(Here's a transition thought from last passage to this one: Religious people like causing strife through ego and rivalry. Be careful of people whispering sweet nothings in your ear and pointing your messaged ego toward someone who threatens your messaged ego.)
This is one of my favourite stories about Jesus. So much can be said here, but I'll only respond with a few:
- Jesus was tired from the journey. Yes, Jesus was human. He is not the ethereal figure some are more comfortable portraying him to be.
- Jesus would talk to anyone. He didn't stand on proprieties and he certainly wasn't afraid for his reputation. ("The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”...Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman.") After all, he didn't even consider equality with His Father something to be grasped. In light of this, it is hard to justify and explain what makes some of us so special that we don't follow Jesus' example on this. Of course the flip-side to arrogance is my sin. Sometimes I don't know why anyone would want to hear anything I would have to say. So I keep my head down and walk oblivious to the world around me. Unfortunately, I disobey Jesus teaching to love my neighbour when I do this. Not only does it rob me of opportunities to help people in need, but it demonstrates a lack of trust in my Saviour who makes me worthy.
- Three times, she demonstrates that her views of God and her neighbour are being drawn from the old wells of culture and tradition. First, she assumes a Jew like Jesus would ever attempt to relate to a Samaritan like her. Second, she assumes there is good water in the well because patriarch Jacob discovered the well. Third, she assumes her people are closer to God because they worship on the right mountain. All three of these assumptions are typical religious concepts. All three of these assumptions do nothing to improve her as a human being. Too many times we put everything into beliefs, doctrine, or customs that mean nothing. Jesus answers these assumptions quickly and simply. First, he does attempt to relate to her. Second, he refuses to accept that there is anything special about Jacob's well. ("Anyone who drinks from this well will be thirsty again.") He then informs her that she has access to something that will satisfy her true needs. Third, he informs her that the quality of worship does not depend on where the worship is but on the worshiper themselves. He tells her that God looks for people who worship in spirit and in truth.
- Jesus speaks the truth about her life. He speaks matter-of-factly about her life. His words assume the question of "The way you give yourself quickly to men and the faith you place in traditions and customs, how is it working for you?" She doesn't have to be convinced that she isn't living the best possible life. She knows. What she doesn't know is how to move forward with her life. She laments that someone is coming soon to explain everything. Jesus tells her the good news that that time is now. The one who explains everything is here. The Kingdom of Heaven is near!
- This woman who came by herself to draw water in the heat of the day is now so excited about this news she contacts others so they can share in this good news as well.