Imagine someone wrote a play about the time Jesus went through Samaria and met the woman at the well (John 4), or perhaps the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8). This person is now looking for people to act in this play and you get to pick any part you want. You can be whoever you want to be! Who would you be?
I imagine that most of us would not want to be the main character in the story. After all, in the culture in which these women lived and according to their religious practices they were sinners. They should have known better, but somehow life propelled them on a journey that they never wished to take. Were they abused as little girls? Perhaps they were stuck in arranged, loveless marriages that they could no longer tolerate and they rebelled beginning a cycle of condemnation and shame. Maybe they were barren and put away by the men in their lives who were supposed to love and protect them because these men wanted sons. Scripture does not tell us why or how they ended up as they did, only that they did.
Do you see yourself as the neighbors in their villages? After all, these women should not be treated as though there is nothing amiss in their lives. They are sinners, and not only that, but they continue to sin! If their neighbors ignore the sin and pretend that nothing is wrong with how they live, isn’t that putting a stamp of approval on their lifestyle?
Perhaps you could play the part of the Pharisees? After all, the woman was caught in the very act of adultery! The law is specific as to the punishment. She committed a sexual sin- a sin from within her very body! As a religious leader, an example of purity and righteousness must be set! Sin cannot be tolerated.
Let’s put this in modern day language. Are you the single mother who walks into a church for the first time and is greeted with smiles and handshakes until everyone finds out that you have been divorced three times and your children all have different fathers? Are you the church member who turns a cold shoulder to this mother and then goes on to complain to the pastor about such a sinner being allowed a place in your church? Are you the pastor who asks this woman into your office and then apologetically asks her to leave so that the ruffled feathers of your Pharisees can calm down?
Maybe a single man comes to your church and you discover that he has been trapped in a homosexual lifestyle for several years, but he wants to be saved and delivered. Your church rallies around him until his former lover shows up on his doorstep and he backslides. Are you the one who demands he leave until he repents, or are you the one who presses into the Presence of God on his behalf for a word of knowledge that will truly set both him & his “friend” free?
What would Jesus do? What DID He do when he encountered these women. Since when is sexual sin more heinous than gossip, backbiting, condemnation, and unforgiveness? Can we truly love our neighbor as ourselves? Which part do YOU want to play?