Jesus routinely crossed barriers that made the religious uncomfortable. Jesus ate with the wrong people, talked to the wrong people, and often did the wrong things. He routinely upset the religious establishment by loving people that were off-limits. What Jesus did and who he did it for infuriated the religious people in Jesus’ day.
This is the kind of behavior that we see when Jesus talked with a Samaritan woman at a well in Sychar.
Jesus’ barrier-crossing love would’ve caused great concern for the people around him. Cultural differences and ethnic divides were significant and well-known between Jews and Samaritans. Gender roles in the first-century world would have made it surprising for Jesus to initiate a conversation with this woman. And on top of that all, we will quickly learn that this woman had some scandalous sins to hide.
She came to the well at noon because it was more bearable to endure the scorn of the sun than to bear the scorn of the shame. She wasn't up for the scorn she'd have to endure in a crowd of women from her community; it was easier to go when she wouldn’t run into anyone. The heat was easier than the whispers behind her back.
But when Jesus arrived at this well, he knew all this and ignored the damage her reputation might have caused his own. He knew all the cultural, social, and ethnic barriers. He knew why she was there and he even knew the things that she didn't want to talk about.
But Jesus still brought it up:
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” - John 4:17-18
Jesus didn't let any of this change what he offered her. He didn't let the scandal of her sin stop him. He didn't revoke his offer of living water once this came out. In fact, he made the offer before this yet already knowing the behavior she was hiding. Jesus gave what no one else could give to her.
This is what Jesus always does. He gets criticized for dining with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:11) and gets accused of being a drunk and a glutton (Luke 7:34). Jesus regularly has his own reputation damaged when he crosses the boundaries that other people weren’t willing to cross. @@Jesus doesn’t give himself to the deserving or the desirable, he gives himself to the people who aren't.@@
Jesus crosses every barrier that stands between you and him. Every barrier that you’ve built up to keep your sin hidden. Every barrier that the culture or religion has created that makes you feel like you’re not good enough. Jesus crosses those barriers, ignores the damage it might cause his reputation, and offers you a drink.
He offers you a glass of water that will give you life. In the heat of the sun, hiding from the sins you’re ashamed of, Jesus meets you with unwavering grace. And suddenly with a simple sip of water, things change.
Things change just like they did for that Samaritan woman who avoided her community. When she was met with a love that had no conditions, she responded by returning to the community she once hid from. She went back to the people who knew who she’d been with and instead of hiding in shame, that same sin that once isolated her led to a beautiful invitation, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”