Shame at the Well and Behind Bars

We've been going through the gospel of John out at the prison on Monday nights for our Bible study. We came to John 4, the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well.

And we stayed there for three weeks. For three weeks we talked about this woman.

That happened because the men in the prison deeply identified with this woman, the shame she carried and her marginalization.

When we came to John 4 I started by ticking through all the ways this woman should not have been on a Jewish man's radar screen. Students of the Bible know this list very well, but walking through this list out at the prison had a huge emotional impact.

First, the woman was a Samaritan, looked down on for ethnic, cultural and religious reasons. The Samaritans were traitors to their race and their God.

Next, she was a woman in a Middle-Eastern culture, she was to be ignored by men.

Finally, she was a sinner and social pariah, discarded by five men and illicitly living with a sixth. Shunned by the Jews, he was also shunned by her own people. And outcast of the outcasts. The lowest of the low.

Jesus couldn't have picked a more marginalized person to have spoken to that day.

And that's want resonated with the men in the prison, they found themselves within her shame.

They were the outcasts among the outcasts, the lowest of the low.

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