This Sunday’s lectionary reading comes from John 4:5-42 which is the encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. If you are following my daily devotions, you have already read what I wrote about her last week. If not, here’s a reprint of that daily devotion as we get ready for worship this coming Sunday!
The Samaritan woman that encounters Jesus at Jacob’s Well was likely shunned. Women in that day would journey to the well together in the morning during the cooler hours of the day. Carrying heavy water at the noon hour as John identifies for us in verse 6 would make a hard chore more difficult.
We find out from her conversation with Jesus that she was living with a man and had already had five husbands. She had her own heavy burden to carry and it was not water. Likely, the other women did not want to associate with her. It could be that some were fearful that she might try to take their husbands. I doubt that she felt very good about herself.
Jesus could have shamed her but he doesn’t.
He waits by the well while she becomes an evangelist back in her town. What would the townsfolk have thought at this woman imploring them to follow her to the well in the middle of the afternoon?
She uses the now-familiar “Come and see” which is a call to meet Jesus in this instance. Many do indeed see Jesus and he stays with them for two more days. We may be surprised to find out that Samaritans know how to show hospitality just as the Jews do. In fact where the Pharisees approach Jesus at night or the authorities overcharge for money changing at the temple, the Samaritans are shown to get this part right.
This would have been a head-scratcher for a Jewish audience. It is harder for us to see.
The disciples are certainly puzzled by the association of Jesus with this woman.
What does this say about our own expectations when it comes to people? Certainly God doesn’t have to follow our pre-conceived notions.
Who do you know that you would be surprised to find God working through? If you examine their life, where would you say God is at work?
Sometimes we put ourselves in the place of the woman at the well and that may be appropriate. But other times, this story reminds us that redemption is available to outsiders. This is between them and God - they don’t need our permission. And God certainly doesn’t need it.
Some days the biggest thing we might do as Christians is to take our disbelief and get out of the way.
Prayer for the day:
God, we believe clinically that you do love everyone. We believe that redemption is available to all people. We may have even been surprised by it. But too often, we are looking for actions in others that meet our high standards and find them lacking. It becomes easier to see the bad than the good. God, we may find ourselves saying like the father of the epileptic boy, “I believe! Help my unbelief!” Amen.
To read more from Sam, visit http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com.
Photo by Jorg Schreier via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.