When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (John 4:7)
The story of the Samaritan woman at the well starts out like a travel blog. Jesus begins his journey in Judea, goes to Galilee, and then through Samaria. As the crow flies, Jesus saved many hours of travel by cutting through Samaria. What’s interesting here is John’s wording. John 4:4 tells us Jesus “had to” go through Samaria. That was definitely not true in a geographical sense. John meant it in the sense of the Holy Spirit leading Jesus…his trip was a necessity of faith.
No big deal to us, two thousand years later. But the implications for Jews in the first century were huge.
The People. There were many reasons, but in Jesus’ day, the Samaritans were despised by the Jews. Think of the worst racial bias or disgust we see around us today – and you have a good feel about the relations between Jew and Samaritan. That’s why Jesus’ parable of the “Good Samaritan” was so shocking!
The Place. Because of this hatred, Jews would not travel through Samaria – they’d do anything to avoid it. Jews felt the inconvenience of traveling around the country was better than the stain of traveling through it. And yet, because Jesus was on a mission of faith, he found it necessary to go through.
The Person. Finally, we get to the Samaritan woman herself. She shows up at the well to get water around noon – a time she knew she would be alone. The women in town would have started their days by getting water early in the morning. Apparently, she was an outcast in her village.
For John’s Jewish audience, everything about this story is wrong! Jesus is with the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time. John tells us, in very human terms, that Jesus was “worn out” and thirsty (doesn’t sound very divine). And now Jesus is talking to the wrong person, all the while breaking religious and cultural rules.
But I think that is exactly John’s point: No matter how wrong your life is, Jesus can make it right! And he’ll go to extraordinary lengths to do so because he loves you!
Join us as we unpack this incredible story on Sunday with my sermon “Faith in Low Places.”