I think it’s safe to say that most people believe me when I tell them something. This is certainly true when there has been an ongoing relationship. Once we’ve spent time observing someone, checking that their behaviors and words match up, we tend to assign some value to their character. Admit it, you’re always sizing up the next guy.
So, when recently reading about the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan Woman for the umpteenth time, it struck me that not only did she begin to tell others about Jesus, but people listened and followed her! Here was a woman, who visited the water well at the hottest point of the day to avoid the stares of the villagers; now going to the village to engage.
If that wasn’t strange enough, these same villagers stopped, listened, and followed her. While she may have had a shady reputation, there was still something credible about her that drew a crowd. Was it her character or was it her words? Can’t tell from the text, but… “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony (John 4:39, NIV).” Something about what she said caused others to listen.
Then there was another woman, who not only served in ministry alongside Jesus, but was entrusted with the message of His resurrection; Mary Magdalene. Magdalene, said to have been once demon possessed, is one of the women who financed Jesus’ ministry (Luke 8:1-3). While the accounts of the Gospel writers differ in many aspects, all four write of Magdalene’s account of Jesus’ resurrection.
Unlike the shunned Samaritan woman, Magdalene was a Jewish woman with wealth… but a woman, nonetheless. Women in antiquity were not usually esteemed, even when they had money. Yet, the women who traveled with Jesus were considered a crucial part of the ministry. It was Magdalene who was commissioned by the angels to “Go” and proclaim that Christ had risen (Mark 16:7).
Like with the Samaritan woman, we may ask; what was it about Magdalene that caused the Disciples to believe her? Was it her healing? Did her financial sacrifice and dedication make her credible? Was it the look on her face as she recalled seeing the risen Christ that convinced others to listen? Not sure, but what she said launched what we know as the Christian message; He has risen!
You and I may know something about isolation like the Samaritan woman. We may be able to relate to how helpless Magdalene must have felt when it was discovered that her money could not spare her of torment and trouble. What about the woman with the issue of blood? Can any of you speak of the desperation that accompanies the need to be delivered from an embarrassing condition? I sure can.
I even know something about being accused like the woman “caught” in adultery. There are many of us who have been crippled by fear and worry or left wasting away due to fever and illness. Yet, what I am not as clear about is whether I have been as good a witness as the various women Jesus healed.
Pardoned, do I “go and sin no more” (John 8:11)? Do I conduct my life convinced that the faith that brought about healing in one situation, is able to do the same in other areas of my life? Am I the only one who wonders if there are those who talk about their transforming encounter with Jesus and then point at me and say it was because of, “What she said?”