... Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee.
To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar,
a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his
son Joseph. Jacob's well was still there. Jesus, worn out by
the sat down at the well. It was noon.
A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, "Would
you give me a drink of water?" (His disciples had gone to
the village to buy food for lunch.)
The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, "How come you,
a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?' (Jews
in those days wouldn't be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)
Jesus answered, "If you knew the generosity of God and who
I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you
fresh, living water."
The woman said, "Sir, you don't even have a bucket to draw
with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this
'living water'? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob,
who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock,
and passed it down to us?"
Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty
again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never
thirst - not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring
within, gushing fountains of endless life."
The woman said, "Sir, give me this water so I won't ever
get thirsty, won't ever have to come back to this well again!'
He said, "Go call your husband and then come back."
"I have no husband," she said.
"That's nicely put: 'I have no husband.' You've had five
husbands, and the man you're living with now isn't even your
husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough."
"Oh, so you're a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors
worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem
is the only place for worship, right?"
"Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans
will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there
in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship
in the clear light of day God's way of salvation is made available
through the Jews. But the time is coming - it has, in fact, come
- when what you're called will not matter and where you go to
worship will not matter.
"It's who you are and the way you live that count before
God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth.
That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those
who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.
God is sheer being itself - Spirit. Those who worship him must
do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves,
The woman said, "I don't know about that. I do know that
the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we'll get the whole story"
"I am he," said Jesus. "You don't have to wait
any longer or look any further."
Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn't
believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said
what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.
The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her
water pot. Back in the village she told the people, "Come
see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside
and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?" And they
went out to see for themselves.
In the meantime, the disciples pressed him, "Rabbi, eat.
Aren't you going to eat?"
He told them, "I have food to eat you know nothing about."
The disciples were puzzled. "Who could have brought him
Jesus said, "The food that keeps me going is that I do the
will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started. As
you look around right now, wouldn't you say that in about four
months it will be time to harvest? Well, I'm telling you to open
your eyes and take a good look at what's right in front of you.
These Samaritan fields are ripe. It's harvest time!
"The Harvester isn't waiting. He's taking his pay, gathering
in this grain that's ripe for eternal life. Now the Sower is
arm in arm with the Harvester, triumphant. That's the truth of
the saying, 'This one sows, that one harvests.' I sent you to
harvest a field you never worked. Without lifting a finger, you
have walked in on a field worked long and hard by others."
Many of the Samaritans from that village committed themselves
to him because of the woman's witness: "He knew all about
the things I did. He knows me inside and out!" They asked
him to stay on, so Jesus stayed two days. A lot more people entrusted
their lives to him when they heard what he had to say. They said
to the woman, "We're no longer taking this on your say-so.
We've heard it for ourselves and know it for sure. He's the Savior
of the world!
<The Message >
<< John 4:5-42 - Wow! This is a long reading. But I'm glad
the lectionary folk put in the whole story rather than cutting
it into pieces the way they so often do.
The story is about two people who are ready
to color outside of the lines. That Samaritan woman had a whole
lot of spunk, because in talking to Jesus the way she did, she
flew against the laws and customs of her people.
And Jesus too. He talked to a foreign woman
of dubious morality (three strikes right there) without anyone
around to make sure there was no hanky-panky. Not only that,
he talked theology with her. Not good form, chappies!
Bev points out that the Samaritan woman was
taking on the role of God and Moses recounted in the Hebrew scripture
reading above. She was offering Jesus water in the wilderness.
Her life was changed by the experience and so was Jesus.
So Bev would like us to think back on experiences
where we have been offered living water in the wilderness. Or
did we notice? Did we have enough courage to drink it? >>
(Those who would like a more in-depth discussion of the lections
might check the JoinHands web site, at www.joinhands.com. Look
for the periodical Aha!, and the online lectionary discussion
called the Midrash.)
from Ralph Milton's RUMORS, a free Internet "e-zine"
for active Christians with a sense of humor. To subscribe, send
an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't put anything
else in that e-mail.
What food do you have that others might not know about? This
sounds a lot like fasting while putting on a satisfied face.
How are you able to be that secretive leaven in the midst of
your world that makes ordinary life rise a bit higher? When you
open your mouth will the little growing ones around you be able
to feed from it, like birds?
Whose witness has led you to God? Have you told them lately that
you value them for this gift in your life? If it has not been
a community process to get you to the God gate, how do you know
you're there and is it now a community process to keep you supported
and corrected. I would posit that if there is no community involved
with this the once upon high is beginning to fall.
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