In “Compassion,” Michael uses the famous story of the “Woman at the Well” to explore the dangers of judging others especially when you haven’t “walked in their shoes!”
The story that inspired this image…
There is a Gospel story about Jesus traveling through the region of Samaria where He encountered a woman alone at the local well. After He asked her for a drink of water, she was surprised as He revealed things He knew about her life: She had been married ﬁve times and was not married to the man with whom she was living.
Since childhood, I have heard and read the story of “The Woman at the Well” many times. Her circumstances just lead me to assume that she was a prostitute. As it turns out, I may have judged her without knowing all the facts.
One scholar of 1st Century Judea suggests that it would be unlikely that she was a prostitute and more likely that she was barren and could not have children. This may explain why she had been married so many times. She would get married, could not bear children and the husband would divorce her.
Thus, she went to the well alone because of the stigma this placed on her. People may have gossiped and could have been so callous as to tell her she was “not in favor with God.”
Fortunately, Jesus did not see her as we do. He saw her as a woman scarred by her past, a woman who had lost hope. Thus, He approached her with compassion rather than contempt and condemnation.