Three Glances of Christ
There are more to the encounters with Jesus Christ than is recorded in the gospels. Perhaps you are not sure what to expect when you encounter Him, permit me to give you a fresh view of what it was like for these three women to encounter the Christ and how these experiences changed their lives!
The Woman at the Well (John 4:1-42)
The noonday sun beat down in oppressive waves as she made her way through the empty streets toward the well. Each step was heavy and labored. She was burdened with far more than her clay water jars. Shame, guilt, embarrassment, contempt . . . these were the weights around her neck, pulling her confidence to the ground rather than greeting others she may have encountered. Her reputation was well known in the community, forever marking her as untouchable, unfriendly, and unlovable.
What must she have been thinking? Fine, then. You people do not need me, and I certainly don’t need you. Or perhaps, Why should I care what you people think? You’ve never done anything for me.
Maybe, though, her spirit was more broken than she realized, and her inner voice squeaked out, “I wish someone would love me; if someone would just notice me; If only someone would want me to talk with them”
Whatever her thoughts, they were interrupted by the voice of the stranger sitting at the well. “Will you give me a drink?” he asked. Recognizing him as a Jew, the Samaritan woman could not conceal her shock at this surprise encounter. Racial tension was at an all-time high, and polite exchanges between Jews and Samaritans simply did not happen.
“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” she responded.
(In her mind, a flurry of other questions arose. Can’t you see I’m here at this time of day because I don’t want to see anyone? Don’t you know it is improper for a man to approach a woman in public like this?)
The stranger’s answer confounded her. “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink,” he said, “you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
“What are you talking about?” she asked. “You do not even have a jar to draw water from the well; where can you get this living water?”
The love in his eyes and voice broke through her defenses as he answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst again.”
Her curiosity was piqued. “Sir,” she asked, “give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Suddenly, the stranger caught her off guard with a request. “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I . . . I have no husband,” she replied through gritted teeth and pursed lips. Her curiosity, which had turned to suspicion, now gave way to amazement and embarrassment as the man revealed his awareness of her private indiscretions and inner most thoughts.
Her heart raced. Who is this man? How does he know about my life? The current discussion was too personal for her comfort, so she attempted to change the subject to a more theological issue. The stranger redirected the issue back to her private affairs. She realized that he was genuinely interested, not in talk of religion, but in the condition of her life.
She had never seen such godly passion in any other person. She trembled as the man looked deeply through her eyes and into her soul and said, “I who speak to you am he.” And then, she knew. This was no mere man, no simple teacher, no ordinary prophet. This was the Christ, God’s Holy Son, the promised Messiah that the Jews and Samaritans had read of. Immediately, perfect love cast out all fear and her shame vanished and her guilt fled, as she stood boldly in the love of the Lord.
Zealously leaving the area, the woman ran back to town. Down the same path she had just crept quietly, hoping not to be seen, she now bounded wildly looking for people to tell. For the first time in years, she did not feel like a walking scandal, someone who was lesser than others around her. Instead, she had a new job: she was a messenger of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. She no longer hid; now, she yelled in the streets, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?!”
Perhaps to her own surprise, the people listened to her and they did come. They came in droves, and Scripture records that many in that area came to a saving knowledge of Jesus through this one restored woman’s testimony.
She was enslaved to a belief that she had no hope and no purpose. Jesus changed that. He used a most unlikely messenger to transform the lives of many in Samaria, and He began with the one person who needed Him most.
Rahab (Joshua 2:11)
With every wisp of wind, the cord scraped against the concrete sill of her window. It dangled down the outer wall of Jericho, stopping short of the ground by some few feet. To and fro it gently swayed, making its faint sounds and marking the days, constantly reminding her that it was the very sign of salvation and safety for her.
