There’s a story I’ve been listening to for years about a woman who met a man at a well. I’ve heard the woman called many things. Sinful. Scandalous. Promiscuous.

She was married five times, and when we meet her in the story, she was living with a man who wasn’t even her husband.

But what if we’ve missed something all this time?

What if the labels we’ve created fall apart when we take some time to understand how she actually got to where she was? This nameless woman was living at a time when only men were allowed to file for divorce. If this woman was married five times, it was because of circumstances outside of her control. The more likely scenario is that she was barren, which was grounds for a husband to divorce his wife. There’s also a chance she was widowed a time or two.

This woman’s situation was not her fault. This was simply reality for women. Her situation was the product of her culture. And yet, for centuries, we have misrepresented the woman at the well.

This woman’s life was not a series of bad choices and sinful actions. This woman’s situation was one of marginalization.

Every day she traveled to the well alone. At noon. Thirsty. And every day the water she drew from the well satisfied her for a short time. Then she had to turn around and do it again. In her life, she looked for value and security in a system of rules and roles that left her alone and hopeless.

Until she met a man at a well. A man who needed something only she could provide, and he gave her something only he could give.

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Last Sunday I preached about a woman who has been misrepresented for centuries. Listen to it here.

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