Today’s Bible reading

Eventually, Jesus came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”

“Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who ill worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!”[d]

Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?” The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone,  “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him.–John 4

More thoughts for meditation

A woman, a Samaritan, an outcast within her own community, questioning Jesus. No one who could avoid it walked out of town, in the heat of the day, to carry back heavy jugs of water! It was common for women to do so in the morning. So here we see someone on the true fringes of society grappling with Jesus. She questions him at every angle – why would he talk to her? Does he think he is better than Jacob? Goes on to demand the good water he mentions, then questions him again on religion and politics! And Jesus engages with her throughout it all. 

Spurned by the world, she found his kindness hard to believe. Knowing thirst herself, she found his promise of living water too good to be true. Confused by the division among people, she asked, “why”? She was persistent, and Jesus saw her.

Suggestions for action

Are you ever skeptical of Jesus? Ever wonder if his good love might be too good to be true? Jesus sees each and every one of us. No one is too great or too small, we all are called to remain in him. We don’t have to be perfect, rich, eloquent, theologically sound – or whatever constructed walls you might perceive to be too high – to engage with God.

Ask your questions! God will be there with you. Be comforted knowing he is patient as you seek.

Today is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Александр Солженицын) Day! Appreciate this modern day prophet to the West at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.