John 4: 7-21
7When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”8(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.#
Or do not use dishes Samaritans have used) 10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 13Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,14but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17“I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.18The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” 19“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
It always surprises me to read this story of Jesus approaching and talking with the Samaritan woman because he breaks social conventions. He takes a great social risk. He clearly knew what he was doing, for John tells us that he waited until his disciples left before he made his move to talk with her. Apparently, Jesus didn’t want to deal with the resistance he knew his disciples would give him about talking to a Samaritan, let alone a Samaritan woman!
To Jesus, however, is clear that the Kingdom of God has no man-made boundaries to contain it. There are no “unworthy” social groups or races, no terrible sinners that are out of reach of God’s saving grace, no second class gender in the Kingdom of God. Operating out his desire to spread the Kingdom of God to anyone who is willing to follow him and enter, Jesus approaches the woman, the Samaritan woman to bring the Kingdom to the personal level of her life. This is no classroom theological lesson, no book discussion, no trip into philosophy; this is a deeply personal invitation from Jesus to the woman to drink in the eternal quality of life she needs.
It makes me squirm a little at how quickly Jesus gets into this woman’s business. He baits her into speaking of the state of her personal relationships, of which she has had many that have failed. Then he guides her to come clean that she is living with a man, which probably included sleeping with him, that she is not married to. Though she never admits it, Jesus sees inside of her life and sees the desert of sin she is living in. Her relationships leave her parched. She must crave real love, but has no idea how to get it. Ahhh, now we see the brilliance of Jesus! All along he intended to offer a drink from the spring of his love that will change her life, give her a taste of living water that, as she continues to drink it, will bring her to eternal life!
All of this leads us to a very personal question: Where are the dry deserts of our lives? Are our relationships with our work, our spouses, our children, our attachment to things or habits, or our inner attitudes and thoughts dry, cracked places longing for the spring of Jesus’ love and grace to pour new life into us? “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” Let’s ask him for a drink!