Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Gospel reading for this week is from John 4:5-26. Jesus visits with a Samaritan woman at a well outside her town. It is noon, an unusual time for someone to come and draw water for the day’s use. That activity normally happens about sunup. But here it is, midday.
In this odd interaction, Jesus and the woman speak with one another. It is not only unusual for a Jewish man to speak to a woman without her husband present, but it is very unusual for a Jewish person to speak with a Samaritan. Yet Jesus breaks the cultural barrier and asks the woman for a drink of water. When she expresses her surprise, Jesus tells her that he has a source of water which flows freely. He speaks in very prophetic and symbolic tones.
The woman does not understand this at first. She seems to wonder if there’s a way she can avoid thirst and the act of going to the well to draw water. It may be that she is troubled by the relationships she has in the town. It could be that she simply doesn’t want to go to the work involved.
The discussion escalates when Jesus points out that he knows she has had multiple husbands and that she is not married to the man she is with at present. This is not culturally acceptable, even in Samaria. The biblical model of one man and one woman in a recognized marriage for life is accepted by Jews and Samaritans alike. As the woman realizes Jesus is a prophet, she wishes to make a spiritual claim. Yet Jesus points out that the salvation she should look for comes from the Jews, not the Samaritans. The true God is looking for people who will worship him in truth. He is the Messiah who has come to reveal God.
How often we try to hide behind our religiosity or our lack of religiosity. We want to create new forms or cling to old forms regardless of their truth claims, but simply because they are either new or old. We hesitate to hear from God in Christ. Yet he is the one who knows us, who has broken down the barriers to communication, and has spoken the words of life which we need. This Jesus is the Messiah. There’s no hiding. Whether at daybreak or midday, it is the right time to receive the living water of life from Christ.
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