John 4:5-42: The Samaritan Woman & Jesus

Jesus' discussion with the disciples occurs in the midst of the discussion with the Samaritans. The disciples here represent normal everyday Jews who are afraid of the Samaritans because there was constant battle going on between them: raids, conflict, people being assaulted when they came through Samaria. Talking with a Samaritan woman was a major violation of the law for a Jewish man. Men did not speak to women in public and especially not to Samaritan women. The challenge is to convey that the radical approach by Jesus and the reconciliation between Jews and Samaritans that is implicit in the Samaritans believing that Jesus is the Messiah. This is a remarkable story about the transformation of ethnic, political and religious conflicts that exist within the new bonds of community.

 

In this dynamic conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman Jesus makes one provocative statement after another. Gradually her hostility is transformed into first curiosity and then respect. In order for this conversation to be credible as an invitation to the transformation of the woman, Jesus' voice needs to have no tone of distain or criticism at all when he says, "You are right in saying you have no husband. You have had five husbands and the one you are with now is not your husband. What you said is true." It is simply a factual description. Jesus’ voice is the voice of one who recognizes the truth but is utterly non-judgmental. If it were judgmental, the conversation would have been over. So, in order for these words to be believable, they need to be said without disdain or a tone of judgment or critique.

 

When Jesus and the Samaritan woman discuss religious matters, Jesus' statements about their relationship and conflict as Jews and Samaritans are radically different than what anyone else is saying. That is, Jesus is asserting that these conflicts between Samaritans and Jews that have been going on for over seven hundred years have no reason to continue anymore. The hour is coming when everyone, Jews and Samaritans, will worship God not through sacrifices in the historic temples in Samaria and Jerusalem but in a spiritual and intellectual worship, a worship of spirit and truth.  The water that Jesus will give is Living water gushing up for eternal life for all persons, regardless of their position in life!

 

Posted on March 23, 2014 and filed under Lent.