Disgrace becomes grace

Isn’t it funny how changing up a few letters in a word transforms a word into a whole new entity. Take the word dog for instance. Exchange the o for an i and the word becomes dig. A noun became a verb simply because I changed out the vowels. Prefixes and suffixes are also fun to play with. Take the word disgrace. Let’s use this formula: Disgrace – dis = Grace. The prefix “dis” means to place a negative effect or a have a reversing force on the meaning of a word.

This week as I travel onward toward the completion of my book, “On the Way,” I traveled with Jesus to a well in Samaria. “Jacob’s Well” it is called. It is where Jesus met a woman in disgrace and He had a reversing effect on the state of her condition by simply entering her life.

As this scene played out before me this week I saw Jesus’ humanity. John 4:6 says of Jesus, “Jesus was tired from His long trip, so He sat down beside the well.” The wells during this day had about about a 5 foot diameter circular concrete covering over it with a small center hole. This covering helped keep out blowing dirt, and helped in protecting people from the danger of falling into the well. The center opening allowed people to dip their leather water jug into the well to pull out the much needed water for the day. This is where Jesus chose to rest. Can you not see Him lifting himself onto this concrete bench to rest His weary legs? Did He legs swing back and forth as He waited there? Jesus had sent His disciples into the town of Sychar to buy food. He came to the well with nothing. He had walked approximately 26 miles. It was His marathon. Jesus did not pack any bags so He had no jar to dip into the well so that He might quench His thirst. His Father had an appointment for Him at this very spot and He knew it. Enter stage right. God sent a woman to intersect His Son’s path. This woman had what Jesus needed to quench His thirst. Jesus intiated the conversation. Out of His need He broke into her need. Out of His humanity He spoke and gave her what she needed most. He gave her worth and value. Because He was hot and thirsty He intersected her disgrace and He gave her grace in a moment of His need.

There were no social taboos He wouldn’t cross to rescue a needy person. He shouldn’t have even spoken to her. A man and especially a Rabbi would never speak to a woman in public. Jesus should have never even entered their country of Samaria. Samaria and Israel had a long history of violence and hatred toward each other. A Jewish person went out of their way not to dirty the soles of their sandals on Samaritan soil. They would travel hundred of miles east or west out of their way to avoid going through Samaria. Jesus went right on through. He chose to head straight north from Judea to Galilee then in turn cut right through the center of Samaria. He crossed borders, He broke social fau paux, and ignored protests just because there was someone in need on the other side.

Does it sound like our world today? In a world filled with hatred and violence in every corner, we have been shone the way to break through racism and prejudice. Jesus modeled it this day at a well in Samaria.

He spoke to this woman out of His need. He got on her level so that He might raise her to His level. He was kind. He didn’t condemn her. Jesus became her Living Water. In His broken physical humanity He took away the “dis” from “disgrace.

It’s a lesson for me today. I am called by His name. I am a Christian. The word means Christ’s likeness. I should be giving away Living Water to those who aren’t like me, and who don’t believe as I believe. I need to be humble and transparent enough to reveal my weaknesses and cross over the borders and really listen to their needs. Just like the woman at the well, people may skirt around their true needs and talk about issues that aren’t the real issues. But if I listen, and I mean really listen with the heart of my Savior, He will reveal to me the heart of their real hurt and pain. That’s what Jesus did.

Nikki, my daughter, has a hypothesis. What if one act of random act kindness could erase one act of violent act of hatred? That’s what happened on this day at Jacob’s Well. Because Jesus initiated a conversataion with this woman, because He showed her His weakness, because He spoke of His Father’s great love and knowledge of her, a woman filled with disgrace received grace, a whole village received His salvation, and the disciples were shown how to overcome their prejudices.

This was the lesson for me this week as I traveled “On the Way” to the completion of the book.