked with Him and being branded as having more intimacy with Him than anyone else in town would somehow redeem her?
Why did the people care what she had to say? If her reputation was already well-known, how would it be so impressive if Jesus knew the details? I guess maybe because He was a Jew, so just because all the Samaritans knew about her, doesn't mean He would ever have talked to them to find out.
"He told me all that I ever did." A strange testimony. But what else could she have said that would convince them, capture their attention and their curiosity, draw them to Him? "I met a guy who says He is the Messiah!"--so what? Hadn't they heard that line before? Any crackpot can make such a claim, unsubstantiated. His prophetic knowledge of the woman's life would give him credibility.
So she celebrates that she is known. Announces it to the world. And the people flock. Do they, too, really want to be known?
There is one thing that would change my statement, "I would not be excited to meet a man who knew all the sordid details of my life." Simply add four words: "...and loved me anyway."
Is it true that we all want to be fully, deeply KNOWN? Perhaps, but half-true. I think we want to be known and loved. What good is being known if the knowledge makes a person turn away, repulsed?
But this Jesus...He knows, and loves. He knows, and invites. He knows, and has compassion.
That is the gospel.
"God demonstrates his own love for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
"In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ..."
"Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did." Jesus knew every deed, every thought, every motive of my heart. Further, he interpreted all these in light of ultimate truth; He told me all that I REALLY did: how I loved my own glory and robbed God of His. How sins that I thought were "no big deal" led to the shameful slaughter of God's Son. He told me all this...and yet He loved me. Chose me. Called me. Adopted me. Betrothed me to Himself. Redeemed me. Freed me.
No one knows our hearts better than you, Father; and you search our hearts to care for us, not chide us; to deliver us, not shame us; to parent us, not embarrass us. You’ve never surprised at what you find. There’s no search and discovery; there’s kindness and engagement.Known fully. And loved perfectly. Good news.
You know the best and worse about us—our fears and our foolishness; our struggles with sin and our standing in Christ. You know us better than anyone could and you love us more than anyone would.
(Scotty Smith, "A Prayer for Days When You Don't Feel Like Praying")