I was in college when I met my husband at a Bible study. He was sitting on the floor dressed in scruffy jeans, a red flannel shirt, and a strong face that needed a shave. The moment I saw him, I was smitten. But I didn’t want him to know that.
Steve finally asked me out on a date, and several more followed. One night, Steve said, “Will go with me to all the rest of the football games for the rest of the year?”
“I’m not going to answer that question,” I cavalierly responded. “You’ll have to ask me each week.”
What I was really saying was that I wanted to be pursued. None of this blanket-invitation-for-the-entire-fall business. I wanted to be wooed and won. Even though he had me the moment I saw him sitting on that shag carpet floor. I wanted him to show me that I was worth putting forth the effort to capture my heart.
We all want that, don’t we? To be pursued? And nobody does that better than Jesus. Let’s consider His pursuit of one particular soul.
John 4:4 tells us, “He had to go through Samaria.” That one verse stirs my heart because I know what’s coming next. Jews avoided Samaritans like the plague—literally. They were a quarantined people, and the Jews kept their distance. And the Samaritans hated the Jews right back.
So it wasn’t because of geography that Jesus “had to go through Samaria” on His way to Galilee, but because His Father told Him to. Jesus reminded the disciples many times that He only did what His Father told Him to do (John 5:19).
You see, there was a woman in Samaria who had been used and abused all her life. She felt less than every man who had thrown her away, as well as every woman who looked the other way. And now she was about to experience something new: being pursued by pure love.
While most women went to the well to draw water for their daily use in the cool of the morning or late in the evening, this woman went at high noon to avoid being snubbed by the other women in town. When she showed up, Jesus was waiting and asked, “Will you give me a drink? (John 4:7). He was breaking the cultural rules by talking to a woman in public and drinking from a Samaritan’s cup. He was willing to cross the man-made rules to set the God-made woman free.
As Jesus engaged her in conversation, He asked her to go get her husband. When she admitted that she didn’t have one, Jesus revealed the sad truth of her life. She’d had five husbands plus one extra. We don’t know why she had been divorced five times. In those days, a man could divorce his wife if she went outside the home with her hair unbound or spoke to a man in public, or just didn’t like her anymore. But whatever the reasons, this was a woman who had been abused, misused, and tossed away by men she had trusted and loved.
Jesus spoke to her of her past without a hint of condemnation or rejection in His voice. As a matter of fact, He applauded her honesty and commenced to have the longest recorded conversation in the New Testament with this broken woman.
Then Jesus did something amazing. For the first time, He told someone that He was the Messiah. “I, the one speaking to you—I am he” (John 4:26).
This woman, pursued by God, dropped her water bucket and ran back to town to tell the very people she had avoided about Jesus. Her story holds great promise for any woman who has ever tried to fill the hole in her heart with relationships but comes up empty. It is for every single one of us who has ever felt less than because we were tossed away, or others were chosen, and we were not.
I think God made sure this story was included for every woman who has ever felt less than because of rejection, discrimination, or a sullied reputation. And for you…and for me. God’s pursuit began in the Garden of Eden with the words, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9) and continued with the words “He had to go through Samaria.” Listen closely. They continue even now.
He pursues you still.