Bible Society of South Africa

Back at the well – Day 16

Bible text(s)

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman

1The Pharisees heard that Jesus was winning and baptizing more disciples than John. 2(Actually, Jesus himself did not baptize anyone; only his disciples did.) 3So when Jesus heard what was being said, he left Judea and went back to Galilee; 4on his way there he had to go through Samaria.

5In Samaria he came to a town named Sychar, which was not far from the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

7A Samaritan woman came to draw some water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink of water.” 8(His disciples had gone into town to buy food.)

9The woman answered, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan — so how can you ask me for a drink?” (Jews will not use the same cups and bowls that Samaritans use.)

10Jesus answered, “If only you knew what God gives and who it is that is asking you for a drink, you would ask him, and he would give you life-giving water.”

11“Sir,” the woman said, “you haven't got a bucket, and the well is deep. Where would you get that life-giving water? 12It was our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well; he and his sons and his flocks all drank from it. You don't claim to be greater than Jacob, do you?”

13Jesus answered, “All those who drink this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring which will provide him with life-giving water and give him eternal life.”

15“Sir,” the woman said, “give me that water! Then I will never be thirsty again, nor will I have to come here to draw water.”

16“Go and call your husband,” Jesus told her, “and come back.”

17“I haven't got a husband,” she answered.

Jesus replied, “You are right when you say you haven't got a husband. 18You have been married to five men, and the man you live with now is not really your husband. You have told me the truth.”

19“I see you are a prophet, sir,” the woman said. 20“My Samaritan ancestors worshipped God on this mountain, but you Jews say that Jerusalem is the place where we should worship God.”

21Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the time will come when people will not worship the Father either on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22You Samaritans do not really know whom you worship; but we Jews know whom we worship, because it is from the Jews that salvation comes. 23But the time is coming and is already here, when by the power of God's Spirit people will worship the Father as he really is, offering him the true worship that he wants. 24God is Spirit, and only by the power of his Spirit can people worship him as he really is.”

25The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah will come, and when he comes, he will tell us everything.”

26Jesus answered, “I am he, I who am talking with you.”

27At that moment Jesus' disciples returned, and they were greatly surprised to find him talking with a woman. But none of them said to her, “What do you want?” or asked him, “Why are you talking with her?”

28Then the woman left her water jar, went back to the town, and said to the people there, 29“Come and see the man who told me everything I have ever done. Could he be the Messiah?” 30So they left the town and went to Jesus.

31In the meantime the disciples were begging Jesus, “Teacher, have something to eat!”

32But he answered, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

33So the disciples started asking among themselves, “Could somebody have brought him food?”

34“My food,” Jesus said to them, “is to obey the will of the one who sent me and to finish the work he gave me to do. 35You have a saying, ‘Four more months and then the harvest.’ But I tell you, take a good look at the fields; the crops are now ripe and ready to be harvested! 36The one who reaps the harvest is being paid and gathers the crops for eternal life; so another who sows and the one who reaps will be glad together. 37The saying is true, ‘One sows, another reaps.’ 38I have sent you to reap a harvest in a field where you did not work; others worked there, and you profit from their work.”

39Many of the Samaritans in that town believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40So when the Samaritans came to him, they begged him to stay with them, and Jesus stayed there two days.

41Many more believed because of his message, 42and they said to the woman, “We believe now, not because of what you said, but because we ourselves have heard him, and we know that he really is the Saviour of the world.”

John 4:1-42GNBOpen in Bible reader

This is the longest conversation Jesus has had with anyone – with a woman at the well in Samaria. It becomes clear, from the text, that there was much dispute between Samaritans and Jews. The woman raises a number of religious and theological issues during her very long conversation with Jesus. One could say that she is the spokesperson for the Samaritan people. In verses 16-19, we hear that the woman has had five husbands but it appears that Jesus is not particularly interested in the details of why she was not married or what happened in her relationships with the husbands she has had.

1. What preconceived ideas did you have about the Samaritan woman?

2. Do you know why there was animosity between Jews and Samaritans?

3. The gossip stories we pick up about someone, especially why a woman is not married or why she is divorced, can paint a blurred, tainted picture of who she really is. Has that ever happened to someone in your context?

4. What are your thoughts about the reciprocity in the story as Jesus asks the woman for water, and that he has water to offer?

5. Water is a central image in John’s Gospel. Water is essential for life and living – the development and growth of new life as well as the birthing process. Jesus asks a drink of water from a woman, a Samaritan woman, a Samaritan woman with no husband.

Jesus always seems to risk being ridiculed and have his reputation tarnished when it comes to women. BUT Jesus continues to interrupt patterns, attitudes and practices that put women at a disadvantage; that exclude them; that dismiss their contributions; that make them invisible; that alienate them from community AND Jesus offers living water to nurture healthy relationships where all can flourish.

Let us go to the Source of our faith, drink from the well and be united in activism for no violence against women. Go, tell …

Psalm 139:13-24

You created every part of me;
you put me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because you are to be feared;
all you do is strange and wonderful.
I know it with all my heart.
When my bones were being formed,
carefully put together in my mother’s womb,
when I was growing there in secret,
you knew that I was there —
you saw me before I was born.
The days allotted to me
had all been recorded in your book,
before any of them ever began.
O God, how difficult I find your thoughts;
how many of them there are!
If I counted them, they would be more than the grains of sand.
When I awake, I am still with you.
O God, how I wish you would kill the wicked!
How I wish violent people would leave me alone!
They say wicked things about you;
they speak evil things against your name.
O God, how I wish you would kill the wicked!
How I wish violent people would leave me alone!
They say wicked things about you;
they speak evil things against your name.
O LORD, how I hate those who hate you!
How I despise those who rebel against you!
I hate them with a total hatred;
I regard them as my enemies.
Examine me, O God, and know my mind;
test me, and discover my thoughts.
Find out if there is any evil in me
and guide me in the everlasting way.
Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.20
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