“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.'” (NIV – click here for full text)
Last time we reflected on Hagar’s testimony of the Lord that sees her. As she sat in the wilderness alone and away from all human sight, the Lord sought her, found her, and comforted her with his seeing of her. God saw her when she was all alone and rejected by the world.
In the New Testament, we encounter a similar story in John 4 as Jesus interacts with the Samaritan woman at the well. Similarities abound. First, like Hagar, this woman is an outsider, someone who comes to the well alone. She is a woman in the constant wilderness of social rejection and shame. Second, like Hagar, she is in the midst of relational chaos. As Hagar found herself rejected by her “family” due to jealously and shame, the Samaritan woman lives in shame as someone married five times and now living with a man not her husband. Third, as everyone else has seemingly abandoned these two women, God has not. Indeed, he seeks them out. He sees them and shows them his mercy. Through this, he brings them to renewed life.
As Jesus encounters this woman at the well, he “sees” her truly – both in her sin and in the new life that is being birthed. Throughout their conversation, the woman desires to deflect Jesus’ penetrating eyes into her soul. But through Jesus’ careful inspection, he speaks the truth that brings transformation. Her final defense mechanism is putting God’s coming into the future. “I know he is coming,” she says, “and then he’ll explain everything.” By putting the revelation in the future, it allows her to not face her present – the shame that hurts, but also the healing that is available.
Jesus defeats this final defense as he says, “I who speak to you am he” (NIV). What she dismissed as a future reality is sitting right before her. She can’t avoid it anymore, her whole life is in this present moment – the sin, the shame, the truth, the opportunity for redemption, the loving presence of her beginning and end. It is here. We see this even more as we hear literally what Jesus said. The Greek translates literally, “I am, the one who speaks to you.” By saying “I am”, Jesus is taking on the very name of God that was revealed to Moses at the burning bush. Here is this woman’s burning bush and it changes her. It brings her to life.
Let us not lose sight of what the truth of God’s seeing us does for us. Like the woman at the well, we are tempted to dismiss God’s present seeing of our life. We hide from his gaze. We hide in our shame, but we also hide from his mercy. Be healed by God’s sight. Do not be afraid of it. Be healed and comforted by it. It is God’s merciful eyes that open our eyes to his love, grace, and healing.