John 4:5-42

So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 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.) 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.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 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.’ 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.’

Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ 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.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’

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?’ Then the woman left her water-jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ They left the city and were on their way to him.

Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples said to one another, ‘Surely no one has brought him something to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 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. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, “One sows and another reaps.” I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.’

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of his word. 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.’

Again our reading for this week is revealing. This encounter Jesus has with the Samaritan woman causes quite a stir for both the woman and the disciples looking on and for all the wrong reasons. The woman could tell Jesus was not only a foreigner but a Jewish foreigner and, as the text reminds us, Jews and Samaritans seldom shared things with each other. Why? Because one group was considered better than the other by the larger society. In this case, the Jewish people were considered to have higher value than the Samaritan people and for a Samaritan person to have any interaction with a Jewish person was unlikely. Not to mention the woman being considered of the inferior gender. Men simply wouldn’t have deigned to interact with lowly women. These were the established cultural boundaries of the day and Jesus seemed to have overstepped them. The woman was shocked as were the disciples. Such interactions rarely if ever occurred.

Of course, they’re boundaries that have no justification or merit. The Samaritans were of no less value to God than the Jews, nor were the women inferior to men in the eyes of God. Just because God had chosen the Jewish people to reveal God’s love didn’t mean they were intrinsically more valuable than anyone else. Indeed, God chooses us all to reveal his love in our own unique way. For the sake of a collective revelation, God had to choose a group of people and the Jewish people were it. And to suggest that women are in any way inferior to men is just plain absurd! Men and women each have their own unique revelations of God’s love, neither superior to the other.

It is a gift to have such a variety of revelations. It reveals just how broad our God’s love is! It meets the needs of all of God’s creation. We all need a very specific love from God and in turn give witness to a unique aspect of God’s love. Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman teaches us just how expansive God’s love it. God’s love is for ALL and is revealed by ALL. And for that we give thanks! Thanks be to God!

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.