Monday, 28 March 2011

Lent 3 2011 John 4v5-30 Jesus and the Samaritan woman

The encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman is about water. Water is necessary for life especially if you life in a hot country. And water in the Christian and other religious traditions is used symbolically to represent a change of direction in our soul journey. Jesus has been baptizing in Judea and because of criticisms from the Pharisees he goes back to Gallilee. But he had to pass through Samaria (enemy territory) and a village called Sychar. Jews and Samaritans didn’t get on, a bit like Arabs and Jews in the same place today, in Israel. Jesus goes to an ancient well, which Jacob gave to his youngest son Joseph. It was about midday and hot so Jesus sat down for a drink and came to draw water. He asked the woman for water, probably because she had a bucket. Jesus is immediately breaking with three conventions. He is talking with a woman and a Samaritan and Jews could not drink from the cups of Samaritans. She was very shocked. She may even have thought he was a customer if she was a prostitute.

Jesus responds to her by revealing his true identity and offering her living water and like Nicodemus she responds superficially and comments on the fact he has no bucket! Maybe she’s teasing him. And she gives him a history lesson because she knows the history of her people. It was understood at that time that God is to be worshiped at a certain point at a particular mountain, the trouble was that the Jews and Samaritans disagreed about which mountain.

Jesus however is saying that through him, you can access God, a God that is like living water a dynamic, unlimited source of God.

In talking to the woman in this way he has made her of value, has demonstrated a new way of living which is about breaking down the barriers of social taboos. Gods people are not an exclusive community but in encounters with others different from themselves find the potential for breaking down age old barriers and prejudices. What people would we not talk to? Jesus talked to many undesirables. His mission was inclusive. This woman he was talking to was not acceptable in polite society she was a marginalized person in religious society. Who do we marginalize? Jesus has talked to the woman about thirst, about the Spirit and demonstrated that he knows her and her situation. She is so impressed by him that she goes back to tell her village. This woman has been encouraged to find that living water at the very core of her being-to find God and be at peace. "The water that I will give will become a spring within, welling up to eternal Life".

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