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 is the means of baptism, a sign of repentance. Jesus has been baptizing in Judea and because of criticisms from the Pharisees he goes back to Galilee. But he had to pass through Samaria (enemy territory) we are told and a village called Sychar. Jews and Samaritans didn’t get on, a bit like Arabs and Jews in the same place today. Also in Israel. Strange isnt it. 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 worshipped 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. The church is not an exclusive community that meets together every Sunday. It is a daily encounter with God and others, whether they are Christians or not and seeing within those encounters the potential for God, and drawing on it. 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 marginalised person in religious society. Who do we marginalise out of our churches?
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 centre of her being. She could look within and find God there.
This echoes Isaiah 55v1 "Come to the water all you who are thirsty".
There is of course the image of God within us all. Genesis tells us
that we are all made in the image of God. The woman has become an evangelist within her own community.
"Whoever drinks the water that I give will never thirst again. The
water that I will give will become a spring within, welling up to
Loving God help us to follow you
On the road to Jerusalem and beyond
To turn away from a safe and ordinary life
And to embrace boldly the way before us.
1. Read John 4v5-30
2. If someone said that water is the new gold what do you think they meant? Why is water used as a symbol in Christian thinking?
3. The Pharisees have stopped Jesus baptising and last week they grumbled about him mixing with sinners. Has anyone ever stopped you from doing what you thought was right?
4. Who do you think is equivalent to the Samaritans in our society today?
5. What conventions bind Christians today? Have you ever broken with any conventions?
6. What sorts of people are like the Samaritan woman today? What sort of people are not welcome in our churches? Is Jesus an early example of diversity training?
7. Have you ever experienced that living water that Jesus talks about? What was it like?
8. How can we as Christians share the good news with people outside the church?
Jesus you invite us to journey with you
Whoever we are, with what we bring
Loaves and fishes to sustain us on our way. Amen