In our Gnosis class this past Sunday (we meet Sunday mornings at 9:00 AM for anyone interested), we studied John’s story about Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. The story is fascinating on many different levels, especially the inclusive actions taken by Jesus to embrace someone so different. However, what struck our class more than anything was the transformation of the woman after experiencing the grace and acceptance of the Messiah.
Now, we may have been reading way more into this story than John intended, but stories often take a life of their own after the author publishes them. When the woman realizes Jesus is not going to condemn her for her past mistakes, acknowledging them without judging her, she seems to be set free. She is a person so longing for community, so desperate to be noticed and not ostracized, she sheds her past before our eyes. When John writes, “The woman left her water jar,” we gain a sense she has left more behind than meets the eye.
In fact, after learning of Jesus’ identity, she runs back to the people who have shunned her. The woman rejected and excluded from gathering water with the rest of the women, chose to embrace and include those whom had spurned her. When she left that jar setting at Jesus’ feet, she left behind her loneliness, frustrations, and anger. An embrace from the Messiah can do that I guess.
What jars do we need to set down? What burdens in life are holding us back? What emotions are pulling us down? What situations are destroying us from the inside out? The Messiah is calling. He seeks to embrace us, no matter our pasts. He seeks to engage us, no matter what others thinks about us. When we encounter the Christ, we are transformed enabling us to set down our jars and live a new life.
What is your jar? What holds you back from setting it down?