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 Galillee. 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 eternal Life".
"Let all who are thirsty, come."