The spies of Israel had used the cord to escape from her home, a place known more for men clamoring to get inside than outside. She had been a harlot, but something was different about her now. Her heart wasn’t burdened, her countenance unstrained. Yeah, the people still whispered and gossiped when she walked by, but now she could think of the cord, think of what it meant, and crease an ever so confident smile.
She knew the cord swaying in her window, scarlet in color, was at once saving her life and marking her rebirth.
Perhaps this is how Rahab’s life unfolded in the few days after her encounter with two Israelite spies whom she protected from her king’s men and then directed to safety. Chapters Two and Six of the book of Joshua detail the story of this Canaanite woman of ill repute. She aided and abetted in espionage against her own city, struck a deal for the safety of herself and her family, and committed gross treason against her people all because of one fact: She came to the conclusion of who God really is.
“For the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath,” she tells the spies in Joshua 2:11. It is this statement of faith that reveals why Rahab was saved from the destruction of Jericho, her red cord serving as a sign to the Israelites that God would–and had–saved her.
Rahab’s sins had been scarlet, but the scarlet line freeing the spies, and remaining as a token of her safety, typified the scarlet blood of Jesus whereby the worst of sinners can be saved from sin and hell. “There was in Rahab’s mind, no matter how faintly understood, a distinct call from God, that she was being singled out from her own idolatrous people to aid the God she had a growing awareness of. Her faith of this God who worked great wonders was altogether awe-inspiring and extraordinary.
So marvelous was her faith and mighty her spirit that Rahab is one of only two women named in the famous Hall of Faith of Hebrews 11. She was a pagan, a woman, and a prostitute. Nevertheless, she chose to become identified with the people of Israel, a decision based on faith,”
“Far from being dead or worthless, her faith moved her to risk her life to protect the spies. As a result, she was declared righteous. Rahab’s home, a shell sitting on beams atop the expanse of Jericho’s two tall walls, miraculously survived as the walls tumbled around her. She eventually would live amid the nation of Israel and apparently marry someone named Salmon.
Matthew 1:5, in giving the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ, reveals the depth of God’s love and forgiveness regardless of who we are or what we have done. For there, listed among some of the greatest names in history, is that of the sin-stained harlot named Rahab, a woman who in God’s providence was worthy of the family tree of Christ.
Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30)
Jesus Christ and His disciples were under considerable pressure. The hostility of the Jews had intensified. Therefore, Jesus and His disciples withdrew to the border towns of Tyre and Sidon in the northwest of Canaan.
While in the Syrophoenician region, Jesus entered into a certain house where He hoped He might enjoy some privacy, but, notably, “He could not be hid” (cf. Mk. 7:24), because His message was too wonderful and His deeds too powerful to be concealed. His fame preceded Him everywhere He went.
It was here that a heart-broken woman sought Him out. She was a Canaanite by origin, that is, she had pagan roots. The woman was deeply distressed due to the fact that she had a little daughter who was fatally besieged by a demon that possessed her. In view of her plight, the anxious mother followed Christ and those accompanying Him. She plead that He might have mercy on her, and heal her daughter. Jesus replied, “First I should help my own family, the Jews. It isn’t right to take food from the Jews and throw it to the Gentiles.”
At first glance, His response may seem harsh, but a closer examination reveals that Christ knew the quality of this woman’s soul and He challenged it to mature. In an amazingly planned way, Jesus placed several obstacles in the woman’s path, each of which she overcame with radiant faith. Finally, Jesus exclaimed: “O woman, great is your faith,” and He healed her daughter without so much as laying His eyes upon the child.
This woman, though a heathen by background, had obviously been exposed to the Son of God. She believed.
Though she had been given no specific acts of obedience to perform, nevertheless, when Christ came into her region, she sought Him, pursued Him, worshipped Him, pled with Him, and reasoned with Him. Had she operated upon the premise that “so long as I believe it to be so, it will be,” her afflicted daughter would have remained in that woeful condition. This unnamed woman and her undaunted faith shine vividly from the gospel records.
by Larry Brashear