5 Unlikely People Jesus Loved

Carolyn Dale Newell

Carolyn Dale Newell

Contributing Writer
Updated Feb 13, 2023
5 Unlikely People Jesus Loved

If you’ve ever felt like Jesus couldn’t love you, then please keep reading. The Bible is filled with unlikely people Jesus loved. Has life tarnished you, and perhaps you feel unworthy of God’s love? I certainly didn’t live a saint’s life, but I believe God forgave me and loves me. I just didn’t understand the depth of His love, nor the power of it.

While all of us can be unlikely candidates for the love of Christ, we will focus on five unlikely people Jesus loved:

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1. The Woman at the Well

As Jesus and His disciples went from Judea to Galilee, they needed to travel through Samaria. A bitter rivalry existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. In Jewish minds, the Samaritans were unclean because they were Israelites who had intermarried with non-Jewish people. Some Samaritans worshipped false gods. Almost all Jews took an alternate route to avoid Samaria, but not Jesus.

Jesus, in His deity, knew this nameless Samaritan woman would arrive at the well while He waited there. He even sent His disciples away in order to have a private conversation with her. All this transpired by divine design, without any coincidences. When the woman approached the well to draw water, Jesus shocked her by asking her for a drink. Jews and Samaritans did not talk with each other, much less a man speaking to a woman.

Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.' (John 4:10 NIV)

Jesus crossed the dividing wall of racism. Their discussion about physical water and spiritual water continued until Jesus changed the conversation to her husband. When she admitted she didn’t have a husband, Jesus stunned her by telling her she had been married to five husbands, and the one she lived with now was not her husband. Amazed at Jesus’s insight, she declared that He was a prophet.

As if to change the subject, the woman asked a theological question about worship. Then their conversation arrived at the point Jesus wanted:

The woman said, 'I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.'

Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you – I am he.’ (John 4:25-26 NIV)

The disciples returned, but they never asked why Jesus was talking with a Samaritan woman. She hurried off with such excitement that she left her water jar. No longer ashamed to show her face in public, she announced the arrival of the Messiah. The Samaritans urged Him to stay two days, and many believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony.

I love this woman’s boldness. When we meet her, shame kept her from socializing, causing her to fetch water at noon, the hottest point of the day. She didn’t expect to find anyone at the well, and especially not a Jewish man. Jesus didn’t act like other men, and definitely not a Jew. Jesus treated this woman with respect. When Jesus told her He knew about her sinful life, she probably expected condemnation, but she received compassion. 

No matter what has happened in your past or what is happening right now, Jesus would treat you the same way He did this woman. He will not ridicule or condemn. He loves you, and He will shower you with compassion, but Jesus wants one more thing. He wants you to believe in Him as your Savior. He wants to have a relationship with you, not a long-distance one, but an intimate one where you spend time with Him every day.

If shame has kept you from Jesus, run to Him. Leave your shame behind, just like the Samaritan woman left her water jar. When she forgot about her shame, she boldly told a town of people who had shunned her about Jesus.

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Jesus writing in sand

2. The Woman Caught in Adultery

While Jesus taught the people in the temple, some Pharisees brought a woman, caught in the act of adultery, to Jesus. They had plotted to trap Jesus by asking Him if they should stone her according to the law of Moses. Instead of answering them, Jesus stooped down and began writing on the ground. They kept pushing Him for an answer.

When they kept questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ (John 8:7 NIV)

Then Jesus returned to writing on the ground. No one knows what Jesus wrote, but one by one, her accusers left, beginning with the oldest. No one remained but the woman, who was probably partially dressed.

Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she said.

‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’ (John 8:10-11 NIV)

When someone leaves a life of sin behind, that portrays repentance. The Bible doesn’t tell us whether or not she believed on Jesus, but we can hope that the compassion of Christ moved her to trust Him as Messiah and that she heeded Jesus’s command not to sin anymore.

Do you think people in your church would rush to accuse or help such a woman? What about you? Jesus did not condemn her. Instead, He gave her grace and mercy. The Pharisees offered neither. They used her as part of their scheme to trick Jesus into a trap, but they failed.

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3. The Sinful Woman Who Anointed Jesus' Feet

Shame can restrain us. We want to stay hidden in the crowd. We certainly don’t want to risk ridicule by taking our most valuable possession, interrupting a dinner party, and anointing the feet of Jesus. Shame doesn’t do that, but what if shame knew love? This sinful, unnamed woman must have met Jesus before this dinner. Perhaps, as He taught on the streets, healing people, she believed on Him. She left her sinful life behind.

People, don’t forget your colorful past. I live in a small town. Like this woman, I have a past, but I have walked with Jesus now for most of my adult life. I know the boldness it took for this woman to anoint Jesus with costly oil while the host, a Pharisee, glared at her. She could guess what he thought, and Jesus knew his thoughts. Yet, Jesus defended this woman’s worship while He exposed the rudeness of His host, Simon the Pharisee.

'You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.' (Luke 7:45 NIV)

Do you struggle with shame? Jesus loves you just like He loved this woman, and He wants to forgive you for your sin, just like He did for this woman. If you don’t have a personal relationship with Him now, you can change that. You can accept the death of Christ as the payment for your sin debt. Then you can have a relationship with Him, like this woman.

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Sun beamed forest road

4. Judas Iscariot

Did Jesus love Judas? He washed the feet of Judas along with the rest of His disciples, knowing he would betray Him within hours. Jesus’s love isn’t based on our love for Him. Jesus loved the men who crucified Him. He loves those today who refuse to believe on Him, mocking His name. Judas spent three years with Jesus, but he never accepted Him as his Lord. Money was his lord, but Jesus still loved Judas. He loved all of us while we were still sinners.

"This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him." (1 John 4:9 NIV)

5. The Apostle Paul

Before he was Paul, he was Saul, the enemy of all Christians.

"Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples." (Acts 9:1a NIV)

Like the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus had a divine appointment with Saul. Saul searched for Christians to capture and take to Jerusalem, but a sudden bright light stopped him on the way to Damascus. 

He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ (Acts 9:4 NIV)

Saul’s physical eyes became as blind as his spiritual eyes, but soon, both were opened.

Jesus loved the man who persecuted His church. Perhaps you have someone in your life who seems so far from salvation that you have almost given up on them. No matter how cool they feel toward Christianity, keep praying for Jesus to open their eyes as He did for Saul.

My friend, I hope today you feel a hug from Jesus, knowing that He loves you, and He loves those who have not turned to Him for salvation. I encourage you to pray for those loved ones. I know, I get weary too lifting up the same names year after year. 

If you still carry feelings of guilt and shame from your past, please know that just like these five unlikely people, Jesus loves you. Take your shame to Him, and never lift that burden again. Aren’t you glad Jesus loves unlikely people like us?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/aniszewski

Carolyn Dale Newell headshot with dogCarolyn Dale Newell is an author and certified speaker. She knows what it is to live with blindness, but she calls her disability a gift from God. Her passion is to equip women to break free from emotional strongholds through her book, Faith That Walks on Water: Conquering Emotional Bondage with the Armor of God. You can connect with Carolyn on her website and her women’s ministry group on Facebook

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Originally published Monday, 06 February 2023.