The first revival in the world wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did. And when it did, it happened all wrong. In a society dominated by men, it was a woman who caused this first revival.
Who was this super-saint who shifted the spiritual atmosphere? The town slut, that’s who. The townspeople knew exactly who and what she was. Jesus knew who she was the moment He met her. She didn’t pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, but, then again, she didn’t try. Starting a revival never even crossed her mind; she just came to fetch water. This doesn’t fit our script for how revival should happen, does it? But revival happened anyway.
Revival wasn’t supposed to happen before the crucifixion… but it did. A woman wasn’t supposed to talk to a man, least of all a strange man, and most certainly not with a Jew… but she did. A Jewish man was not supposed to talk to a woman, and certainly not a Samaritan woman… but Jesus did. In Mark 7, Jesus explained to the Syro-Phoenician woman that He only came for the lost sheep of Israel, and so He shouldn’t have engaged with a Samaritan woman… but He did.
There were no announcements or ordinations. There was no stadium, town hall, or even farmer’s field set aside for the occasion. There was no mention of hell or any eternal damnation, no oratory, no sound system, no liturgy, no altar ministry team, no worship team, no team at all, in fact. There were no miracles or healings we are told about. There was no altar call. Jesus wasn’t even supposed to be there. He was chased away by the religious order of the day, because they heard he and his team had baptized more people than John. Rather than stay and fight, they retreated to Galilee and just happened to stop in the forbidden territory.
How does that work? How does a slut cause a revival, even (or especially) when Jesus knows who she is? It started with her listening when the Lord spoke. Jesus didn’t offer any threats or enticements to cause this revival. In order, this is what He said (like listening to one half of a phone conversation):
- Give me a drink (request, asking for something)
- If you knew the gift of God and who it was asking you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water (preach and challenge)
- Whoever drinks this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks My water will never thirst. It will become a fountain of water springing up to eternal life (preaching, slightly mystical)
- Go, call your husband (asking the impossible)
- You said it: you had 5, now you’re not married (word of knowledge, speaking truth)
- The hour is coming when worship of the Father won’t take place here. The hour is here when true worshipers will worship in spirit and truth. God is Spirit (mystical prophesy and theology)
- I who speak to you am He
Nowhere did Jesus threaten her with hell, promise her anything, or tell her what to do. He told her the simple truth: who He was and who she was. Then He backed it up with a word of knowledge, which pointed a finger straight at her sin, unflinchingly, yet with no condemnation. The way He said it assumed she knew her sin; there was no need to rub it in.
He then proceeded to demolish the parochial theology regarding the irrelevant question of where worship physically should take place. As with her sin, He managed to do so without softening any truth, yet with no condemnation. In this exchange, Jesus displayed His unique way of pointing straight at sin and error, but never in a way that attacks the person. He simply stated the facts and then stopped. He laid out the future, but with neither threat nor promise.
After listening to Jesus, she responded by going back to town to tell everyone what happened. Was she a credible witness? Hardly. They knew her, oh, they knew her! “Isaac, if I catch you as much as looking at that women, you’re a dead man!”
It’s easy to overlook how remarkable it was that she spoke to the townspeople, and even more remarkable that they listened to her. The very reason that she was at the well was because she was an outcast. The women of a village would normally come to get water around sunset, when it was cooler. That would also be the social gathering spot, kind of like the water cooler at the office. Not her. She had to go get her water at midday, in the heat of the day, because she wasn’t worthy of inclusion into their community.
However, the impact of Jesus on this woman was so strong that she forgot her ostracism and simply blurted out her story to all who were in earshot, whether they were listening or not. Something in her shifted. Without realizing it, she was suddenly speaking with authority and urgency. Where did that come from? Could it have been the Holy Spirit? The words she spoke resonated with people who wouldn’t give her the time of day. Why? Could it be that her words had wind under their wings, the wind of the Holy Spirit?
We don’t have to do revival right. I don’t need to be an angel to cause a revival. All I need is a real encounter with Jesus. The Holy Spirit takes care of the rest.