4 Jesus had to go through Samaria. 5 He came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, which was near the land Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there. Jesus was tired from his journey, so he sat down at the well. It was about noon.
7 A Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me some water to drink.” 8 His disciples had gone into the city to buy him some food.
9 The Samaritan woman asked, “Why do you, a Jewish man, ask for something to drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” (Jews and Samaritans didn’t associate with each other.)
10 Jesus responded, “If you recognized God’s gift and who is saying to you, ‘Give me some water to drink,’ you would be asking him and he would give you living water.”
11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you don’t have a bucket and the well is deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 You aren’t greater than our father Jacob, are you? He gave this well to us, and he drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will never be thirsty and will never need to come here to draw water!”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, get your husband, and come back here.”
17 The woman replied, “I don’t have a husband.”
“You are right to say, ‘I don’t have a husband,’” Jesus answered. 18 “You’ve had five husbands, and the man you are with now isn’t your husband. You’ve spoken the truth.”
19 The woman said, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you and your people say that it is necessary to worship in Jerusalem.”
21 Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you and your people will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You and your people worship what you don’t know; we worship what we know because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—and is here!—when true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth. The Father looks for those who worship him this way. 24 God is spirit, and it is necessary to worship God in spirit and truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one who is called the Christ. When he comes, he will teach everything to us.”
26 Jesus said to her, “I Am—the one who speaks with you.”
This week we are focusing on Jesus’ interactions with people who are marginalized.
As I reread the story about the Samaritan woman at the well, I am reminded of Jesus’ interactions with the women during his earthly life. Jesus was not afraid to talk to women, who were often marginalized. Then when asked why a Jewish man should ask a Samaritan woman for water, Jesus says that salvation is for her, too. Now a Samaritan woman is given a glimpse of God’s Kingdom with the “living water” that she so desperately wanted. By a well in Samaria, Jesus revealed that a woman is equally worthy of grace, attention and even theological discussion.
Perhaps Jesus surprised others by speaking so directly to women. Several times others questioned his interactions with women, yet to Jesus, women were to be heard and trusted and not marginalized. Jesus looked past any disparaging reactions and spoke to women just as they were. Sometimes, Jesus admonished others’ (men’s) mistreatment of them, letting men know that women’s opinions and ideas are to be respected.
However, as I write about Jesus’ egalitarian ways, I can’t help thinking about women today. Particularly for women’s rights, what would Jesus say about how often women are still challenged for some impropriety while men’s inappropriate behavior is seen with indifference? What would Jesus say about the distrust of a woman’s voices as compared to men’s? Or what about people deciding that her behavior needs condemnation?
I think I hear Jesus saying, “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.” (John 8:7)
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
Jesus often spoke to women and even included them in his ministry. Several times he offered women as examples of faithfulness, as deserving of forgiveness –even while others discounted and ignored them. Besides the woman at the well, here are some other examples to consider: the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28); a disabled woman (Luke 13:10-13); a woman bleeding (Matthew 9:20); and an adulterous woman (John 8:1-11). Looking at any of these examples, how might she have been marginalized by those around her? Knowing this, how does Jesus challenge us to understand the pressures and special needs of women? How do you make sure that all people are equally heard as children of God?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for this example of faith from a well in Samaria. In a divided world, help me to see all those who others may ignore or minimize. Whenever you call me to help, give me the courage and strength to stand up for those being marginalized. Amen.