Daily Readings in John, Day Ten
October 9, 2017
John 4:1-15 (NRSV)
4 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John” 2 —although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— 3 he left Judea and started back to Galilee. 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.”
I’ve always been a pro-Samaritan woman reader of this scene, but this time I’m annoyed with her. We’ll take a different angle tomorrow, but look – Jesus has had all these stressful interactions in the big city of Jerusalem. Ignorant rumors are flying and where does Jesus go to get away from the stress?
To Samaria. Well, not really. He’s on his way home to Galilee, but John says he had to go through Samaria.
No, he didn’t. Jews – as John points out – don’t share things with Samaritans. Not even land, or roads, or commutes.
But Jesus did. He parked his hot and tired self by the well and asked this local for a drink.
And she gives him a hard time – what are you doing here? Why are you talking to me? What do you have that our ancestor Jacob didn’t? (Jesus might have said that Jacob was his ancestor as well, but he lets this one go.)
Why does Jesus bother with this rude woman?
It seems that Jesus wants to be a gift to her. He wants to give her, of all things, living water. He wants her to never be thirsty again. He wants her to not only have water but to herself become a well – the water in her gushing up to eternal life.
So he wants her to become a gift too.
Across poor manners, across cultural and ethnic animosity, across what we’ll discover is a heap of bad sexual/gender history, Jesus wants two people to meet, to be gifts to one another, and to walk away dignified, head held high, and heart full.
I believe that Jesus is divine – from God and full of God and God with us. He gives us satisfaction and peace and inspires us.
I also believe he is the Son of Man, the true human, who shows me how to live.
I’d like to invite you to keep your eye out today for someone you find annoying or intimidating or in any way gets under your skin. Ask yourself, how can I see this person as my brother or sister. How can I honor my humanity and theirs in this encounter? What living water can I welcome from God in me and wish for them as well?