This is my reflection of Pastor Edmund Chan’s sermon (Jan. 29, 2012) at Christ Commission Fellowship-St. Francis.
This morning, Pastor Chan taught us 3 T’s that are found in every Bible Story– Tone, Tension, Twist. He applied this to the story of the Samaritan Woman. Well, I have heard PLENTIFUL interpretations of this account, but I came out surprisingly refreshed and even convicted by how my mind usually read the story, especially the part where Jesus confronted the woman of her failed marriages and current live-in status. In the past, I thought of the tone as a rebuke. As in, with a voice of confrontation, Jesus said to the woman: “YOU’RE RIGHT! You DON’T have a husband— for you HAVE HAD FIVE HUSBANDS, and you AREN’T EVEN MARRIED to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!” (vv. 17b-18; NLT; emphases mine).
If I were the one confronted that way, I would have: 1st, freaked out. 2nd, ran as far away as I could from this scary yet seemingly all-knowing man. 3rd, I would have fervently prayed: “God, I hope I don’t bump into that man ever again.” And 4th, wallowed in self-pity and shame (how could he have known? have people spread my story beyond my village?). What was the Samaritan woman’s reaction? She stayed. Aside from burning curiosity by this enigmatic man, the woman must have felt understood and ‘un’-rejected for the first time. There must have been a compassionate tone in Jesus’ words that caused her to stay for more.
Pastor Edmund shared that there is a story behind the fact that she had 5 husbands. A marriage might have failed. She must have been rejected. Men during that time considered their wives as possessions that they can easily divorce even at a whim. A precious spouse must have died. The present live-in partner obviously didn’t love and value her enough to marry her. For what does this woman long for but to be cherished and feel secured (through lawful marriage) by the man she loved? She got none of these from her partner but she stayed with him. And so pain after pain after pain, this Samaritan woman lived out her life shamed and condemned. Yet Jesus’ response to her pain was compassion, understanding, love and an offer of hope. Her response was joyful faith, to the point that she ran back to her village– undeterred by the fact that these were the same people who must have branded her as loose– and proclaimed that she met the Messiah!
There’s a story behind every story, indeed. It takes a compassionate heart, a love for the condition of the lost, and willingness to reach out and listen, just as Jesus did, to be invited into the core of people’s hearts.
That’s just the tone. Can you find the tension and twist in the Samaritan Woman’s encounter with Christ?
Have you truly listened to someone’s story recently?