Truth deepens the value of grace.
In Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, Jesus shows that there is
no part of our self–no matter how dark or unsavory–that his grace is insufficient to redeem.
Their conversation follows an interesting trajectory.
He asks for a drink. She’s surprised he’s even talking to her because Jews and Samaritans
don’t speak, much less a Jewish man and a Samaritan woman. He suggests if she had any idea
to whom she was speaking, she would ask for living water and he would give it to her.
It is well-known that when he uses the words “living water,” she likely took this to mean “running
water.” But he has something different in mind.
Here’s the thing: She says, “Sir, give me this living water…” He had just told her that if she
asked for it, he would give it to her, so whatever he did next must somehow honor this request.
His response to her? “Go, call your husband and come back.”
Jesus’ response to her request for living water was to shine a light on one of the darkest corners
of her life. Her response that she has no husband is met by Jesus pointing out the
uncomfortable truth about her checkered relationship history of five failed marriages.
I doubt that in ancient Semitic culture they had the same idiom that we do about how you
shouldn’t bring up politics or religion in most conversations. Even so, to change the subject, she
brings up both! She describes him as a prophet, then wants to have a conversation about where
it is that people ought to worship, and how their respective people groups interpret things
differently. You know Jesus must have struck a nerve when it felt to her like a conversation
about political and religious disagreements would lighten the mood.
But let’s not hurry off from what Jesus brought up. When she asked for living water that would
address her deepest thirst and help her become like a fountain overflowing with life, Jesus’
starting point was the part of her life for which she must have had the most shame.
In other words, there is no corner of your life so dark that the light of God’s love is insufficient to
Jesus didn’t build up to the hard stuff. Jesus marched straight up to her darkness in the same
boldness with which he one day stepped out of the tomb. It wasn’t too much for him to handle.
God’s grace is so amazing because there aren’t any limits to what it’s capable of healing. In
coming to God, there isn’t any part of you that has to remain off-limits for you to be welcomed
into God’s life. You can approach God truly and authentically because your hard truth doesn’t
overwhelm grace. Your hard truth provides God with an opportunity to show that grace can run
even more deeply than you imagined it could.
Mark Adams is a minister at the Kings Crossing Church of Christ in Corpus Christi, Texas. He
met his wife Carolina while they were students at Harding University. They have one son,
Xoaquin. Mark holds degrees from the Harding School of Theology and the Hazelip School of
Theology. You can follow his blog or podcast at his website: kingdomupgrowth.com.