We all have a past.
There are skeletons that we prefer stay locked up in our darkest closet.
We have done things we'd rather the world not know about.
But, there is One we can't hide our ugly places from: Jesus.
He knows everything about us and loves us despite all our faults and sins. Jesus knows everything we have ever done and will ever do. He knows our true heart and soul.
A perfect example of his love towards us, despite everything, is represented in the two women we are studying for our book club this week. The Samaritan Woman and Mary Magdalene both had pasts that they would probably have liked to forget, but Jesus loved them regardless of the decision they made. He loved them without question because He knew their heart and treasured forgiveness and love above all else.
In Chapter 12 we are introduced to the Samaritan woman who had been married 5 times and in that culture, she was an outcast. The reason she was out in the middle of the day to gather water was to avoid the people that would ridicule her. What she never expected was to meet Jesus, a rabbi, since Jews did not come to that area. She especially didn't expect for Him to know about her 5 marriages, and live-in boyfriend, and chose to talk to her. This must have been a complete shock.
Now, Mary Magdalene's story is a little more vague. Some say she was a prostitute which cannot be proven for sure, but what we do know is that she suffered from being afflicted by demons. In Luke chapter 8 we learned that she was cured of those demons after spending time with Jesus. What brought them on, we don't know, but Jesus healed her and loved her so much, that she was the first person to see Him once He resurrected.
What both of these stories have in common is love and healing. Through Jesus' love for them, both of these women found a way to move forward, beyond what defined them in the past, and heal from all their bad choices and problems.
What I loved from this week's reading is that Grady gives us a 4 step process to find healing, just like Mary and the Samaritan woman.
If we follow these steps we can find healing just like these women did. But more than healing, if we look towards Jesus and seek Him, we can find love, ever-lasting, unconditional love. There is no greater gift than that.
1. Why was it so unusual for Jesus to go to Samaria and begin a conversation with a woman? What does this say to you about Jesus?
2. Is there a painful experience in your past that you have not had the courage to face? If you are feeling lead, please share your experience with us and what you have learned from it.
3. Mary Magdalene was an unlikely candidate to be a disciple of Jesus because of her past. Are there things about your past that still haunt you and cause you to think you are disqualified from being used by God?
4. Is there anything else that stood out to you from our chapters this week???