John 4:28-29 : The woman then left her water-pot, and went her way into the city and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
An appropriate word to possibly describe the woman at the well in John 4 is Outcast. In my New Testament class we learned about this woman by particularly looking at contextual clues that could deepen our understanding of the significance of her story.
First of all, you need to know that Jesus finds this woman at a well in Samaria. The Samaritans and the Jews hated each other. As my teacher put it, the Jews considered themselves pure blood and the Samaritans mixed or dirty blood--Similar to Harry Potter with mudbloods. Typically a Jew, and Jesus was a Jew, wouldn't be kind towards a Samaritan, which is our first clue into why this story is so important and shows Jesus's character so well.
Next, if we go to John 4:6-7, we notice that Jesus saw this woman at the well at the sixth hour. This means 6 hours after sunrise, or in other words, around noon. Women in this area during the day normally fetched water from the well in the morning and at night, which would have us guessing that it was a social event. Clearly, this woman didn't fit in with the other women; clearly, this woman was still desperate for water. This is a possibly clue into her being an outcast.
If we then move to John 4:9, we notice that this women was not looking towards making friends as she looks up to Jesus and says, "How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans." As you can imagine, this wasn't a phrase of welcome or endearment.
The last clue is found in John 4:16-18 when Jesus prophesies of the woman's failed marriages and sinful lifestyle full of infidelity. As you can imagine, this lifestyle most likely did not make this woman very popular among the woman of the town.
If you don't mind, at this point of my analysis I would like to insert myself.
There was a time in my past when I was truly lost. I had lost a lot of my friends, turned away from the light, and decided that I could do this "life" thing on my own, as an outcast, living a bare minimum lifestyle. I don't really like to tell this story because we all have made past mistakes and I never like focusing on mine, and would rather focus on the miracle of the atonement. But, for this story's purposes I ask for your kindness and non-judgment as I relate this story to myself personally.
When I first felt the spirit nudging me towards changing, my first response was "you have no dealings with me, I am too far gone" I know that sounds harsh and terrible, but it's true. I didn't want to turn to the light that I had known was true my whole life. I truly thought that positive change was impossible for me at that point. One of my thoughts was that all of the positive influential people in my life had seemed to leave and I was left standing broken, trying to fix my life with no real direction, and essentially began resisting help.
My "Ah-hah!" moment wasn't until a girl's camp when my young woman president decided to talk to me alone about my life. The thing is, you would have never guessed I was struggling with all that I was because I put on a mask to everyone, but the spirit told her to talk to me. She didn't "prophesy" of my mistakes, but I know that the spirit knew and told her to reach out. Suddenly I felt a need to tell her everything and change and come back to the light, but I shrunk with fear. I didn't tell her and I never did, but the fire of desire started growing inside. Little steps were taken soon after which eventually caused me to trust in the atonement and really use it in my life.
Later in the story, the woman in John 4:25-26 learns that Christ, the very man that would save her from (but not in) her sins was the one speaking kindly and softly to her. Isn't it ironic, that the one that would suffer for her sins wasn't the one that pointed them out to her with anger and resentment? Instead, he pointed them out to bring her to Him and to trust Him. Immediately she ran to tell others and brought them to Christ.
It wasn't until I truly understood that the atonement can change anybody and that Christ was real, loving, kind, and powerful, that I changed. It was through little nudges of kindness and love that brought me back into the light, into His love. It wasn't the spirit coming, telling me i'm horrible and need to change, and leaving. It was soft and gentle and I felt Christ in every moment of my process of change.
The reason I tell this story isn't to talk about how awesome I was for changing, or how bad I was before, it is to show you that there are people in our lives that we have to reach out to with love and kindness like Christ did. Had my YW leader not reached out, I don't know if I would have felt God's love as powerful that day at Girl's camp. Let us be a little better at resisting judgments on others, because I, like this woman, was an outcast, and Christ didn't let either of us be excluded from his love. Let us be better at not excluding anyone from our own love, and diligently pray to find the 'woman at the well' in our lives who needs our help to recognize Christ's love.
A lot of time has passed for me since this life story, unlike the woman at the well. But, we are the same in our new desires in life: to bring others to Christ by helping them receive the gospel. Writing this sad part of my life is somewhat bleak to my new adventures ahead, but I choose to look at the past and realize just how much the Savior loves me and wants me to continually rely on His Atonement. I am so grateful that He led me back and found His lost sheep back then, because now I have the amazing opportunity to serve a mission and spread the gospel, just like the woman at the well.
Because of her conversion this result came:
John 4:39-42: And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. And many more believe because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of they saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the World.