Sunday February 1, 2015 | Greg Boyd
4 But he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” 28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” 30 They left the city and were on their way to him.
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 36 The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”
In this final installment of the Women on the Outside series, we explore the story of the woman at the well Jesus encountered while traveling through Samaria and how he dives right in to the gender and racial tensions of the first century Jewish culture.
The story of the woman at the well starts out specifying that Jesus had to go through Samaria. This is an important note of context given the extremely contentious relationship between the Jews and Samaritans. Although the Samaritans were also descendants of Abraham, given their history of intermarrying with the Gentiles and their different theological views, the Jewish people viewed them as unclean half-breeds. It is clear given this context that Jesus’ visit there was intentional.
As His disciples went in to town to get food, Jesus sat down by the well and the interaction with the woman began. This was an extremely scandalous encounter given her ethnicity, gender, and being alone. Jesus ignored these social taboos and dove right in to her life in a way that showed her both his power and grace. Jesus saw her as a woman, not a category fit to be judged. He pierced through the societal ostracism she was likely experiencing that would have forced her to be at the well at noon and rather saw her as a child of His Father that was thirsty for fullness of life. He understood she was searching for fulfillment in the wrong place but never condemned her.
She went off to town and told everyone to “come see a man who told me everything I ever did.” Given her checkered past, the only way this would have been good news that produced the joy in her it did is if she felt completely accepted for who she was with Jesus. He knew everything there was to know about her and that didn’t change His love for her one bit. God isn’t a Pharisee or religious teacher that would use this knowledge to judge and separate her; rather He simply offers living water that brings true fulfillment. You know you’re starting to get the right picture of God when you realize He knows everything about you and it drives you to him filled with joy instead of away feeling shame. Ironically, it’s not trying harder to reject our sinful life that helps us out, but rather learning to known and accepted as we are, and letting the power of that revelation pull us out of a life of sin and darkness and in to the light.
In addition to the grace Jesus shows the woman given her circumstances, the second key point is why Jesus “had” to go through Samaria. It was part of His mission because tearing down walls that separate people is close to the Father’s heart. Jesus constantly confronts the religious and social classes that the Jewish culture put people in to based on their gender, wealth, class, and ethnicity. His mission was to “make the two groups (Jews and Gentiles) one, destroying the walls of hostility” (Eph 2:14) and make clear that “all are one in Christ” (Gal 3:28). This “had to” that Jesus lived in must be a “have to” in our life as well. If we want the Kingdom to come in our life we must be confronting and tearing the down the walls of hostility created by our homogenous leaning culture. We are called to be faithful, not comfortable. We are to be a people in which the reconciliation of all things is a central pillar in our life. The question is, what Samaria is God calling me to go through?