“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (Isaiah 42:3).
Jesus had every advantage over her. A faultless life. A supreme understanding of God’s holy Word. From God’s chosen people. The Son of David. The Son of God. Perfection. In reality, he had every right to hold his head high and every reason not to give this Samaritan floozy the time of day.
And she knew it.
So, when Jesus requested a drink of water from her, she was beyond astonished. “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” St. John made sure to report that “Jews do not associate with Samaritans” (John 4:9). What he didn’t say is that Jewish men back then would not have been caught dead alone with a woman like this.
But Jesus was different.
Jesus’ gentle love
Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. Already centuries before, the prophet Isaiah described the gentle nature of our Savior in wonderful detail. “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”
Are we gentle like Jesus, or would we rather play the judge?
True, this woman was a bit more than bruised. She was broken. When Jesus asked her to go get her husband, she claimed to have none. How right she was. He replied, “The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true” (John 4:18). The Savior spoke the truth, yet he uttered it with such tender love and compassion.
And somehow, she knew it.
Call it a woman’s intuition, but she knew that this man cared. Perhaps for the first time in her life, she was talking with a man who cared. About her. A man showing gentleness. To her. A man being genuinely careful not to bruise or to break. Her. A man who brought healing, not hurt. For her.
And she knew it.
It would have been simple for Jesus to play the judge. He had her dead to rights, and she knew it. But “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17). He had asked the woman for a drink to quench his thirst, but he was far more interested in quenching hers.
So that’s what he did. Not only did this Samaritan woman come to know Jesus for the gentle, life-giving Savior he is, but she also spread the news of his gentle love with anyone who would listen.
She knew it, and she couldn’t help but share it.
Our gentle witness
Are we gentle like Jesus, or would we rather play the judge? Do we seek to bring healing or do we prefer to pile it on? Are we prepared to walk a mile in the shoes of the other person who may have not chosen as wisely as we did, or do we instead walk all over those who seem to make one bad life decision after another? Are we gentle, or are we judges?
Excuse sin? Of course not. But be gentle like Jesus?
Always! Not only with those who know Jesus but especially with those who don’t. For how can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone telling them—gently!—with beautiful feet (Romans 10:14,15)?
So be like Jesus. Be gentle.
Author: Peter M. Prange
Volume 107, Number 06
Issue: June 2020